If The Trees Could Talk

“They got the promotion because they are brown-nosers, not because they are good workers…”

“They seem to be the picture perfect family; if only my kids would behave like theirs…”

“I’m not even going to ask them to help. They won’t be able to do it as well as I can…”

“I don’t practice with my son like he does; I must not be a very good father…”

“My spouse and I are never that affectionate; that couple probably loves each other more than we do. What’s wrong with my marriage?”

If the trees could talk, they would ask you one important question, “My dear friend, what season are you in?”

Last week I was challenged to sit quietly for five minutes per day and to intentionally be aware of God’s creation.

As I was driving down the road on a cool, sunny February afternoon in Montgomery, AL, heading to get the best chicken salad on this side of heaven, I turned off the radio to gaze upon and appreciate nature. My attention was immediately drawn to the trees that lined a particular street. I saw a tree with no leaves. I saw a tree with dead leaves. I saw a tree with varying shades of foliage. I saw a tree that donned pretty green leaves and I saw one that was beginning to bud. I was amazed that this street was lined with trees in each of the four different seasons of their “lives.” It was perplexing, yet fascinating! As I was admiring and meditating on this phenomenon, the Lord taught me a lesson on judging people and making comparisons.

Humans have a tendency to jump to conclusions and make false assumptions about people. We have even more of a tendency to compare ourselves to others, much to our detriment.

How often have you seen someone who didn’t appear to have all of their T’s crossed or their I’s dotted and you immediately passed judgment on them?

“Shame on her for coming out of the house looking like that…”

How often have you compared your beginning with someone else’s middle?

“He is so great at this…; I will never be able to do that…”

We are in different phases of life. Just because someone is in a different phase than you doesn’t mean there is something wrong with them or that you did something wrong in life. We must be careful to avoid judging someone based on their current season. We must be careful to avoid comparing ourselves to someone else.

John Acuff (acuff.me) says, “Comparing yourself to others leads to arrogance or shame, but never happiness.”

“Arrogance tells you that you’re ahead. That you’re better than them. That you know something they don’t know or have accomplished something better than someone else. Pride then comes in like a wrecking ball.” (Acuff) Proverbs 18:16 says pride goes before destruction!

“Shame tells you that you’re behind. That you’ll never catch up. That someone else has an unfair advantage and the odds are wrongfully stacked against you. That it would be a lot easier to give up.” (Acuff)

Arrogance and shame are not a part of God’s plans for you. He has plans to prosper us and not harm us; to give us a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). Judging and comparing go against those plans, so we must free ourselves from that trap!

If the trees could talk, the first thing they would tell you is KNOW YOUR PURPOSE. Some trees provide food. Some trees are ornamental and aesthetically pleasing. Some trees provide privacy. Some trees provide shelter. When you understand your purpose, you will begin doing what is necessary to fulfill that purpose. Your to-do list is filled with things that help you be intentional about fulfilling your purpose. Thus, eliminating the temptation to be something for which you were not created and keeping you from wishing you were doing what someone else is doing. What is your purpose? I encourage you to do some soul searching and ask God, “Why did you create me?” When you find out, embrace it! Know your purpose.

If the trees could talk, the second thing they would tell you is TRUST THE PLACE. Some trees flourish in wet soil. Some trees flourish in cool weather.  Some trees flourish in hot and humid weather. When you are put in the environment that is best for you, you can grow into the tree for which you were created. One of my husband’s favorite trees, the Southern Magnolia, does well in the southeast part of the United States. However, it would not flourish as well in Minnesota! When God plants you in a place, trust that He knows what He is doing and He knows what environment is best for you to flourish. Bloom where you are planted. There is no need to be judgmental of another’s bloom or shameful of your bloom. Appreciate your surroundings. Soak up the nutrients. Stand firm, tall, and proud. Trust the place where you have been planted.

