Author: Yvonne Mason Sewell
As I thought about what to write about this week, it hit me like a ton of bricks. A while back the question was posed as to why bad things happen to good people when they are trying so hard to live right and do the right things in their lives.
The answer is not as complicated as it might appear to be on the surface. The fact is when we are sailing on a calm sea, there is no reason to grow. We just lay back and enjoy the ride. There is no reason to be challenged. Hardships and trials are tools used to help us grow. Facing adversity makes us rethink thinks we have grown comfortable with.
We are told in Heb 12:5-9 “5 And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.” 7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live!”
God allows things to happen in order for us to grow, to learn and to expand the depth of our faith. When we do not endure trials and hardships we become stagnate, we just drift along on the sea of glass believing that we have it made. Our faith becomes shallow and easily cracked.
Proverbs 3:11-12 tells us this,11 “My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, 12 because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.”
Just as when my children still to this day do something that is not right, I discipline them. Not because I do not love them, but because I do. I refuse to cover it up, pretend it didn’t happen and overlook it. When they endure hardships, I teach them that it helps them to grow. As my mother used to tell me it builds character. Our ability to handle hardships, trials, tribulation, disappointments, sorrow and loss, builds our Spiritual character. As the Hebrew writes states, helps us live.
How are you handling God’s discipline? Do you rant and rail against the “unfairness”? Do you ask why me? Do you look within to see if there is something that needs work? Or do you understand that there is a season and a reason for all things? That God has allowed these things to happen to teach something to you? Only you can answer these questions. Remember this as the writer states in Proverbs 3:11-12 “My son do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.”
Embrace your trials, and tribulations. Bottom line they are part of God’s love.
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Tangled Up in the Weeds
As I was studying for our Ladies Bible Class I read something that hit me. The writer made this statement ,“ But as I ran, I noticed more and more people tangled up in the weeds…” As I thought about that statement, it made perfect sense.
When we first begin our race with Christ, we are excited and ready to run. We are at the starting line, warming up, shaking our body to loosen up the muscles, stretching our legs so we do not get leg cramps, and the when the gun goes off, we are running like we are never going to stop. All we see in our mind’s eye is that finish line, but then something happens.
We stumble on a weed, then we fall into the weeds and finally we get tangled in those weeds because we have no idea how to get out. We grow tired and weary of fighting the weeds which appear to multiply as we try to untangle them. After a time, others join us as they too have fallen over the weeds and found it was just easier to stay there and not fight to get out. We become complacent, lazy and comfortable in those weeds. We ask ourselves, “Why bother? It isn’t worth the effort it takes anyway.” Sometimes we might even say, “someone else will do it.”
Others run by us on their way to the finish line and we continue to sit as the weeds grow higher and higher. Pretty soon we are lost in the weeds.
There are two lessons here the first one is this, we have a race to run and to finish. There is no room for quitting. We are expected to run the race and to finish the race. We are expected to get up out of the weeds when we fall in them, brush ourselves off and continue the race. The second lesson is this, when we see someone in the weeds, it is our responsibility to stop reach down and help that person out of the weeds and to run with them to the finish line. We should never ever run by a fallen runner. When we allow ourselves to do that, we become tangled in our own weeds of lack of compassion, and complacency. Without stating it out loud we are saying that person should know better, or we don’t have time to encourage them or to hold out a hand.
Running a race is not easy. It takes mental health, physical strength and emotional endurance to run and complete a race. Notice I did not say we are expected to finish first. We are expected to finish the race. Even when we feel we need to just trip over that weed and sit down – we must not. My question is this, Are you tangled in the weeds?
Embracing the Thorns
We all have read the scripture where Paul asks God three times to remove the thorn from his side. We all know the answer God gave him. That answer was that God’s grace was sufficient for him.
We each have our own thorns in our side. The question is this do we embrace them and use them for God’s glory, or do we allow them to entangle us to the point that we give up or even worse become indifferent.? Or even better to we push them aside and run right through them?
