Archives for posts with tag: beliefs

Empty Well

It is so important for us to read the bible in context.  So often, we memorize key verses and phrases, and neglect to see the bigger picture.  This morning, as I thought about this blog on empty wells, Galatians 6:2 came to mind: “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ,” (NIV).  But as I meditated on the verse, I realized that it was the second verse of the chapter.  What did the previous verse say?  In fact, the previous verse served as a cautionary statement.  It said: “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted,” (NIV).  The New Life Version reads, “You who are stronger Christians should lead that one back into the right way. Do not be proud as you do it. Watch yourself, because you may be tempted also.”  Firstly, the verse calls for the “stronger Christians” to lead his brother/sister back into the right way.  Secondly, it cautions the “leading” individuals to refrain from becoming proud and to be careful of falling into the same trap.  The truth is, we all have areas where we are strong and areas where we falter.  Moreover, these areas may vary by season and/or circumstances.  It is important for us to understand that while God has called us to bear one another’s burdens, there is only one Savior.  We were not designed to save everyone.  In fact, if we do not continue to replenish our wells, then we run the risk of running emotionally and spiritually dry.

If you are consistently playing the role of the go-to person in your relationships, there will come a point where your well will run dry.  If you incessantly pour out and do not replenish your reserve, you will bottom out.  This could have multiple physical, mental and spiritual ramifications.  Below are a few things that I have found helpful during some of my darkest moments.

  1. Be kind to yourself
    1. Know that some days you will fly, and some days you will fall. Some people will think you are the greatest, and some will think that you are the worse.  However, neither one of these things define who you are.  Only God defines you.  He made you, and He knows who He has called you to be.  No one else has that authority, including you!
  1. Keep inventory of your “well” reserve
    1. Most credit counselors advise against credit card use. Why?  With credit card usage, there is a tendency to spend more than we have.  Debit card are just as bad.  I would venture to say that most people are not balancing their account ledger after each swipe of their card.  It’s no wonder the banking industry makes so much money on overdraft fees.  The same is true of our emotional bank account.  If we are not keeping an accurate account of our balance, there will be a tendency to over extend and/or over commit.  If we don’t keep accurate accounting, we will spend more than we have to give.  This brings me to Item #3.
  1. Learn to say “No!”
    1. Saying “no” is way more than simply refusing a request. Sometimes saying “no” could mean declining to answer an email, a text or a missed called.  For some, this is the biggest step towards establishing healthy boundaries in relationships.
  1. Keep inventory of those who are making deposits and withdrawal into and away from your wells
    1. Relationships are seldom equal. However, our relationships must be mutually beneficial.  In other words, we will have relationships where one person brings more to the table than the other.  The important thing for us to remember is that we should maintain a healthy balance of the different types of relationships in our lives.  Again, if we are always giving more than we are receiving, then our relationships are out of sync, which will eventually lead to a dry well.
  1. Take note during your hour of darkness.
    1. Who are the ones calling solely to check on you—not to gossip, not to vent, but simply to check on your well being?  Oftentimes, when you tend to be the strong one in your relationships, people erroneously think that you don’t have problems or that your problems are secondary to theirs.  Please understand that is an unfair and unrealistic expectation.  The people in your life must be able to acknowledge that you too are human, and as such, you too have your cross to bear.
  1. Know that you cannot be everything to anyone person.
    1. I recently had a conversation with a friend who said to me that in relationships, we meet our needs by drawing from the many wells in our lives. Whenever, we start to draw predominantly from one well, we put that other person in an unfair position, which is too much pressure to place on any one person.

Now, after having said all that, I will say this:  When we are weak, God will make us strong.  There are times when God will push us beyond what we thought we could do or where we thought we could go.  However, the problem in many of our lives is that we fail to ask Him for His counsel, and we busy ourselves with things, people and tasks that He never commissioned us to take on.  Sometimes, God is doing a work in our lives and He is doing work in others’ lives as well.  My final parting note is that we should seek God in all that we do, and He will give us the guidance that we so desire.

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I have a question for all you Sunday School buffs.  What was the sin that got Adam and Eve kicked out of the Garden of Eden?  Now that the Jeopardy music has stopped playing, what is your final answer.   Ding! Ding! Ding!  If you said, “Eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil,” you won the grand prize.

This afternoon, I was in the middle of writing and entirely different blog when God struck me with the following profound revelation.

