Friday, February 28, 2014

Change Gonna Come


Change Gonna Come -- Al Green

This is a re-print of a post written in January 11, 2013. I hope you are blessed to read it again.

It's been too hard living but I'm afraid to die
'Cause I don't know what's up there beyond the sky
It's been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

Songwriters: Tom White, and Alex White

Very often in life, we are faced with the possibility of change, but at times, we are ill prepared for it. Some changes are good, some necessary, and some unwanted. No matter the reason, change will come in our life.

It’s not only predicated upon how I handle change, but more importantly, my attitude before, during and after the change occurs.

The seasons are a vivid reminder of coming change. Fall turns into winter, winter changes to spring and spring becomes summer. I have often reminded myself that being human, allows me to adapt to changes in weather.

But how often have I remembered this when my change doesn’t involve the weather.

Sometimes, I need to change, but I simply refuse.

Why do I need to change?

My attitude, my words, and my behavior all affect how I respond to change.

I think there are instances when an intervention is a wakeup call for change.

You decide to meet friends for Happy Hour, have a few drinks and on the way home, a policeman stops you because you’re driving erratically. That is an intervention of sorts that perhaps you need a behavioral change.

You pride yourself on saying exactly what needs to be said, no matter what. “I just tell it like it is! I’m just being real!” This time, you went a little too far and now, someone is crushed because you decided being real was more important than relationships.

Unlike most people, you’re gifted to see every dark cloud behind the silver lining. You know whenever something good happens, Murphy’s Law is initiated. You know that bad things happen to people because they did something to deserve it. So when your wife loses her job due to layoffs, you struggle with thoughts that it was something she did to deserve it; instead of being encouraging, supportive and loving.

No matter how many times I read the book of Job, I am always blown away by his attitude. He lost everything that most would say: mattered. Yet, I have to believe that Job was not indifferent to what happened in his life. He lost his wealth, his children and his health but he accepted these changes as adversities which he had no control over. To him, it was important to honor the Lord in the midst of these changes. He even said,

If a man dies, will he live again? All the days of my struggle I will wait until my change comes.

When I struggle, am I willing to wait until my change comes?

Job speaks of the resurrection when he asks, “If a man dies, will he live again?” It’s as if he is saying, whether the change comes in this life or not, I know the change will happen in the resurrection!

Paul once wrote:

…but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees?

So when I am struggling with changing circumstances, I will hope. I may be knocked to the ground but I will hope. Some may tell me to give up but I will hope.

Why?

…I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth.

Christ lives! No matter what happens in my life, that truth gives me hope for change.

MTJ

A Note of Thanks: I would just like to say that I appreciate each of you who visit My Thought-filled Journey. Taking time out of your schedule to read a post on this blog is encouraging to me. Many of those who visit, will from time to time leave a comment. Whether a comment is left is not important. What is important, is that you came. I do hope you find encouragement and inspiration in these words. Please know I will pray with you regarding any circumstance you may be facing. Feel free to write me to say "Hello", request prayer, or share what God is doing in your life. I have not said it enough, but thank you for the light of Chist in your life which illuminates the way for us all.

Note: This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays (hosted by Charlotte).Spiritual Sundays

Friday, February 21, 2014

What Will You Do?


What will you do?

"All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this wilderness!" (Numbers 14:2, NIV)

As I read through the Old Testament, I am always struck by the lack of faith the Israelites failed to demonstrate despite the miracles God demonstrated in their lives as they wandered through the desert for forty years. I find myself asking the question (again and again):

How could they not trust the God who delivered them from slavery? What was it that robbed them of faithfully trusting God’s promises, miracles and commands?

The obvious answer is that they lacked faith in God. They never determined to trust in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

How does their life (God’s chosen people Israel) contrast with the lives of Christians today?

God delivered them with miracles, signs and wonders from Egyptian slavery, parted the Red Sea and enabled them to walk through it on dry land, fed them with manna from heaven, and quenched their thirst with water from a rock. Still, they didn’t trust this same God who said He gave to them a land flowing with milk and honey. They were afraid of the inhabitants who occupied the land. They constantly said they were better off in Egypt.