If the trees could talk, the final thing they would tell you is BE AT PEACE. You will go through many seasons in your life many times. You will see things built and destroyed.  You will feel sunshine and rain. You will experience harsh winds and gentle breezes. You will provide a playground for a small child. You will be a home for the birds that will serenade you with their song. You will provide shade for a cookout. So spread your roots. Make yourself at home. Be content with your purpose and place. Be proud of who you are and what you are becoming. Trust the process. Be at peace with where you are and the purpose you serve.

As you start to KNOW YOUR PURPOSE, TRUST THE PLACE, and BE AT PEACE, you will then KNOW YOUR SEASON. When you know your season, you are freed from the trap of judging and comparing!

An unknown author wrote this story about three trees to help bring this home.

Once upon a mountain top, three little trees stood and dreamed of what they wanted to become when they grew up. The first little tree looked up at the stars and said: “I want to hold treasure. I want to be covered with gold and filled with precious stones. I’ll be the most beautiful treasure chest in the world!” The second little tree looked out at the small stream trickling by on its way to the ocean. “I want to be traveling mighty waters and carrying powerful kings. I’ll be the strongest ship in the world! The third little tree looked down into the valley below where busy men and women worked in a busy town. I don’t want to leave the mountain top at all. I want to grow so tall that when people stop to look at me they’ll raise their eyes to heaven and think of God. I will be the tallest tree in the world.

Years passed. The rain came, the sun shone and the little trees grew tall. One day three wood cutters climbed the mountain. The first wood cutter looked at the first tree and said, “This tree is beautiful. It is perfect for me.” With a swoop of his shining ax, the first tree fell. “Now I shall make a beautiful chest, I shall hold wonderful treasure!” the first tree said.

The second wood cutter looked at the second tree and said, “This tree is strong. It’s perfect for me.” With a swoop of his shining ax, the second tree fell. “Now I shall sail mighty waters!” thought the second tree. “I shall be a strong ship for mighty kings!”

The third tree felt her heart sink when the last wood cutter looked her way. She stood straight and tall and pointed bravely to heaven. But the wood cutter never even looked up. “Any kind of tree will do for me.” He muttered. With a swoop of his shining ax, the third tree fell.

The first tree rejoiced when the wood cutter brought her to a carpenter’s shop. But the carpenter fashioned the tree into a feed box for animals. The once beautiful tree was not covered with gold, or treasure. She was coated with saw dust and filled with hay for hungry farm animals. The second tree smiled when the wood cutter took her to a shipyard, but no mighty sailing ship was made that day. Instead the once strong tree was hammered and awed into a simple fishing boat. She was too small and too weak to sail to an ocean, or even a river, instead she was taken to a little lake. The third tree was confused when the wood cutter cut her into strong beams and left her in a lumberyard. “What happened?” The once tall tree wondered. “All I ever wanted was to stay on the mountain top and point to God…”

Many days and nights passed. The three trees nearly forgot their dreams. But one night, golden starlight poured over the first tree as a young woman placed her newborn baby in the feed box. “I wish I could make a cradle for him.” Her husband whispered. The mother squeezed his hand and smiled as the starlight shone on the smooth and sturdy wood. “This manger is beautiful.” She said. And suddenly the first tree knew he was holding the greatest treasure in the world.

One evening a tired traveler and his friends crowded into the old fishing boat. The traveler fell asleep as the second tree quietly sailed out into the lake. Soon a thundering and a thrashing storm arose. The little tree shuddered. She knew she did not have the strength to carry so many passengers safely through the wind and the rain. The tired man awoke. He stood up, stretched out his hand, and said, “Peace.” The storm stopped as quickly as it had begun. And suddenly the second tree knew he was carrying the king of heaven and earth.

One Friday morning, the third tree was startled when her beams were yanked from the forgotten wood pile. She flinched as she was carried through an angry jeering crowd. She shuddered when soldiers nailed a man’s hand to her. She felt ugly and harsh and cruel. But on Sunday morning, when the sun rose and the earth trembled with joy beneath her, the third tree knew that God’s love had changed everything. It had made the third tree strong. And every time people thought of the third tree, they would think of God. That was better than being the tallest tree in the world.

