Archives for category: Persistence

In today’s society, success is usually thought to be determined by degree or pedigree.  I am here to tell you that neither of those things are absolute qualifiers for success.  When Paul spoke to the church in Corinth, he reminded them that few of them were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called them.  He further went on to say that God often chooses the “things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful,” (1Corinthians 1:26-26, NLT).  Now, this is not to say that there isn’t a value to education, for we know that God honors those who seek knowledge, counsel and wisdom.  It is simply to say that our circumstances do not disqualify us from being great.  Look at Gideon.

Too often God places a dream on our heart, and we erroneously think that we need an ensemble team to bring the vision to fruition.  We are inclined to decline opportunities because we think that we lack the skills needed to accomplish the task.  In the Old Testament, Moses tried to hand over the opportunity to lead the Israelites out of bondage to Aaron because he thought that being a successful leader was directly correlated to an ability to speak well.  Fortunately, God is more interested in using those who can walk the walk rather than those who talk the talk.  So how does that tie into the story of Gideon?

God had called Gideon to defeat the Midianites.  Like many of us, Gideon doubted that God could really use him to do something so extraordinary.  Thankfully, what Gideon soon came to realize was that his weakness was inversely proportional to God’s strength.  In other words, he realized that when he was weak, God was strong, and it was that epiphany that allowed him to grow in strength.

Prior to battling the Midianites, Gideon had 32,000 men.  God told him to send home those who were fearful.  Twenty-two thousand men left.  Gideon was left with an army of 10,000.  Still God was unsatisfied.  He ordered Gideon to bring the men to the stream and “[d]ivide the men into two groups. In one group put all those who cup water in their hands and lap it up with their tongues like dogs. In the other group put all those who kneel down and drink with their mouths in the stream,” (NLT).  There were three hundred men that drank from their hand.  Finally, God was satisfied.  With a total of 300 men, God delivered the Midianites into the hands of the Israelites (Judges 7).

The story of Gideon serves as an amazing demonstration of God’s ability to elevate us above our circumstances.  In the natural, there was no way that Gideon could have defeated an entire army with only 300 men.  However, God reduced the size of Gideon’s army so that He would receive the glory.  The first lesson that you and I should learn from Gideon is that when we are called to do the impossible with only a skeletal crew, it’s not because God is punishing us.  It’s simply because He wants us, and others, to know that success is not based on a formula, but is predetermined by God.  The second lesson to be learned from Gideon is that not everyone in our camp is destined or willing to fight.  Know that the dream that God gave us was given to us.  Not everyone in our camp is meant to go with us to battle.  In order to achieve victory, sometimes, we have to get rid of those who are stumbling blocks.  In the case of Gideon, had God not gotten rid of those who were “timid or afraid,” it might have cost them the battle.  Under pressure, those eliminated individuals might have surrendered or betrayed their camp.  The third lesson to be learned from Gideon is that when God gives us a dream, it’s better to have a faithful few than a lazy bunch.  Those who drank from their hands proved to be hard workers and go-getters.  They didn’t just kneel at the stream and waited for the water to flow into their mouths.  They took the initiative.  We want people in our camps that take initiative.  The last lesson that we learned from Gideon is a little off topic, but equally important. 

The Bible says that God will make our enemies our footstool (Luke 20:43).  We should know that oftentimes, God will use our very enemies to announce our victory.  In the case of Gideon, God used the Midianites to announce the Israelites’ victory:

The Midianite camp was in the valley just below Gideon. 9That night the Lord said, “Get up! Go down into the Midianite camp, for I have given you victory over them! 10 But if you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah. 11 Listen to what the Midianites are saying, and you will be greatly encouraged. Then you will be eager to attack.”

So Gideon took Purah and went down to the edge of the enemy camp. 12 The armies of Midian, Amalek, and the people of the east had settled in the valley like a swarm of locusts. Their camels were like grains of sand on the seashore—too many to count! 13 Gideon crept up just as a man was telling his companion about a dream. The man said, “I had this dream, and in my dream a loaf of barley bread came tumbling down into the Midianite camp. It hit a tent, turned it over, and knocked it flat!”

14 His companion answered, “Your dream can mean only one thing—God has given Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite, victory over Midian and all its allies!”

15 When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he bowed in worship before the Lord. Then he returned to the Israelite camp and shouted, “Get up! For the Lord has given you victory over the Midianite hordes,” (Judges 7:8-15, NLT)!

Know today that God has called each and every one of us for something great.  If God can use flawed individuals such as Moses, Gideon, David, Ruth, and Esther, imagine what He could do with us.

