Archives for posts with tag: Devotional

About a year ago, I read an interesting post from one of my friends on Facebook.  He said that when we die and go to heaven, we will realize just how many things about God we actually got wrong.  I couldn’t agree more.  There is not a single person alive who gets it 100 percent right at all times.  For most of us who identify ourselves as Christians, we try to live a life reflective of who we believe Jesus has called us to be.  However, we are shackled by our imperfections.  We have imperfect actions, thoughts and reasoning abilities, which even impact the way we interpret the Bible.  Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”

When it comes to interpreting the Bible, I believe that it is impossible to completely comprehend God’s word solely through scholastic measures. Spiritual discernment and revelation is also needed.  Additionally, I also believe that our relationship with God is an intimate one.  While Biblical truths are absolutes, there will be times when our Biblical interpretation will be based on our discernment and personal relationship with God.  With that said, here’s a cute funny story.

Sometimes, we forget that God knows just how imperfect we are.  In our pride, we try to camouflage our shortcomings.  We fail to realize that it’s during our most vulnerable moments when God can really reassure us of who He is.  The story of Gideon reminds us of just that.

In the story of Gideon, God had given Gideon a specific assignment.  However, in his humanness, Gideon doubted God, and he asked God for a sign to reassure him that he had heard him correctly.

36Then Gideon said to God, ‘If you are truly going to use me to rescue Israel as you promised, 37prove it to me in this way. I will put a wool fleece on the threshing floor tonight. If the fleece is wet with dew in the morning but the ground is dry, then I will know that you are going to help me rescue Israel as you promised.’ 38And that is just what happened. When Gideon got up early the next morning, he squeezed the fleece and wrung out a whole bowlful of water,” (Judges 6:36-38, NLT).

Twice Gideon asked for a sign, and twice God obliged him.  God did not chasten or chastise him.

Oftentimes, we feel as though we have to be perfect before God, and that is not the case.  The story of Gideon shows that it’s okay to ask God for confirmation.  I am not saying that we should have a lot system approach to God.  What I am saying is that God is sensitive to our humanness. With that said, here is the cute, funny story:

A few moons ago, I was experiencing a tumultuous season.  Although there seemed to be no immediate resolution to my situation, I felt as though the Spirit of God was reminding me that everything was going to be okay.  However, I wasn’t sure whether I could trust the voice in my heart because everything around seemed far from okay.

One night, as I laid awake trying to figure out the solution to all my woes, God laid the story of Gideon on my heart.  As I read the passages in the middle of the night, I was moved by Gideon’s humility.  In that moment I decided to ask God for my own sign.  I figured if He did it for Gideon, He could do it for me.  A part of me felt silly.

“What could I pray for,” I thought.  “What sign could I ask for, and what was the confirmation that I was looking for?”

I wanted to ask for a sign that I could not blame on mere coincidence.  I wanted my sign to confirm the words that were whispered in my heart.  After a few minutes of deliberation, I had finally come up with one, and it had to do with birds and my patio.

My entire back patio, with the exception of a small hole at the top where the squirrels had once used the mesh as a makeshift trampoline, is enclosed by a screen. That night, I prayed that if by morning, a bird had fallen through the hole and landed in the patio that would be my confirmation that everything would be okay.  A part of me felt silly for making such an arbitrary prayer request. Nonetheless, the first thing I did the next morning was check the patio.  There was no bird.  Secretly, I was disappointed.  More than that, I felt even more silly, but then a funny thing happened.  Later that day, I was watching television on the sofa when something caught my eye.  Hopping around in the patio was this guy:20150811_142611

I couldn’t contain my excitement.  I just know my circumstances were about to change.  I just knew that the breakthrough that I was praying for was about to take place.  But it didn’t.  A few weeks had passed and nothing had changed.  My circumstances were still the same.  But even though I felt silly, I couldn’t resist the urge to ask for another sign.  This time I asked God to send a different kind of bird.  When I awoke that morning, I had resigned to the fact that I had officially lost my mind. Then I heard a loud thud on my roof.  I ran to the living room and peer outside, and this is what I saw:

20160205_164121

I know many are probably thinking that these are all coincidences, but to me, they are the miracles that I had prayed for.  I wish I could say that my circumstances changed that day.  They didn’t.  Though my circumstances hadn’t change,  I had.  That day, I had gotten the confirmation that I needed.

