A Threat vs The Believer

The school bell has rung, class is now in session.

When you feel threatened, the most natural response is to protect yourself. Protection may come in the form of fighting, running away, or being paralyzed by fear. All of these responses are common to the human psyche. In 906 b.c., a Prophet by the name of Elijah was threatened by Queen Jezebel, and he was so afraid that he ran away. The irony is that the threat came after a great victory, where Jezebel’s prophets were defeated in a showdown against the Prophet Elijah.

In the natural, this looked utterly ridiculous because Elijah had just called out Jezebel and her prophets, and was successful in defeating them. He had no reason to be afraid of her because God had shown Himself greater.

Essential Question: How often have you felt afraid of a threat (known or perceived)? Do you know as a believer that God will fight your battle(s) and handle threat(s) on your behalf?

Human head with questions marks on the background

A Threat and The Believer

As a Believer, we know according to God’s Word, that He is a Conquerer, Protector of those who belong to Him, and will avenge us from the enemy. We should never be afraid of those who are plotting, and scheming our demise behind the scenes, because what is done in secret, will be brought into the light.

After the threat on his life, and his purpose; Elijah took a day’s journey, and ended up sitting under a juniper tree wishing he was dead. The Prophet Elijah battled suicidal thoughts because the evil spirit behind Jezebel was so strong that it made him feel like dying. Whenever you reach this level of fear, you have to remind yourself that FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real. It is an illusion that could only become a reality if you allow it to.

Turn it off

After he begged God to take his life, he slept. He was awaken and fed by ravens and later an angel.

The major point of encouragement I would like to give you is that in the midst of your crisis and attack, you will be taken care of despite yourself. God still provided for Elijah in his time of weakness and sustained him for his journey to Mount Horeb (the same place God met with Moses). It was there he spent 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness.

Retreat and Receive

When you are being mistreated, threatened or attacked, your response should be to retreat and spend time with the Lord. Retreat from all distractions so that you can receive instructions from God. The instructions Elijah received helped him prepare for his next steps. God was the one who eliminated “the threat” along with the person who “made the threat.” #terrible-ending (2 Kings 9: 30-37)

All that was left of Jezebel was her skull, feet and palm of her hands

Threats have to go through God when it is directed at those who are true followers of Christ, and He will protect them.

All you need to do is:

Take time to go away into the wilderness and communion with Him, so that you can receive the instructions He has for your next steps.

Turn off the distractions in your life.

Close your ears to the evil threats (known or perceived) so that you can clearly hear from God. He often speaks in a still small voice. (1 Kings 19:12)

When Elijah left to go into the wilderness, he went into the region covered by King Jehoshaphat, which was out of the jurisdiction of King Ahab, and Queen Jezebel. He was not in any physical danger, but was still haunted by her threat. Threats should not be taken lightly, because they can be debilitating. The next time you experience a threat, take it to God.

The battle is not yours, but belongs to the Lord!

The school bell has rung, class dismissed.

The Real Boogie Man: How to Deal With The Hamans in Your Life

The school bell has rung, class is now in session.

Haman the Agagite, was a very important man in his day. He was an official of the Royal King of Persia, Ahasuerus (or Xerxes I). His position was called the Grand Vizier, Second in Command, the King’s most “Trusted Advisor.”

The interesting thing about this “trusted advisor” is that his true intent was to manipulate the King, in order to pursue his own personal agenda.

It was around 473 BC, when Haman’s devious plot began. It all hatched in his mind one day when Mordecai refrained from bowing to him in public. He was appalled by this action because most people bowed when he arrived and exited a room. Haman made a great effort to research Mordecai, and found out that it was against Mordecai’s Religious belief to honor Haman like he would honor God. Haman decided that Mordecai along with those who believed like him, had to be annihilated.

Let us look at 7 truth nuggets that will assist in dealing with this personality type.