We all start out with big dreams of what our life SHOULD look like and we embark upon those plans. When those things don’t pan out the way we hoped, a sense of inadequacy can settle in our souls. It doesn’t help when we begin looking at other people and they SEEM to be flourishing. Admiring the trees showed me that while they may not have the reasoning ability that we do, we could still learn a thing or three from them.

We need to trust the planter. Our planter is God.  The season you are in may not look like much, but you cannot judge your whole life based on your current season. We will have a spring, summer, fall and winter. There is a purpose for each. Your current season is only temporary but it serves to help you achieve your purpose.

The plans and purpose for you are for you alone. Again, they are plans to prosper you, not to harm you; to give you a hope and future. The plans may come together slowly, but they will come surely….in the right season.

Posted in Lessons from Creation | Leave a comment

Free Yourself

I had the awesome experience of attending a retreat this past weekend with a beautiful group of women. To say I have been inspired, touched, renewed, empowered, encouraged and loved is an understatement. I was with 70 women; of which, I only knew four. We worshiped God with songs; some of which I had never sang before. We listened to a couple of speakers on topics about healing, the hurry sickness, the demonic radio, and the rule of life. The most amazing part of the retreat was all of the time we had to spend alone with God.

During one of my alone times, I was healed from a wound that happened almost 25 years ago. One of the speakers talked to us about healing wounds and used the acronym, WLVS. (Marcus Warner of Deeper Walk International Ministries). The acronym’s meaning is below:

W = Wounds
(Pockets of pain in my heart)
L = Lies
(Seeds planted by the devil that I believe)
V = Vows
(Agreements made with the devil; i.e. “I will never allow myself to feel love again!”)
S = Strongholds
(The fruit that grows from the root issues; i.e. distrust of people)

We were challenged during our alone time to get healing. The whole conference was centered on healing—healing the mind, body, and soul. God’s word to me over the past week has been “Prayer.” If I want to be a woman of prayer and if I want to move to the next level in God, I must be healed. One healing I needed was underway.

A question I had to ask during my prayer time was, “Lord, is there a wound from my past in which Satan has planted a lie that is still controlling me today?” As much as I believed life had moved on for me, I was still harboring pain and holding a grudge toward someone who hurt me when we were 17!

During the tears and the pleading, I remembered a verse in Mark 10:46-52, where Jesus asked Bartimaeus, “What do you want me to do for you?” I told God, “I want the person to apologize to me. I want that person to be reminded of what they did to me. I want that person to feel bad about what they did to me. I want that person to look me in my face and tell me with tears in their eyes, that they were sorry. That is what I want!”

As I said those words, Jesus told me to forgive him. I thought about that for a second and realized I never did forgive that person.

Over the years, whenever I saw that person or was in contact with them, I would just recount what happened over and over in my mind, which led me to believe all sorts of lies:

I am not loved.
I am strange.
I am not good enough.
I am the ugly duckling.
I am not pretty.
I am fat.

As all of that rushed through my mind, I told God, “I didn’t ask to relive it! I want you to avenge me! Make that person pay!!!”

But God sweetly let me know to trust Him. It had to be dug up. When you dig up wounds, there will be some pain. It will be just as fresh as it was when it happened, just more severe and rotten! I relived that whole terrible night all over again. I remembered where people were sitting. I remembered who laughed. I remembered who pointed fingers. I remembered the stares! I just started weeping uncontrollably. BUT…. God whispered, “Crystal, you are fearfully and wonderfully made.” I then read all of Psalm 139. As I cried and read, an overwhelming peace filled my soul. I realized God made me and He said, “Crystal, you are good and you are my beloved! Don’t worry about what others think; only concern yourself with what I think.” Those thoughts you were believing were all lies, and they did not come from Me.”