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The final day of our prayer challenge has come upon us.  So, what do we do now? Now, we wait. Not quite the answer you were expecting, huh? Wait?  We just spent an entire week waiting and believing for God to move.  Surely, God is going to meet our faith now.  Surely our worlds are about to dramatically change.  The truth is, God’s army doesn’t always launch a frontal attack.  Sometimes, they take the path less traveled.  In other words, life doesn’t always happen according to plan.  It is quite possible that the blessings that God has in store for us could very well appear out of left field. None of us know what God has in store for us.  We just know that as believers, we have to stand firm on His Word.  Below are a few of the top lessons I have learned during this past season that will guide me, and hopefully, you, into the next chapter.  I hope they bless you too!

  1. God is still on the throne.

Isaiah 45:6-7

so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting people may know there is none besides me.  I am the Lord, and there is no other.I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things, (NIV).

Psalm 22:28

28  For kingship belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations (ESV).

  1. God has not forgotten about you.

Isaiah 49:15-16

15 “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!  16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.

  1. You are either going to believe/trust God or you are not.  There is no middle ground.

Matthew 19:26

26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible,” (NIV).

  1. Wait with expectations.

Philippians 1:20

20 For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die.

Habakkuk 2:2-3 NLT

Then the lord said to me, “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others. This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.

  1. If you find yourself explaining too much, STOP!

2Timothy 2:23-26

23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will, (NIV).

  1. Don’t justify/explain your blessings.

1 Samuel 16:7

7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart,” (NIV).

  1. Worry less. Fear less.  Pray more.

Isaiah 41:10

10 Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.  Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you.  I will hold you up with my victorious right hand, (NLT).

  1.  Eliminate excuses.

2 Corinthians 5:10

10 For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body, (NLT).

  1. Love your enemy. Even pray for them.

Matthew 6:14-15

14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins, (NIV).

  1. Learn to say no. It’s okay to let your yes be yes and your no be no.

James 5:12

12 Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple “Yes” or “No.” Otherwise you will be condemned, (NIV).

 

  1. Be strong and courageous.    

Joshua 1:9

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go,” (NIV).

 

  1. Embrace failure.

Romans 8:28

28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose (KJV).

  1. Know that you are stronger than you think.

Exodus 9:16

16 But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth, (NIV).

  1. Look in the mirror, and embrace God’s masterpiece.

Ephesians 2:10

10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago, (NLT).

  1. Know that the same God who closes doors holds the blueprints for every construction site, and He can place a window wherever He so desires.

Isaiah 55:8-11

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.  “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.  10 “The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. 11 It is the same with my word.  I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it, (NLT).

  1. LAUGH!

Job 8:21

21 He will once again fill your mouth with laughter, (NLT).

 

  1. LOVE!

John 3:16-17

16For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

  1. LET GO!

Ephesians 4:31

31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you, (NLT).

Today, I pray that God will teach you how to laugh again and that you would not be jaded by the world’s shenanigans. I pray that you will love and live.  I pray that for each door that closes, God will increase your strength and wisdom in preparation for the next chapter.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen!!

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Today, we are going to keep it real.  No airs.  No facades.  Just pure, raw nakedness.

Have you ever felt disappointed by God?  Never?  Be honest.  Some of you are disappointed right now.  You have stood on the Word.  You have stepped out in faith.  You have believe, and you have prayed.  However, you have not seen God move in your situation.  Now your situation appears more dire.  Now you are exhausted.  Now, you are humiliated.    Your enemies all seem to laugh and scoff at you.  What do you do now?  The God that you have told them would deliver you seems to be distant and silent.  Now even you have begun to believe that maybe He can’t or won’t rescue you.  You can’t minister to them because you are having a hard time trying to convince yourself.  Do you give up?  The Bible says that God is faithful even when we are not (2 Timothy 2:13).  So do you just give in?  Do you throw in the towel?  Why wouldn’t you?  Your heart is burdened from hurting.  Your hair is gray from worry.  Your eyes are heavy from crying.  Now is the time that even the most faithful would surrender.  What are you going to do?

I don’t know how many of you have every attempted a 30-minute work out on the Treadmill after a long day at work.  For me, getting past the first 15 minutes is the most difficult.  But once I push past that arduous time, I know I can complete the workout.  During the first 15 minutes, I am always tempted to quit.  There have been times when I have quit.  After some of the days that I have had, who would blame me anyway?  Here is the truth.  On several occasions, I would regret prematurely quitting my workout, especially when I noticed that my jeans have begun to fit a little tighter that I would like.  Alternately, I have never regretted completing my workout.  In fact, I usually have a sense of accomplishment when I brave the 30-minute course.  By the end of the workout, the stresses of the day usually melts away.  All my negative thoughts become replaced by positive one.  Oftentimes, I even begin to envision the benefits of having worked out.

