Every one of us find ourselves going through times when it all comes down, when the roof caves in, when things fall apart.
The disciples were no exception.
In John 13, Jesus told them that one of them would betray Him (13:21), that Peter would deny Him (13:38), and that He would leave them (13:33).
Betrayal, Denial, and the Master leaving all in the same chapter.
We find ourselves in the midst of wars, rumors of wars, fires, nuclear threats, and hurricanes. We are having a little bit of John 13 just in a different way.
Many are asking the question of how can these things be going on.
I believe that is exactly what the disciples were asking after John 13.
“How can this be?”
They had left all to follow Jesus. Now it seemed as though it was all for nothing. We know the story. We know it has a glorious, happy ending. Put yourself in their sandals, you can see it must have been a moment of real intensity, their hearts were overwhelmed.
I love how Jesus ministers to His disciples. They are troubled and He gives them the answer to keeping your heart from being overwhelmed. The key to keeping your heart from being overwhelmed in sadness and depression is to remember that you have a home in heaven. Don’t get distracted by the trouble. The trouble won’t last always, but Heaven is the place where your Father dwells. So keep your heart stayed and your eyes lifted, there is a place for you. That is what Jesus tells them in John 14.
Don’t let your heart be troubled. I have prepared a place for you. It’s a personal statement to you. Don’t let your heart be troubled, there is a place for you.
The place that He has prepared, isn’t in the middle of your trouble. It’s far above your trouble. Its quite the place. Just look around and see the creative genius of God. Everything that you can see here and now that is beautiful and majestic, He created all of that in six days. Can you imagine what He has created in the 2000 plus years He’s been working on the place for you.
If your heart is overwhelmed, start thinking about the one you have believed in and what He has prepared for you.
Over the last few weeks there has been a real stirring in my heart. I have witnessed so many individuals that are going through so many issues!
Now let me church that up a bit. I am seeing so many people under attack. You may not realize it, but just under the surface of our lives is a very real and complex battle going on! If you find yourself searching for answers; or you asked yourself why do I feel this way? Why am I so tired, irritated, or questioning everything?
You are under an attack and you need to realize it. Then go on the offense with the weapons of warfare that believers have been given! I shared with our church about these attacks and how to deal with them. I have posted a portion of the message for you. You need to know you are not alone and that through the power of prayer, you will remain victorious.
Question. What is a spiritual attack and for what purpose are you under this attack?
A spiritual attack is a series of incidents or events that has been coordinated by the enemy of your soul. It’s purpose is to derail you from your destiny, to abort you from the promises that God has given to you. The attack has been brought to shipwreck your faith, to destroy your marriage, and to ultimately get you to give up on God.
So often people don’t realize that they are under an attack.
Here are just eight, no doubt that there are more, symptoms if you will of whether or not you are under a spiritual attack.
Click the link below for the eight symptoms…
This reminds me of an old bible story found in the Old Testament.
It’s a story where God’s people are learning some really valuable lessons. In the wilderness after having been in bondage, God’s people needed to learn some lessons.
They learned that God saves, God delivers, along with His guidance, provision, and that He is always with you. After having learned all those lessons, they needed to learn an exceptionally difficult one.
If you and I learn this one it will certainly help us in our spiritual battles.
The next lesson had to do with prayer. There is an invisible war between the powers of darkness and the children of light. In the course of these hostilities, God’s enemies often attack God’s people, and the only way for us to prevail in this spiritual battle is by persevering in prayer. This lesson for you and I was taught to God’s people in Exodus 17.
1 Then all the congregation of the children of Israel set out on their journey from the Wilderness of Sin, according to the commandment of the Lord, and camped in Rephidim; but there was no water for the people to drink.
2 Therefore the people contended with Moses, and said, “Give us water, that we may drink.”
So Moses said to them, “Why do you contend with me? Why do you tempt the Lord?”
3 And the people thirsted there for water, and the people complained against Moses, and said, “Why is it you have brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”
4 So Moses cried out to the Lord, saying, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me!”
5 And the Lord said to Moses, “Go on before the people, and take with you some of the elders of Israel. Also take in your hand your rod with which you struck the river, and go. 6 Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.”
And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 So he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the contention of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”
Why would God lead His people from a place where they were being satisfied with manna to a rest stop where the drinking fountain was out of order?