  1. Be watchful of those who get deeply offended when things do not go their way – Let me preface this by saying it does not apply to everyone. It is perfectly normal to feel a little disappointed when someone does not agree with you. I am talking about a person whose entire demeanor and behavior pattern changes when you chose to do something other than what was suggested. Haman was used to everyone doing things his way, and when Mordecai did the opposite; he was deeply offended. Deep offense left unchecked generally creates a vindictive person.
  2. Be watchful of those who are quick to befriend and/or fish for information – If you cannot tell the difference between someone who is genuinely trying to get to know you, for you; versus someone who is fishing for information, pray for discernment. Knowing the difference can save you from future headaches, heartaches and pain. Queen Esther and her uncle Mordecai, discerned that Haman did not have good intentions for their people, but did not react straight away; they waited and watched him until God gave further instructions.
  3. Be careful sharing personal business with “The Hamans” in your life – Haman had a nasty habit of listening between the lines, and sharing his interpretation. This is still problematic today. We all can think of someone who will take what is said, twist it and share their own interpretation of it to others. It is for this reason that you do not form judgements about someone you barely know based on another person’s second hand information. King Ahasuerus had a bad habit of listening to Haman without checking his words against the facts. This habit almost costed Mordecai and his entire people their lives.
  4. Be weary of people who are social climbers – Haman was a bonafide social climber. He could always be seen slithering about, like the snake he was, to royals, high ranking officers and political officials. He did this because he knew that if he won the favor of these people, he could manipulate them to push his own political agenda, which was destroying Mordecai and his people. Do not let these people slide under your radar, their aim is to control leadership in order to push their own agenda. Their only concern is for themselves and what they want, instead of what is good for everyone.
  5. Be alerted by people who are consistently negative – Haman had a pretty deceit life, a beautiful family, wife and ten children, was an advisor to the king, had powerful associates and friends, but this was still not enough. He chose to focus on the negative instead of the good things he had. Steer clear of people with a similar disposition. Misery really does love company.
  6. Be watchful of people who always want praise for themselves – There was a part in the story when Haman staged an opportunity to make himself look good, and wanted public recognition for it. Somehow it backfired and the recognition went to Mordecai. Haman was furious. It is human nature to desire a pat on the back occasionally, in order to feel appreciated, but when a person starts doing things only to receive praise, they need to check the “why” behind their actions.
  7. Refrain from revenge – Spoiler Alert – Haman ended up having some of the workers in the castle build a large gallow, so that he could hang Mordecai. The king found out that Haman manipulated him into creating a royal edict to annihilate Mordecai’s people, which also included his queen. The king could not believe he had been so blinded by Haman! He thought Haman was his friend. Haman was a friend as long as he was getting what he wanted. That is also how people with the spirit of Haman operates. They will be ok with a person, as long as things are going their way. As soon as it does not, mark my words, the backbiting, slandering and scheming will began.

Conclusion

Haman ended up being ordered to hang from the very gallows he intended for Mordecai. Mordecai did not have to vindicate himself, God ended up handling everything for him behind the scenes. If you remain faithful as Mordecai and Queen Esther did, He will also do the same for you.

The school bell has rung, class dismissed.

Caution – Do Not Go Ahead of God

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Abraham received five significant promises from God:

  1. Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
  2. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you.
  3. I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.
  4. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse.
  5. All people on earth will be blessed through you. – Genesis 12:1-3

Abraham was 75 years of age when God told him these promises, but as the years passed, Abraham began to wonder if he ever would be a “father”. He and his wife Sarah were getting older and knew it could become more difficult to have children.

Sarah’s Idea

Sarah decided to go ahead of God by arranging for her handmaiden to become a surrogate. Isaac was born from the union. Eventually, God’s promise to Abraham and Sarah came to past and they became parents to Jacob, the promised seed.

Jacob was the one God said would come, but they did not believe it at first. He became the father of the Hebrew Nation, and was extremely blessed.

Takeaway

Do not go ahead of what God has promised you. It will be tempting to try and find your own solutions to your problems, but if He has promised you something, be patient, He will bring it to past.

Creating your own solutions will never be as good as the God’s solutions for you.

