Do not Let It Linger

A weed had grown adjacent to our fence in the back of our home. It was growing so tall that it looked like a plant. I did not see it as a real threat, so I pulled it up at the point where it appeared to begin. A few weeks later, that weed was back, but this time it had spread across the back of our fence in every direction. I ended up pulling it out beneath the root and cutting it off – so that that problem was dealt with not just at the surface level but at the source.

There is a valuable lesson in this that often gets overlooked in our everyday lives. It never gets better when we don’t deal with nuisances at the root and allow them to linger. God instructed Israel to attack Midian causing them to become consumed with sexual sin and idolatrous behavior. (Numbers 31) The Lord wanted them to be free of the things that appeared harmless on the surface but kept them in bondage. Instead, Israel began to mingle with the Midianites leading them to Baal worship and entertaining sexual immorality.

Why have you let all the women live? These are the very ones who followed Balaam’s advice.”

~ Numbers 31:15 NASB ~

Moses was asking if they had gotten rid of the problem at the core. The same question can be asked of us today. I wonder at that moment what Moses was seeing. Outwardly did they get to the core of the issue in their lives, or just put a band-aid over it. We must be careful of our feelings that may lead to acceptance of corruption. In the past, I have known what needed to take place but just ignored it. Truthfully this broke the Lord’s heart and pushed me further away.

Here is a thought, what things do we allow to linger in our lives? Israel attacked Midian and killed the men but allowed the women to live even though God said to destroy all. What things have we justified keeping?  Have we dealt with the lingering stuff that we think is not that bad? Have we acknowledged not only that gossiping is wrong but why do we find joy in passing information about others? Do we recognize that pornography is wrong and examine why we are looking for impure satisfaction? Perhaps this is a season of singleness and it is hard to embrace for some. Learning to not be selfish or learning to discipline one’s finances, thoughts, or home, before we bring another into our lives is sacrifice.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.

~ Hebrews 12:1 LASB ~

I am thankful for the reminder not to allow sinful behaviors and habits to linger. The challenge is normally the overcoming lesson used to stretch us. When we obey God, in some capacity we are blessed.  

Partial obedience is not obedience. It is not enough to obey partially what God has confidently and consistently told us as Christians to do. We can only receive His best and embrace His love for us when we follow His instruction. Obedience is the ultimate gesture of love that we can show to our Lord. I thought partial obedience was better than no obedience. I am thankful for the revelation that Jesus desires us all to receive.

 “Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. “This is the first and great commandment.

~ Mark 12:30 NASB ~

The challenge is not in the knowing but in the doing. We must deal with it all. In other words, we have to look in the mirror and do the work. In Numbers 31, v.17 reads, So kill all the boys and all the women who had intercourse with a man. God gives a command that seems harsh. I pondered why does God command the boys and a specific group of women to be slaughtered? In ancient culture, the boys would have grown up to avenge their father’s legacy. The command to kill the women because they had turned the hearts of the entire kingdom away from their first love, God.

It is not the women or the boys that the Lord was addressing (on the surface it seemed to be). It was the allowance of something that should be removed to change the trajectory of our destiny. We all can think back to a time or situation that created conflict, but by the grace of God, we are still here. Do not let it linger.

Lord, thank you for your grace and unconditional love. Help me to remove anything that prevents me from continued growth or change in my life. When you show me things that need to be removed that hinder my growth let me not hesitate to take action. I ask that you will allow me to go beneath the surface and get to the root of those things that keep me from becoming more like Christ.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Appointed Moments

There are times in our lives that are orchestrated events. It appears that time and purpose are conducting a well-choreographed waltz for all to observe. Some may call it, the right time at the right place.

I have experienced a few of these moments in life -that have been nothing short of amazing. I want to confess however, I have not been worthy of any of them. It is only God’s graciousness and unconditional love for me that any of these precious memories were created. This may not be your story, but if you stop and reflect on past times in our lives- we can trace the hand of God leading to a greater purpose. Then there are those times that just seem to appear out of nowhere, where we are left in complete amazement. Asking God, “what did You just do?” I mean literally He just blows our mind. Is there anyone else can attest to the fact? That God knows how to leave us in utter disbelief, but even in these moments God is purposely increasing our faith.

