Archives for posts with tag: Blessings

Most recently, I have been lamenting over the significance of the human existence—both the brevity of life and the stench of death.  As Christians, we are taught that death is to be celebrated.  However, many of our celebratory instincts often wane when death is untimely and protracted.  In the era of digital news, it seems as though death is ubiquitous.  It could just be that even (or especially) in the digital era, the old journalism mantra of “If it bleeds it leads,’ still rules.   As such, the news cycles are often inundated with stories of tragedies, many of which we, as a society, have become immune.  The headlines are riddled with stories of murders, suicides, overdoses, illnesses and police brutality, just to name a few.  Although the loss of all human life is significant, none is more impactful to me that the loss of young life—the loss of someone who had yet to reach his or her prime—had yet to experience his or her “better days.”

 

The thought of untimely death has made me question and challenge God’s sovereignty and humanity.  Though I must confess, typing the word “humanity” made me chuckle.  I realized that in my quandary, I had somehow brought God down to my level.  I wanted His ways and His thoughts to be akin to mine.  I knew it was unreasonable and irrational, but I still felt that He owed me an explanation.  Like Job, I felt as though the Creator of the Universe owed me an explanation.   While my meditation did not yield quite the answer that I was looking for, it did provide a story of hope, which I will share with you below:

 

The Time is Closer Than You Think!

 

For eons, many have prophesied about the Last Days.  Each generation has cited turbulent times as evidence of impending doom.  Most recently, I have wondered what those day would look like.  For a glimpse into the future, I turned to Revelation, one of the most allegorical books in the Bible. Revelation 19:19 says, “Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and his army.”  The verse talked about Jesus returning with his army to wage battle.  Many Biblical scholars are divided between whether that army would consist of solely angels or a combination of angels and those that have gone before.   The thought made me wonder in merriment.

 

Today, there are approximately seven billion people walking the planet.  According to the Population Reference Bureau it is estimated that approximation 107 billion people ever lived.  I image that if a war was declared between the Heavens and Earth, Heaven’s armies would necessitate at least that many “soldiers.”  That’s a lot of angels!  The debate about the composition of Jesus’s army is a complex theological debate that is beyond the scope of this post.  However, I will explore that notion of what it would look like if Jesus’s army consisted of both saints and angels.

 

Disclaimer: The opinions presented below are simply conjecture provided to stimulate thought—a mental exercise.

 

Now that that is out of the way, here are my thoughts:  What if the end was closer that we thought?  What if the increase prevalence of youth mortality was actually a battle call?  What if those who died young were being called home early for a greater purpose—preparation for battle?  Maybe your 23-year-old son that lost his battle with cancer is now a general in the battle of Armageddon.  Maybe that 16-year-old that die in the car accident is now a comrade in Heaven’s army.  I would imagine that if Jesus’s army does consist of saints and angels, some “training” would be necessary.  Imagine if during the final battle, you saw your loved one dress in white linen at the battlefront.  Imagine how good you would feel to know that God has given you beauty for ashes.  While no one know the precision of God’s plan, we do know this:  God’s ways are not our ways and His thought are not our thoughts.  God’s plans might seem inexplicable and painful at times, but we have to trust that HE IS GOD and that He still sits on the throne.  Isaiah 61 (NIV) says:

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.

They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.
Strangers will shepherd your flocks;
foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.
And you will be called priests of the Lord,
you will be named ministers of our God.
You will feed on the wealth of nations,
and in their riches you will boast.

Instead of your shame
you will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
you will rejoice in your inheritance.
And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
and everlasting joy will be yours.

“For I, the Lord, love justice;
I hate robbery and wrongdoing.
In my faithfulness I will reward my people
and make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their descendants will be known among the nations
and their offspring among the peoples.
All who see them will acknowledge
that they are a people the Lord has blessed.”

10 I delight greatly in the Lord;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the soil makes the sprout come up
and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness
and praise spring up before all nations.

 

Regardless of what the world has managed to throw our way, God will continue to give us beauty for ashes!

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I am a logophile, someone who love words.  I am also a lover of numbers.  Although I am not sure whether there is a special word for that, I do love to create mathematical equations of numbers and try to make sense of them.  I guess you could say that I’m a bit of a nerd.  Today, I decided to blog about the concept of gratitude. Here is what I learned about this trisyllabic concept.