In order to answer that question we have to go back to the basics and that is, are we using our gifts to please and glorify God or are we either not using our gifts or using our gifts for our own glory? The test is this, if we are using our gifts with a pure heart for God, we will be criticized, we will be questioned and we will be put under a microscope. The reason is because we have chosen to be bold and allow God to have the glory. The thorn we sometimes suffer is we allow those action to make us question ourselves. If our heart is pure and our motive is God’s glory, we should never ever question ourselves.
The devil is the reason for the self-doubt. He takes that thorn and pushed it inward, creating pain and agony. We must push past it. Remind ourselves that God is working in us. We are his vessel and if he did not think we were up to the job he would not have given us that gift, whatever that gift might be.
With pain comes growth, with criticism comes enlightenment and strength. But most of all we know that God is working that he is being glorified and that someone’s heart has been pricked.
Embrace those thorns, know that God’s grace is indeed sufficient and become even bolder, stronger and show God’s glory.
God Controls the Spirits
Growing up in the Church the one thing that was never discussed for whatever reason was the Holy Spirit and God’s control over all the spirits. It was as if it was a byproduct of God and not one to be discussed. The reason was simple, all the denominations around us expressed the use of the Spirit all the time. We as the Church of Christ dare not embrace that. We did not want to be like them.
However, we as the Lord’s body have so missed the mark. We have left out a component that is so vital to our life it is like missing a limb. The Holy Spirit becomes part of who we are when we are born again through Baptism. When we deny that fact, we hinder our Spiritual growth on so many levels.
In the old Testament we are told that God controls the Spirit world. I Kings 22:16-23. When the King Ahab wanted to attack the Israelites, he sent for Micaiah for solidification that he would win. When Micaiah spoke, he told the king the same thing his own prophets did to show the king that they only told him what he wanted to hear. As the argument went on earth, a Spirit stepped up to God and said, “I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all his prophets.” And God said, “You will succeed in enticing him. Go and do it.”
What is interesting is Micaiah told the king what God and done and still he refused to listen. This also show us that God allows those who are committed to sin to sin even more in order to hurry their judgement. In the end Ahab died.
We are told in I Sam. 16:14 that as Saul became more prideful and greater in power he turned from God and the Spirit left him.
The question has been asked to people who are not, yet part of the Lord’s body have an indwelling of the Spirit or not. After careful study I would venture to say that as with Saul the Spirit is sent to prick the heart, but there is no indwelling until one is born again. Once we are born again that is when the fruits of the Spirit begin to grow. Gal. 5:16-22 Tells us that if we have the in dwelling of the Spirit, he will lead us. However, the Holy Spirit which is in us is always in conflict with the flesh, that is worldly things. The one that grows is the one we feed.
Studying the Holy Spirit should become as important to us as studying about Jesus and God. The Holy Spirit is that gift we are given when we rise up out of the water as new life. That Holy Spirit becomes part of who we are and what we do. Embrace it, allow it to help you grow, to withstand the battle that goes on without and within. Remember the Devil doesn’t bother those he already owns. He only attacks those who have had their hearts pricked by the Spirit and then filled with the Spirit.
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Back to Basics
Back to Basics
Sometimes as Christians we tend to forget that there are folks out there who have not yet put on Christ. They have not yet been buried with him in baptism – raised to walk in newness of life to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Apparently somewhere down the road, we have forgotten to teach that basic part of our faith.
So, let me just take us a few steps back. On the day of Pentecost after Jesus had risen from the dead and the people heard Peter and the other apostles in their own languages, they asked what they needed to do in order to be saved (Acts 2:36-40) they were told “Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” The people immediately were buried (that is completely immersed under the water- like being buried in the ground) with Christ in baptism. They didn’t wait a week, a month or even the next day. Even Jesus was baptized to show obedience (Luke 3:21-22) These were faithful Jews, who understood their faith, who practiced it faithfully. However, once they understood that the old law or testament had been nailed to the cross and that a new testament was in effect, they took the measures they needed to make their life take that path.