Once I centered my thoughts on who I was in Jesus, I realized everything else was a lie. I then had to realize some more truths. This person was 17 when they said those harmful words! Why was I still holding this person to something they did when we were 17?? Oh the many stupid things I did at 17 and the consequences that came afterwards of which I had no prior knowledge.

God told me to see this person as He saw them. God saw him as precious also. He saw him as a loving father, husband, son, brother, uncle and mentor. When I started focusing on that truth, I no longer saw him as mean, rude and hurtful. I then realized how often I messed up and how God always forgave me and never cast me away. Why should I want that for someone else!

When I focused on the truth, I stopped making vows that I would no longer speak to him, or that I would never let someone talk about me like that again. When I focused on the truth, the strongholds and labels of “ugly duckling”, “not good enough”, “fat” and all the others just faded away into the light. The light of God’s love cast out the darkness, and all I felt was the warmth of God’s presence, peace, and power!

What about you? Who do you need to forgive today? What shackles and chains do you need to break today?
Forgive that person and set someone free….YOU!

Ask God to show you who you need to forgive. Start your journey of freedom and be the real woman or man God has called you to be!
Blessings!

Posted in Forgiveness | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Too Much of a Good Thing Can Be Harmful

But seek first His kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matt 6:33

Years ago, I made the transition from having fake plants to real plants.  My first real plant was a very beautiful and vibrant ivy.  I was new to taking care of plants and definitely envious of those with green thumbs.  I managed to do well with my plant; I kept it watered and in a nicely lit location.

After about two or three months of relishing in my success as a plant owner, I decided that I wanted to change how my plant grows.  After seeing other people’s full plants, I decided I wanted the same for my plant. Instead of it growing out and long, I wanted it to grow up and full.  I purchased plastic stakes and tape to begin making the ivy grow upward.  As the days went by, my ivy began showing signs of distress– the leaves started turning yellow.  I took the vines off the stakes in hopes that would stop the yellowing.  However, no such luck.  I transported the plant to my job thinking I could take better care of it there and thinking I could ask the plant experts for help.  It got worse.

I watered it and fed it, but it still continued to die.  I consulted my boss who had the green thumb.  He told me I had been watering the plant too much.  The type of plant I had didn’t like much water.  I tried to revive it, but it continued to die at a rapid rate.  Finally, after much “agonizing thought” , I decided it was time to cut off all the dead stuff and start over.

My once vibrant plant looked like it had gone through the winter season.  I cut off the few good vines that were left and placed them in water to grow roots.  While cutting off the dead parts, I began thinking about how this parallels life…in particular my life.  I was at a time when I was overwhelmed doing so much good stuff, that  I was slowly dying inside.  Doing so much good stuff was keeping me from studying the word of God and applying it to my life.  Doing so much good stuff was also keeping me from praying to God.

Jim Collins said, “the enemy of great is good.” When I read that, it struck a chord that didn’t sound too good in my ear.  How could those good things be keeping me from doing great things?  I thought those good things would help me do great things! As I thought about it more, the Lord showed me that all the energy I was putting into the good things was robbing me of energy for the great things.  It was zapping the key nutrients I needed to achieve my purpose! I decided it was time to cut the dead stuff and start over.

God has GREAT things in store for us, yet we continue to settle for the good things! What if all of those “good” things were not in God’s plan for your purpose?  What if all of those “good” things were keeping you from what God has destined for you? Cut out the dead stuff in your life and start over!

It is time to re-examine our lives.  I encourage you to seek God and find out what great things you are supposed to be doing and do them. If we seek God first and His righteousness, all these things will be added unto us.

Too much of a good thing can be harmful if that good is not what God has called you to do.  Cut off the dead stuff and go to the One who created you.  Sit in His presence to find out what GREAT things you should be doing.