In America, Christians go to church on Sunday where they are reminded of the grace, mercy and love God has for them. Regardless of the level of their spiritual maturity, their motivation, traditions or habits, Christians gather together in the presence of Almighty God.

When we exit the doors of our local churches, what becomes of our attitudes toward God, toward fellow Christians, toward others not part of our church?

The Old Testament Jews were not gifted with the Holy Spirit in their life as New Testament Christian believers. Christians don’t require signs and wonders to know God is faithful to His promises. Christians are told that we are all sinners, that there is none righteous, not even one. Christians know that no one can stand before the presence of God on their own merit and be justified. It takes the redemptive work of Jesus Christ to justify anyone before the judgment of God.

So Christians have no reason to grumble, complain, quarrel, or lack true faith!

I am grieved when I hear Christians complain. I am just as grieved when I hear some of the words that have been uttered from my lips. Despite my grief, it cannot compare to the sadness our words produce when they echo in the heavens before God.

When I look back at my life, I can clearly see how it was the grace of God which carried me through each and every trial I faced. When I hear the words, Jehovah-Jireh, I know God is my provider.

God provides!

I know that the grace of God carries me throughout the days of my life, so while I am tempted to complain and grumble, I must refrain. I have determined to trust the outcome of my day to the providence of God’s amazing grace.

When I hear others speak of how good they had it before, I won’t complain. When I hear others speak of how terrible the United States is, I won’t complain. When others rail against political leaders, I won’t complain. When religious leaders are exposed for immoral conduct, I won’t complain.

I will pray.

I will remember that I am not worthy of the many blessings God has showered in my life. I will remember that God has been merciful to me when by all accounts, I deserved no mercy. I will remember that God loved me when I myself did not love Him.

I will thank God for His infinite love which He gives to all. I will pray.

God said, “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” (Hebrews 10:16, NIV)

I will embrace the covenant of God because He has written His words in my heart. I will remember the word of God says, “For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:20, NASB)

My life is not my own, I belong to God. Because of this I am not conforming to this world I live in, I am being transformed as God has said,

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.Romans 12:2, NASB)

I will pray that each day, my life is being transformed into a truer reflection of Jesus Christ. My thoughts, words, behavior and life reflect Jesus not the man I once was.

What will you do today?

MTJ

A Note of Thanks: I would just like to say that I appreciate each of you who visit My Thought-filled Journey. Taking time out of your schedule to read a post on this blog is encouraging to me. Many of those who visit, will from time to time leave a comment. Whether a comment is left is not important. What is important, is that you came. I do hope you find encouragement and inspiration in these words. Please know I will pray with you regarding any circumstance you may be facing. Feel free to write me to say "Hello", request prayer, or share what God is doing in your life. I have not said it enough, but thank you for the light of Christ in your life which illuminates the way for us all.

Spiritual SundaysNote: This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays (hosted by Charlotte).

Friday, February 14, 2014

Touched By God


Touched By God (image courtesy of branham.org)

I never tire of reading about the patriarchs in the Old Testament. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob provide me with insights to the subject of biblical faith. For me it is like gazing at a beautiful painting that a person visits again and again in some art gallery; sitting for hours and admiring each beautiful stroke. Unlike a beautiful work of art, the lives of these men strike a chord with me because they all faced adversity, obstacles, and discouragement. Their journeys did not begin with confident faith in God, but over time, in spite of their individual failures, they persevered and became men of faith.

I am reminded of times in my life when my faith was challenged, and for me it inevitably comes down to a choice between life and death; without Christ, my life is doomed to failure, frustration and discouragement. None of us has the ability to see the road which lies ahead. Perhaps if we could, our choices would be different, but good or bad, right or wrong, I make choices in life that I hope produce a favorable outcome. I suppose, that can be viewed as selfish, but I don’t believe it is selfish for a father to love his children, a husband or wife to love each other, to love a friend, or simply to love others as much as I love myself.

