Archives for posts with tag: Trusting God

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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“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires,” (Psalm 37:4, NLT).

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Numbers 29:19, “God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through,” (NLT)?  Let’s just take a moment to breakdown that verse.

  1. God is not a man
  2. God does not lie.
  3. Man is known to lie.
  4. Since God is not man, He does not lie.
  5. God is not human.
  6. Humans are known to change their mind.
  7. Since God is not human, He does not change His mind.

**The answers to the rhetorical questions asked in Numbers 29:19 are found in the beginning of the verse!

  1. Has he ever spoken and failed to act?
    1. Since God does not lie, He cannot fail to act.  Failure to act would mean going back on His word, which would mean lying.  Since God does not lie, He has to act.
  2. Has he ever promised and not carried it through?
    1. Since God does not change His mind. He has to carry through His promises.  Failure to carry through a promise would mean that He changed His mind, and the verse tells us that He does not change His mind.

One of my favorite sayings about the Bible come from a Pastor by the name of Joseph Prince.  He says that Scripture should always answer Scripture.  My interpretation of that quote is: Truth should always answer the truth.  The Bible says, “Do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world,” (1 John 4:1, NLT). In other words, the truth will always be verified by itself. A lie can never be verified by the truth, it can only be discredited or disproven. So with that said, we will use Number 29:19 to confirm Psalms 37:4.

God is not a man so He does not lie. Psalms 37:4 says that if we take delight in the Lord, He will give us the desires of our heart.  Since God does not lie, if we take delight in Him, He WILL give us the desires of our hearts.  If we have not seen God fulfil the desires of our hearts, the questions become:

  1. Are we taking delight in the Lord?
  2. Do we know our heart’s desires?
    1. Are we looking in the right places?

Speaking of Scripture answering Scripture, Philippians 2:13 says, “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him,” (NLT).   If we are taking delight in God, we never have to worry if our desires are from Him or from our own accord.  For example, we would never have to wonder whether a desire to kill another human is from God or not.  Delighting ourselves in God would mean reading our Bible, which would tell us that killing is wrong and would not delight God.  Therefore if we are seeking God with all our heart, and truly trusting in Him, most likely, our desires have been set there by Him.  I say most likely because each of us must have a dialogue with God to determine whether or not our desires are from Him.

What I am about to say next is based on my own experiences.  Nonetheless, I do believe that most people could relate.  Taking delight in God isn’t usually where most of us fall short.  Our lack of manifestation usually results from a loss of faith and hope.  I believe that at some point we have allowed the stresses and the weight of life  to steal our joy.  Remember when we were children.  Back then, we thought anything was possible.  However, with each disappointment, we have become more and more jaded and we scale back on the scope of our dreams.  In the process, we have lost sight of our heart’s desires.  I believe that we have to go back to the drawing board and re-determine what our hopes and desires are.  If we don’t know what they are, the likelihood of us receiving them is slim.  James 4:2 says, ‘Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it,” (NLT).  Yes, we have to ask God for what we want!  However that’s only half the story.  The full verse in context reads:

What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? 2 You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. 3 And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure, (James 4:1-4, NLT).

Again, this is another example of Scripture answering Scripture.  If we take delight in the Lord, He will give us the desires of OUR hearts, not our neighbor’s heart.  However, we have to make sure that our desires are what we want, not what we covet.  We shouldn’t want something just because someone else has it.  Also, we have to ensure that our motives are correct.  For example, it’s not wrong to want the latest, “baddest” car.  Our desire for wanting a great ride is not inherently bad, but if our sole reason for wanting the vehicle is to show off or to make others jealous, then we might want to check our motives.

My challenge today is this: We need to go back to the drawing board and really revisit our heart’s desires.  What were our childhood dreams?  If we could do or have anything in the world, what would that dream look like?  If we are walking with God and we still haven’t seen the manifestation of our dream, maybe we have to redefine our dreams.  If our dreams aren’t clearly defined in our heads, how would we even recognize them if God were to give them to us right now?  Habakkuk 2:2-3 says, “Then the Lord said to me, ‘Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others. 3 This vision is for a future time.  It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled.  If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place.  It will not be delayed,’” (NLT).  God is a God of order.  He does things in due time and due season.  However, we always have to make sure that the holdup is not on our end.

Today’s prayer:

Lord, we come before you knowing that you are not a man or a human, so you do not lie and you do not change your mind. We ask that as we delight in you that you will grant us the desires of our heart. Lord, we also ask today that you remind us what it feel like to dream. Remind us what if felt like when we believe that we could do anything or be anyone. We thank you. We bless you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

© 2015 Khadine Alston.  All Rights Reserved.  Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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).