Gratitude is one word, nine letters and three syllables.  According to Biblical symbolism, the number nine refers to divine completeness or finality.  Jesus died on the ninth hour of the day (3 p.m.).  Gratitude.  Nine letters.  Three syllables.  The number three is also significant.  It’s the number of completion.  Jesus was placed on the cross on the third hour of the day (9 a.m.) and died at the ninth hour (3.m.). Gratitude.  Nine letters.  Three syllables.

If I were to be completely honest, I didn’t really know the significance of these numbers until I decided to do some research for the post.  All I knew was that gratitude was nine letters and three syllables.  However, the revelation of the numerical significances was not lost on me.  As Christians, gratitude is more than being grateful for what we have, it’s about recognizing and appreciating Jesus’ sacrifice—his ultimate sacrifice, where he gave his life so that we could have freedom.  Yes, our Earthly possessions do provide us with some comfort, and we should be grateful for them, but more than that, we should be grateful for the opportunities that have been laid before us because of what Christ did on the cross.  Our lives on Earth is not just a gift of terrestrial gratification, it is an opportunity for celestial investments.  While on Earth, we not only get to enjoy the planet, but we also get to make preparation for our final destination.  This investment is only made possible by the sacrifices of Jesus Christ.  So, no matter what we go through in this life we should find gratitude in the fact that there is something to look forward to beyond our time in this world.  Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world,” (John 16:33, NIV).

Gratitude.  Nine letters.  Three syllables.  There is some finality inherent in the concept of gratitude.  Oftentimes, gratitude is the final step of introspection.  When many of us reflect on our lives, we often resign to a place of reconciliation where we realize that we have a lot to be thankful for.  Our relatively health and happiness are reasons enough for celebration.

Gratitude, that three-syllable word, also makes us complete.  It closes the gaping hole in our hearts and our spirits by allowing us to realize that we truly have more than we need and that we lack nothing essential.

Today, my challenge for all of us it to be grateful—express a little gratitude.  “All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory,” (2 Corinthians 4:15, NLT).

Go ahead! Quit your job!  Purchase that house!  Tell your pesky neighbor where to stop off.  For goodness sakes, make a decision.  Take a leap of faith! What’s the worse thing that could happen?  I say all this in jest.  Yes, we must exercise wisdom and caution when making decisions, especially life altering ones, but far too many of us seek other people’s permission to chase after our hearts.  Our paralysis is symptomatic of our indecisiveness and our insecurity.  We ask for permission because we are fearful of pulling the trigger.  We believe that if we place the onus of making a decision on someone else, it absolves us of the responsibility.  Here’s the truth: Every decision has consequences—some good and some bad.  Unfortunately, sometimes, we just cannot avoid the negative consequences of our actions.  It’s a part of life in this fallen world.  The good news is that many successes are birthed from misfortunes.  Failure is a part of life. It’s a part of growth. When we ask others for their permission before we act, we are relying on their gifting, perception of life and past experiences, which may be different from ours.  Additionally, we make the assumption that the people from whom we seek permission have our best interest in mind.  Those individuals could have a malevolent agenda.  The Bible says that it is wise to seek counsel.  It does say that we should ask permission.  Next time, before we ask people for permission, we should seek God and His Word.  Why wouldn’t we ask the author of our story about our role in His script.  The next time we attempt to seek advise on a course of action, we should pause and ask ourselves whether we are seeking counsel or whether we are asking for permission.  If we are asking for permission, then we should go to God instead.

Baggage.  It can, at times, be a four-letter word.  We all have it.  Some of are not only carrying our own baggage, but we have allowed ourselves to become saddled by other people’s “stuff.”  Learning to release is one of the most important things that we can do for ourselves.  Galatians 5:1 says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery,” (NIV).

Christ died on a cross for us to be free.  Why then do we continue to enslave ourselves?   Slavery prevents us from running the race that God has set forth for us.  When our minds are cluttered with nonsense, we cannot focus on our priorities.  As such, we’re tired.  We’re sad.  We’re angry.  We are everything but productive.  On the road to self discovery, one of the most important things we could do for ourselves is to let go.  Letting go allows us to focus on the things that are important to us.

One way to re-center our focus is to carve time out to do some of the things we like to do (e.g. exercising, writing, taking a walk on the beach).  Another way is to write down our plans.  Habakkuk 2:3 says, “’Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.   For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false.  Though it lingers, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay,” (NIV).

