“NO LOOKING BACK”

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Yesterday was hard and; while I wanted to play back my day and reflect I heard the Holy Spirit whisper audibly “Do not look back” over my brooding soul. God is truly concerned about the tiniest details of our lives. I recently listened to a sermon by A.W. Towzer which simply turned out to be the right prescription I needed to apply today.

I love familiar places; hopefully I’m not the only culprit who does. Wait. You do too. Our past is familiar. It is heartbreaking to see so many people live their lives camping out in the past that cannot be changed and turning their backs on a grand future. We all know it is impossible to be effective in two places simultaneously and the only person who could accomplish that is God. We can never give one hundred percent of ourselves in the present if we keep dwelling on the past.

There is a lot at stake to remain, and truthfully your life will be unhappy. There is an art of forgetting, and every Christian should become skilled in it. Forgetting the things which are behind is a positive necessity if we are to become more than mere babes in Christ. If we cannot trust God to have dealt effectually with our past we may as well throw in the sponge now and have it over with.

The children of Israel found themselves in extreme bondage, they cried to God to deliver them, and God sent a deliverer. They experienced firsthand the goodness, kindness, protection, and provision of God. He split the Red Sea, he destroyed their enemies, he made bitter water sweet, he rained manna from heaven and fed them, their shoes never wore out, and their clothes were kept. He covered them, moved with them, and most of all loved them even when they complained. But they could not let go of the past and that blinded them to the glorious future God had for them.

They were eyewitnesses to the Promised Land flowing with milk and honey but because they did not rid themselves of the “Look back mentality” they saw the giants in the land rather than the big, big God with them. The past kept them in fear, and they doubted God’s plans. Because of their evil report of the goodness of God; they never made it to the promise land. (Deuteronomy 28)

Today the stories told in this plan is of greater value than silver and gold. It may have been too late for the Israelites in the wilderness, but it’s not too late for you. Fifty years of grieving over our sins cannot blot out their guilt. But if God has indeed pardoned and cleansed us, then we should count it done and waste no more time in sterile lamentations. And thank God this sudden obliteration of our familiar past does not leave us with a vacuum. Far from it.

Into the empty world vacated by our sins and failures rushes the blessed Spirit of God, bringing with Him everything new. New life, new hope, new enjoyments, new interests, new purposeful toil, and best of all a new and satisfying object toward which to direct our soul’s enraptured gaze. God now fills the recovered garden, and we may without fear walk and commune with Him in the cool of the day. Right here is where the weakness of much current Christianity lies. We have not learned where to lay our emphasis. Particularly we have not understood that we are saved to know God, to enter His wonder-filled Presence through the new and living way and remain in that Presence forever. We are called to an everlasting preoccupation with God.

The Triune God with all of His mystery and majesty is ours and we are His, and eternity will not be long enough to experience all that He is of goodness, holiness and truth. In heaven they rest not day or night in their ecstatic worship of the Godhead. We profess to be headed for that place; shall we not begin now to worship on earth as we shall do in heaven?

Living in the past is of great detriment to your future. I want to ask you today to leave the past behind, clear your heart of the clutter and take hold of the glorious future God has planned out for you. The past is over; God is about moving forward!

Looking Back Only Limits The Future

Prayer

Holy Spirit, I thank you for the revelation I received, and I genuinely want to make it into the future God has for me. I am sorry I’ve wasted so much time on the things I cannot change, I am sorry for taking for granted what you so freely provide for me every day. I am sorry for robbing the people in my life because of the “look back mentality.” Holy Spirit, help me to forget the pain associated with the past and as I visit my past from now on let it be for only moments of its lessons and remembering how you brought me out of bondage. I am extremely grateful for my future which is found in you and I believe you keep moulding, shaping, directing and leading me to that promised future. Thank you. Amen

Stay blessed always!

“I DON’T OWN THE RIGHT TO THE IMAGE ATTACHED”

When There’s No Rescue In Sight…

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Some days (weeks, months, seasons, years) I feel hard-pressed. Like life has me between a mortar and pestle and is pounding me into fine dust. I know you can relate. You sweat and groan and weep and rage and cannot find relief. The intense pressure doesn’t stop. You plead for rescue, yet the vise of life’s challenges squeezes tighter and tighter until you think you might scream, and sometimes you do.

For when we came into Macedonia, this body of ours had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within” (2 Corinthians 7:5).

The New King James translation of this verse uses the painfully descriptive phrase “hard pressed” to describe Paul’s trials. “We were hard pressed on every side.” The origin of this phrase comes from the practice of squeezing a fruit or vegetable (grapes, olives) to extract its juice.

