A Word


Alright, I felt led to repost this one originally posted here  last year around this time.  It seems it was extremely helpful to many people then so I’ll probably repost it every year around this time because it is so important.  If you haven’t already, please take time to read The The Virtuous Woman Demystified.  I believe you’ll be blessed!

 Despise not small beginnings.  This popular saying has been on my heart for some time now.  I believe it comes from Zechariah 4:10  “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…”.  Many times it may seem that we are behind in completing a goal, or perhaps it seems that we don’t quite measure up compared to other’s standards or, perhaps, even our own.  However, when looking at ourselves and making comparisons with others, we should stop and let the Holy Spirit speak to us about the timeline, the standards, and the comparison itself.  Comparing ourselves to others and their accomplishments (or lack there of) is always a negative thing.  First of all, we each have our own course to run, so to speak.  We don’t need to look at anyone else to gauge our own effectiveness or success in completing our course.  We should look to God for the gauge. 

If we’ll only ask, the Holy Spirit will let us know how we’re doing in respect to running our course.  What may seem as falling way behind to us may actually be right on schedule in reality.  Only God knows for sure.  You’re not going to get the kind of confirmation that will meaningfully affirm your standing from your peers, your family, your best friend, your mate, the church crowd, or even your pastor.  For a truly meaningful state of the (your name here) address, we have to listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit.  Man looks at the outer appearance, but God looks on the heart.  He sees and knows the whole picture as well as the masterplan He created for you.  Perhaps you’re far away from that plan, but maybe you’re just a few steps from being smack dab in the midst of His perfect will for your life.  Only He knows for sure.  But one thing is certain, no matter where you are currently on God’s timeline, one step at a time will get you exactly where you need to be.  Look to Him for direction and despise not small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.  Be blessed!

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Regardless of how I voted, I had the biggest grin from the top of my head to the tips of my toes, Tuesday night! Yes, proud to be an American, but even more touched to be a Christian and know that somebody’s prayers had been answered that night- in front of the whole world! Praise, God! Who’s next in line? I say it’s something to shout about! God is good!

Today is not what it was just a few days ago.  We’ve reached a glorious milestone in America’s History.  The election of Barack Hussein Obama as the 44th president of these United States has been inspiring not only to many American citizens, but also to countless others around this world.  Different races, different nationalities, different ethnicities and even those who hold different philosphies can be excited about America and this milestone.  Even so, some seem to have had the wind knocked out of them- and I’m talking about a part of the Christian community.  It’s been a season of bitterness to many.  Personally, I was saddened at words/comments of poison and bitterness I had witnessed in the comments of some Christian blogs in the last few months.  Politics really gets some people fired up.  They seem to easily demonize the candidates of the party of which they are not supporting. I think it’s a shame and I believe God does as well.  He is so much bigger than our American politics… God is neither Republican nor Democrat. He doesn’t expect His children to walk in love only when it’s convenient.  We’re to walk in Love always… whether or not the politics at hand agrees with our own.  

Love endures long and is patient and kind; Love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily. 

Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end]. 

It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly.  Love (God’s Love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes not account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong]. 

It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail. 

Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is everready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening]. 

Love is what we all need to walk in.  Christians have no excuse not to.  This season of the political process has shed a great deal of light on the great divide in the Christian Church in America.  I’ve heard Sunday morning is one of the most segregated times in America… for the most part, each race retreating to the safety of their own church in order to worship the God who created all races.  A black church here, a white church there, etc.  Of course, there are more and more integrated churches. Yet, there is still a great divide in attitudes of those in the church in this country.  Those often repeated words of the president- elect’s former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, should have served as a wake-up call to the church.  Even if you have never given it much thought, I know God has.  Bitterness is a pill that’s been swallowed for too long in our churches.  I can honestly say, because I have been a member of a predominantly black church before, that too many times we allow cetain thoughts and attitudes to reside in  our heart simply because of past pain and indignities.  As Christians, we have to proceed with our lives and give it to God-  He cares so much for us and he cares about that pain.  If we’ll only trust Him with our pains and sorrows, He’ll take them.  He’ll give us so much more in return.  I believe last Tuesday night was evidence of that.  I pray that those in the church wont’ miss the significance of that night.  Whether a die-hard conservative Repbulican or a passionate devout Democrat, if you’re a Christian, I believe you should be joyful of at least one thing.  God answered and honored the prayers of many that night… those who were enslaved, beaten, tormented with fear to ever dare to dream for anything better- those who were told they were less than and treated as if they were 2nd class citizens…those who wept for loved ones who were taken away by the cruelties of the slave trade…those who cried out to God for justice and peace and a chance for the American dream even though they were not really considered to be a true citizen of this country…even though they were thought of as no more than another person’s property… their labor… their chattel…

