Archive for May, 2020

God’s Intention to Astonish Us

Thursday, May 21st, 2020

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Kindled Fire

Wednesday, May 13th, 2020

At a young age, I remember a teacher taking my class on a fieldtrip. Part of our excursion was studying how to become “one” with nature. The practicality of the lesson was learning survival skills, should we ever get lost in the wild. (I secretly wondered who was dumb enough to voluntarily come close enough to nature to begin with to even worry about this.)

Step one? Creating a fire. Somehow, we were supposed to accomplish this task without a lighter or a match. Even as a child, I was seriously doubting the intelligence of my teacher as my entire class (save yours truly) began to furiously rub sticks together in hopes of creating a spark.

I surveyed the scene. Alarm bells rang inside my head in vehement candor as the words of Smokey the Bear echoed in my ears: Smokey’s friends don’t play with matches. Only you can prevent forest fires. We were in a forest. There were dry pine needles all around us (perfect for kindling). And, there were dozens of kids, determined to produce a flame—some of whom were already experts in the task from hours of Boy-Scouting. They had the badge to prove it.

“We’re going to start a fire,” I exasperated to my teacher. Humor then alarm crested her eyes as the potential reality of the situation set in. I don’t exactly recall what transpired after that moment, but we also learned the importance of fire safety that day. There was a sure danger in kindling our own fire.

It’s not an everyday occurrence that we risk kindling a fire in our natural lives, unless you’re an avid camper, candle enthusiast, or in the habit of leaving on heat-generating appliances. But, we do run this risk daily in our spiritual lives.

Listen carefully, all you who kindle your own fire [devising your own man-made plan of salvation], who surround yourselves with torches, walk by the light of your [self-made] fire and among the torches that you have set ablaze. But this you will have from My hand: You will lie down in [a place of] torment (Isaiah 50:11, AMP).

Scripture warns us not to kindle our own fires. What does this mean? The Amplified version of the Bible explains this well: when we create own man-made plan of salvation. When does this happen? When we add to, take away from, misconstrue, etc. what God has already written in His Word (Deuteronomy 4:2; Revelation 22:18–19).

We see the gravity of this warning in Leviticus 10 when Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, let God’s holy fire burn out in the Tabernacle. They took censers and put their own fire and incense therein and offered it (strange fire) before the Lord. The end of the story? God took them out because they let go of the original, pure source of God’s presence and offered something man-made, and therefore, corrupted.

It’s easy to come up with excuses as to why we shouldn’t manifest our own fire. We’d be creatively hindered. It’s too hard to keep the original source burning. Fire is too difficult to maintain. We like the convenience of “quick” fire. Heat from other fires may burn just as brightly and keep us just as warm. Regardless of our excuses, we must be vigilant toward what we set ablaze in our lives.

Smokey the Bear’s saying is true for our spiritual walk. Only you can prevent forest fires. Kindling our own fire is a choice. Abstaining from it is a personal manifesto and moral we must hold true. We need to keep the true fire of the Lord burning in our lives and never allow it to burn out and/or seek our own kindling. Desire the fire, but desire the right fire. There is One who has promised to baptize with the Holy Ghost and with fire (Luke 3:16). It’s God. It’s the Word. And, His name is Jesus (John 1:1–14).

Discovery Moments

Wednesday, May 6th, 2020

It was in my most recent past when I faced the greatest failure of my life. I’m not putting a label on myself, but am being purely transparent that I am human, and I acknowledge the fact that I do fail.

I was devastated, depressed, and in denial that God could ever mend my broken life. The words of the enemy crept in at every turn. Worthless. Impossible. Disappointment. Ruin. His innate ability to remind me was bewildering. Reminders came through small whispers in my prayer time, boisterous thunderings from fellow saints, and my over-active (albeit quiet) thought-life that chanted, “failure, failure, failure,” with every beat of my heart.

Joy and happiness seemed to be non-existent. Comfort abandoned. Every fiber of my intelligible mind seemed to go missing. In my fallen hour I wondered if there was an escape to the monotonous drone of failure in my life. Was their hope? A purpose?

It was then, in my darkest hour, the Lord sent a voice of encouragement to me. After listening to my guttural cries, a dear friend illuminated my situation in a completely different light. He said:

You didn’t fail. You’re not a failure. This isn’t the end. You’ve had a discovery moment, and therein is a reward.

It took a moment for my mind to process past the “crazy” in his statement. You couldn’t replace “fail” with “discovery” in my mind, but the more I listened, processed, prayed, and read the Word, I realized, he was right.

Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding (Proverbs 3:13, KJV).

There’s a quote that pretty much sums up my life. “Which way do you prefer to learn? The hard way.” For me, there’s no other way. Learning doesn’t come easy, and normally enters my life through a failure moment. Correction. A discovery moment.

Another translation of this Scripture says, “Happy is the man that makes discovery of wisdom…” My heart sang when I found this verse. Why? It’s through my mistakes and lessons learned that the Lord grows my spiritual wisdom and builds my spiritual understanding. And, the outcome will lead to a true reward. I not only draw closer to God, mature in my spiritual walk, increase in wisdom and knowledge, but there is joy (happiness) in it.

In the thick of the discovery moment, nothing feels good. The enemy likes to redefine the moment as a failure instead of discovery and he resorts to celebration on our behalf. However, Scripture tells us to proclaim to Satan not to rejoice because when we fall we will get up again. The Lord will be a light unto us—bringing knowledge and understanding, encouragement and victory (Micah 7:8–9).

Truthfully, I’ve been fearful concerning my past discovery moments. I’ve been afraid of letting God down. I’ve been afraid of others’ perception of me. I’ve been afraid of never standing back up. Still, we can’t be afraid of discovery moments. Discovery moments are cause for rejoicing (James 1:2–4; Romans 5:3–5). Discovery moments help us build our godly character. Discovery moments draw us closer to God.

Rejoice today knowing God will give you courage to endure your discovery moments. You will find wisdom and glean understanding to help you win your spiritual race.

The Three Keys to Beating Disappointment

Sunday, May 3rd, 2020

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Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me (Matthew 11:2–6, KJV).