Maybe that’s you, and you’re asking why am I in this place? I was just at conference, I just left church, or I was just in a prayer meeting and now I’m in this “I don’t understand,” you say.
“I was doing so well—but now there is an attack. I feel tired, dry, exhausted, depressed, and defeated. Why am I so dry? Is there sin in my life?”
God led His people to Rephidim in order to do something very important. You see, after they ate of the manna, to make them aware of their need for a fresh drenching of water, God brought them to Rephidim to create in them a thirst for more of Him. Why would He do this? Because He knew what was about to happen…
And what was about to happen, was bigger than just a drinking fountain not working. There was getting ready to be an attack.
When the Israelites were brought out from Egypt, the first enemies they faced were not external but internal. Their struggle was the war within—the battle that is waged in every human heart. The difficulties they encountered at Marah, in the Desert of Sin, and at Massah and Meribah were not caused by their outward circumstances, primarily, but by their own disbelief and discontent. They did not trust God to provide, and as a result they were divided and discouraged. Then suddenly and unexpectedly they were attacked from the outside by an enemy:
Here is the attack, In Exodus 17:8
8 Now Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim.
Amalek was the descendant of Esau, Jacob’s twin brother. Jacob was the one who, although he made mistakes as we all do, had a heart for God. Esau, on the other hand, was carnal, not interested in spiritual things, one who sold his birthright for a bowl of stew. Amalek, Esau’s grandson, fathered a people who, like their forefather, Esau, were people epitomized by carnality. The Amalekites were a brutal people, intimidated by no one, who sought to wipe out the children of Israel as easily as they did other nations…
I am not sure what caused Amalek to attack, whatever the reason, it was a brutal attack, unprovoked, and without warning.
Moses later told God’s people, “Remember what the Amalekites did to you along the way when you came out of Egypt. When you were weary and worn out, they met you on your journey and cut off all who were lagging behind; they had no fear of God” (Deut. 25:17, 18). Not only was the attack unprovoked—it was targeted against the weak and the helpless, the stragglers at the back of the caravan. Rather than waging an honorable war for just cause, the Amalekites made a sneak attack on defenseless women and children.
Remember this attack was after they were set free from Egypt. It is after their “salvation”. That is when Amalek struck, after they were set free. Why? To derail them out of the destiny that Go had set before them.
They were headed for the Land of Promise, Amalek ambushed those in the back of the pack. And that’s still the tactic of the flesh. That is, when a person is no longer front and center, no longer fully engaged like he once was, Amalek is sure to strike. Whenever we say, “I’ve been on this journey a long time. I’ve gone to tons of Bible studies. I’ve been to countless prayer meetings. I’ve had my share of Communion”—that is when the flesh rises up, when the flesh takes control, when Amalek launches an ambush. Front and center, fully engaged is the best place, the safest place, the only place to be.
That’s why I told you the signs, the symptoms, of a spiritual attack. When your flesh begins to grow weary of the things of God. You’re exhausted and starting to lag behind, you start becoming disconnected from the body. Watch out Amalek is trying to snuff you out. That would be a good time to head to the front of the pack, get involved, get connected and don’t stop praying.
Now everyone who comes to faith in Christ is free from the powers of death and Hell. However, the enemies of Christ have not yet surrendered; so on our journey to our destiny we continue to be ambushed by Satan. We are engaged in a constant spiritual struggle to resist temptation and continue the work of Christ and his gospel. The attacks we face are often sudden, but unlike the wars of the Old Testament, they are spiritual, not physical. The Scripture says that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” Ephesians 6:12.
The War is raging all around us. More importantly this war is actually being waged inside of us. It is the fight for the inner man, to drop his guard so that the flesh of the man can be in charge, and fail without a fight.
The Israelites fought their battle with real weapons. The next day they launched a counterattack: “Moses said to Joshua, ‘Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.’ So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill” (Exod. 17:9, 10). This is the first time Joshua has been mentioned.
Appropriately enough, his name means “the Lord is salvation.” Here he is introduced so matter-of-factly that the Bible seems to assume that we already know who he is.
First Joshua carefully selected Israel’s bravest warriors, and then he went down into the valley to fight. And he fought with real weapons, for the Scripture says, “Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword” (v. 13). It was necessary for Israel to fight; God required the proper use of means. However, the victory did not depend merely on Joshua and his weapons. Rather, it depended on prayer: “As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning” (v. 11).