A lot of life is about perception and what we chose to believe.  Oftentimes, our beliefs and our miracle coincide within the same space in our minds.  Though I might not have seen a physical change that day, I did receive a peace that surpasses all understanding.  I also learned that I didn’t have to be afraid to show God my humanness.  I also learned that He was not afraid to meet me where I am.  Perhaps He could meet you where you are too.

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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.

 

Screenshot_2016-06-11-17-24-12-1.pngEvery now and then, I come across what I would call a social media gem.  The other day, I was scrolling through the pages of social media when I caught a glimpse of a quote that made me pause and take notice.  It read:

 

 

“STOP ADDING PEOPLE TO YOUR LIFE WITH THE SAME CHARACTERISTICS AS THE PEOPLE YOU ASKED GOD TO REMOVE.” Unknown.

 

I’m not quite sure who said it first, as many social media pages have posted the quote as their own.   Nonetheless, it struck a cord with me.

 

Relationships are as hard as people are imperfect.  We all have our ways—that thing about us that probably irks the life out of everyone else.  However, in order for us to have healthy, successful relationships, we have to be willing to overlook, and sometimes embrace, others’ shortcomings, just as we would expect them to embrace ours.  Relationships will never be equal, but they should be reciprocal.  In other words, there will be time when we give more than we receive, but it should balance out in the end.  We should strive to surround ourselves with people who replenish our cup, not deplete our well.

 

Many of us want great relationships, but, the truth is, many of our views on relationships have been skewed by our current dysfunctional relationships.  Some of us have become so accustomed to being in a position of lack that we don’t know how to ask for what we want and to receive what we deserve.  Oftentimes, the status quo becomes our new normal because we don’t know any better and because we have no measure against which to judge whether or not our current relationships are worthy investments.  Although I am no expert on the topic, however, below are a few pointers that I have picked up along the way:

 

  1. Know that when all else fails, God loves you, and He will NEVER forsake you.
  2. Know that you are worthy to be loved.
  3. Know that it’s okay to say, “I deserve better!”
  4. Learn to recognize when you are being taken for granted.
  5. Learn to recognize when you are being used.
  6. Observe the way the people in your life treat other people.
    1. This statement could go two ways:
      1. If the people in your life treat others badly, then, they will probably disregard you at some point.
      2. If the people in your life always put others before you, then they are probably taking your relationship for granted.
    2. Learn to be a friend.
    3. Learn to say no.
    4. Know that you don’t owe anyone an explanation.
    5. Don’t become a victim of faux loyalty and nostalgia.  Sometimes relationships were only meant to be seasonal.

 

Relationships take work.  They require effort.  People who value us and truly desire to be in relationship with us WILL put in the work.  If we are the ones who are always taking the initiative in our relationships, then we need to reevaluate and reposition those people in our lives.   We need to take note.  Are we the ones who are always calling, text or planning?  If we are, then we might want to evaluate whether value is being placed on our friendship—on us.  Sometimes, it’s better to be alone than to exhaust ourselves on toxic relationships.  The problem is many of us are creatures of habit.  Whenever we get rid of one bad seed in our lives, we often replace it with another of its kind.  At some point, we are the common denominator.  Ultimately, we have to realize that there is something that we are doing that enables and attracts these types of people and behaviors.  Again, we need to look at some of the pointers from above and remember that we deserve to be treated well.  We deserve to have genuine, honest relationships.

Are you at the end of your rope?  Are you stuck in a rut?  Does if feel like you’ve plateaued and that your best days are behind you?  What if I told you that I have five simple steps that could change the trajectory of your life?  Interested?  Keep reading!

 

They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over and expecting different results.  If that’s true, then we all have a touch of madness.  Over the past year, I found myself chasing my tail in an infinite circle.  I guess that was kind of redundant as circle are, by definition, infinite.  Nonetheless, I was going full-throttle at 360 degrees.    I found myself repeating the same question in my head: “Is there some grand lesson that I am supposed to learn that I have not yet grasped?”  My prayer became, “God, let me learn my lesson and move on.”  It was in that moment where I received a revelation about what it was that I needed to learn during that season in my life.  What I’ve learned is exactly what I am about to share with you.