“Why doesn’t God rescue me?” you cry, and the question echoes back. “Why?”

I’d like to share some reasons why God sometimes chooses not to rescue us. 

  • We don’t believe He can.

God  works  in response to faithHebrews 11:6 tells us that without faith, it is impossible to please him. For God to answer our prayers, we must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him(Hebrews 11:6). Our lack of faith can be a huge hindrance, not because God can’t overrule our faithlessness, but because he won’t. He never forces faith on anyone. Thankfully, all it takes is the faith of a mustard seed to invite God to work in our lives. It’s not how much faith we have, but in whom our faith rests that matters.

  • We have sin in our lives.

We cannot willfully choose to disobey God and simultaneously expect him to bless us. As human parents, we withhold blessings from our children when they rebel against us. God often does the same. More important than health, wealth, and happiness is whether we have a right relationship with God. He’ll often use difficult circumstances to help us realize how much we need him.

  • We need to learn to trust Him. 

Our faith begins small and increases with every challenge. Like a muscle, our confidence in God’s power grows stronger the more we exercise it. Trials, heartbreaks, and circumstances beyond our control force us to turn to our all-powerful God. Every time we acknowledge our weakness and see Him act on our behalves, our faith grows. Before long, we have a long list of answered prayers that makes it easier and easier to trust Him.

  • He knows that a rescue wouldn’t be best.

So often we just want OUT of a difficult situation. We’re not interested in what’s best in the long term, we want relief now. I remember when my nephew went through circumcision. Every now and then an ointment is applied to ensure the healing of the wound. He’d be in such excruciating pain even for a little baby. I’m sure if you asked him during this painful time if he wanted no application of the ointment, he would have said, “YES!”

My mum knew, however, that while not applying any ointment would have ended his temporary suffering, it would have interfered with his long-term health. The same is true of many of our trials. The apostle Paul knew this when he wrote, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).

  • There’s a lesson we need to learn or a character quality we need to develop through this situation. 

When I lost my dad, I learnt that God is my father. When I lost my job I learnt that God is my provider. When I cared for my niece and nephew in the absence of my mum and sister, I learned patience, kindness, and unselfishness. When I worked with difficult coworkers, I learned to see them through Jesus’ eyes, not my own. Instead of asking Why? when we encounter difficulty, what if we asked What?, as in, What can I learn from this situation?

  • God is building our faith story so we can one day share what we’ve learned with others.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 reveals this purpose: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ … who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” 

Because of the faith valleys I’ve walked, I can truly identify with and minister to those who have lost a loved one especially a parent, going through a hardship or brokenness, experienced unemployment, lack and rejection. Experiencing God’s faithfulness during these difficult times has enabled me to say with certainty to others, “God will help you.” It is well, this too shall pass

  • God is doing something amazing.
 You can’t see it right now, but He is working out his purpose in your situation. Nothing can thwart God’s good purposes for His children.
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
  • God is developing His mind and heart in you.
 When circumstances press us hard into God’s Word and force us to seek him for wisdom, faith, grace, and strength, he begins to conform us to His image. We can’t spend large amounts of time in His presence without starting to think, act, and love like He does. One can certainly link the behavioral traits you exhibit to that of your earthly parents. How much more your father in Heaven?“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son… (Romans 8:28-29).

God is teaching you that a close, personal, spiritual relationship with him is sweeter and more precious than a happy, healthy, trouble-free, physical life.

I experienced a trial years ago greater than anything I’d ever walked through before. With one phone call, I felt like everything precious to me had been stripped away. I awakened the next morning feeling like I had nothing left but God.

As I cried, and prayed, and cried some more, Jesus met me there. He wrapped his big tender arms of love around me and spoke words of hope into my troubled soul. He spoke words of truth into my reeling mind. He spoke words of love into my broken heart. And He spoke words of courage into my trampled faith.

My encounter with Him was so powerful and real that I will never again doubt His love, care, and purpose. “It was good for me to be afflicted,” King David wrote, “so that I might learn your ways,” and I agree. While I would never voluntarily choose to repeat those dark days, I know God used them to grow my love for Him in ways He never could have otherwise.

“… I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8).

God is Still Powerful, Just, and Good

There are many reasons God chooses not to rescue us from our trials. I’ve listed a few here to get you thinking. What comforts me in the darkness of suffering is the knowledge that God is just, God is powerful, and God is good.

I can rest in this, you can, too.