At some point in our lives, we will face a crisis of some type, be it death, illness, or catastrophe; something which reminds us that we are powerless to face the obstacle that lies on the road ahead of us. I have to believe that for Jacob, the only thing that mattered the night he wrestled with God was to discover the height, length, breadth and width of God’s touch. I have brothers, but I have never known the fear that my brother wanted to kill me.

Jacob lived with that fear for twenty years.

Can you imagine his thoughts when God spoke to him?

Go back to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you.

I can only imagine what questions went through his mind:
  1. Go back to the place I fled twenty years ago?
  2. Have I forgotten the reason why I left?
  3. Has Esau forgotten or forgiven me in twenty years?
  4. Does Esau still want me dead?
The words, “I will be with you” remind me of what the writer of Hebrews quoted,

God has said, Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.

To know that God is with you every step of the way instills confidence in a person; enough confidence to return and face possible death. Yet, confidence alone isn’t always enough. Sometimes we need a little reassurance, a spiritual pat on the back.

Jacob needed it that night.

Like the centurion soldier, Jacob humbled himself in the presence of God and said, I’m not worthy of all you’ve done for me. I left with nothing, and I’m returning with a family, livestock, servants, and wealth. I have been agrabberall my life; holding on to what I wanted most. But now, I want to lay hold of what has laid hold to me!

Have you ever felt that moment of desperation when all you could do is call on the name of the Lord?

Sometimes it comes from a sense of panic or fear. Other times it comes from the knowledge that there is no other help you know. Whatever the reason, you find yourself calling on Jesus to come to your aid.

You grapple with a spiritual battle whether you know it or not. The bible declares that:

...we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere.

So the real opposition is spiritual, not physical, emotional, financial, or intellectual; it pits you against the powers that oppose God.

I don’t know if Jacob understood this when he grabbed on to God as he pleaded for help from the only one capable of helping him; the God of Abraham and Isaac.

This same God is also the God of Jacob.

What does this me for you?

He is your God as well!

It is not the length of our prayers, or the many words that one utters that matter. It is our willingness to trust God with the outcome. To enter into agreement with Him; to say, Amen!

Maybe you won’t have a dislocated hip at the conclusion of your prayer, but you will have an answer! Maybe your answer will take time. Are you willing to faithfully wait? Maybe your answer is “No”. Are you faithful enough to trust that God knows best?

Whatever God says in answer to your prayer, know that He will touch your life in a way like no one else can.

Do you need to be touched? Stretch out your hand to the God of heaven and earth.

One touch from the Master will radically change your life. Let Him touch you, right now where you are.

Jesus: I need you in my life. I need you to bless my life, my relationships, my family. Someone I know and love needs Your protection. Touch them right now Lord. Whatever You do, it’s alright with me. I believe You are working a plan for my life and that plan will prosper in me. Bless me Lord. Not because I’m worthy, but because You are merciful, gracious, and loving. Guide me Lord in the way I should go because You order my steps. You are Son of the Most High God and I give You all the praise, with my whole heart, mind, soul, body and strength. Thank You right now Lord for Your blessed goodness. Amen.

MTJ

Thank you for reading this blog: I just want to say that I appreciate each of you who visit My Thought-filled Journey. By taking time out of your schedule to read a post on this blog you encourage to me. Many of you who visit will from time to time leave a comment, that stirs my soul with gratitude. Whether a comment is left is not important. What is important, is that you came here. I hope you find encouragement and inspiration in these words. Please know I am ready to pray with you regarding any circumstance you may be facing. Please feel free to write me to say "Hello", request prayer, or share what God is doing in your life. I cannot say it enough, but thank you for the light of Christ in your life which illuminates the way for us all.

Note: This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays (hosted by Charlotte).Spiritual Sundays

Friday, February 7, 2014

Holding on to His Promise


Jacob Wrestles with God

Then Jacob prayed,O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, Lord, you who said to me,Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper,I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two camps. Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children. But you have said,I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.’”1

We know the story of Jacob as his life unfolds before us in the book of Genesis. He was the twin brother of Esau. Esau was the firstborn and as such was heir to the blessings of their father Isaac. But Jacob, unlike his brother Esau, saw the value of “the birthright”. In reading about them, we discover that Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for bread and lentil stew. The bible even affirms in Genesis 25 that Esau “despised his birthright”.2 Later on we learn (in Genesis 27) that Jacob and his mother successfully deceive Isaac into blessing Jacob with the rights of firstborn son.