 

Lesson 1:

Renew your mind.

 

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” (Romans 12:2, NIV).  Albert Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”  In other words, when our old ways and patterns of thinking have failed to produce the desired outcome, we have to adopt a new perspective.  Renewing our minds is probably one of the hardest things that we could do.  When contemplating change, some might argue that their old ways of thinking has gotten them to where there are.  While that might be true of the past, it isn’t always a valid argument if we want to continue to grow.  Growth require being stretched in new dimensions.  Growth requires conquering new situations.  So how do we renew or mind?  One way is to increase our knowledge.  Read.  Study.  Take classes.  Meet new people.  Sometimes, renewing our minds requires us to change our circle of influence—finding people who could speak life into our dreams and desires.  While the path to the renewal of the mind might differ from person to person, it’s an important step in the pursuit of happiness.

 

Lesson 2:

Speak life into your life.

“The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences,” (Proverbs 18:21, NLT).

One of the most difficult questions to answer when we are in the midst of our trials could simply be, “How are you?”  During our darkest moments, it is often difficult to find the median between transparency and wisdom.  How do we truthfully say that we are “fine” when we feel as if we are being immersed by the storms in our lives?  During those moments, we don’t feel fine.  Sometimes, it feels as if our walls are closing in and that we are suffocating. What do we say then?  I was thinking about that very question the other night.  I thought about how God spoke the world into existence with His words.  The Bible says that when God had completed creation, He looked over all that He had done and said that it was good.  That revelation reminded me of Romans 8:28, “And we know God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them,” (NLT).  Sometimes, we just have to look at our lives, despite all the difficulties and trials, and remember that “it’s all good.”  Maybe the next time we are going through a trial and someone ask us how we are doing, we could honestly say, “It’s all good.”  Maybe, in doing so, we could speak life into our future.  This suggestion is not to minimize our pain, but simply to create a new perspective.  It’s to remind us that storms do clear, and sometimes, there is even a rainbow at the end of a downpour.

 

 

Lesson 3:

Stop being a people-pleaser.

“It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in people,” (Psalms 118:8, NLT).  Life is a journey, and we are all in different stages of our voyage.  In other words, we all have issues and baggage, most of which are shaped by our personal experiences.  One of the greatest lessons that we have to learn when dealing with each other is:  Not everything is personal.  We can’t always internalize other people’s behaviors.  Colossians 3:23 encourages us to work as if we were working for the Lord rather than for people.  As long as we do what we believe to be right in the eyes of God, then that is all that we can do.  We can’t please everyone.  There will always be people who are disappointment in us and by us.

 

Lesson 4:

Take inventory of those who champion around you during seasons of difficulty.

“One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother,” (Proverbs 18:24, NIV).  Every single one of us will face moments in our lives where, when the chips are down, the only person left standing in our corner is Jesus.  He is the one true friend that sticks closer than a brother.  While that is true, we need to also realize that we were never meant to go the distance alone.  Ephesians 4: 9-12 says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.  But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.  Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.  But how can one keep warm alone?  Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken,” (NLT).  Good friends are important.  The problem is that many of us have clutter our lives with “stand-ins,” but we lack the real thing.  Times of difficulty are usually the best opportunity to see who is really in our corner.  It’s also a good opportunity to start purging toxic relationships.

Lesson 5:

Smile!

“A glad heart makes a happy face; a broken heart crushes the spirit,” (Proverbs 15:13, NLT).  In spite of it all, sometimes, the best thing we could do is smile.  Earlier today, I was watching an Internet video about a woman who was elated about purchasing a Star Wars mask.  She was excited about her purchase—I mean really excited.  She was beyond giddy.  She laughed throughout the entire clip.  However, as silly as the video might have been, I could not help but laugh with her.  Her joy was infectious.    That’s because joy is contagious.  Smiling can impact our mood, our spirit and our outlook.  Our live might not be perfect, but sometimes we could soften our blows by greeting them with a smile 🙂

A while ago, I was perusing the pages of Instagram, and I came across the quote, “Jesus was king of the clapback.”   For those of you who don’t know what a clapback is, don’t worry, up until that Instagram post, neither did I.  Simply put, a “clapback” it’s the ability to give a quick-witted retort to a comment, typically one with negative intentions.  When I thought about the spirit of the quote, it made me chuckle, because it was kind of true.  Jesus was no shrinking violet.  Although he was meek and humble, he wasn’t afraid to let you have it.  Just ask Peter.