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A Charge to Keep I Have

Joshua 24:15 – As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Charles Wesley penned the following words:

A charge to keep I have, a God to glorify

An ever-dying soul to save and fit it for the sky

To serve this present age, my calling to fulfill

O may all my powers engage, to do my Master’s will.

If you are like me, you probably think the world is in a downward spiral headed for destruction.  Watching TV today either angers or saddens you!  It is filled with murder, kidnapping, hidden agendas, lies, distorted opinions, false advertising, sex, and whatever else comes to mind.  This downward spiral makes one wonder, “Where are the servants of the Most High God?  Where is the body of Christ?”  I often ask the question and what comes to mind is that we may have forgotten the charge and the covenant.

I am here to sound the clarion.  We have a charge to keep.  We must serve the Lord!!

If you read Joshua 24 in its entirety, you find that a charge was given to the Israelites as they settled in the Promised Land.  Joshua reminded the Israelites of what God had done for them.

  • God led Abraham to Canaan and gave him many descendants (starting with Isaac, Esau and Jacob.)
  • God sent Moses and Aaron to deliver the Israelites from Egyptian bondage.
  • God parted the Red Sea so the Israelites could not only cross on dry land, but so that they could see the salvation of the Lord.
  • God delivered the Israelites from enemies like the Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites and Jebusites.  The Israelites did not have a sword!
  • God gave the Israelites land for which they did not toil, cities they did not build, and they got to eat from vineyards and olive groves for which they did not plant.

After Joshua reminded them of God’s blessings, he gave them a charge; “Fear the Lord and serve Him with all faithfulness.”  He further told them to throw away false gods and serve the Lord.  He went on to tell them, if serving God was undesirable for them, then they should choose this day who they will serve–a foreign god their forefathers served or the god of the people in whose land they were living.  Joshua ended with, “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

I want to ask you the same question–who will you serve? 

It is time out for lukewarm faith and lukewarm participation.  There is a war going on and God needs us to fulfill our calling so that we can be effective and victorious in the fight. We have a charge to keep!

You may say, “Well Crystal, I have gotten too old.”  That is no excuse.  God gave Sarah a son at 90!

You may say, “Well Crystal, I am too young.”  That is no excuse.  Solomon became king when he was a child!

You may say, “Well Crystal, I have done so much bad; God doesn’t want to use me.”  That is no excuse.  God used Paul even though he oversaw the killings of many Christians before his conversion.

Friends, we have no excuses! We have a charge to keep!

I am here to sound the clarion.  We have a charge to keep.  WE MUST SERVE THE LORD.

Even when it is hard, we must serve the Lord.

 Even when it is long, we must serve the Lord.

 Even through seen and unseen danger, we must serve the Lord.

Work the gift God gave you to serve him!

If it’s to preach, preach!

If it’s to sing, sing!

If it’s to pray, pray!

If it’s to sweep the floor, sweep the floor!

If it’s to care for others, care for others!

Whatever it is, serve the Lord in the capacity he gave you.

Why?

The world is in despair and…

A charge to keep I have, a God to glorify

An ever-dying soul to save and fit it for the sky

To serve this present age, my calling to fulfill

O may all my powers engage, to do my Master’s will.

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!  What will you do?

Posted in January 2011 Devotionals | Leave a comment

WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN THE MOUNTAIN DOES NOT MOVE?

Mountains represent beauty, majesty, stability, and greatness. Mountains provide a refuge in times of danger and are referred to as pillars of heaven in Job 26:11.  Mountains are not only a blessing but strength for the weak, loving kindness for the depressed and deliverance for God’s people from danger.  Many people have either met or experienced God at the top of the mountain:

  •  Noah’s ark rested on Mt. Ararat after the flood.
  • God revealed himself and gave Moses the Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai.
  • Elijah challenged the false prophets of Baal and won on Mt. Carmel.
  • Jesus was tempted by Satan on Mt. Quarantal
  • Jesus was transfigured on Mt. Tabor
  • God provided a ram in the bush for Abraham on Mt. Moriah
  • Jesus was crucified on the northern side of Mt. Moriah
  • The Last Supper was eaten on Mt. Zion
  • The Garden of Gethsemane is at the foot of Mt. Zion