If you have been a Christian for any length of time, there has been (or will come) a time in your spiritual life where you have felt (or will feel) like you are “all prayed out.” If you have ever experience that feeling in the past, or are currently experiencing that feeling, then this blog post is for you.
The parable found in Mark 9:14-29 tells of a man who sought Jesus to deliver his demon-possessed son. The passage reads,

“Teacher, I brought my son so you could heal him. He is possessed by an evil spirit that won’t let him talk. 18 And whenever this spirit seizes him, it throws him violently to the ground. Then he foams at the mouth and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast out the evil spirit, but they couldn’t do it.” 19 Jesus said to them, “You faithless people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.” 20 So they brought the boy. But when the evil spirit saw Jesus, it threw the child into a violent convulsion, and he fell to the ground, writhing and foaming at the mouth. 21 “How long has this been happening?” Jesus asked the boy’s father. He replied, “Since he was a little boy. 22 The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.” 23 “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.” 24 The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” 25 When Jesus saw that the crowd of onlookers was growing, he rebuked the evil spirit. “Listen, you spirit that makes this boy unable to hear and speak,” he said. “I command you to come out of this child and never enter him again!” 26 Then the spirit screamed and threw the boy into another violent convulsion and left him. The boy appeared to be dead. A murmur ran through the crowd as people said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and helped him to his feet, and he stood up. 28 Afterward, when Jesus was alone in the house with his disciples, they asked him, “Why couldn’t we cast out that evil spirit?” 29 Jesus replied, “This kind can be cast out only by prayer,” (Mark 9:17-29, NLT).

The first point that resonated with me was when the man requested that Jesus, “Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.” The text did not clarify whether or not the man doubted Jesus’ ability or whether he doubted His willingness. Nevertheless, it doesn’t matter because both suppositions are equally dangerous. Both thoughts are sign of unfaithfulness. One thought says that God can’t do what He says he could do, while the other says that God won’t do what he said that he would do. Both assertions label God a liar. While we might be inclined to look down our noses at the father in this parable, the truth is that many of us are no different. We pray with question marks instead of exclamation points. We either think God can’t do what He promised or we think that He does not have the desire to follow through on His promises. Somehow we have to get to a place in our spirituality where we know that God is faithful even when we are not.
The second point that resonated with me was when the man asked God to help him with his “unbelief.”   As Christians, we need to know that there will be times in our walk with Christ when we need to restore or even ignite our faith.  In those moments, we will need to ask God to help us to restore/establish our faith foundation.  Sometimes, what we need is the faith to have faith.
The last point that captured my attention was the fact that the disciples could not cast out the demon from inside the boy. When the disciples ask Jesus to explain why they had failed. Jesus replied, “This kind can be cast out only by prayer.” For me this was huge. I believe that the passage was saying that while it is important to have people in our lives to intercede on our behalves, there are times where we are just going to have to seek Jesus directly. In other words, sometimes we are going to have to go directly to the source ourselves.  We will need to go to God in prayer.  In our lives there might be strongholds that could only be removed through prayer.  There might be desires that could only be granted through prayer.  Maybe, the answer to what we are looking for is hidden in the prayer we have not yet said.  Therefore, its manifestation cannot be released because it has not yet been spoken into existence.  Remember, it was with words that God spoke the world into existence.

Today’s prayer

Lord,

Help us to pray with an exclamation point and not a question.  We ask that we truly believe that you are able to do all things and that you desire the very best for our lives.  Lord, help us with our unbelief.  Help us to have faith in faith.  Finally, we ask that you grant the desires of our heart, and your will be done.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen!

Jesus Christ is said to be the finisher of our faith. In Hebrews 12:2, the NIV Bible refers to him as the “pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Philippians 1:6 says, “I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns,” (NLT). What does this all mean? It means that God will never start something and not carry it through to the end. Remember, He is not a man that he should lie (Numbers 23:19). So, if He said it, it must be so!
If you have a dream in your heart, and you are wondering how God will ever bring it to pass, then this message should give you hope. God will never place dreams in our hearts and then taunt us by making them unachievable.
The Bible says that in order to live our best lives, we must have faith. Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him,” (NIV). Here is a critical point that is often lost on most of us, including myself. Faith, or lack thereof, isn’t our biggest problem. Many of have faith, or we think we do. The problem is, not our faith per se. The problem is, we don’t know who God is. Re-read Hebrews 11:6 more carefully. It says that anyone who comes to God must believe that He exists AND that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. I would argue that most believer would agree that God exists. I think most people, believers and non-believers alike, struggle with the fact that God genuinely wants to reward them. I believe that before we can truly have faith in God, we have to learn a little more about who He is. It’s impossible to have faith in someone we know little or nothing about.
I could use a million examples to illustrate who God is, but today I want to focus on just one. Hopefully, we could meditate on this example throughout the day and allow the words to truly marinate. In Genesis 28:15, God told Jacob that “I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you.” A few chapters later, Jacob wrestles with God in Genesis 32:22-32.  In the passage, Jacob was alone when:

a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break. 25 When the man saw that he would not win the match, he touched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of its socket. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 “What is your name?” the man asked. He replied, “Jacob.” 28 “Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.” 29 “Please tell me your name,” Jacob said. “Why do you want to know my name?” the man replied. Then he blessed Jacob there.

How many of us are currently wrestling with God regarding our current situations?  Our relationships are broken.  Our marriages are not what we would like them to be.  We haven’t met the partner we thought we would have.  Our business ventures have failed.  We have no idea how to initiate the dream that God has laid on our hearts.  Our children are not where we would like them to be. There are so many ways that we all wrestle with God, yet He remains faithful. I believe that the moment that we truly realize that God is faithful, even when we are not (2Timothy 2:13), is the moment that we can truly begin to have faith. Today, remember that God promised Jacob that He would never leave him until He had given him everything that he has promised. Know that the promises made to Jacob are also applicable to us. It is also important to remember that God has also placed eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Therefore, if God has promised us eternity, and He won’t leave us until He has given us everything He has promised, then God will NEVER leave us. This should comfort us to know that God will never leave us!