Faith


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!

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Psalm 139

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.

 1 O LORD, you have searched me
       and you know me.

 2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
       you perceive my thoughts from afar.

 3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
       you are familiar with all my ways.

 4 Before a word is on my tongue
       you know it completely, O LORD.

 5 You hem me in—behind and before;
       you have laid your hand upon me.

 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
       too lofty for me to attain.

 7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
       Where can I flee from your presence?

 8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
       if I make my bed in the depths, [a] you are there.

 9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
       if I settle on the far side of the sea,

 10 even there your hand will guide me,
       your right hand will hold me fast.

 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
       and the light become night around me,”

 12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
       the night will shine like the day,
       for darkness is as light to you.

 13 For you created my inmost being;
       you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
       your works are wonderful,
       I know that full well.

 15 My frame was not hidden from you
       when I was made in the secret place.
       When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

 16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
       All the days ordained for me
       were written in your book
       before one of them came to be.

 17 How precious to [b] me are your thoughts, O God!
       How vast is the sum of them!

 18 Were I to count them,
       they would outnumber the grains of sand.
       When I awake,
       I am still with you.

 19 If only you would slay the wicked, O God!
       Away from me, you bloodthirsty men!

 20 They speak of you with evil intent;
       your adversaries misuse your name.

 21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD,
       and abhor those who rise up against you?

 22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
       I count them my enemies.

 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
       test me and know my anxious thoughts.

 24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
       and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139 NIV                                        

So, who’s standing in the way of your dream?  Chances are, it’s probably you!  Heaven knows, timing has a lot to do with it and there are seasons of preparation peppered with seasons of restraint.  Yet, ultimately, no one else can keep you from fulfilling that God-given dream except you.  Oh, there can and most likely will be lots of discouragement…. however usually there is encouragement as well.  Perhaps, you’ll have to stir yourself up and be your own encouragement- if that’s what it takes, then learn how to do that.  It’ll help you out in this world.  There is no lack for the need of encouragement in this life and the sooner you learn how to encourage yourself and to be an encouragement to others, the better off you’ll be.

Also, you’ll need to let go of the negativity.  If you sit there and meditate on all the reasons you can’t do it, and all the horrid things that may have happened in the past that keep you from doing it, chances are you won’t do it…. at least not until you give up that way of thinking.  You don’t have to accept and agree with every thought that comes in your head… every voice from the past that says you’re not good enough… that says you have no right to dream for the manifestation of what God has placed in your heart… you don’t have to keep those thoughts.  You don’t have to keep mulling over curses that were spoken over you and your future.  If your dream is worth fighting for, then you need to fight! 

How?  First of all, you’ll need to replace those negative thoughts with promises of God.  Yes, you’ll have to do some research in the Word, but most definitely it won’t hurt you any and it’s sure to help!  Find a promise that relates directly  to the issue you’re dealing with- whether it’s low self-esteem, worry, lack of finances, condemnation over sins that have already been repented of, etc.  and meditate on those scriptures.  Repeat them over and over to yourself until you know that you KNOW you know them and the next time one of those negative thoughts comes into your mind- don’t accept it, don’t agree with it, don’t believe it- just replace it with a promise of God.  Should an issue come up that you can’t recall a promise for, then that’s a clue it’s time to dig into the Word again to seek the promise that refutes the issue.  Is it work?  Yes, but if it’s the dream you’re fighting for- isn’t it worth the effort? Aren’t you worth the effort?  Well, of course you are!  God thinks so.  You are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God!  So, start believing it and begin reaching for that dream!  You may have to start by taking baby-steps but, even so, take them!  Don’t let pride get in the way!  Despise not the day of small beginnings!  After all, if you (along with God’s guidance and help) were incapable of fulfilling this dream, He never would have given it to you.  He knows you better than you know yourself and He knew you before you knew yourself.  So, what’s stopping you?  Who’s standing in the way of your dream?

 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!

I wrote this piece for our church newsletter back in February 2001.  I felt led to do so after reading essays that had been submitted by our youth for a Black History Month Essay contest and realized there was some bitterness that needed to be addressed.  I feel led to share it again.  So, here goes!

 introspection

No doubt about it, we as a people, have come a “mighty long way”.  We have a history that is as rich with loss as it is with triumph.  We have shed tears of joy as well as agony.  Many would ask the question, “Why so much pain…so much injustice…so much intolerance…such abuse…such a struggle?”  Why did we, as a people, have to sacrifice so much?  When we ask questions such as these we have a responsibility as Christians to look a little deeper.

You see, looking a little deeper is not an easy thing to do.  Yet, it is required of anyone who has a true, living and thriving relationship with God.  Looking a little deeper may cause you to see the work of the adversary for what it really is…a way to destroy your life, your past, your heart and your soul.  Looking a little deeper will have us questioning what kind of effects (un-Godly effects) the adversary’s work has had on us.

Has the pain made us blind to the pain of others not of our own race?  Has the injustice justified our own sins against those whom we perceive to be the cause of our pain?  Has the intolerance afforded us the ability to tolerate bitterness in our own hearts?  Have the abuses prompted us to allow an unforgiving spirit to reside in our souls?  Has the struggle brought you closer to God in your actions or has it caused you to sin mercilessly against Him?  Has the struggle been in vain?  We can only answer this question after we have taken a deeper look- a look with our spiritual eyes.  I can’t answer for you, nor can you answer for me.  The answer to this question is as personal as your relationship with God.

So, as we take time to consider the sacrifices of those who have gone before us, we must also look a little deeper into our own lives…our own past…our own hearts…our own souls.  If you start to feel at least a little insecure…look a little deeper….The Holy Spirit will show you a cross…and a savior…and your soul shall find rest as you realize…there was a purpose…and a plan…all along.

forsuchatimeasthis1

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!

Alright, one thing that has been pretty heartbreaking is all of the poison that I’ve witnessed by other Christians when it comes to American Politics.  I was able to read some blogs and it tore at my heart some of the vicious, mean comments oozing out of some of my Christian brethren. Nobody’s perfect to be sure, but let’s not allow hate, or let resentment reside in our hearts under the guise of being “Godly”.  That’s just a personal observation. 

What I really wanted to write a little snippet about was an internet prayer meeting taking place tonight at 9:30 p.m. Eastern Time.  Read all about it hereRagamuffinsoul.com is hosting this prayer session to bring some unity to our body and to pray for all of the Presidential and VP candidates.  Those on the left side of the political spectrum are asked to pray for those candidates on the right side of the political spectrum and those on the right side of the political spectrum are asked to pray for those candidates on the left side.  If you’re a moderate, than pray for everyone!  But the point is to pray for those you’re voting against.  Pray blessings on them!  They are all our leaders in one form or another whether they are senators, or a governor and we should respect and pray for them and their families- point blank.  If you’re unable to log in and take part with the internet prayer session, then make it a point to pray for all of the candidates on your own time!  Be a blessing!  Be blessed!

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