Romans 6:1-4 tells us this “What can we say then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”
I don’t know about anyone else, but that scripture alone made me want to be in Christ. To know that I had the opportunity to die to sin, be raised pure and sinless and to receive the Holy Spirit so that I might more fully understand the word is priceless. No, I did not understand everything I needed to know overnight. And every day I am still learning. But I am learning through a clear vision when I need those lessons. The understanding is there, the ability to absorb, to be able to explain it to others is there. Sin no longer has its power over us. We are covered in God’s grace and mercy. That is not to say that we do not fall from grace – it simply means that God is always there to receive us back with his hand out to help us up. But in order to be there we must first become his child; Jesus’s co-heir and we do that by dying to sin through burial in baptism and symbolically rising from that sinful death to a new life.
Understanding that in order to receive the blessings and the Holy Spirit and the newness of life, to be raised from the Spiritual dead, we must teach baptism, we must go back to the basics. WE must understand that we are obligated to teach this as well as live it.
Weighed- Mesasured and Found Wanting
For those of you who have been following my daily lessons today I give you Daniel 5 :1-30. Those of you who have followed remember that Daniel was in the King Nebuchadnezzar’s court. He had inturrpeted several dreams for the king and they had come to fruition. After the last one came to pass, the king turned to God until he died. His son, King Belshazzar not so much. “5 King Belshazzar gave a great banquet for a thousand of his nobles and drank wine with them. 2 While Belshazzar was drinking his wine, he gave orders to bring in the gold and silver goblets that Nebuchadnezzar his father[a] had taken from the temple in Jerusalem, so that the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines might drink from them. 3 So they brought in the gold goblets that had been taken from the temple of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines drank from them. 4 As they drank the wine, they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone.5 Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote. 6 His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his legs became weak and his knees were knocking.The king summoned the enchanters, astrologers[b] and diviners. Then he said to these wise men of Babylon, “Whoever reads this writing and tells me what it means will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around his neck, and he will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom.”
8 Then all the king’s wise men came in, but they could not read the writing or tell the king what it meant. 9 So King Belshazzar became even more terrified and his face grew more pale. His nobles were baffled.10 The queen,[c] hearing the voices of the king and his nobles, came into the banquet hall. “May the king live forever!” she said. “Don’t be alarmed! Don’t look so pale! 11 There is a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods in him. In the time of your father he was found to have insight and intelligence and wisdom like that of the gods. Your father, King Nebuchadnezzar, appointed him chief of the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners. 12 He did this because Daniel, whom the king called Belteshazzar, was found to have a keen mind and knowledge and understanding, and also the ability to interpret dreams, explain riddles and solve difficult problems. Call for Daniel, and he will tell you what the writing means.”
13 So Daniel was brought before the king, and the king said to him, “Are you Daniel, one of the exiles my father the king brought from Judah? 14 I have heard that the spirit of the gods is in you and that you have insight, intelligence and outstanding wisdom. 15 The wise men and enchanters were brought before me to read this writing and tell me what it means, but they could not explain it. 16 Now I have heard that you are able to give interpretations and to solve difficult problems. If you can read this writing and tell me what it means, you will be clothed in purple and have a gold chain placed around your neck, and you will be made the third highest ruler in the kingdom.”17 Then Daniel answered the king, “You may keep your gifts for yourself and give your rewards to someone else. Nevertheless, I will read the writing for the king and tell him what it means.18 “Your Majesty, the Most High God gave your father Nebuchadnezzar sovereignty and greatness and glory and splendor. 19 Because of the high position he gave him, all the nations and peoples of every language dreaded and feared him. Those the king wanted to put to death, he put to death; those he wanted to spare, he spared; those he wanted to promote, he promoted; and those he wanted to humble, he humbled. 20 But when his heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and stripped of his glory. 21 He was driven away from people and given the mind of an animal; he lived with the wild donkeys and ate grass like the ox; and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven, until he acknowledged that the Most High God is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and sets over them anyone he wishes.22 “But you, Belshazzar, his son,[d] have not humbled yourself, though you knew all this. 23 Instead, you have set yourself up against the Lord of heaven. You had the goblets from his temple brought to you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines drank wine from them. You praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or understand. But you did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways. 24 Therefore he sent the hand that wrote the inscription.25 “This is the inscription that was written:
mene, mene, tekel, parsin
26 “Here is what these words mean:
Mene[e]: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.