When people met God at the top of the mountain, their lives were changed!  However, instead of viewing them as a place where lives are changed, we view them with the natural eye as unclimbable, impenetrable and insurmountable.  We tend to think of mountains as negative and path blockers.  Why? Well, we have heard that they are “so high that you can’t get over them.”  They are “so wide that you can’t go around them.”  They are “so low that you can’t go under them.” They are “so hard that you can’t go through them.”  We have even deemed hard situations in our life as mountains because we just can figure out a way to overcome them.  When we relegate our thinking to this view, we don’t want to do the work necessary to climb the mountain because we believe it will take more effort than we want to give, it will take longer than we want to wait, or it will require us to sacrifice more than we to give up.

Then there are those who have been waiting on God to deliver on a promise He has made, yet you don’t see anything on the horizon.  Day, weeks, months, and even years have passed and still no evidence or fruition of the promise.  They also see an insurmountable, impenetrable, and unclimbable mountain that is impossible to overcome because it is not happening as quickly as they had hoped.  Society has enticed us to want and expect things to happen quickly and easily.   When quickly gives way to slowly, we begin asking God questions.   When will you deliver God?  When will you come through?  I see other people being blessed or receiving their promises, when will it be my turn?  To you the mountain just seems to get bigger.  Maybe this is too hard for God or maybe I don’t deserve it… Perhaps, I have fallen out of grace!

God said it is time to change our perspective of mountains…

I like the lyrics Inez Andrews sang, Lord, don’t take away my mountain, but give me the strength to climb.  And Lord don’t take away my stumbling blocks but lead me all around!

You see Ms. Inez knew about the mountain.  She knew that if she wanted to be delivered out of her situation, the mountain was necessary! If she wanted to be delivered, she would either have to climb it or go around it!

Now climbing a mountain ain’t easy; people have died trying to climb mountains!  It requires experience, athletic ability, and technical knowledge. You will encounter some rough terrain and dangerous slopes on your way up and you need to be equipped to handle it. 

One of the best mountain climbers to me was David. One of the mountains he had to climb was fighting Goliath (found in 1 Samuel 17).  The Philistine army had gathered for war against Israel. Goliath, the Philistine champion measuring over nine feet tall and wearing full armor came out each day for forty days, mocking and challenging the Israelites to fight.  Saul and the whole army were terrified of Goliath.

One day, David’s father sent him to check on his brothers who were in battle. While there, David heard Goliath shouting his defiance and he how terrified the men of Israel were. David responded, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of God?”

Right away David knew something had to be done and he determined that he was just the person to do it.  He was going to climb this mountain!!!  In order to climb the mountain, the first thing David needed was a different perspective.

A Different Perspective (1 Samuel 17: 26)

Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of God?”

David’s faith in God caused him to look at the giant from a different perspective. Goliath was merely a mortal man defying an all-powerful God. David looked at the battle from God’s point of view. If we look at giant problems and impossible situations from God’s perspective, we realize that God will fight for us and with us. When we put things in proper perspective, we see more clearly and we can fight or “climb” more effectively.

Next, David needed to turn a deaf ear to criticism.

Turn a Deaf Ear to Criticism (1 Samuel 17: 28, 33)

  28 When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the desert? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.”  33 Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a boy, and he has been a fighting man from his youth.”

If God is for you, who can be against you?  Many will discourage you with their negative comments.  Some will say it is too dangerous to climb the mountain because they themselves are scared.  Though most of the time not intentional, they will impart their fears on you.  BUT…. Climb anyway.  Remember, lives are changed at the top of the mountain.

Next, David needed to realize he was made for this!

 Your Past Served a Purpose (1 Samuel 17: 34-37)

34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 37 The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”  Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you.”