  1. Our quest for knowledge is great, as long as it doesn’t come at the price of faith.
    1. The story of Adam and Eve is so complex, and it has so many spiritual implications and interpretations, but here is what God laid on my heart today. In the Garden of Eden, God gave Adam dominion over the land.  The entire land was his to explore.  However, Adam was not satisfied in gradually exploring the kingdom.  He wanted instant gratification—instant knowledge.  Learning the lay of the land would take too long.  Eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil would give him an instant upload of information.  Isn’t that true of you and I.  Rather than simply letting each day play out and taking life day by day, we attempt to skip to the last chapter of our lives, hoping to get a sneak preview.  How many of us have been given Gardens to explore, but continue to fall because of our multiple attempt to eat from our individual Trees of Knowledge of Good and Evil?
  1. Knowledge if left unchecked could become an adversary of faith.
    1. If we knew everything, why on Earth would we need God? There comes a point in our pursuit of knowledge where we have to curb our enthusiasm.  As most scientists know, the deeper we delve into knowledge, the more we realize just how much we do not know—just how inexplicable the universe is.   In fact, many scientists have gone mad trying to find answers for things for which there are no known explanation.  At some point, science will take us to a terminal end—an “x-factor”—an unknown.
  1. If knew everything, then we would become God’s equal. When we equate ourselves with God, we automatically become prideful.
    1. Who would have thought that just wanting to know whether God is going to move in our live could lead to pride? It can, and it does if we are not careful.  Here is why:

Lack of Faith =                                          Doubting God

Doubting God =                                         Doing life by our own will (no need for God)

Doing Life by our own will =                       Pride

Pride =                                                       Lack of Faith.

When we lack faith, what we are essentially saying is that there is no need for God—we are our own God.

The good new is, God is faithful when we are not.  He knows that our hearts are adulterous, yet He loves us nonetheless.  Ephesians 2:8 states that, “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God,” (NLT).  I believe that God gives us revelation, not to condemn us, but to allow us to live a life full of His grace.  If nothing else, our revelations remind us that there is no way that we could ever live up to any standard of perfection.  We are only made righteous through the blood of Jesus Christ.  I hope this this post blessed you.  Be blessed until we meet again.

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A few weeks ago, I took a trip to California, which for the past few years, has been my default happy place.  I was a bit underwhelmed during my recent travels.  The effects of the drought were ubiquitous, and in an instant, my fond memories of the once picturesque landscape were deflated.  As I navigated around the city, I couldn’t help but notice how California’s fertile grasslands now appeared dry and barren.  However, that wasn’t entirely true.  Speckled throughout the desolate terrain were pockets of life—areas of new growth—hope.  As I drove along the multicolored mountain sides, I began to remember what the City used to look like.

During our walk as Christians, we often go through dry seasons—seasons of drought.  Just like the California drought, there are so many lessons to be learned during those periods.  The first, if not the most important lesson, is despite our circumstances, there is always a glimmer of hope.  As long as we have life in our bodies, there is hope.

The second lesson that our dry season teaches us is to pay attention to those who are around during our drought.  Are there people, who were once in our courtyard, who have since faded into the background?  Are the remaining people in our lives watering our garden or depleting our soil?

As I continued to marvel at the California desert, I started to notice how readily discernable the weeds were from the vegetation.  They were now more prominent and readily visible.  I believe the same is true of our walk in life.  God uses our drought to extract our “weeds.”  During our seasons of prosperity, it can be difficult to discern between our foes and our friends, because our enemies, just like the weeds, are also capable of infiltration and camouflage.  It is important that during our drought we identify and uproot the weeds in our garden.  If not, the dry season will come to an end, and we will be left with the same infestation that plagued us during our feast.

Many of us view our dry season as God’s punishment, but if we look at if more carefully, it’s an opportunity—a chance to start afresh.  It’s a chance to take off all that entangles and run our race uninhibited.

If you are going through a dry season in your life, take note of the weeds.  Uproot them.  Do not turn back.  God is about to turn it around, and He wants you to be free to enjoy the feast-the end of the drought!

O Lord, hear me as I pray; pay attention to my groaning. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for I pray to no one but you. Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly, (Psalm 5:1-3, NLT).

Day 21—We made it. Wow! What a journey this past three weeks has been. In the beginning of the challenge, I told you that one of the primary reasons why I started this challenge was in response to story about a pastor who after a yearlong journey of “living without God” decided that He was now an atheist. I wanted to challenge myself and my readers to see what life looked when we actively pursued God. So what did we learn?

The first thing that we probably discovered was that life is not easy. In Matthew 16:24-26, Jesus told His disciples, “’Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul,’” (NIV).

The Message translation puts it this way:

“’Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?’”

The moment that we decided to embark on this challenge, the devil got busy. There were obstacles and roadblocks that attempted to make our journey difficult. However, here is what I learned. Greater is He who is in us, than he who is in the world, (1 John 4:4). In John 16:33, Jesus said, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world,” (NLT).

The name of Jesus is greater than any other name in this world, (Philippians 2:9). The name of Jesus is greater than death, Satan, sickness, sadness, fear, debt, worry, loneness, anger, and the list goes on and on.