He is able to do so much when we just trust His leading and timing. He is the greatest Architect to build the perfect platform for all to see His handiwork at its best. It is literally His glory being revealed in our lives.

I know the plans that I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you to bring you to an expected end. ~Jeremiah 29:11~

God has created moments for us to experience His glory while here on earth. In fact, we can experience many moments like this when we experience the presence of Jesus. I think it is important to remember even as exciting as this can be, that these are His moments and not ours to control. The Almighty has allowed us to take part in this blessed time. When we allow God to lead us, listen to the whisper of His voice and follow His promptings, He offers us experiences that could only be orchestrated by His Sovereignty.

Perhaps you may not feel your best while reading this but do not disregard the opportunities that occur despite our condition in a moment of time. Things may not be as secure or smooth as we would like, however, if we look for the opportunity for Jesus to meet us in our condition- great things can happen. The hard times you may be experiencing now may not be ideal; but do not miss the opportunity to look from a different perspective. Maybe you are ready to give up, do not.

Amongst a pandemic, rising economic crisis, social injustice across diverse cultures, the silence of the church, political unrest, the break-down of the family unit, prejudice against the marginalized and overlooked -just to name a few of the concerns plaguing our world, do not miss the voice of Jesus, growing louder and louder daily, because of the opposition of others that do not see His truth.

I ask myself this recently and wanted to pose it to you to ponder for yourself. Are we willing to miss our opportunity to allow God to not just show up but change us? I have been reading on Blind Bartimaeus and how he was in the presence of Jesus and asked him to do something about his condition. He did not want to miss the moment in his presence so he did something bold and out the ordinary. He cried out. No one expected Blind Bartimaeus, a man identified by his condition, to do this. Here is a thought – are we defined by our condition as well? Or do we acknowledge who is in our presence, Jesus, and that He trumps our temporary condition? Not only did Bartimaeus do the unexpected, he was not concerned about the opposition in his environment. Those that were around him telling him to be quiet and not waste the Master’s time.

That helps me realize that opposition in our environment should not be our focus. It is just a distraction. All that we consume in social media, the news, our daily reports, our circle of friends should not take our eyes off the presence of Jesus. However, we find ourselves in competition with all of these at times. Bartimaeus was willing that even those around him were telling him to be quiet, he kept his focus on what he was there for, He wanted to experience Jesus. It was Bartimaeus’ appointed time and he was not willing to miss it.

I want to leave you with two thoughts. The first, persistence leads to breakthrough friend. May we never give up when things seem to be hard. We may just be on the cusp of our appointed moment. Do not stop believing and certainly do not stop trusting in the Lord’s timing.

Secondly, Jesus already knows what is needed. When our faith is exercised, Jesus steps in to help and turns our tough situations into blessings. Despite how things appear in a moment when we cry out to the Lord He can turn our situation, he is waiting for us to turn to him.

Keep the faith friend. The appointed moment is just around the corner if we do not lose hope or our spiritual sight- despite what it looks like.

Blessings

Keep the Receiver off the Hook Ephesians 6:18

Lately, I have been distracted by what is going on in the world. The climate of the world’s events saddens me. No matter what side of the coin you’re on regarding what has transpired over the last year, (a global pandemic, political unrest, social injustice) one thing we can agree on, it has been a lot. When I find myself watching the news, scrolling through social media and hearing all the rhetoric, I have to step away and regroup because from my perspective, this is overwhelming. The truth for me and maybe for you too is that anything that we look from our view has the propensity to be overwhelming. Am I right about it?

Some of the events that are unfolding before us, I never thought I would see in my lifetime. Wait, probably those before me have said the same thing in the past. All of the occurrences we are experiencing now, have been here before.