The lifting up of hands speaks of prayer (1 Timothy 2:8). As long as Moses reached out to the Lord on the mountain of intercession, there was victory below in the valley of interaction.
The battle was won not just with the sword in the valley of interaction, but also through prayer on the mountain of intercession.
Moses saw this firsthand as he watched the battle unfold. As Joshua closed in on the enemy, Moses went up the hillside and raised his staff. At first everything went in Israel’s favor. Things were going so well that prayer hardly seemed necessary; so Moses gradually lowered his staff. Then the fortunes of war seemed to turn. The Amalekites were gaining the upper hand. In desperation Moses lifted his staff even higher, appealing to God for victory. But soon his arms grew tired. When he lowered his staff, the same thing happened again. As the battle went back and forth, eventually Moses figured out that what happened down in the valley depended on what he was doing up on the hillside. When his hands were up, Israel was winning; when his hands went down, they started to lose. Their success in battle depended on prayer.
The same principle holds true for our own spiritual warfare. Our spiritual battles against the world, the flesh, and the devil are won and lost through the heavy artillery of prayer. This is why the Apostle Paul ended the Armor of God teaching by commanding Christians to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” Ephesians 6:11-18.
What happens when we do not pray? It is very simple: We start losing the battle, even if we have put on the full armor of God.
My friend if you want to be victorious in the valley, then there must be prayer on the mountain.
Have you ever been afraid to step out and do something for God, because you were so afraid of what others may think of you? Have you ever let that fear disable you to the point that you don’t step out and do what you feel the Lord is asking you to do? I have. There have been so many times in my life that I have not done what I felt like the Lord was asking me to do, because I was so afraid of what someone might think of me. There have also been times in my life that I have been afraid of doing something because of what someone might NOT think of me, but that’s a whole other topic for another devotion!
Maybe you are like me, and after reading this verse it gets you thinking about how man’s opinion can so easily disable us. As I reflected on this verse before I began writing this devotion, I was struck by a simple question in my own life. How many blessings has the enemy robbed from me, because I didn’t do what I was asked to do by God due to being disabled by my fear of man’s opinion?
I am reminded of the story of Nehemiah. The news had traveled to him that the recently liberated Jews who had gone back to Jerusalem were not doing very well at all. The walls of Jerusalem had been torn down and the gates had been burned. The Bible says that Nehemiah sat down and wept, mourned, fasted and prayed for days. He then decided he had to do something. The story goes that the king asked Nehemiah, who was the king’s cup-bearer, why he was so long faced. He went on to ask him if he was depressed or sick. Nehemiah explained the situation about his homeland and the king asked what he wanted. Nehemiah then asks if he can go to Judah and rebuild it. The king asks how long will it take to do that and what was the expected date of his return. The king approves the trip and Nehemiah goes on to ask for letters for the governors across the Euphrates to authorize his travel, and letters to help secure the timber he would need to rebuild the Temple fortress, the wall and the house where he would be staying. The king obliged.
Now, there were two men who become very upset about this turn of events. Their names were Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite. We later read in the book of Nehemiah how these two men tried to distract and demean Nehemiah and the work he was doing. I love Nehemiah’s response in Nehemiah 2:20.
“I shot back, “The God-of-Heaven will make sure we succeed. We’re his servants and we’re going to work, rebuilding. You can keep your nose out of it. You got no say in this – Jerusalem’s none of your business!”
Nehemiah 2:20 The Message (MSG)
I would have loved to see the surprise on their faces at this confident, bold, almost arrogant reply! You see, Nehemiah could have been disabled by the fear of their opinions, but instead, he knew that God was backing him up! He was trusting in God, so his mind and his heart were protected by that trust! He could have let fear totally disable him when it came to telling the king what he wanted to do, but he didn’t. Again, he was bold and confident in his replies and in his requests.
Have you ever heard that saying, “Don’t tell your dreams to just anyone”? It is so true! Not everyone will understand what God has called YOU to do! They will not understand your passion level; nor will they understand your Godly dreams and desires that God placed in YOU! If He’s asked you to do something, or if He’s made you passionate about something, then be prepared for the naysayers, the critics and the doubters. But oh, how I love Nehemiah! He just keeps rebuilding the wall and he prays a prayer that can be found in Nehemiah 4:4-5. Can I just stop right here and challenge you to read those verses in The Message Bible? Thank you!