God answered the prayer of a people that night and all Christians can rejoice about that.  It should be a reminder to you that your prayer that you’ve been believing God for will be realized as well.  Faith and patience make up the breakfast of champions, and we are truly that- we are champions. With the recognition of this truth, we are all victors.  Please don’t let this moment and this time pass you by without rejoicing.  God is good and faithful and true.   I urge each one of you not to miss out on this moment and the recognition of the goodness of our loving, prayer- answering, God.  Now, let’s pray and agree on that!  Let’s pray for healing and reconciliation in the Christian church.  Let’s continue to believe God for the fruit of the dream He planted in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s heart those many years ago- and let’s pray for that for God’s own church.  It’s time to remove the barriers and proceed into a new season within the body of Christ.  It’s time to let God love through us and renew our minds to the promise of His Word.  Then and only then can we as Christians affect nations.

It’s time to put pettiness and bitterness and gloom and doom aside and pray for and support the president-elect who, for all you know, was called for such a time as this.  I, for one, am more than happy to do so.   Be blessed!  

Barack Obama's Victory Celebration in Grant Park Hundreds of thousands gather to cheer for the President elect

Photo courtesy of Time Magazine

P.S.- I also saw some inspiring posts on some of the following blogs as well… the night before the elections ragamuffinsoul.com had an interactive online prayer meeting called Praying Backwards where the participants were asked to pray for the candidates of the party they were not going to vote for. I think they had approximately two hundred people to join in.  Way to go Carlos!

This Christian sister had a great attitude regarding the elections.  This strong man of God also wrote an inspiring post on his blog after his candidate of choice did not win-   and I also found some other blogs  with some encouraging attitudes like this one from Kelli  who urged the church to rise up!  and these from  Kevin, Abbye, and this one from Brad Ruggles.  I appreciated all of your posts and your spirit!

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 

Philippians 4:8 NIV

 

This verse really struck me today.  Probably because quite a few times in the past week, I’ve actually caught myself thinking negatively and have quit as soon as I realized it, and used my mind to go in the opposite direction.  For instance, I could have been thinking about a loved one driving a car, then my thoughts would trail off into that person having an accident, visions of the accident scene- who responded to it, the subsequent fight for life and death at the hospital, who would be called in what order, etc. – and sometimes all of this drama even has a soundtrack… my own private little mini-drama for one. 

Why do we use our imagination like that?  I must say I have done it all my life.  But why?  Why do we torment ourselves with a million different scenarios that could possibly occur but haven’t occurred ?  Life is tough enough- just putting yourself through the tragedy of whatever your mind throws at you is extra wear and tear for the soul.   No good can come of it.  However, what if we consciously made an effort to utilize our God-given imagination?

What if we used that imagination to think “good thoughts”?  That same mind that so easily churned out thoughts of a horrible car accident and a loved one fighting for their life can be redirected in seeing that loved one as safe and protected as they go along their way.  It can envision strong angels surrounding that loved one as they go about their business and the mercy of God hovering over them all the days of their life.  That God-given imagination can be used to see that loved one traveling highways of pleasantness and paths of peace.  Once again, the choice is up to us. 

Now, how about that?  We can actually choose what to think and how to think.  I didn’t always know that.  Thank God for the revelation of it!  Have I mastered it yet? – Oh, noooo!  Will I keep on working on it?- Ooooh, yes!  Why?  Because the word of God tells me to and I have every confidence it is the best for me- because my Daddy wants nothing but the best for me.

So, the next time your mind tries to get you wrapped up in a horrendous melodrama- take the time to nip it in the bud – that’s right!  Just cut it off…but don’t stop there!  Take the time to replace it with a promise from the Word of God.  If you can’t think of a promise regarding the mini-drama in your head, just pull out the Word and find one!  That way, you can be prepared the next time that “melodrama” tries to play in your theatre!  Remember, it’s up to you to choose which thought is going to be the trailer and which will be the blockbuster with star-billing.  Make the right choice and be blessed!

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There is nothing so wonderful as the love of God working through us to touch others.  What a difference we can make in a person’s life just by being obedient to the Love commandment.  When we make it a practice to meditate on the character of Love, we will find that Love flows through us more freely.  We will also be more apt to act on this love that is yearning to bless others.  Love is that thing that makes us seek to bless others from the heart (not because we feel obligated, or are trying to manipulate that person through our actions, or are trying to make ourselves look good to others). It’s that thing that makes us give our best even when others would tell us not to bother because that person certainly does not deserve our efforts.  Love is that thing that reminds us that person is worth it- that every person is worth it.  Love is that thing that urges us to forgive-  others and even ourselves.  Love is that thing that enables us to forgive.  Love is the essential element of Life.  It is the most powerful and wonderful force in existence… and it’s up to us whether we will develop it in our lives and let it work through us- changing us all the while or whether we will put it on the shelf and just take it down three or maybe 4 times a year and try to let it work a little before we put it back in its place on that dusty shelf…

What a difference we could make in the year 2008 if we would only meditate on the character of Love and allow Love to have its way in our lives. 