Stay blessed, always!

“I DON’T OWN THE RIGHTS TO THE ATTACHED IMAGE”

 

ALL IS AT REST!

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BLESSED ASSURANCE

The early hours of dawn always has this twist to it; reflective. I woke up with this hymn deeply rooted in my spirit. It happens to be one of my favorite, Fanny Crosby was absolutely one inspiring and endearing writer.

In a successful song words and music must harmonize, not only in number of syllables, but in subject matter and especially accent. In nine cases out of ten, the success of a hymn depends directly upon these qualities.

It is hard to imagine a better setting for the text, and certainly the tune and harmony do as much to carry the hymn as do the words. This is not meant as a criticism, but the text of “Blessed assurance,” dear as it is to millions of Christian hearts, is not the pinnacle of English poetry. Honestly, for the seed of hope it plants in every believer‘s heart; in the many hundred times that I have heard it sung.

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine
O what a foretaste of glory divine
Heir of salvation, purchase of God
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood

Perfect submission, all is at rest
I in my Savior am happy and blessed
Watching and waiting, looking above
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love

This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long
This is my story, this is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long

Oh what a Savior, wonderful Jesus

Death could not hold You, You are victorious
Praise to the risen King
Death could not hold You, You are victorious
Praise to the risen King

Oh what a Savior, wonderful Jesus
Oh what a Savior

Wonderful Savior

Simply assuring right?

Basically our lack of assurance boils down to two issues: We don’t believe what God’s Word says, and we think we are the ones who must hold onto our salvation. Jesus said that no one can snatch His sheep out of His hand (John 10:27-29) He’s the one who holds us, and He’s promised that He will lose none of those whom the Father has given Him (John 6:39) If we begin to doubt for any reason, we must go back to Scripture and let the Lord assure us of His love and provision.

Until you walk a mile in someone else’s moccasins, you really can’t tell how you will respond in similar circumstances. While I pray it’s not how I would respond to facing a life of not being able to see the beauty around me, I’m afraid that I might just sit around feeling sorry for myself and let people help me — probably too much. Not Fanny Crosby!

Instead of feeling sorry for herself, she said, It seemed intended by the blessed providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank Him for the dispensation.” Such faith. The compensation of childlike earnestness which we dare not undervalue. I can only hope that I might respond to the dark moments I experience in my own life (when I can see clearly what God is doing) with such positive feelings.

Trust God. Know that He will comfort you and navigate your way. Don’t let fear rule your heart, know that God is with you and He is your rearguard.

Let God navigate your course. He is your Redeemer. He is with you and He is for you. He is your “Blessed Assurance”

Calmly rest not in your reliance on shifting emotions as verification of your standing with God. Instead, perfectly submitting to Him, knowing that all is truly at rest.

Stay blessed!

“I DON’T OWN THE RIGHT TO THE ATTACHED IMAGE”

MOVE FORWARD WITH INTEGRITY

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Did I tell you I have integrity and excellence slated out as my resolution for this year? Well, I think I just did. Let’s see the definition of Integrity; the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles — honorable. Joseph is our sure reference.

The key to Joseph’s turnaround in life is something we can easily overlook, which is the fact that he continued to do what was right whenever he was being wronged.

Joseph was simply a man of integrity. His life is proof of the truth that — If you will trust God in the pit and in the prison, God will bring you into the palace. He will bless and favor you.

Have you been there before? How many times have you wanted to give back a “wrong for a wrong” response? I have been — okay confession — countless times.

“The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.” (Exodus 14:14 KJV)

Continuously renew your mind to let go while God plays defense attorney on your behalf. And guess what we’ve been assured of peace. The one true peace that surpasses all human understanding. Jesus — Peace.

Until the time that his word came: the word of the LORD tried him. (Psalm 105:19 KJV)

These very words were spoken with reference to Joseph, during the period of his imprisonment. For the understanding of them I think we must observe that there is a contrast drawn between two ‘words,’ ‘his’ (i.e. Joseph’s) and God’s. If we lay firm hold of that clue, I think it will lead us into clear daylight.

Look what happened when Joseph chose to move forward with integrity,
God rewarded him.

40 Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou.

41 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt.

42 And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph’s hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck;

43 And he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried before him, Bow the knee: and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt. (Genesis 41:40-43 KJV)

You may not be able to see it now, but the same God who did these things for Joseph will do them for you. He will restore the things taken from you.

May the gatekeeper of wisdom redeem your life from the pit and crown you with love and compassion. Amen

Win from the inside with integrity.