But I love how Nehemiah’s authority, the king, not only said yes to his request, but he also did what he could do to help Nehemiah complete the task! Everyone has someone who they are submitted to. If you don’t, you should. No one is above being accountable! The respect in this relationship is admirable, and most definitely God made a way for Nehemiah in every aspect!
Nehemiah did not let man’s opinion disable, detract or demean his work and neither should you! Tell the devil to back off, and take that leap of faith and do what God has called you to do! In the words of an old gospel spiritual, “Keep on keepin’ on!” You can do this! How about instead of disabling fear, why don’t you DISABLE fear?!
(Think about disabling a bomb. You must know which wires to cut! You can’t cut the wrong one or you will be saying, “Houston, we have a major problem!” The same is true in our spiritual life! We have to know which voice to turn off in our head! You can’t listen to the enemy’s voice and expect to have peace! You can’t listen to the enemy’s voice and expect that you will want to forgive that person! You can’t listen to the enemy’s voice and expect that he will give you Godly advice and divine direction! You can’t listen to the enemy’s voice and expect that you will walk out in faith and do what God has called you to do! Cut the wire on that voice! Disable that fear! Disable that pain, hurt, worry, doubt and anger! How about instead of fear disabling you, why don’t you disable fear! Take that devil!)
5–6 The believer replied, “Every promise of God proves true;
he protects everyone who runs to him for help.
So don’t second-guess him;
he might take you to task and show up your lies.”
Peterson, E. H. (2005). The Message: the Bible in contemporary language (Pr 30:5–6). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.
One of my favorite memories of my dad preaching was from a sermon out of Proverbs 23 verse 23. It simply states to “Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.” The memory from that sermon is simply my father urging the people to never let go of truth. That point in the sermon has never left me. I wondered, how does one go about purchasing the truth? Isn’t it free? We are also told that there is a price for what Jesus did for us that is far above anything that we could ever repay. So how does one go about buying the truth?
The definition of the word buy can mean to get by sacrifice or great effort or to accept the truth of. So often we think of the most commonly used definition when we think of a word. You cannot buy this Truth, because it isn’t for sale. There are many things in Gods word, and about God, that you are going to have to attain by putting some effort into it. We live in a world that confines communication to an emoji, 140 characters or a meme. We take this as gospel ��! Yet, we do not believe this as Gospel: “First this: God created the Heavens and Earth—all you see, all you don’t see.” (Genesis 1:1) The one is easy to believe, the other takes faith and the exercise of it. We trust the person that sent us the emoji, because we are in a relationship with them. We communicate regularly, so we know what makes them smile and we know what makes them angry. How? Because we know them, and know them well. In order for the doubt and the second guessing to disappear between you and God, you are going to have to develop that same kind of relationship. It takes effort and sacrifice to develop a strong, mutually beneficial relationship in the natural. It would then stand to reason that it takes the same things to develop a spiritual relationship!
It is now the cool thing to doubt God. It is also the popular thing to decry that there is no God. How can you believe that there is a God they ask? Well, I decided to dig deep, put some effort into it, believed and then took God at His word. It is not a feeling, as some would think; it was a conscious decision. It is no different then when Melissa tells me she loves me. I could say prove it, but how does one prove that they love? I chose to trust, believe and take her at her word. Over the last seventeen years, that blind trust, that step into uncertainty to trust her with my heart, my love and my future, hasn’t been a wrong decision. It’s been proven over and over again that when she gave me her word, that was truth. Much longer than seventeen years ago, I made a similar decision. It was October 30th, 1985. It was then I read a letter that came in the form of a verbal sermon. When I heard what was written, and I then read it for myself, I chose to believe it and I took God at His word. Over the last thirty two years, that decision to take God at His word, to trust and to accept the truth of what was written, hasn’t been a wrong decision! In the same way that my decision to marry Melissa was a great decision, the decision to give my life to Christ thirty two years ago, has been an even better one!
It began as a simple choice, to believe and accept. Now that I have bought in, accepted and put some effort into knowing God, I can say, just like the believer in Proverbs 30:5… “Every promise of God proves true;….He protects everyone who runs to Him for help.” It is hard my friend to argue with a man that has had an experience. I believed and accepted, but now there is experience in this relationship that I have with God. Therefore, I will never doubt God, second guess God; nor will I ever sell out what I have with God. Just because others cannot make the first choice to believe and accept, that doesn’t negate my experience!