Your past provided the training needed to climb the mountain.  Your pain and your pleasures were all necessary to prepare you for this moment.  Recall everything you have gone through and see how God’s hand was working back then to prepare you for now.

Lastly, David needed to get rid of the extra weight.

Travel Light (1 Samuel 17: 38 – 40)

 38 Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. 39 David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.  “I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. 40 Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.

You cannot climb the mountain with excess stuff; only take what is necessary.  God specializes in doing mighty miracles with miniscule materials!

When you do all the things mentioned above– Get a different perspective, Turn a deaf ear to criticism, Remember your Past and Travel Light—reaching the top of the mountain is inevitable!  Remember this ability did not happen overnight and you can only climb a mountain by practicing the climb on smaller mountains.  The fight with a lion (a mountain) and the fight with a bear (a mountain) prepared David for his big mountain (Goliath).  What mountain must you climb?  Don’t despise the mountain!  They are there to strengthen you, provide refuge and protect you.

50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.

To God, mountains are boulders; nothing more than big rocks!  The story below from an unnamed author sums this up!

A man was sleeping one night in his cabin when suddenly his room filled with light, and God appeared. The Lord told the man he had work for him to do, and showed him a large rock in front of his cabin. The Lord explained that the man was to push against the rock with all his might….

So, this the man did, day after day. For many years he toiled from sun up to sundown, his shoulders set squarely against the cold, massive surface of the unmoving rock, pushing with all his might!

Each night the man returned to his cabin sore and worn out, feeling that his whole day had been spent in vain. Since the man was showing discouragement, the adversary (Satan) decided to enter the picture by placing thoughts into the weary mind: (He will  do it every time)!

‘You have been pushing against that rock for a long time and it hasn’t moved.’ Thus, he gave the man he impression that the task was impossible and that he was a failure. These thoughts discouraged and disheartened the man.

Satan said, ‘Why kill yourself over this? Just put in your time, giving just the minimum effort; and that will be good enough.’   That’s what the weary man planned to do, but decided to make it a matter of Prayer and to take his troubled thoughts to the Lord.

‘Lord,’ he said, ‘I have labored long and hard in Your Service, putting all my strength to do that which You have asked. Yet, after all this time, I have not even budged that rock by half a millimeter.  What is wrong? Why am I failing?’

The Lord responded compassionately, ‘My friend, when I asked you to serve Me and you accepted, I told you that your task was to push against the rock with all of your strength, which you have done.

Never once did I mention to you that I expected you to move it. Your task was to push. And now you come to Me with your strength spent, thinking that you have failed…

But, is that really so? Look at yourself. Your arms are strong and muscled, your back shiny and brown; your hands are callused from constant pressure, your legs have become massive and hard.

Through opposition you have grown much, and your abilities now surpass that which you used to have. True, you haven’t moved the rock.  But your calling was to be Obedient and to push and to exercise your Faith and trust in My Wisdom. That you have done. Now I, my friend, will move the rock.’

At times, when we hear a word from God, we tend to use our own intellect to decipher what He Wants, when actually what God wants is just simple obedience and faith in Him. By all means, exercise the Faith that moves mountains, but know that it is still God Who moves the Mountains.

Posted in Devotionals, July Devotionals | Leave a comment

OXYMORON: Fear After a Win

Gen 15:1 – After these things, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram.  I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”

Have you ever experienced a fantastic move of God?  You completed something that seemed against all odds and you prevailed.  You were victorious!!  As the adrenaline returns to its normal level, logic starts entering your mind.  “How did I accomplish such a feat?”  “What happens if I cannot succeed again?”  If you have experienced this situation, then you are in the company of Abram.

Abram had just defeated King Chedorlaomer to rescue his nephew Lot…with only 318 men.  Not only did he rescue Lot, but he also brought back all of Lot’s possessions, the women and the people of Sodom (Read Gen 13 for the full account). 