Twenty years pass by the time Jacob offers this prayer in Genesis 32, and we see that he is returning now, back to the land of his fathers (Abraham and Isaac). God speaks to him in Genesis 31:

Then the Lord said to Jacob,Go back to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you.3

But Jacob fears for his life and the lives of his wives and children, because his brother Esau held a grudge against him for receiving the blessing Isaac gave to him. Esau said, “I will kill my brother Jacob”.4

We all face fear at certain times, in our lives, fears which cause us to hesitate, worry and doubt; fear which can paralyze us. Fear in relationships, fear in our profession, fear walking down a certain street. Whatever it is, we’ve all come face to face with fear. Some personalize fear by saying, “my fear(s)”. Whether you personalize, internalize, or analyze it, we all have come face to face with it; fear.

Paul reminds us that fear does not come from God:

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.5

Jacob was afraid for his life, but unlike those paralyzed by their fear, he recognized that who he feared (Esau) was not greater than the God of his fathers (Abraham and Isaac). God told Jacob, “Go back to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you.” (Genesis 31:3, NIV)

Would this same God now allow Esau to kill Jacob?

Jacob faced his greatest fear with prayer; he prayed to the God of Abraham and Isaac, reminding him of His promise.

Sometimes when we pray, we still feel the matter is not settled. In our mind, we don’t know the outcome, though we pray in faith, though we remind our self and God of His promises; we say our, “Amen” but still feeling the outcome remains unsettled.

As I read Genesis 32, I got the sense that despite praying about the matter, despite hearing God Himself promise to be with him, Jacob was uncertain about the outcome of seeing his brother Esau.

Jacob was afraid.

When Jacob entered the world, he did so holding on to the foot of his brother Esau. When he fled Esau, Jacob wrestled with his father-in-law Laban as an indentured servant for twenty years. Finally, Jacob's journey brings him to a place called Mahaniam, where he is met by the angels of God. It is here at Mahaniam that Jacob names the place, “the camp of God”.6 He is alone now, until he begins wrestling with a man; this struggle continues until daybreak (v.24).

Jacob was not a skilled hunter like his brother Esau, but he was a skilled wrestler. He wrestled for what was important to him, and on this night, Jacob wrestled with God. I have to believe that God allowed Himself to appear in the form of a man to allow Jacob to successfully wrestle Him to a stalemate; but He is still God. When God touched the socket of Jacob’s hip, He permanently disabled Jacob; but Jacob continued to "hold on".

Finally, God tells Jacob, “Let me go for it is daybreak” (v. 26), but Jacob refuses until he is blessed: “I will not let you go unless you bless me.7

There is a lesson in this scripture for those who faithfully trust in Christ, we must hold on to the promise of God until our daybreak comes!

Your daybreak will come if you hold on to the promise of God!

MTJ

Footnotes:
  1. Genesis 32:9-12, NIV
  2. Genesis 25:34, NIV
  3. Genesis 31:3, NIV
  4. Genesis 27:42, NIV
  5. 2 Timothy 1:7, Amplified Bible
  6. Genesis 32:1-2, NIV
  7. Genesis 32:26, NIV
A Note of Thanks: I would just like to say that I appreciate each of you who visit My Thought-filled Journey. Taking time out of your schedule to read a post on this blog is encouraging to me. Many of those who visit, will from time to time leave a comment. Whether a comment is left is not important. What is important, is that you came. I do hope you find encouragement and inspiration in these words. Please know I will pray with you regarding any circumstance you may be facing. Feel free to write me to say "Hello", request prayer, or share what God is doing in your life. I have not said it enough, but thank you for the light of Christ in your life which illuminates the way for us all.

Spiritual SundaysNote: This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays (hosted by Charlotte).