“When you run out of wood, the fire goes out; when the gossip ends, the quarrel dies down.”
Proverbs 26:20 MSG
Many relationships have been destroyed, by one individual feeling they had to get the last word in. The reality of that notion is often it is the last word. That last word is the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back. By getting the last word in, you not only end the fight, but you also end the relationship.
One day, Melissa and I were having an intense moment of fellowship. I couldn’t tell you then, and I cannot tell you now, what it was about. That’s the point. We were going along having a wonderful evening, and then a moment broke out. After just a few moments, Melissa just asked the question, “What in the world are even doing?” “What is this all about?” Neither of us could answer the question. We were just trying to get the last word in; one last dig. When she asked the question, it gave both of us pause. The pause allowed us to pull the wood off the fire. We could have kept going, chucking log after log onto the fire. It would have created an intense inferno, but ultimately it would have burnt down our house, our marriage and our family.
Whether it is in your marital relationship or in another relationship, my question is this, “Is being right, worth the fight?” You can be right, but be completely wrong in how you set out to prove it. We get so comfortable with the people that we love the most, that we often hurt them the deepest. We just assume that they will always be there, no matter what. By throwing the proverbial log onto the fire, we are showing them that we value the “fight to be right”, more than we value the relationship.
Specifically, in marriage, husbands are to love their wife as Christ loved the church. Remember that Christ loved us and still loves us despite how wrong we were in the past and even in the present. Could it be, that the answer to your relationship is to overlook, move on or simply forgive a mistake? In other words, take the log off the fire. Stop stirring up the coals to reignite something that was over a long time ago.
I would also caution you that if you are in an intense moment of fellowship and a fire starts, keep the old logs out of the new fire. It is unfair to bring an old issue that has been resolved into this fight. Once you start throwing old logs into the fire along with the new ones, you will get a fire that will be hard to contain.
The right thing to do, is to discuss the situation without hurling log and staring fires. Let me leave you with this little verb…
“A gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire.”
Proverbs 15:1 MSG
Use your words to put out the fire, not cause one!
“Be generous to the poor—you’ll never go hungry; shut your eyes to their needs, and run a gauntlet of curses.”
Proverbs 28:27 MSG
In June of 2010, this scripture became imprinted in my mind. The night it happened literally changed the entire trajectory of the Worship Center. Melissa and I were chaperoning the youth department to a conference. At one of the night services, a ministry was promoting their cause. I listened, even gave in the offering that was designated to support their cause. However, God had a much bigger idea in mind. I stepped out of my seat and headed to the main corridor of the building that we were in, and ran smack dab into one of the young ladies from that ministry who had just finished speaking. It was a surreal moment and to this day, is difficult to put into words. The ministry that night was shining a light on sex trafficking. I had not had much exposure to this horrifying issue until that night, and I certainly didn’t think that it was so close to home. I had a brief but enlightening conversation, and I headed back into the arena for the remainder of the service. God was working in me; I just didn’t know the extent.
We traveled back to the hotel that night, and I knelt to pray in our room. As I began to pray about the feelings I had, I felt the Lord ask me about this scripture. He asked me to quote it, so I stated the King James Version of it, “He that giveth to the poor shall not lack”. God said that’s not all, but that was all I knew from memory. So, I went to read this text, and as I read it, there was a simple, but profound explanation from God about how this applied to all that I had witnessed. The King James Version again stated that he that hides his eyes shall have many a curse.
“He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse.”
Proverbs 28:27 KJV
That’s when God said to me, “I have showed you what is going on in this nation and around the world, now what will you do about it.”
Up until this point, I believed as a Christian, I was fulfilling my duty by simply just praying about the crises that are in this world. In June of 2010, I was made well aware that I am not only to pray but I am also to be involved. On our drive home from Atlanta, I wrote and then launched a ministry called Freedom Fighters. From that day until now, every Wednesday night offering at the Worship Center has been donated to various ministries that fight for those that are less fortunate. We began launching mission trips, building daycares, working under bridges and most recently we launched our Loves Goes campaign to the city of Cairo.