The Bible says that we have an enemy who has come to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10).  He has come to kill our spirit, steal our joy and destroy our hope and faith.  When the enemy attack, we need to make sure that we are wearing the full armor of God so that after everything we can stand.

There is no miracle formula for faith.  If there were, someone would have been rich trying to sell it by now.  What we do know is that we have more to lose than gain if we quit before our time.  If we throw in the towel prematurely, there is no telling what we would be giving up.  We might be giving up the very thing that we have been waiting for.

One of my all-time favorite pastors is Dr. Bill Winston from Living Word Christian Center in Chicago, Illinois.  His television ministry has reshaped my faith.  About a week ago, I was watching one of his archive sermons on YouTube.  The words he spoke has forever changed my thinking.  Those powerful words were:

God has turned over the authority of the Earth to man, and without man, God CANNOT act.  God needs us to step in so that He can move.

Those words stopped me in my tracks.  I had to meditate on them.  I had to research them.  What I found was that God’s transfer of authority to man occurred in the very beginning.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them (Genesis 1:26-27, NIV).

When I heard Pastor Winston’s message, I started to think of all the Biblical miracles that I could remember.  What I started to notice was that they were all precipitated by the faith and the actions of man.  God allowed the Red Sea to part as a result of Moses’ obedience.  He allowed the sun to stand still because of Joshua’s prayers.  The wall of Jericho came crashing down because many believed that God would move in their situation.  The woman with the issue of blood was cured because of her faith.

This revelation should change your life.  Just think about it.  God, the Creator of ALL things, has given authority of Earth over to man.  So what does that mean?

God is not a man that He should lie, nor is He a human that He should change His mind (Numbers 23:19).  The fact that God CANNOT lie means that He cannot go back on His word.  Therefore, if God has given authority of the Earth to man.  He CANNOT (NOT will not) independently act in our situation because if He does, He would be going against His own authority and proving Himself a liar.   His movement has to be activated by our actions and our faith.

Jesus is the ultimate example of this truth.  In the New Testament, God gave Jesus, who was born of flesh, the authority to perform many miracles.  He healed.  He cured. He saved.  Most of all, He died.  And when He die, He said that whoever believed in Him would do greater miracles than He had ever done (John 14:12).

If you believe what I am saying to be true, then this revelation should change your life.  God has given us the power to speak life and death into our situations.  In part, the miracle/breakthrough that we so desire is in our hands.  We just have to activate God’s movement with our faith.  The Bible says that if we have faith the size of a mustard seed, we could command mountains to move (Matthew 21:21-22).  You see, many of us have been disappointed because we keep waiting for God to independently manifest in our situations.  But He CAN’T.

I can hear the naysayers now: “So what about those who don’t believe in God?  Does He show up in their situations?”  The answer is: He does!  Again, the answer is still found in people.  That atheist’s miracle might be the result of a praying grandmother, mother, or friend.  In fact, his co-worker who sits at her desk reading her Bible during her lunch break might be praying a blessing over him and the entire company, including their family.

I believe that every single person on this planet has been touched by someone’s prayer(s).  So when that unbeliever walks away with his miracle, do believe that he is the product of prayer, maybe even his own.

Today, I proclaim that you WILL activate your miracle.  COMMAND those mountains to move and jump into the sea.  In Jesus’ name. Amen!

Us:  Knock, Knock

Jesus: Who’s there?

Us: Me!

Jesus: What do you want me to do for you?

Us:  Ummm!!! I don’t know.  I was so busy knocking that I forgot.

Matthew 7:7 says, “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you,” (NLT).  Whenever we meditate and put this Scripture into practice, we should consider the following:

  1. We SHOULD NOT become so preoccupied in the act of knocking that we forget why we were knocking in the first place.
  2. We SHOULD NOT become so busy knocking that we miss the door opening.
  3. We SHOULD knock continuously and proclaim the Word over our lives.

The first consideration is easy to fall prey to.  If we are not careful, we could become so busy praying for deliverance that when we are finally delivered, we forget what we needed to be delivered from.  In other words, we could become so addicted to our circumstances that we lose focus of our goals and our desires.  For example, there are probably people reading this blog right now who are praying that God blesses them with a new job.  They have probably prayed repeatedly that God would remove them from their current position.  But what if Jesus were to show up on their doorsteps ready to bless them with a new opportunity? How many of those people would be able to recognize that new opportunity?