Amazing!! God just did a mighty thing; however, it appears that fear set in immediately.  I don’t know the reason, but perhaps he feared retaliation from King Chedorlaomer.  After all, a king as powerful as he would probably want to take revenge!  Perhaps, Abram did not think God would have his back.  God had promised him land and a son, but neither had come to fruition…yet!  Who could blame Abram for these logical thoughts?!  BUT GOD…”After these things, God told Abram, don’t be afraid.  I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.

I believe God is telling us the same thing today—“Don’t worry about anything.  I have your back! That situation you just won was not a set up for failure or defeat!  My hand was in it and I will help you in the aftermath.  Just believe and trust in Me.” After Abram got a few things of his chest (read the rest of Gen 15), the bible says Abram believed and it was counted unto him as righteousness.

So friends, don’t fear.  Yes, you just accomplished an unbelievable feat (landing a job that was impossible to get) and there may be some aftermath (becoming lead of a project that could cause you some tension and backlash); however, you were chosen and built for such a time as this!  God knew the outcome!  In the words of Yolanda Adams, “This did not catch God by surprise! So just STEP ASIDE” and watch God work!

GOD IS YOUR SHIELD AND YOUR EXCEEDINGLY GREAT REWARD!

 

Posted in April Devotionals, Devotionals | Leave a comment

The View Up Here

Psalm 91: 9, 15 – If you make the Most High your dwelling…[God] will answer [you]; [God] will be with [you] in trouble, [God] will deliver [you] and honor [you].

From 20,000 feet in the air, the view is different.  Rows of trees look like grass.  Lakes look like community swimming pools. Homes and businesses look like Monopoly game pieces.  On a clear and sunny day, you can see everything below for miles.  On a partly cloudy day, you see sun-kissed spots and shady spots. However, on a cloudy day, your view is obscured; you cannot see anything but a thick gray haze.  You must ride above the clouds in order to view the bright sunshine and blue skies that those below cannot see.    It is magnificent!  Every material thing we hold precious and even things we for which we may be afraid look like specks of sand from the 20,000 foot view. 

On a trip from St. Louis to Oklahoma City, I experienced two different types of weather.  In St. Louis, it was very cloudy and raining.  When I arrived in Oklahoma City, the skies were blue and it was sunny!  It was amazing to take off from one location where it was rainy and cold and land in another location where it was sunny and warm.  It was then that the Lord revealed something to me.  If I come up higher and dwell with him, I can experience His provision (Psalm 91:11), His protection (Psalm 91:14), and His presence (Psalm 91:15).  Once I “descend”, I will take His peace with me and see the situation I am facing through a new set of eyes (Psalm 91:13). 

Stop worrying about the situation that God has under control! As Matthew 6:25-34 says,  “Don’t worry about anything.  If the birds are fed, don’t you think I will feed you, oh ye of little of faith.”  To avoid worrying, we must make the Most High our dwelling place.

If you are worried your child is getting off track, make the Most High your dwelling and meditate on Matthew 18:12-14– “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?  And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.  In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.”

If you are worried about finances, make the Most High your dwelling and meditate on Psalm 34:10 – “… those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.”

If you are worried about the distress in your marriage, make the Most High your dwelling and meditate on 1 Peter 2:25-3:2, 3:7 – “Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”

Talk to God about everything!  He has a word for every situation you are facing.  Make the Most High your dwelling place and ask God to reveal His will for your life.

When the Most High is your dwelling place, you have 1) Very few distractions and a better view-those things that were barriers at ground zero are now something you fly over;  2) Peace – being 20,000 feet in the air is serene–there is nothing but blue skies; you can see the clouds below but they no longer pose a threat to you;  3) A renewed life that allows you to begin walking in the true purpose God has for your life; and 4) A different and better relationship with God.

Make the Most High Your Dwelling Place!  The view up there is great!!!

Posted in March Devotionals | Leave a comment