Freedom Fighters began because once you have seen the issues, you cannot hide your eyes. We cannot simply just ignore the issues of our day. We must lead the charge to make a change. We are not to be conformed to this world but transform it. There is so much that is wrong that we, the church, cannot sit idle! We must be on the move! Since time is short, we must move quickly, and as Ephesians states, redeem the time because the days are evil.
You can look at the progress, growth and all that pertains to the blessings of the Lord upon the Worship Center, and it began when we no longer hid our eyes, and we began to lend to the poor.
“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”
Proverbs 27:17 NLT
When reading through the Bible, one cannot help but see that God certainly designed us for community. It’s become a common theme among churches and church communities to state “we are better together”! That’s exactly the goal that God had in mind. In the first book of the Bible God lays that mantra out!
“Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.””
Genesis 2:18 NLT
If you read through the story of creation, after each one God examined it and declared that it was good or very good. However, Adam being created and left in a “single” state, was only the thing God improved on. How did He improve upon it? By creating a help mate, Eve. God believed then and still believes now that we are better together.
When two people are in community, whether that be in a marriage, friendship or business partnership, there is always a little bit of a rub. Two thought processes, different backgrounds, and different life experiences cause this rub to happen. Solomon compares this rub to iron sharpening iron. I don’t know if you’ve ever witnessed iron being sharpened, but there is a whole lot of sparks flying when it happens. The process gets hot, is difficult, but entirely necessary if the iron is going to be effective in its purpose.
A knife that is dull is still a knife. It is just not as effective when it’s dull, as it would be if it were sharp. There is certainly a need for you to be sharp. Often, when we are in community and people get in close quarters including working together, doing ministry together, or being in relationship, sparks can sometimes fly. Usually when that happens, instead of there being a sharpening, there is instead a separation. When we go into community with eyes wide open, we can have a greater understanding about the process. There will be some sparks and some rubs, but it’s all a part of the sharpening, and I believe we would stick together versus falling apart.
When iron sharpens iron, it makes the iron more effective. It also makes the iron that is dull and brightens it. When you are sharpened, you become sharper and you shine brighter.
To be better individually, you must be better about community. Allow iron to sharpen iron, so that you can be more effective and shine brighter for Him!
A few years ago, I was having the physical battle of my life! I had never dealt with physical ailments to this degree before, and I was so confused about what was going on in my body. I was scared, afraid and more worried than I ever let on. It came almost without warning. I was beginning to feel the tentacles of depression trying to take hold of me, so I immediately began praying for my mind. I also sought medical help because I had dealt with depression before. My doctor prescribed some medication and after assuring me I wouldn’t need this drug forever, I decided it was the best move for me.
Shortly after that, we went on our annual spring break trip, and the very next week, we headed out for our other annual trip, our honeymoon. We were going on a cruise for the first time in our lives, and we were so excited! It was an awesome time! No phones, no internet and really no issues.
Well, except save for one.
My lymph nodes began swelling all over my body while we were on the ship. I was starting to feel dizzy, fatigued and the sharp pains on the left side of my head would not let up! I disembarked from the ship, went straight to the airport and boarded the plane for home. I thought I was experiencing “sea legs” and motion sickness. The emergency doctor who sat beside me on the plane ride home (we flew Southwest so this was unplanned ~ I am positive he couldn’t wait for the flight to end because I was asking a hundred questions for real) reassured me that the cotton mouth, the dizziness, the fatigue and the swelling of my lymph nodes would disappear quickly now that I was back on land.
I became extremely worried and five days after arriving home, I found myself at the doctor. So many questions, blood draws, tests and more questions. More doctor’s appointments, more meds and more tests awaited me after this initial appointment. I learned so much during this time and yet nothing they were prescribing or telling me to try, was touching my symptoms. This went on for about three months and finally I decided to seek another opinion. I liked him a lot. He was a Christian and he promised me that with God’s help, we would have a resolution to this soon! It seemed like I had new symptoms popping up each week including headaches, severe shooting pain in my head, hands cramping up and eye twitches to name a few. So many of my symptoms pointed to three major diagnosis’s. I refused to accept any of them, but I was so desperate for answers. I finally had an MRI and I am pretty sure I left every bit of blood I had in my right arm in those vials that day. The call came on Saturday morning from the doctor. My MRI was completely clear! No tumors, or any other signs of any major diagnosis’s! My blood work was “A+” per my doctor. Thankful does not even begin to describe it. But I still had no answers!