 

I don’t own the right to any of the images”

“Love Everybody, Always!”

It’s easy to love kind, lovely, humble people. I mean, who wouldn’t? These are the ones I’ve spent much of my life loving. Loving the people who are easy to love made me feel like I was really good at it. Because the people I loved were kind and wonderful, they made sure they told me what a great job I was doing loving them.

What I’ve come to realize, though, is that I was avoiding the people I didn’t understand and the ones who lived differently than me. Here’s why: some of them creep me out. Sure, I was polite to them, but sadly, I’ve spent my whole life avoiding the people Jesus spent His whole life engaging. God’s idea isn’t that we would just give and receive love but that we could actually become love. The way we do this can be summarized like this:

His plan is that we would love everybody, always.

36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:36-40 KJV)

People who are becoming love see the beauty in others even when their off-putting behavior makes for a pretty weird mask. What Jesus told His friends can be summed up in this way: He wants us to love everybody, always—and start with the people who creep us out. The truth is, we probably creep them out as much as they do us.

Are there people you should give a wide berth to? You bet. There are people in my life and yours who are unsafe, toxic, and delight in sowing discord wherever they go. God gave us discernment, and we should use it as we live our lives. He’s also given us love and understanding and kindness and the ability to forgive, which have power we often leave untapped.

There’s a difference between good judgment and living in judgment. The trick is to use lots of the first and to go a little lighter on the second if we want to live the big life Jesus talked about.

Remember you heart is one organ that is always vacant and the tenant is LOVE.

God loves you,

I do too.

Stay blessed, Always.

I’d like to recommend Goff’s book, Everybody, Always, click here: https://amzn.to/2I5UF4K

Can The Lord Just Hurry?

Impatience becomes our default trait when the promises of God seem to be sitting on a shelf without any sign of them getting fulfilled — at least the expected time on our calendar has already been crossed out! 

 I looked up again, but the scene before me hadn’t changed at all. Still behind this particular tractor. The traffic was obviously not moving and boy I was growing impatient. I desperately needed to get to this wedding and to make matters worse, I was one of the bridesmaids. Sigh.

Those of us who’ve lived in villages (rural areas) before know tractors on the road are a fact of life. However, just being “the norm” doesn’t make them any less irritating if you’re in a hurry. Some years back I remember I had to accompany my dad to one of His emergency cabinet meetings in the village, He was in a rush as our car followed a tractor down a narrow two-lane road. Once my dad’s patience was stretched to its limit, He completely lost it and started yelling, “Masa Hurry! Hurry! If you are not in a hurry move!” Amazingly, my dad’s impatience didn’t speed up the procession at all.

How many times have I approached God’s timing the same way? God rarely operates at a pace that pleases me, and I want Him to hurry, hurry, hurry! I’ve prayed impatient prayers for a job, for marriage, for ministry and even a greater understanding of His Word.

Just this week, I found myself reminding God that the year is ending and I’m fast approaching another significant birthday… as if He’d forgotten. There’s a dream in my heart that feels like it has an expiration date, so I was pleading with God to fulfill it quickly, before my bones are too creaky to do what I know He’s called me to do.

There was a woman in the Bible who also felt past her prime and had trouble with God’s timing. Sarah, Abraham’s wife, felt impatient just like I feel impatient. After waiting 10 years for the baby God had promised her (Genesis 12-21), Sarah decided to help God hurry. Surely 10 years was too long for anybody to wait, she likely reasoned.

So Sarah gave her maidservant Hagar to her husband, and the two of them had a child. Even our modern-day television dramas don’t hold a candle to what ensued! It turned out “helping” didn’t help, and the promise still wasn’t fulfilled.

Fourteen years later, Sarah and Abraham had a visitor who reminded them of God’s promise, causing Sarah to laugh out loud and say, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?” (Genesis 18:12)

Do you hear your disbelief and questions about God’s timing echoed in Sarah’s? Well, I hear mine. Now, Lord? I thought this would happen years ago. Aren’t You just a little late?

God answered Sarah’s question in a way that answers ours, too. “Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son” (Genesis 18:14).

Less than a year later, Isaac, the child whom God had promised 25 years before, was born. God was not late. His timing was perfect. It was Sarah who had been in a hurry, but God called Isaac’s birthday the appointed time.”

According to the dictionary, “appointed” means “predetermined; arranged; set.” Isaac’s birth came at the exact time God had planned all along!