Be patient. If Abraham waited, he would have received his promise in a timely manner.

P.S. God’s timing is not our timing.

The school bell has rung, class is dismissed!

How Long Will You Mourn for Saul?

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Background Story

After King Saul’s disobedience to God’s command to destroy everything and everyone from the Amalek Nation, his kingdom was torn from him. King Saul remained on the throne until he committed suicide, but the anointing was no longer on him. He did not care as much, because in his eyes, he was still “King.”

The Prophet Samuel mourned over this day and night until God spoke to him and asked, “How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning one Israel?” God told him to fill his horn with oil, and go to Jesse, the Bethlehemite; because a new king would be chosen from there.

Real World Connection

Are you mourning over something or someone that God has rejected? Could that be the reason you have not been given instructions for your next steps?

It is quite possible that your next steps will only be unlocked, after you have decided to stop mourning over something/someone that is no longer serving its correct purpose in your life. When I read a passage from the Book of I Samuel, Chapter 16 in the commentary; it pointed out that God would not allow the failure of a man to stop His work, He would appoint someone else in order to ensure that His purpose is carried out.

Takeaways

  1. Follow the example of the Prophet Samuel.
  2. Discern the time(s)There is definitely a time to mourn, the issue was that the Prophet Samuel mourned over someone God had rejected due to their constant disobedience.
  3. Follow instructions – The Prophet Samuel’s next instructions were contingent on his obedience to the command given to him.
  4. Do not be afraid to let go, there will be something better.

The school bell has rung, class dismissed!

No Fishing in the Sea of Forgetfulness

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Over a year ago, I wrote a post about the Spirit of Anti-Progress. If you would like to read it, there will be a link at the end of this post.

Another enemy of progress that I would like to focus on is self-condemnation. The root word of condemnation is condemn. The definition is below:

Key words that stood out from the definition are:

Disapproval

Punishment

Criticize

Castigate

These are severe words that have a negative connotation attached to them. Imagine if you constantly subjected yourself to self-disapproval, self-punishment, self-criticism and self-castigation. How far would you go physically, mentally or spiritually?

Progression IS

Progression is seeing a goal in front of you, kicking the ball into the direction of the goal, and scoring! Progression is seeing the goal, missing sometimes, but doing your best to win the game. Progression is also taking the strategies learned from your losses, and using them to play better the next time.

Progression IS NOT

Progression is not entertaining self-loathing thoughts on a regular basis. Progression is not telling yourself that you are incompetent every other second because you made a mistake. Progression is not perfection.

The failures of yesterday happened either by accident, or on purpose. The failures may have been the result of something out of your control. The good news is that it does not have to define who you are today, or what you will do from this point on. Everyone has made mistakes in their past, even done or said things they were ashamed of; the key is to not allow the feeling to carry on into the next day.

There are two encouraging scriptures I would like to share: The first passage points out that when God forgives sin, He no longer remembers it, and the second passage says that God cast all of our sins into the depths of the sea. This occurs whenever we repent of our wrong-doing. The Sea of Forgetfulness is a metaphor relating to these two passages of scripture.

Hebrews 8:12 (KJV) 
12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. 

Micah 7:19 (KJV) 
19 He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. 

These passages should bring us comfort because if God forgets our transgressions after we repent to him, why should we continue to condemn ourselves over them?

It is toxic to repeatedly play negative thoughts about your past, yourself and others.

Toxic Thoughts

Allowing negativity in your mind will eventually brew an environment of anti-progress. Why? Because in order to progress, you have to be in the mind frame of goal setting, and developing steps towards those goals. Continuous thoughts about things that have gone wrong yesterday, is an enemy to progress.

Takeaways

Get out of your head. (Stop letting your imagination run away from you, not everyone is against you. Sometimes you may be wrong about your conclusions of another person. Do not let your negative self-talk, conversations rule your mind so much that you lose sight of what is happening in the world around you.)