Fast forward six months, and I was sitting across from a Neurologist at Washington University in St. Louis, going through more testing, answering more questions, etc. After a few minutes passed, with confidence the doctor declared she had the answer; migraines. Mine had lasted about six months. To my surprise, she prescribed no medication and gave me some vitamin and herb remedies and told me what to avoid when it came to foods and drink. I went straight to Whole Foods, picked up everything she told me about and praised God all the way home that we now had answers!
Move ahead another four months and this is when this scripture came into play. My symptoms were not going away. I prayed, I fasted and I trusted God! I was having a morning where my head was full of pain, my hands were cramping so bad that my fingers were curling inward on their own and my lymph nodes were swelling again. I was scheduled to sing that day and I found myself in my husband’s office, on the floor, in complete agony. I was surrounded by praying people and one gentleman began to quote this scripture:
“Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow,
an undeserved curse will not land on its intended victim.
The devil does not want anyone walking around healed, healthy and whole! He will do whatever he wants to, to see that you are never walking around victorious! The last part of this verse really stuck out to me because I felt like I had this really big target on my back, and the enemy was doing everything he could to make sure something “landed” on me! My husband had had a dream about me about one week earlier. In this dream, there were people praying against me, not for me! He wasn’t sure what they were praying exactly, but he knew it wasn’t for my good! So, we began to declare this scripture over our lives, and especially over my health!
A year later I was symptom free and going along on my merry way, when bam, out of nowhere, a strong migraine knocked me flat on my back! I was devastated! We started praying this scripture with earnest and God revealed a lot to us both during this time! We trusted Him and He came through! We began to earnestly pray circles over my health, our marriage, our church, our children and our finances! If you haven’t read Mark Batterson’s book on praying circles around your life, you should go get it right now. Well, not right now, because I need to finish this story, but right after I’m done! Go get it! It will change your life! I digress. After we began praying these circles over us, things began to change. God began speaking to us about so many things and one day when I woke up, I realized I hadn’t had a migraine in almost a year! I was thrilled!
You see, when you decide that an undeserved curse dispatched by the enemy will not land on you, the atmosphere changes in your life! When you tell the devil, “no way, it ain’t happening”, it’s amazing what happens! Sometimes these curses are generational and sometimes these curses are put on us by those who wish us harm! Generational curses have no place in the life of the believer! Christ came to break every chain on our life and that is a chain that CAN be broken in your life! It doesn’t have to happen to you! That is an undeserved curse! It doesn’t have to be that way for you!
Sometimes people wish us harm. I don’t like it and I don’t understand it and yet, I can’t say there haven’t been times I’ve silently wished this on others. It’s wrong. We are to forgive and move on, even if they’re in the wrong and you are in the right! That is another undeserved curse. Even if we do “deserve” a curse, Jesus came to bring us life and life more abundantly and to break every chain in our life! That is the power of the blood of Jesus!
If you are facing something in your life, trust that God is with you, He is for you and an undeserved curse cannot land on you! You are protected by the blood of Jesus! He has you covered! The devil won’t be able to see the landing pad! Rejoice in that today!
“Don’t jump to conclusions—there may be a perfectly good explanation for what you just saw. In the heat of an argument, don’t betray confidences; Word is sure to get around, and no one will trust you.
The right word at the right time is like a custom-made piece of jewelry, And a wise friend’s timely reprimand is like a gold ring slipped on your finger.
Reliable friends who do what they say are like cool drinks in sweltering heat—refreshing! Like billowing clouds that bring no rain is the person who talks big but never produces. Patient persistence pierces through indifference; gentle speech breaks down rigid defenses.”
Proverbs 25 thru 29 are chapters written by Solomon but collected by King Hezekiah.
“There are also these proverbs of Solomon, collected by scribes of Hezekiah, king of Judah. (Proverbs 25:1)
Solomon was writing these chapters some two hundred and fifty years prior to Hezekiah beginning his reign as king of Judah! Somewhere along the line some of the men who worked for Hezekiah came across these “Verbs” and read them. Apparently they thought enough of the wisdom found in them to preserve them. They are now being read thousands of years later by you. They still hold great meaning, for the lessons in them remain as powerful as ever.