That which has been is that which will be, And that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 1:9 NASB

To some this is discouraging, but I believe this gives us hope amidst uncertainty. These times let us know that we can endure and get through anything, because these troubles have come before and we have been victorious. Victory does not come without work or loss. Despite what is happening in the world, we do not lose hope because the Lord is still in control. When I wake up in the morning, I have to remind myself of this and breathe again. The other morning, while in God’s Word, I was reminded of my real responsibility while here on earth. My time here is not just for me to live and enjoy the good life, but what we all that proclaim to be followers of Jesus Christ should do, is pray. In Ephesians 6, we are reminded that to put on the full armor and that prayer is our greatest weapon. Friend, when I read this proverbial truth, it reminded me of what, we that call ourselves disciples of Christ, should be doing during these seemingly dark days.  

With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,

Ephesians 6:18 NASB

Prayer is our greatest defense in these times. Prayer is the key that can turn the lock opening doors to change. When we hear and see all that is happening around us, it causes emotions to arise. The feelings that we try to control on our own are reminders that prayer is needed. Prayer not just for individual’s or for those in our circle, but for all humanity. Where in the Bible does it say, pray for certain political parties, cultures, economic status (you get the point), it does not. In fact, the Bible instructs us, in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, to pray without ceasing or in other words, always be in communion with God. Before cell phones, there was time that if you were on a landline and forgot to place the receiver back on the hook, the person on the other end could still hear your conversation. This is the essence of what I mean, keep the receiver of the hook so the Lord can always hear you.   

With all prayer and petition, pray at all times.

In Ephesians 6:18, Paul tells us that we should be consistent in prayer. There are prayers to intercede for others, prayers for thanksgiving, prayers to petition God for something, prayers of supplication, all these we should do constantly with God.

Pray in the Spirit.

When we pray, are we praying in sincerity or just because we should? In my home office, I have a scented wax burner. I enjoy the way it disperses the fragrance into the atmosphere. However, if it is not plugged into the source of power the wax will just sit and not melt as it should. Just because I have the wax and the burner, but no source of power-my atmosphere will not smell any different. This is the same in prayer, just because I know what I am purposed for and look the part but have no connection to the source, nothing will change.

Pray with your eyes open

I am not saying keep your eyes open when you are praying, that may be a little strange to some. What I am saying is stay alert. Stay alert to what is around you and focus. Let us not get caught up in the schemes and distractions that interfere with God’s plan. I will be the first to admit that it is tough to not get caught in smaller, emotionally driven areas. Where it is tough, we need to ask God for His help and guidance

So here is the reflection: Are we doing what we know to do? Are we praying constantly for all humanity or are we selective in who and what we pray for? Prayer is not like going to a store and picking up milk, based on the type that fits my taste. God did not instruct me to pray for those that are likeminded or make me feel special. He gave the body of Christ a specific instruction of how to pray. This is the challenge.

May we not lose our sight being so closed to God in darkness that we miss His wonderful light. 

Be Encouraged.

“Mirrors” Genesis 1:26

Mirrors come in all shapes and sizes. From elegant to the ordinary. Various shapes and sizes. They leave their mark in foyers of homes, in marble bathrooms on Capitol Hill, and the everyday places of our lives. I don’t know about you, but it is never hurts to have a good mirror nearby. Right before I leave the house for work or to meet a friend, it is good to have a look. Some are grateful for the compact mirror, nestled in a purse or bag, which serves as a necessity.

I wonder in 1835 what problem Justus von Liebig was trying to fix when he created the mirror? The history of mirrors can be traced back to biblical accounts. In times past, natural mirrors were found in lakes and clay pots. The reflection of a mirror can be so magnificent when viewed with our eyes; it helps us fix what may be out of place. I must say I’ve had a time or two when the mirror allowed me to see something that I would have missed if I did not stop to look.  Mirrors serve an essential purpose, but more notably, it is not the mirror that is important, but what the mirror reflects.