 

Out of Jesus’ twelve disciples, Peter was definitely one of Jesus’ favorites.  Several modern day commentaries have even cited Peter as one of Jesus’ inner three. (James and John were the other two.)  Peter was with Jesus during His Transfiguration.  Peter walked on water with Jesus.  He prayed with Jesus.  He even lopped of a man’s ear for Jesus.  You could say that Peter was one of Jesus’ besties.  That is why what I’m about the say is all the more significant.

 

In the early days of Jesus’ ministry, people varied in belief about who they thought Jesus was.  Some thought he was Elijah the Profit.  Others thought he was the prophet Jeremiah, while other believed that he was John the Baptist.  When Jesus asked Peter who he thought that he was, Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God,” (Matthew 16:16, NLT).  Jesus must have been pleased with Peter, for He responded by saying, “’18Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. 19And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven,’” (Matthew 16:18-19, NLT).  Wow, Jesus called Peter a “rock,” and not just any rock, but a rock upon which he would build His church.  That was definitely high praises coming from the Son of God.  Peter must have been beaming.  He must have been proud, because Jesus had not said this in private.  He had praised Peter in front of the other disciples, but it’s what came next that would make today’s urban youth label Jesus “King of the Clapback.”

 

When the time drew near, Jesus had begun to prepare His disciples for His death.  He warned them that he would suffer death at the hands of man for the glory of God.  When Peter heard this, he rebuked Jesus stating, “’Heaven forbid, Lord,’ he said. ‘This will never happen to you,’”(Matthew 16:22)!  Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns,’” (Matthew 16:23, NIV).

 

“Get behind me Satan.”  Did Jesus just call Peter Satan?  He did, and here is why?  When it comes to the truth, it is either black or white.  There are no shades of gray.  Something is either true or false.  If God’s Word is true, then it stands to reason that anything contrary to the Word of God is false.  Truth comes from God.  Falsehood comes from Satan.  God told Jesus that he would die for the sins of man.  Therefore, when Peter attempted to contradict God’s command to Jesus, he spoke a falsehood.  He spoke of the devil.  In a crude sense, in that moment, Peter was being the devil’s representative.  Maybe Peter was thinking about his own desires.  In fact, not too long ago, Jesus had call him the rock.  Maybe Peter thought that Jesus’ death would compromise his plans of what he envisioned his position as the “Rock” to be.  Who knows what Peter was thinking.  What we do know is that Jesus knew that Peter’s motives for speaking weren’t aligned with God’s plans.

 

“Get behind me Satan.”  When I thought about this post this morning, the first passage that came to my mind was Jeremiah 29:11, “11For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,” (NIV).  Earlier in the post, we stated that anything that is not of God is of Satan.  In Jeremiah 29:11, God said that He has plans to prosper us and to give us hope and a future.  Therefore, anything (or anyone) that threatens our hope, our prosperity and our future is acting as Satan’s representatives, and we need to tell that thing (or person) to, “Get behind me Satan.”  James 4:7 says, “resist the devil and he will flee from you,” (NLT).

 

Jesus wasn’t afraid to call a spade a spade.  Jesus was destined to die.  In order to fulfill His destiny, He had to speak against all that threatened it.  Each of us has a destiny, which we have to work to ensure that we fulfill.  The devil comes to kill, steal and destroy, (John 10:10).  As such, we have to be mindful of his various presentations.  Satan is the master of disguise.  Sometimes, he manifests as friends, family, co-workers, preachers, employers, employees and much, much more.  Whenever, individuals in our lives contradicts what God has commanded us, we need to rebuke them.  That rebuke doesn’t always have to be confrontational.  Sometimes, we could do it during the privacy of our prayer time.  If someone is getting between us and our destiny, we should call them by name and say: (Insert name), get behind me Satan!