Seeing our goal, dreams and/or desires affixed on paper allows us to remember what is important to us.  We need to do what it takes to preserve our focus.  Relax.  Breathe.  Meditate.  Yesterday, we wept it out.  Today, we are letting it go!

2016-09-01 13.30.22 Pains of life circumference by our ball-clenched fists.

Who’d have thought it’d come to this:

Tales of broken hearts, disappointments and unchecked lists.

But to end it there, I’d be remiss to explain the travesty caused by a ball-clenched fist.

So many of us are straddled by baggage. We don’t always know we have it, but we do. Many of us, in an effort to maintain our daily functionality, bury our hurts in the dark crevices of our hearts. The problem is, just like rain could uproot skeletons buried beneath the Earth’s surface, our tears often reveal our misplaced pain. Many of our buried hurts are sharp, unbeveled deposits just below the surface. They cut and bruise. The friction of some of our deepest hurts have caused calluses in once tender places.   Many of the composite effects of our pain is dear.  The tighter we clutch, the deeper our scars.  During our day-to-day activities, we might not even realize that our grip is so firm until we finally decide to let it go. Only once we have let go the shattered pieces of our lives can we truly begin to heal and experience a freedom that we have not yet experienced….

 

With hope renewed like the dew of a morning mist,

The forces of pain we did resist,

To release these shards of glass from our ball-clenched fist.

 

In the simplest of terms, a covenant is an agreement, a contract or a bond between parties—a binding promise.  When a covenant is called into effect, there is an expectation that the agreed upon terms will be enforced.  In our legal system, most people go into covenants with the assurance that the legal system will enforce the terms and conditions of the agreement.  However, while the law can often guarantee that all parties will abide by the term of the covenant, a level of trust is still required between the parties.  Most people do not enter into covenants with people whom they know to be unscrupulous.  Most legal covenants are often measures that reasonable people establish to safeguard themselves against unforeseen events.  Again, most people enter covenants with the assumption that the opposing party has a certain amount of integrity.  This brings me to the point of this blog: God’s covenants.

 

Number 23:19 says, 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,” (NIV)?  This passage indirectly speaks to the Abrahamic Covenant where God promised Abraham that he would bless the Israelites and Abraham’s family line.  In Number 23, Balak wanted Balaam to curse the Israelites, but Balaam replied with, “‘I have received a command to bless; he has blessed, and I cannot change it,’”(v. 20, NIV).

 

God cannot and will not change His mind.  He is in covenant with His people.  Number 23:19, not only speaks to the nature of God, but it is also a covenant in and of itself.  God is saying that his Word is bond.  Once he has said it, it is done.  Below is an exercise that I challenge all of us to do.

 

Covenant Agreement Between God and me

This Agreement made this __________ day of ____________20______ by and between _______________ and God.

 

Standing on the promises of the Abrahamic Covenant, I am believing God for:

  1. _______________________
  2. _______________________
  3. _______________________
  4. _______________________

 

The Bible verses that I rest my beliefs on are:

  1. _______________________
  2. _______________________
  3. _______________________
  4. _______________________

 

This agreement encourages us to remind God what He has promised.  With that said, we should also remember that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8).  There will be times that our prayers go unanswered for reasons we cannot understand, but we should go into agreement with God knowing that He has heard our petitions and that He will answer; and if the answer is not what we expect, it is what God intended because He has deliberate acted.  Below are a just a few examples of how God acted on behalf of his people’s prayers.

 

Prayer for healing:

  • Hezekiah was on the brink of death and cried out to God to spare his life.
    • “‘Go and tell Hezekiah, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will add fifteen years to your life,’” (Isaiah 38:5, NIV).

 

Praying for a Godly partner:

Abraham, though his servant, prayed that God would find a specific wife for Isaac.  God led Abraham’s servant to Rebekah.  Isaac and Rebekah were later married (Genesis 24: 1-67).

 

Praying to have children:

Isaac pleaded with the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was unable to have children. The LORD answered Isaac’s prayer, and Rebekah became pregnant with twins,” (Genesis 25:21, NLT).

 

Released from jail:

“But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out,” (Acts 5:19).

 

Financial breakthrough:

“The blessing of the LORD makes a person rich, and he adds no sorrow with it,” (Proverbs 10:22, NLT).

 

Spiritual breakthrough:

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds,” (2 Corinthians 10:4, NIV).