27 Tekel[f]: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.
28 Peres[g]: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”
29 Then at Belshazzar’s command, Daniel was clothed in purple, a gold chain was placed around his neck, and he was proclaimed the third highest ruler in the kingdom.
30 That very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians,[h] was slain, and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom, at age sixty-two.”
Now let’s look at the lesson or lessons here. First Belshazzar would have known what happened to his father when he was not in line with God. It was not a state secret. Second, He knew who Daniel was and that everything Daniel had told the prior King had come to fruition. He also knew that Daniel was a man of God. But as humans who depend on their own salvation are prone to do, this king believed he was invinsible. He had to show how powerful he was by throwing a banquet for those in power around him. As we see from the scripture God was no happy with King Belshazzar. God had used the words before. Powerful words that packed a punch. And to show that God is who he says he is, he wrote them on the wall for all to see. Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin. The King totally befuddled when his wise men could not translate on the advise of the Queen sent for Daniel. Daniel held nothing back. He told the king that he had not humbled himself to the Lord, but instead had set himself above God ,even though he knew about God and his mighty power. That he stole the goblets from the Temple and used them for his guests to drink from. He told him that he did not honor God and now it was time to face a reckoning. The tanslation was, “God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end. You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting. Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and the Persians.”
It was that very night that Belshazzar was slain.
There are a couple of lessons in this short chapter. 1.The things we learn in the enviorment we are raised in is not always the way we behave when we are older. Instead of learning from what happened to his father and staying close to God, Belshazzar did the complete opposite. In fact he did what his father had done prior to his encounter with God. 2. that for every action there is always an opposite and equal or greater reaction and consequence. 3. Like Belshazzar we are free to make our own decisions, but we are not free from the consequences of those decisions. 4. When one sees the writing on the wall, it would behoove one to stop and pay attention. 5. There will be a reckoning and all of our actions will be put in front of us. 6. Daniel never wavered in his convictions to God. He never apologized, he never excused and he never backed down. 6. God is in control. God sees all, knows all and has a plan. God’s message never changes, the messenger does, but not the message. 7. Those who refuse to pay attention to the message well, let me just say they did not understand the writing on the wall. Our days are numbered. Only God knows how many they are, have we been weighed on the scales and found wanting? Are we going to be given over to the conquerers and held in bondage because we have lost our way? Because we think we are mightier than God? Because we refuse to listen to the message and the messenger? Only you can answer those questions. Only you can decide if you have been put on the scales and found wanting. But would logic not tell you it is time – no way past time to put God back in your life? After all he holds your life in his hands. #God,#weighedandmesauredandfoundwanting,#daniel
Time to Turn Back To God
Today for my lesson, I am moving away from Judges and heading into the book of Daniel. Most of you may have been introduced to Daniel when he was thrown into the lion’s den and God closed their mouths. As most of us understand God is in control of eveything man is in control of nothing. God’s message and God’s plan never changes, even though it may take a detour. The children of Israel once again had been sent into bondage, this time by the empire of Babylon. This empire was remarkable. King Nebichadnezzar was powerful and fearless. But he kept having God moments in his dreams. On this occasion he has a dream that really sets him back on his heels. Daniel 4:1-36 “King Nebuchadnezzar,To the nations and peoples of every language, who live in all the earth:May you prosper greatly! 2 It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me.
3 How great are his signs,
how mighty his wonders!
His kingdom is an eternal kingdom;
his dominion endures from generation to generation.
4 I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at home in my palace, contented and prosperous. 5 I had a dream that made me afraid. As I was lying in bed, the images and visions that passed through my mind terrified me. 6 So I commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be brought before me to interpret the dream for me. 7 When the magicians, enchanters, astrologers[b] and diviners came, I told them the dream, but they could not interpret it for me. 8 Finally, Daniel came into my presence and I told him the dream. (He is called Belteshazzar, after the name of my god, and the spirit of the holy gods is in him.)