As I officially close this 21-day challenge, I issue this lifetime challenge. Embrace the verses in Psalm 5:1-3:

O Lord, hear me as I pray; pay attention to my groaning. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for I pray to no one but you. Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly, (Psalm 5:1-3, NLT).

Know that God is not deaf to our prayers. Psalm 6:9 says “The Lord has heard my plea; the Lord will answer my prayer,” (NLT). The verse does not says that God might answer our prayers. It said that He WILL answer our prayers. Today, know that as we wait patiently on God’s answers to manifest, the answer is already waiting in the wings.

Lord, more than 2000 years ago, you sent your one and only son, Jesus Christ, to die for all our transgressions. Lord, we thank you. We thank you for your mercy and your deliverance. On Jesus’ final moments on the cross He spoke the final words that confirmed our destiny on Earth and in Heaven. Jesus’ final words were: It is finished! Lord, thank you that everything that has ever been promised to us has already been delivered since before the beginning of time. Lord, we thank you that IT IS FINISHED!

This is what the Lord says:  ‘Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the Lord. They are like stunted shrubs in the desert, with no hope for the future.  They will live in the barren wilderness, in an uninhabited salty land. ‘But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water.  Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought.  Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit, Jeremiah 17:5-8, NLT.

A few days ago, I came across the above scripture while reading my devotional.  It really got me thinking.  Where is my trust?  In whom do I place my confidence?  Is it truly in God, or is it in man?

The Bible says that God will open doors in our lives that no one can shut (Revelation 3:8).  This does not mean that God does not use people as His vessels.  It simply means that the opportunities we seek are not man’s to bestow.  No man can give us our “big breaks.”  Again, this doesn’t mean that God does not give us favor with people in high positions.  It simply means that our destiny is not contingent upon another man’s approval, or disapproval.  This should be a relief for many of us.  Here is why.  David said it best in 1 Chronicles 17:27: “For when you grant a blessing, O Lord, it is an eternal blessing,” (NLT)!  When God says yes, the answer is YES!  He does not lie, and He does not change His mind, (Number 23:19).

You and I have to start to refocus our thinking.  The opportunities that we are awaiting are not going to come from our bosses, company executives, publishing companies, television directors or anyone for that matter.  It will come from God only.  He might use those people as His vessels.  He might not.  For example, God could promote you at work, and never include your boss in the process.  God could have you write a book or score a film and never go through conventional channels.  Yes, there will be people involved in each step of the way because we do not live in an isolated world.  However, the opportunity will come from God and God alone.

I believe that once we recognize that only God controls or destiny, we will stop tiptoeing around people and their opinions.  The Bible says, “The LORD is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me,” (Psalm 118:6, NLT)? The answer is nothing.

Today, as we round the bend of our 21-day challenge, I say that we focus more on pleasing God than pleasing others. Once we aim to please God, we would have done right by man. This does not mean that man will always be pleased with us, it just means that we have done the best that we could. That’s all we can do!

Today’s prayer:

Lord, we thank you that whenever you grant a blessing, it is an eternal blessing. We thank you for who you are. We honor your name. Thank you for each person reading this prayer today. Lord, please bless every heart’s desire. In Jesus’ name. Amen!

Have you ever wondered whether it (whatever it may be) was all worth it? Well, you are in good company. During the middle of John the Baptist’s deepest pain, he sent his disciples to ask Jesus whether or not He (Jesus) was the chosen one. Essentially, John the Baptist wanted to know whether the sacrifices and the choices he made were all worth it (Luke 7:18-35, NLT).

James 1:5-8 says:

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.

These verses tell us that we should:

  1. Ask God for what we want.
  2. Don’t waiver.
  3. KNOW that we have received what we have asked for.

I know today that there are people right now who are struggling with their faith in God. You feel like you have made sacrifices. You have trusted God. You have stepped out on faith, but you still have not seen what it is that you have believed for. I ask that you just hold on. Apply the formula found in James 1:5-8.

  1. Ask God for what you want.
  2. Don’t waiver.
  3. KNOW that you have received what you have asked for.

Early in the Book of Genesis, a great flood washed over the earth. Noah and all the animals were weathering the storm aboard the ark. It must have felt like the storm was not going to relent. I wonder if Noah ever questioned whether he would survive the flood. I wonder if Noah questioned whether God had forgotten about him.

During the greatest storms in our lives, it is easy for us to think that God has forgotten about us. Thankfully, He does not forget. Genesis 1:8 says, “But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and livestock with him in the boat. He sent a wind to blow across the earth, and the floodwaters began to recede,” (NLT).

Just know that God has not forgotten us and left us to fend for ourselves in the storm. At just the right time, He will cause the tides to recede and to relent.