 

Fulfillment of God’s promise:

  • God had given Joseph a dream that he would become a mighty man. However, over the course of time, he was kidnapped, sold into slavery, accused of rape, imprisoned and forgotten.  Fortunately, God did not forget about him or the promise that he made to him.

 

  • 38 And Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?” 39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are. 40 You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command. Only as regards the throne will I be greater than you,” (Genesis 41:38-40, ESV).

 

Today, I pray that you remember the covenant agreement that God has made with you and with Abraham.  Stand on His Word as you pray for His favor!

Then David asked the Lord, “Should I chase after this band of raiders? Will I catch them?”

And the Lord told him, “Yes, go after them. You will surely recover everything that was taken from you,” (1Samuel 30:8, NLT).

 

Have you every felt like you’ve done everything right, but you still can’t catch a break?  You’ve lived and played by the rules only to conclude that maybe nice guys do finish last.  Well, you are not alone.  In 1 Samuel 29, David wanted to fight alongside King Achish, but the Philistine commanders rejected David and his army.  The Philistine commanders feared that David and his army would eventually betray them.  Ultimately, King Achish gave in to the Philistine commanders’ demands to part ways with David.  King Achish admitted that even though David had been loyal, and had done nothing wrong, he would yield to the request of the Philistine commanders.  As such, King Achish ordered David to leave their territory.

Imagine how rejected and disappointed David must have felt.  To add insult to injury, when David and his men returned home three days later, they found that their town had been raided and destroyed by the Amalekites who also made off with their families and belongings.  The Bible says that when David and his men saw what had happened, “they wept until they could weep no more,” (1 Samuel 30, NLT).   As a result, David’s men plotted to stone him.  What a week?  Sounds familiar?

 

David had every reason to give up.  His mentor abandoned him.  He lost his family and everything he had, and he was about to lose his life.  Fortunately, the Bible said, “David found strength in the Lord his God,” (v.8).

There will be a time, in your darkest moments, when God is all you have left.  There will come a time when those who once supported you have now abandoned you; the friends you used to have, are no longer championing in your corner; and the enemy has stolen everything from you.  What will you do then?  What did David do?

 

Then David asked the Lord, “Should I chase after this band of raiders? Will I catch them?”

And the Lord told him, “Yes, go after them. You will surely recover everything that was taken from you,” (1 Samuel 30:8, NLT)!

 

  1. Identify your raiders.
  2. Identify what they have stolen from you.
  3. Ask God whether you should go after them.
    1. If the answer is yes, then, the next question is: How and when?

 

Two key points to remember:

  1. The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me,” (Psalm 118:6, NIV).
  2. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds,” (2 Corinthians 10:4, NIV).

 

Sometimes, God wants us to physically go after our enemies.  However, sometimes, he wants us to wield the weapon of prayer and/or fasting.

 

The Bible says that, “David got back everything the Amalekites had taken, and he rescued his two wives. Nothing was missing: small or great, son or daughter, nor anything else that had been taken. David brought everything back. He also recovered all the flocks and herds, and his men drove them ahead of the other livestock. ‘This plunder belongs to David!’ they said,” (1 Samuel 30:18-20, NIV).

Tonight, after you have wept and gotten it all out, go to God in prayer.  Identify your plunder.  Ask God whether you should go after the raiders.  If they answer is yes, then begin to circle your circumstances in prayer, and ask God about the “how.”  Place your confidence in God, and know that God is not a respecter of persons.  If He did it for David, He will do it for you.  Know that everything that was stolen from you will be retrieved untarnished, unharmed and unscathed.  In Jesus name!

The video below that I posted is a must see.  I viewed it earlier on YouTube, and it brought tears to my eyes.  It reminded me so much of the passage found in Matthew 7:11:

“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him,” (NIV)!

The video captures the young boy’s disheartenment at the thought that his father had forgotten his birthday.  He was devastated.  Fortunately, not only had his father remembered his special day, his dad had already prepared for him an extraordinary gift.  How much more valuable are we to our God?  He has a memory that never fails, and He owns the cattle on a thousand hills.  He has not forgotten nor will He forget about us.  His promises are unfailing, His word is unshakeable.  Tonight, know that God has definitely NOT forgotten about you!  Enjoy the video!

What is the meaning of life?  What is my purpose?  These are two of the most common questions that dominate the human existence.

We all want to know that we are a part of something bigger than ourselves.  We all want to leave our personalized mark on the Earth.   What if I were to tell you that even though we all have different gifting, we all share a common purpose—a common calling?