9 I said, “Belteshazzar, chief of the magicians, I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in you, and no mystery is too difficult for you. Here is my dream; interpret it for me. 10 These are the visions I saw while lying in bed: I looked, and there before me stood a tree in the middle of the land. Its height was enormous. 11 The tree grew large and strong and its top touched the sky; it was visible to the ends of the earth. 12 Its leaves were beautiful, its fruit abundant, and on it was food for all. Under it the wild animals found shelter, and the birds lived in its branches; from it every creature was fed.
13 “In the visions I saw while lying in bed, I looked, and there before me was a holy one, a messenger,[c] coming down from heaven. 14 He called in a loud voice: ‘Cut down the tree and trim off its branches; strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the animals flee from under it and the birds from its branches. 15 But let the stump and its roots, bound with iron and bronze, remain in the ground, in the grass of the field.
“‘Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him live with the animals among the plants of the earth. 16 Let his mind be changed from that of a man and let him be given the mind of an animal, till seven times[d] pass by for him.
17 “‘The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of people.’
18 “This is the dream that I, King Nebuchadnezzar, had. Now, Belteshazzar, tell me what it means, for none of the wise men in my kingdom can interpret it for me. But you can, because the spirit of the holy gods is in you.”
19 Then Daniel (also called Belteshazzar) was greatly perplexed for a time, and his thoughts terrified him. So the king said, “Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its meaning alarm you.”
Belteshazzar answered, “My lord, if only the dream applied to your enemies and its meaning to your adversaries! 20 The tree you saw, which grew large and strong, with its top touching the sky, visible to the whole earth, 21 with beautiful leaves and abundant fruit, providing food for all, giving shelter to the wild animals, and having nesting places in its branches for the birds— 22 Your Majesty, you are that tree! You have become great and strong; your greatness has grown until it reaches the sky, and your dominion extends to distant parts of the earth.
23 “Your Majesty saw a holy one, a messenger, coming down from heaven and saying, ‘Cut down the tree and destroy it, but leave the stump, bound with iron and bronze, in the grass of the field, while its roots remain in the ground. Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven; let him live with the wild animals, until seven times pass by for him.’
24 “This is the interpretation, Your Majesty, and this is the decree the Most High has issued against my lord the king: 25 You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox and be drenched with the dew of heaven. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes. 26 The command to leave the stump of the tree with its roots means that your kingdom will be restored to you when you acknowledge that Heaven rules. 27 Therefore, Your Majesty, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue.”
28 All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. 29 Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, 30 he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?”
31 Even as the words were on his lips, a voice came from heaven, “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. 32 You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes.”
33 Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like the ox. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.
34 At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever.
His dominion is an eternal dominion;
his kingdom endures from generation to generation.
35 All the peoples of the earth
are regarded as nothing.
He does as he pleases
with the powers of heaven
and the peoples of the earth.
No one can hold back his hand
or say to him: “What have you done?”
36 At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before.”
As with all history, which can never be rewritten or hidden because it all comes to the light, the lesson here is this, God is not slack concerning his promise, and he is all powerful, he is all knowing. God allows things to happen to us to get our attention we are too stubborn or filled with our own self- importance to understand we are in charge of nothing. We are mere humans. God not only sees today, he sees tomorrow and the day after that and the day after that. He knows that if we do not come to him, put him first and change our ways, then we could very well end up in bondage, or worse like the king. When David interrupted the dream he begged the king to change his ways. To destroy his idols, to lean on the one true God. But, the king thought he was in control- he believed he was invincible and could not be touched. He believed that he had no flaws and that he was in charge. Oh how the mighty do fall. Pride will provide a stumbling block every time. Like the King there are those who are so blind by their own ambitions, self-importance, self -pride, that they cannot, do not and will not see that they are in control of Nothing. They are alive simply because God wills it. We as a nation, as a world have become like King Nebuchadnezzar, we have become blinded with our own self-importance, self-pride, our own ambitions and self-centeredness, that we have forgotten we are only here because God wills it. At any given time we can no longer be here. We are in control of NOTHING!!!! Isn’t it time to turn back to God? #God,#turningback,#godsmessage,#godsplan