Today, I pray that your floodwaters will recede and that God will answer your prayers. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Yesterday, I watched an episode of House Hunters International where a young, American woman from Maryland made preparations to move to Paris to pursue a career as a nutritionist. As she searched for an apartment in and around the big city, her realtor constantly told her that in order to achieve her dream of living in a Parisian-style apartment that fit into her budget, she would have to make some compromises. Ultimately, she reminded her that, “You can’t have it all.”

The realtor’s words got my wheels turning. How many of these catchphrases have we embraced and taken as truth? Who says we can’t have it all. I believe that this saying and many other catchphrases of its kind are lies the devil told to keep us confined by the walls of mediocrity. If God said it, we can do it, and we can have it. This made me think. What other lies have the devil told and disguised them as aphorisms?

1. You can’t have it all.
2. No good deeds go unpunished.
3. All good things must come to an end.
4. Nice/Good guys/gals finish last.
5. It ain’t over until the fat lady sings. No, it’s not over until God says it’s over.
6. The devil’s in the details.

The Bible says that the power of life and death lies in the tongue. We have to be cognizant of the things we say because they sow the seeds for what we will eventually believe and become.

Today’s Prayer:
Lord, we stand on the Word of God. We declare what it says. We speak life into our dreams. We thank you, and we praise your name. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen!

The Bible says that many are called, but only few are chosen (Matthew 22:14). Imagine getting to the end of our lives and realizing that we missed out on being chosen because we refused to answer God’s call.

This afternoon, as I was doing my devotional, I decided to meditate on Mark 9:28-29, “28 And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out? 29And he said unto them, ‘This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting,’” (KJV). Here is a little background on that verse. Jesus had just returned from his transfiguration experience with Peter, James and John to find the remaining disciples quarrelling with some of the teachers of religious law (Mark 9:14). At the epicenter of the debate was a demon-possessed boy. According to the boy’s father, the child had been plagued by the demon since he was a little boy. Long story short, Jesus freed the little boy of the demon. So, let’s take a look again at verses 28 and 29, “28 And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out? 29And he said unto them, ‘This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting,’” (KJV).

After I read this passage, I knew that there was something deeper that God wanted me to receive in my spirit. I prayed for His revelation, and He gave it to me. I will share with you what He revealed to me.

Whenever we read a passage in Scripture, we should always try to read it in context. Look at what came before and what comes after. Prior to meeting up with the other disciples, Jesus has just experienced one of the most amazing experiences of His Earthly life—Transfiguration. Without minimizing this miraculous event or getting into too much detail, the Transfiguration was essentially God smiling down from heaven and giving Jesus His spiritual seal of approval–a spiritual thumbs up (Mark 9:1-13). Now, this is the part of the story where my wheels started to turn. Jesus had 12 disciples, yet He only brought three with Him to share the experience. Where were the other nine? They were away from Jesus arguing about religious laws. Here is my first revelation. Friend, whenever you and I are more focused on religion than we are Jesus, we set ourselves up for being outside of Jesus’ company. Here is the second revelation. We can become so distracted by religion that we are unable to complete our assignments. We have to realize that our religion is not enough to yield the miracles we desire. In the passage, it wasn’t until Jesus stepped into the picture that the demon was cast out. I believe  that God wanted to illustrate that being religious is not equivalent to being Godly.

When the disciples asked God why they could not cast out the demon, He stated that the type of miracle that they were looking for could be revealed by only two things: prayer and fasting. This brings me to my last two points.

The fourth point is this: God is not moved by our pomp and circumstances. He is moved by our faith which is manifested in our prayer. Notice in Mark 9:19, Jesus said, “‘You faithless people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy to me,’” (NIV). Catch what Jesus is saying. Faith is trusting God even when we cannot see Him with our natural eyes. Even though Jesus was not physically with the other disciples while He was on the mountain, He was with them in spirit. However, it was impossible for them to sense His presence because they were burdened by religion. Friend, Jesus is not in our ceremonies, our ideologies, our oils, our rituals, our holy water or our idols. He is in our prayers.

Here is the final point that Jesus made in Mark 9:29. “‘This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting,’” (KJV). There are some “demons” in our lives that we can cast out only with praying and fasting. Why fasting? Fasting is simply preparing the atmosphere for prayer. Fasting allows us to silence our environment so that we can focus on our prayer. There are some things in our lives that will not be answered in just one prayer. We have to get up daily and knock on God’s door like the story of the woman and the judge (Luke 18:1-8). If we are not spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically prepared, we will fail before the manifestation of the prayer. Fasting prepares us for this. Therefore, today I ask you, “What are you believing God for? What thing(s) in your life can only be changed by submitting it to fasting and prayer?” Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God,” (NIV). However, when we do, we have to believe that our prayers are enough. God is enough. “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 4:19, ESV).