Monitor what you put in your ear and eye gate. (In the age of Social Media, we have to be aware that most of what is displayed is negative, or meant to invoke a negative response. Be mindful of what you read, listen to and watch. If it does not add to you, it may be taking away something valuable.)

Do not dwell on past failures. (Learn from them, and carry on.)

Surround yourself with people who support/build, instead of tearing down. (You have heard of the ole English Proverb, Birds of a feather flock together. It is only ok to keep people in your close friend circle if you all are planning to fly in the same direction. Otherwise, politely keep them in the outer courts.)

We all have failed at something, but that does not mean we have to remain at Camp Failure. Stop the self-condemnation, you have too much to accomplish in your life to focus on yesterday. It is time to start thinking about your next steps right now!

When I was a teacher, I remember having students compare and contrast SMART Goals vs the Regular Goals, and it was a game changer for them. Try using it towards your next goal, it will make a huge difference.

SMART Goals

The school bell has rung, class dismissed.

Wellness Tip:

Get enough sleep (and wake up with water)

The body restores itself and regenerates naturally when we sleep. Wake up with water. Your liver works hard at night! Rehydrate in the morning (before having coffee) with one to two glasses of warm lemon water.

“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do. “ ~Pele

Relevant Post

Hope Deferred: The Butler and The Baker

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When Joseph was in prison after being falsely accused, much time had passed. Eventually, new occupants arrived from the royal court to the prison, the Butler, and the Baker. Both gentlemen had done something terribly wrong to offend the King of Egypt (Pharoah) and were thrown into prison.

Joseph was given the title, Captain of the Guards because of his moral reputation and trustworthiness. This may sound like an oxymoron for a prisoner, but if you knew the history of Joseph, you would certainly understand. To learn more about him check out the overview of his story at the end of the post.

One morning, both the Butler and the Baker woke up feeling troubled. Joseph noticed and asked them what was wrong. They told him that they both had dreams that disturbed them and wanted to know what it meant. In those times, dreams where considered divine messages and needed interpretation. Being in prison, they did not have access to any of the professional pagan dream interpreters that were normally assigned, so they were vexed about it.

Joseph told them it was God who gave the interpretation of dreams and that God will interpret their dreams. By sharing this, Joseph is showing his humility, belief in God and that God is fully in control.

The Dream

Joseph asked the Butler to share his dream first and the Baker second. After the Butler shared his dream, Joseph said, “The three branches represent three days. Within three days, Pharaoh will summon you to the palace. Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your position, and you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand, just as you used to do when you were his cupbearer.” Joseph went on to ask the Butler to please remember him to Pharaoh. Three days later, the Butler was restored to his job in Pharaoh’s court.

After the Baker shared his dream, Joseph said, “The three baskets also represent three days. In three days, you will be summoned to Pharaoh’s court. Pharaoh will lift up your head to be hanged and your body will be impaled on a pole and the birds will eat away at your flesh.” The dream interpretation came to pass for both men. One was restored and the other was hanged.

The Butler forgot to mention Joseph to Pharoah.

Days turn into weeks, weeks into months, and months into years since Joseph had been in prison. It appeared that all he could count on to happen were setbacks. It started when he was younger, after deciding to share his dreams with his brothers. The dreams made them so jealous and upset that they alienated him, threw him in a pit, and eventually sold him into slavery to Egypt.

God’s favor was still on Joseph’s life. His godly, moral character and intelligence caught the eye of his employer and he was promoted in the House of Potiphar. After resisting Potiphar’s wife’s advances, he was thrown into prison because of her false accusations. (Genesis 39, 40) While in prison, he was elevated to the title Captain of the Guards, but after helping the Butler, he was still forgotten yet again.

Do you feel as though you are in a dark prison right now in your life, or that God has forgotten you? I have good news, if you are a Disciple of Christ, and are faithful to Him, He has not forgotten you.

Joseph remained faithful to God throughout all of his hard times. He had many ups and downs, setbacks and false accusations. He continued to live according to the commandments in the Bible and because of his steadfastness; God’s hand remained on him, even when he felt alone. God’s hand is also on you. Whenever you feel that you have made one step forward, but three steps back, remember Joseph.