God may seem like a tractor in the road, slowing down our dreams, but He knows the entirety of our story from beginning to end. He also knows how our story weaves into the lives of others. We may be tapping our watches, but He is never late. He may seem slow, but He’s always right on time. He is never on the blindside of our challenges and storms – nothing takes Him by surprise. God Himself holds the appointed time in His hands.

Has God made a promise to you that seems delayed? Has He planted a dream in your heart that has not yet come to pass? You can see I’ve struggled with impatience too, but let’s stand together in confident hope! God is faithful, and we can rely on His perfect timing.

“I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.” (Psalm 130:5)

Dear God,

Sometimes I don’t understand Your timing. It’s hard to wait, but I trust You. I want to rely on Your ways, Your thoughts and Your perfect timing. Help me learn what I need to learn as I wait, and help me resist rushing Your plan. May I wax stronger in you as I wait In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Stay Blessed, Always!

“ARE YOU FOR ME OR AGAINST ME?”

Image result for image of opposition

We’ve all been there at one point or another — standing in the formidable shadow of difficult situations that refuse to budge, while fear whispers in our ear about the inevitability of our defeat. One of the many reasons I’m so thankful for God’s Word. Because tucked into its pages, we find story after story of people who can help us learn in the midst of our battles. People who show us what it means — to look to and solely depend upon the Lord.

“Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, ‘Are you for us or for our enemies?’” Joshua 5:13 (NIV)

Take Joshua, for example. If ever someone might feel overwhelmed at a situation totally out of their control, his experience facing Jericho was it.

Not only did the wall surrounding Jericho look invincible, but there was also the issue of Israel’s army lacking proper weapons for tackling such an impressively guarded city. You can’t exactly pull down walls with arrows and spears. That’s a job for battering rams and catapults — items noticeably missing from their arsenal.

But they had come too far to turn back. And the people of Israel were counting on Joshua to lead them into this land promised by God.

With all these facts and details weighing on him, Joshua is suddenly confronted by a man with a drawn sword. Scripture reveals this is no mere human. This is the commander of the Lord’s army — God’s presence in human form. And this is no everyday occurrence either. It is an incredible encounter.

Seeing the man is ready for battle, Joshua asks, Are you for us or for our enemies?(Joshua 5:13) Wrapped in this honest question I sense hesitancy in Joshua — a peek inside his thought life — doubt — and a need for reassurance. Such an honest question, but it makes me believe perhaps Joshua isn’t walking in complete confidence and assurance. If he were, he wouldn’t have asked. But he did.

This is where we assume that, of course, God’s presence will answer, “Joshua, I am with you, for you and on your side!” But that would be assuming wrongly.

When asked, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” the presence of God replies, “Neither, but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come” (Joshua 5:14a). Joshua falls face down in humility and reverence — asking what message the Lord has for him, His servant. (Joshua 5:14b)

I wonder what kind of message Joshua was expecting, even longing for. Perhaps one overflowing with war strategies or perhaps “Joshua you will definitely win this battle” . But instead of detailed plans, Joshua receives a call to worship. He’s told to remove his sandals, for the ground is holy. (Joshua 5:15)

It’s an invitation and a reminder for Joshua to worship the One who’s not only big enough to handle the impending battle, but also loving enough to address the doubt, fear and insecurity running through Joshua’s mind. And as Joshua slips off his sandals, I’m reminded of what I need in the face of my own seemingly insurmountable situations: I need to worry less and worship more…

When I’m desperate for God to give me all the details…

When I’m wishing He would give me the tiniest peek at His plans …

When I’m starting to wonder if He’s for me or against me…

I need to pause, lift my eyes to the One willing to meet me in the midst of my fears, and worship Him. Worshiping not only because it honors Him, but because it also changes me.

Honor the LORD for the glory of his name. Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.” (Psalm 29:2)

Worship might not be the first thing that comes to mind when we feel overwhelmed, but it truly is powerful. It reminds our trembling hearts and shaky knees that our God is mighty, our God is loving and our God is a more-than-able God. It both quiets us and strengthens us — perfectly preparing our hearts and minds for whatever battles lie ahead.

I don’t know what “walls” you’re facing in your life right now, friend. I don’t know how overwhelming and daunting they seem. But I do know the perfect battle plan for each and every one of us…

Worry less. Worship more.  Trust our God to lead us into victory.

Prayer

Father Lord, thank You for reminding me that the best way to prepare my heart and mind for battle is to simply and humbly worship You. So today, as I lay my fears down at Your feet, I lift my hands up to You in worship. You are worthy of my trust. You are worthy of my praise. Today and every day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Stay Blessed Always!