Lessons learned and then passed on, are incredible sources of wisdom. There are many things that will carry on beyond our lives. Our words, stories, and writings are some of them. To this day, I can recall the many stories of my grandparents. Those stories passed wisdom on to us verbally.
Just a few months ago, my parents sent me some old church magazines from my home church, where my dad now Pastors. These magazines contain articles written by my grandparents. They tell the story of their salvation experiences, their faith in God, and many of the principles by which they lived. While reading them, I learned somethings I didn’t know and was reminded of a few things I had forgotten. The articles were from the 1950’s. Two of my grandparents have long since went to be with the Lord; however, the meaning and the power of their conversion and faith in God still spoke to me.
I am reminded that when the Prophet Elisha died, they put his body into a cave. Some time later a soldier died. His buddies put his body into the same cave as Elisha’s bones. When the soldier came in contact with the bones of Elisha, he was brought back to life and he came out of the cave. There was still power resting in Elisha long after his life had ended. May the same be true for you.
May your life’s story long out live you. May the experience and wisdom that you have gained in life, be a launching pad for generations to come.
May you strive to build your life, so that your family can start where you finished. In other words, may your children and grandchildren’s floors be your ceiling. Set them up for success. Don’t just talk big and wish you could have; instead, set out and do it. You’ll never know who you will affect!
If you fall to pieces in a crisis,
there wasn’t much to you in the first place.
Peterson, E. H. (2005). The Message: the Bible in contemporary language (Pr 24:10). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.
One of the great misnomers about being a Christian is the thought we will not experience any difficulty. This scripture is quite clear we will face difficulty in this life.
When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty.
Peterson, E. H. (2005). The Message: the Bible in contemporary language (Mt 5:44–45). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.
The KJV renders verse 45 like this…
45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Mt 5:45). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
He sends rain on the just and the unjust, the good and the bad. When we hear the word rain, we automatically associate it with storms, especially when we are thinking in spiritual terms. We think like this: rain is bad, sunshine is good. So please, no rain for me, I only want the sunshine.
Let’s talk symbolically for a moment. Rain is what brings the nourishment that allows trees to establish or grow roots. Roots are the system beneath the ground that give strength to every part of the tree that is visible above ground. When the rain comes, it travels below the surface, and the tree then uses that moisture to establish or strengthen itself, so it will grow.
They say the best time to plant a tree is in the fall. It is the season when the root system has the most growth. It is in the fall when the root system gets all the attention from the tree. It’s right before the harshest of seasons when the tree grows best. It is almost as if it’s preparing itself for survival through the cold, dark and harsh winter. The tree may not know exactly when winter is coming, but it seems to know that it is coming. It is just the way of our world. Instead of ignoring it, saying it will never happen, the tree goes into preparation mode.
Listen to how the Apostle Paul describes the life of a Christian.
If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at. We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken
Peterson, E. H. (2005). The Message: the Bible in contemporary language (2 Co 4:7–9). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.
There is something within us that you may not see, but do not be mistaken. It is there. When the storms of life come, I will not only survive, I will thrive. Proverbs 24:10 should be a challenge to us as Christians. When adversity comes, we will not shrink, but rather we will grow. We will not faint; we will stand in the day of adversity.
Many people see adversity, trials and difficulties as the making or breaking of a person. But in reality, adversity, trials and difficulties allow us to see what was already in a person. They are a gauge of your preparation for the day of adversity. We must grow deep in God to have strength to stand in the trials of this life.
In the text in Matthew, many people view the rain as trouble. It is actually about nourishment, giving the necessary ingredients to grow and thrive to every person. It just depends on what you do with it. What will you do with the rain?
The answer is obvious to those who are watching you go through the storm. After every storm, you can drive around town and see the trees that were weak and ill equipped to handle it. They are the ones toppled, crumpled and ripped up by the roots, and by the storm came, it was too late to grow roots. It all depends on what you’ve prepared beforehand. You should know the storm is coming, because our enemy is looking for anyone to devour. The storm will come, but you can be prepared! Not to avoid the storm, but to withstand the storm. Many people pray for an easier life! How about we pray to be a stronger person, so that when the storm comes we will not faint.
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
Peterson, E. H. (2005). The Message: the Bible in contemporary language (Jas 1:2–4). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.