Years later, Pharoah had a dream that none of his professional pagan-dream interpreters could understand. Pharaoh was quite troubled and threaten to execute his sorcerers if they did not provide the interpretation he needed to hear, by a certain time.

The Butler remembered Joseph.

Joseph was summoned to Pharaoh and asked to interpret his dream. Joseph told Pharoah it was God who gave the interpretation and went on to interpret the dream. (Be sure to give all glory to God) To see what Pharoah’s dream was about this click here.

After Joseph was able, through God, to interpret the dream, he ended up being promoted as second in charge in Egypt. Pharoah also recognized Joseph’s God as all-knowing. When you are feeling forgotten, know that is all a part of the process.

The school bell has rung, class dismissed.

Overview of Joseph’s Story

Two Eagles and a Vine: A Riddle and a Parable

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I have been studying the Book of Ezekiel and decided to park in chapter 17.

I came across a really interesting riddle and parable. Let me preface this by defining the two. A riddle is usually a statement, question or phrase containing a double or veiled meaning; presented as a puzzle to be solved. A parable is a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson. Jesus was really good at using these. Let’s begin!

This is the beginning of the parable of the Two Eagles and a Vine. Before the Book of Ezekiel, it was prophesied that the Children of Israel would fall into the hands of their enemies, due to their disobedience and lack of loyalty. The first eagle represented King Nebuchadnezzar, and the twigs on the top, represented the nobility of the Children of Israel. He came, uprooted and deposited them in the city of merchants (Babylon). The King made an oath with the Children of Israel and their leader, King Zedekiah. The oath basically stated that they would remain in submission to him, and would be well cared for. He even allowed them to live freely. Think about your life right now. Have you ever felt uprooted and taken out of your comfort zone? Have you felt like you have been given over to the hands of your enemies? Have you felt powerless to stop what was happening? What if I told you that this COULD possibly be the Will of God for your life?

The twigs (Children of Israel) were placed in a fruitful field, by great waters and a tree. They were provided for by God, even though they were in captivity. This captivity was a part of God’s judgement on their disobedience, but through His mercy, He still provided a comfortable living for them. Consider this, the Children of Israel were taken and placed in a fruitful place, the only thing they had to do was pay taxes and be under the rule of King Nebuchadnezzar. I know in hindsight it sounds easy, but how many times have you felt forsaken, or wondered why you were going through a certain situation? This is how King Zedekiah felt for himself and his people. Over time, the twigs began to grow and with them came forth new generations. As they began to grow, another eagle came onto the scene.

The second eagle represented Egypt. King Zedekiah began to despise the oath he made with King Nebuchadnezzar, and plotted on how to overturn him. He began to conspire with the King of Egypt and the more they talked about joining against the King of Babylon, the more King Zedekiah’s judgement became cloudy. The parable went on to describe how the branches (Children of Israel), began to divide between each eagle. God was sorely displeased about King Zedekiah’s plan to break his oath with King Nebuchadnezzar, because it was ultimately God’s plan for the Children of Israel at that time. This part of the book was profound because essentially, King Zedekiah thought that by seeking assistance from the King of Egypt, that he was in the will of God. He was dead wrong and God judged him for it. How often does this happen in our lives? When we use our human intellect to reason what is right or wrong, only to realize afterwards our huge mistake. This chapter caused me to reflect because I know I have made decisions in my life that I thought were God ideas, but turned out to be only good ideas. Going forward in this new year, take your eyes away from what is seen on the surface, those things can be deceiving. If King Zedekiah had been paying attention, and remembering what God had originally said; he would not have ended up dying before his time.

*Take away* Hide God’s word in your heart. He is one with His Word. You cannot know one, without the other.

The last lesson that can be learned, according to the Matthew Henry Commentary is “Those who depart from God, only multiply their wrongdoing by changing one (humanistic) confidence for another, and will never prosper.”

The school bell has rung, class dismissed!

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