1Corinthians 13 is often referred to as the Love Chapter…it reveals the character and traits of Love:

Love endures long and is patient and kind

Love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy

Love is not boastful or vainglorious

Love does not display itself haughtily

Love is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride)

Love is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly.

Love does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking;

Love takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong]

Love does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.

Love bears up under anything and everything that comes,

Love is ever ready to believe the best of every person

Love’s hopes are fadeless under all circumstances

Love endures everything [without weakening]

Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end]

Now, take a moment and place your name in every instance of the word Love listed above.  What kind of year do you think you would have if you were patient and kind…never envious or boiling over with jealousy…never boastful or vainglorious…never displaying yourself haughtily…never conceited…never rude or acting unbecomingly…never insisting on your own rights or way…paying no attention to a suffered wrong…never rejoicing at injustice and unrighteousness but always rejoicing when right and truth prevailed…bearing up under anything and everything that comes…ever ready to believe the best of every person…your hopes being fadeless under all circumstances…you enduring everything without weakening…you never fading out or becoming obsolete?  Now, what kind of year would you have?  What kind of year will you have?  This day and every day, the choice is up to you.  

Is holiday stress creeping up on you?   Are you starting to feel a bit intimidated about all of the small details you have to take care of in order for this year’s Christmas celebration to be a success?  Will it be turkey or ham- or maybe both?  Should you invite the neighbors over for Christmas lunch or dinner (when you really wish they would stay at their own house until after the holidays)?   Will you ever help little Jr. remember all of his lines for the Christmas play?  Will you ever finish with the chore of picking, buying, and wrapping that mountain of gifts hiding in the closet?  Oh, and let’s not forget about your office potluck – or your spouse’s!   Oooohhhh, and you wouldn’t dare forget to put some cash aside in order to give your hair stylist that nice fat Christmas bonus!- Heaven knows, she deserves every penny!  Are you starting to feel a little like the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31:10-31? (See The WORD tab at the top of this site)

The Proverbs 31 Woman completed all of her tasks with grace.  Are you feeling graceful yet?  If not, you are certainly not alone.  I remember a few years ago, after I first started attending church, we had gone over the Proverbs 31 Woman in a bible study class.  I laughed and shook my head in dismay at the description of this woman.  Who could be all of that, I wondered?  I mentioned in class she had a house full of maids who assisted her in doing all these things- that was the only possible thing that could explain this superwoman of the bible.  I asked God, “Who could ever live up to that?  Who could ever do all that- living in today’s world?”  I simply did not believe it was possible. 

Then, something happened.  A few weeks after my questioning the Lord about this virtuous woman, I had an encounter like I had never had before.  It was night time and I had just walked into my bedroom with some laundry.  All of a sudden, I had this strong feeling to kneel down by the bed and pray.  As I did so, I heard these words,     

The Virtue of a woman is not to be measured by the quality or quantity of the tasks she completes, but by the attitude in her heart as she endeavors to do something out of her love for God.”              

I immediately got up and wrote it down.  It was as if a light bulb had suddenly been turned on concerning the Proverbs 31 Woman.  I had been focusing on all of the wrong things.  I was looking at all of the things she was doing -the number of tasks she had taken on and even how good she was at everything she attempted.  I never knew until that moment that it was her heart’s motivation that God was concerned with.  He wasn’t looking at the things she accomplished, He was looking at her motives-  the reason why she was doing all of these things.  I believe her heart’s motive was how she was able to do so many things- her love for God was the motivation and foundation for her life.  The Proverbs 31 Woman is a woman who reverently and worshipfully fears the Lord. Nothing can stop this woman unless she lets it.  All doors are open to her and great and mighty things await her.  Her love for God moves her and her faith in God moves Him.  Together, they move mountains

So, don’t let the stress of the season come upon you!  Don’t get caught up in the small details and little things that may not happen just the way you envisioned them.  Focus on the big picture- which in this case, happens to be a little picture- it’s the image of what’s written on your heart…. I praise God that my virtue is a matter of the heart…this season and every season, all that matters is the heart

For the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance,

 but the Lord looketh on the heart. 

I Samuel 16:7

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