One of the biggest struggles facing our humanity is man’s desire to disconnect from and exalt himself above God.  As a society, we have denied God’s sovereignty.  We have defied God’s authority.  We have disputed God existence.  Many of us fail to realized that humanity was created by God with one sole purpose: To praise and worship God.  Our gifts and our talents are simply tools to bring glory to God’s name.  For Christ deniers, the evidence is ubiquitous.  The further we pull away from God, the more our World plummets into despair and an omnipresent sense of hopelessness.  Our society needs to be recalibrated.  We need to remember why we were created.

As I was writing this blog, I thought about an example that many could probably relate to.  In my kitchen drawers, I have several butter knives that are bent out of shape because I have used several of them to tighten loose screws around the house.  While the knives might have gotten the job done, the disfigure tips were proof that they were used out of context.  The same could be said for us.  Many of us are living our lives out of context.  We were created to praise and worship God.  Make no mistake, God will see to it that His name is praised.  Romans 14:11 says, “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God,'” (NIV).

Have you ever noticed that when there is a national or international tragedy, the first thing that people do is call on God?  Well, this practice is not a new phenomenon.  Friends and foes of God have been calling on Him from the beginning of time.  When it comes to calling on God’s name, we are either in the position of giving praise or asking for His mercy.

In Exodus, Moses was given the charge of leading the Israelites out of Egypt.  The Pharaoh and the Egyptians resisted him.  God allowed the manifestation of several miracles as proof that He was with the Israelites, but the Pharaoh still would not set them free.  In Exodus Chapter 11, Moses delivered a dire message to Pharaoh from God.  Moses told Pharaoh that God would bring death to all the firstborn son in Egypt.  After death had swept across Egypt, Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron.  “’Get out!’ he ordered. ‘Leave my people—and take the rest of the Israelites with you! Go and worship the Lord as you have requested. Take your flocks and herds, as you said, and be gone. Go, but bless me as you leave,’” (Exodus 12: 31-32).  Pharaoh was a man who did not believe in God, but at the end, he had to confess that God is Lord.  Through Moses and Aaron, Pharaoh requested that God would bless him.

Our world is in crisis.  We need to acknowledge that there are powers at work that are far greater and stronger than we are in our natural state.  We need to recognize that God has already sent a deliverer to save us, we just have to call on Him.  We have to acknowledge that we must decrease so that God can increase.  God, today we pray for our world.  We submit it to your authority.  We ask that you right the wrongs and bring order, peace and hope to a generation that has lost its footing.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

This poem is dedicated to those who are praying without ceasing and are tirelessly waiting to hear from God.

Echoes of Silence 

The echoes of silence are all that I hear.

Humbled by life, I seek you in prayer.

A knock on the door—is anyone there?

Then it dawned on me—

Maybe He heard me, but don’t really care.

For the first time, I looked in the mirror and stared,

And wondered where is the God of old that nations once feared.

Who cared—

Who dared—

To put nations and empires to shame,

And recued those who called upon him by name.

Elohim, El Shaddai, El Roi,

Jehovah Jireh, Rapha, Nissi, my Adonai.

 

The echoes of silence are all that I hear,

Chanting the chorus, “God are you still there?”

World upside down.  Life—Unfair.

God, is silence from you just really a “no?”

My faith is slipping, and I’m letting it go.

Faith lukewarm.  Heart now cold.

Faded memories of faith once bold.

 

The ghost of Isaac and Abraham, they knock at my door.

The prophets and saints that went on before.

They said, “If He did it once, then He’ll do it once more.”

Like the judge who couldn’t ignore the knock on the door.

 

When echoes of silence are all that you hear,

When it seems like your prayers, they fall on deaf ears,

And the core of your life is rooted in fears,

Just trust and believe when he tells you He cares.

He’s the same one who says that He bottles your tears.

Loves you so much that He counted your hairs—

On your head.

And even notices that a sparrow drops dead,

For not one of these can fall outside of His care.

Ears fine-tuned.  Your whispers He hears.

His voice so soft—not found in the echoes or blares,

But in the spirits of those He consoles.

Remember Jesus?  His wrist: bloodied with holes.

He feels your pain.  Trust me! He knows.

Yet He overcame death and from ashes He rose.

 

When the echoes of silence are all that you hear,

Your beating heart is proof that He’s near.

 

Copyright 2016 Khadine Alston.  All Rights Reserved.