When we focus solely on knocking, we could become so distracted by our circumstances that our prayers are geared towards escaping and not towards deliverance.  Our prayers should be more specific than simply wanting to be “freed” or to be “bless.”  We should have some idea of how we would want that freedom and that blessing to look.  After we have an idea of what we want God to do in our lives, we should also remember that God’s thought are not ours and our ways are not His (Isaiah 55:8).  Even though we might envision how our answered prayers should look, God always has something greater in store.  The whole point of purposeful prayer is not to dictate God’s responses.  It is to become attuned to His answers. We know that God is greater than, not less than.  Our expectations just gives us a reference point. In the example above, God might not want to simply bless that individual with a new job.  He could very possibly want to bless him with his own business.

Again, when we pray, we should pray purposefully and intentionally.  We should not just pray for the sake of praying.   Matthew 6:7 says, “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again,” (NLT).  We should also note that sometimes purposeful prayer also includes praying for clarity.  There are times where we don’t know what to pray for or even how to pray.  In those moments, we have to pray for revelation and direction.  God is so good, He could even direct our prayers.

The second point we should consider when we proclaim the verse in Matthew 7:7 over our lives is that prayer is active.  Active prayers require that we pray then pause to listen for God’s response.  If we are too busy chattering away, we might miss His answer that often comes in a small, still voice.

The third consideration of Matthew 7:7 is that we should knock continuously as we proclaim the Word over our lives.  I believe this consideration is the hardest.  It is so easy to get frustrated when it appears as if God is not responding to our cries.  Some of us have been wailing so long that we have begun to entertain the idea that God has forgotten about us.  Whenever we start to embrace those thoughts, we should remember a few truths:

God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill,” (Numbers 23:19)?

“being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 1:6, NIV)

My prayer for you today is that you pray purposefully, actively and continuously.  My purposeful, active and continuous prayer for all of us today is rooted in Psalm 28:1-2 and Deuteronomy 28: 1-14.

Psalm 28:1-2 (NLT)

I pray to you, O Lord, my rock.

Do not turn a deaf ear to me.

For if you are silent,

I might as well give up and die.

Listen to my prayer for mercy

as I cry out to you for help,

as I lift my hands toward your holy sanctuary.

Deuteronomy 28:1-14 (NIV)

If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God:

You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country.

The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks.

Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed.

You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out.

The Lord will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven.

The Lord will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.

The Lord will establish you as his holy people, as he promised you on oath, if you keep the commands of the Lord your God and walk in obedience to him. 10 Then all the peoples on earth will see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they will fear you. 11 The Lord will grant you abundant prosperity—in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your ground—in the land he swore to your ancestors to give you.

12 The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. 13 The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom. 14 Do not turn aside from any of the commands I give you today, to the right or to the left, following other gods and serving them.

Last night it weighed on my Spirit to take another journey.  I hope you will join me again.  A few weeks ago, we went on a 30-day marriage prayer journey together, where we focused on our relationships with each other and with God.  This week I would like to go on a 7-day spiritual declaration/proclamation.  I feel in my heart that we have to purposefully and persistently proclaim God’s promises over our lives.  Many of us are waiting on a movement by God.  In those moments, we have to pray fervently and wait expectantly.   So, that was my thought last night.  This morning I got confirmation when I opened my Bible.  It opened up to Luke 11.  The passage was a message where Jesus was teaching His disciples how to pray.

“Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him, ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’ And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’ But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence.

“And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

11 “You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? 12 Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! 13 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him,” (Luke 11:6-11, NLT).

Many of us have not because we ask not.  We have to begin speaking God’s promises over our lives and ask, not just once, but consistently.  There is an old adage that says, “The squeaky wheel gets the most oil.”

There are a host of reasons why many of us do not ask God for what we want.  There are some of us who believe that we are bothering God by petitioning Him with the desires of our hearts.  Some believe that our problems are too minute for the Creator of the Universe.  Some might even believe that God simply does not care about our trials.  Regardless of what you believe, I challenge you over this next 7 days to call out to Him.  Show your shameless persistence in prayer as you declare His promises over your life.  Like this persistent neighbor in the parable, keep knocking on His door until He answers.

DAY 1 DECLARATIONS:

Psalm 30:1

I will exalt you Lord, for you rescued me. You refused to let my enemies triumph over me (NLT).

Joshua 1:9

This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go,” (NLT).

Psalm 37:4

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires(NLT).

I pray that this week God will begin to do a transformation in your life as you speak His will into existence.