Then God said, “Let US make man in our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26)

The significance of the reflection on a mirror is two-fold. I recently learned that there is a law of reflection. When a ray of light hits the surface of a mirror, it bounces in a certain way- like a tennis ball thrown against a wall. Can you picture it? The light reflects back and forth, this way and that way, to give us a particular image. The light itself is invisible until it bounces off the mirror and hits our eyes perfectly as an image, creating the reflection from the light by the mirror. So consider the next time we give ourselves a once over, what are you reflecting? The light we reflect, like the mirror, to others.

God created us to reflect the image of Christ. In all we do, we should want the light to shine. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.” (John 8:12) Our actions, motives, and thoughts should reflect this light. Here’s the question: If God created us to be mirrors for the kingdom of God in His “image and likeness,” how are we doing? I don’t know about you, but that hits home for me. I don’t always reflect HIS light- the light of His truth, way, or life- twenty-four seven. If a mirror has a crack on the surface, the light does not focus in one direction, but many. We can find ourselves just like the cracked mirror, in moments where the light can’t reflect (one way) because of hindering cracks in us, creating an altered reflection.

Mirrors don’t scatter light. With a smooth surface, light reflects without distorting the incoming image. Think about that statement for a moment.

Did you catch that? The light that we reflect should never give someone reason to say that we are not real or represent a terrible image. That would be considered a broken mirror. May we hope that it is not often said of us, “they profess to be representing the light, but the way they speak, act or treat people leaves question?”  They conduct themselves with certain people at times or are always posting on social media, but do not reflect the right light.

Sometimes, my mirror in the bathroom is motley with fingerprints, water stains, and toothpaste residue. I can still see, but I am distracted because it is not a clean surface that I am looking into. I usually have to grab the Windex and wipe the mirror down for a clean surface. How is the surface of our lives? How am I viewed daily by others?  If I do not examine myself from time to time, I could miss out on reflecting my best self. If I’m honest friend, there have been moments that I have not reflected an image of light. There have been too many moments where I did not reflect Christ’s love by His light. My surface has dimmed my reputation, character, and ability to be useful for His kingdom in some critical times. If you are reading this, think back to a time when you have not reflected Christ’s character, commitment, or ideas. What did you do about it?  

This may not be your truth, but I think there are some steps that we can practice to help us be mirrors that reflect light.  Or see where the reflection is not representing the best light and want to do better.

  1. Look in the mirror often. Friends, we are here to reflect Christ daily. What should this look like? And then I remind myself of Christ and how he lived, in humility.  The more we know what we should imitate, the more we reflect. I am striving at this every day, striving to be more like Him in the little things. How I talk, what I think about, even how I carry myself in my everyday dealings. Even where I have failed the Lord, I have to look and see.
  2. Please don’t ignore the little smudges; they lead to bigger ones. The small areas that we say are no big deal; will lead to larger problems if we do not clean them up. If I know my attitude needs work or I have a bitter place in my heart, I need to deal with it before it turns into something that I cannot control or consumes me. Eventually, those streaks will keep the light from shining and create holes of light unable to peek through from time to time.
  3. When you see something, do something. This may be the hardest to follow through with. It is one thing to see a problem, but it is another to work at correcting it for the better. I will be the first to say that sometimes it is tough to change your thoughts or behavior when things around us appear dark. It can be a battle to reflect light, but this is the mirror’s function- to reflect light in various spaces. Friend, nothing is too hard for the One that created us in the first place. Let this be your strength and know that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.

Mirrors attract more light from surrounding areas. The light reflects off of the mirror, which brightens the room or atmosphere. If you are picturing this, you can see a warm, embracing room with mirrors that illuminate the light creating an inviting atmosphere that all who enter can feel. Be the mirror for Christ, and watch the light reflect everywhere friend.

Father, help us to reflect your love and your ways in our everyday life. Give us the wisdom to know wherever we are that we represent you. Allow us to brighten atmosphere’s everywhere with your image portrayed on our lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen