Proverbs 16:9 (NLT) – “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.”
The entire book of Proverbs is a book filled with God’s wisdom for your life. “Wisdom” is defined as the quality or state of being wise; knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action; discernment, or insight. However, this section in scripture is framed by a comparison of the plans of people’s hearts and the direction of Yahweh. Yahweh establishes the plans of those who seek him and follow him; he causes their enemies to be at peace with them. Yahweh looks at the heart of humankind and punishes the arrogant. Yahweh has created everything for a purpose. I think I need to say that again! Yahweh has created everything for a purpose.
Notice how you often plan things for your life, but God has the ultimate last say. Wouldn’t it be so much better if you would just surrender – lock, stock and barrel — turn it over to him from jump street and save yourself the heartache, the headache and the heartbreak of doing it your way? Just let him have total control. Yahweh has created everything for a purpose. If you want to be blessed, you’ve got to do it God’s way!
HAVE GOD’S HEART – In order to truly be blessed, you must have the heart of God. Understand that your heart must long for the things of God! As you mature in Christ, it becomes so much easier for you to put your selfish ambitions and desires aside in exchange for what God wants. Your life goal should be “your will oh Lord not mine!” No matter what you desire and plan in life, if it does not align with what God wants for your life, it will never materialize!
WALK IN GOD’S WAY – “But the Lord determines our steps.” The precepts and examples of how God wants you to live have already been laid out for you. Jesus Christ modeled the lifestyle that you are to live. God’s way is the best way. He’s already drawn up the blueprint for your life even before you were conceived in your mother’s belly! Jesus walked it out while he became flesh and lived among us. There is no deviating to the right or to the left. But wherever he has already walked, you are to step into the footprints that are before you. He’s gone through the challenges of life that you may be facing today! He is God, but he was also man!
After you have acquired the heart of God and turned your desires and wants to him and all that he desires and wants for you, celebrate God’s blessings! After you have pressed your way through your frailties, your flaws, your failures and your faults, and have found yourself walking in the way of God no matter what men say or do, get ready to receive all that God has for you! (Jeremiah 29:11) – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” So if you want to be blessed, do it God’s way!
2 Samuel 21:10 – “Then Rizpah daughter of Aiah, the mother of two of the men, spread burlap on a rock and stayed there the entire harvest season. She prevented the scavenger birds from tearing at their bodies during the day and stopped wild animals from eating them at night.”
Are there any God-fearing, child-loving mothers who will muster up some compassion, courage and commitment to protect her child/ren from injustice, and protect them from harm and danger? How many times have you picked up a newspaper, seen an amber alert on your phone, or read a newsflash that scrolled across your television screen about a mother who courageously performed an heroic act to save the lives of her children who was in harm’s way?
Today’s narrative is about a woman named Rizpah and her sacrificial act of love for her two sons. Rizpah’s name means “a hot or baking stone.” She was a daughter of Aiah, or Ajah, the Horite. Saul took her as a concubine and she bore him, Armoni and Ephibosheth. Among all the heart-moving episodes in the bible, none is so compelling and touching as the story of Rizpah and her care of the dead. She was a victim of vengeance, a defender of the dead, and she typified the gloom of Golgotha.
BE COMPASSIONATE: In (verses 1-9), David ends a drought by granting justice to the Gibeonites. They ask for seven of Saul’s sons so that they can put them to death before the Lord. Seeking to spare Jonathan’s house in honor of their covenant, David takes the two sons of Rizpah and five sons of Merob and hands them over to the Gibeonites who puts them to a gruesome death. This is where Rizpah actively enters the story … Rizpah is so moved by compassion that she is willing to do whatever needs to be done to alleviate their shame and suffering. Not only does she care about her two sons, but she extends compassion for the other five boys.
BE COURAGEOUS: The word “courage” is defined as: the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear. All day and all night, for five solid months the bible says, from barley harvest – that’s about late April to the early rains in the month of October, Rizpah sits like a sentinel on watch lest a claw or a paw be laid upon the faces of her sons who once nestled to her breast. Can you see her as she flaps and squeals, driving away vultures and ravens? At night she is haunted in the dark by the glowing eyes of savage beasts, perhaps in desperation she has to reach for a flaming brand in the campfire to scare them away. Was she afraid to close her eyes lest in sleep the scavengers that were circling overhead dive for their prey? Unequivocally/absolutely!
BE COMMITTED: Rizpah was fully committed. Notice if you will, she makes no attempt to cut down these bodies. Yet she is still there, she is still mourning, she is still loving, she is still praying and interceding, she is still mediating. Rizpah was able to keep her commitment through this ordeal through a love that was expressed in devotion, which manifested itself in determination. All of her compassion, courage, and commitment paid off! When word reaches king David of Rizpah’s behavior, David responds by gathering the bones of Saul and Jonathan and then the bones of those recently put to death and buries them in the ancestral tomb of Saul’s father, Kish. After that, God heeded supplications for the land. If you want to be an agent of change in the world, be Every Woman: Compassionate, Courageous and Committed!
Psalms 138:8 – “The Lord will perfect that which concerns me: Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever: Do not forsake the works of your hands.”
I don’t know who this word is for, but God knows because He cares about you. Will you be totally honest with yourself? Right now you are in a dry place, a dessert place, a lonely place, and an uncomfortable place. You have been coping and dealing. You have been crying and praying. You have had sleepless nights and dreary days. You have been wrestling with the enemy for as long as you can remember. Family has turned their backs on you. Friends have walked away from you. And church folk have talked bad about you! You have been in it so long that you have become hopeless, helpless, restless and faithless!
Sure you are heartbroken – tore up from the floor up! You feel like you have gone as low as you can go. You have been there as long as you can stay. And you think you are all alone and no one cares a thing about you. Listen, sometimes God has to remove some people, places and practices from your life so that He can reveal His presence in your life. It is very hard to hear the voice of God and see what He is doing in and through you, when you are surrounded by other voices and things which seem to hold your attention! Don’t you know that when everyone else walks away, God has is still there? Whatever did not kill you or make you lose your mind, made your stronger. God cares about you and plans to perfect everything He began in you until the day of Jesus Christ!
“Perfect” means: 1) Having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as it is possible to be. 2) Free from any flaw or defect in condition or quality; faultless. No matter what you are going through right now, no matter how bad it may look through human perception, no matter how bad it makes you feel, no matter how close you get to the edge, no matter how bad you want to throw in the towel, no matter how much you want to give in, give out, or give up, remember God cares and He is going to make it right! Declare and decree out of your own mouth, “Whatever is wrong in my life, God can make it right!”
When you make the choices in life that result in your destruction, devastation and delay, God never gives up on you. But instead He extends His all-sufficient grace and His everlasting mercy to you. He does it because He cares! Each time you mess up, fall down, go astray and are contrary to God’s will, His mercy is there to renew, restore and revive you so that you can begin anew. God cares about you and every one of your faults is covered with the shed blood of Jesus Christ through the finished work of the cross. When God looks at you now, He sees you as you shall become! God’s mercy is eternal! That means it is always and forever! I can not emphasize that enough. God loves you and He cares about you and all that happens to you. His mercy reigns for ever and ever and it endures to all generations!
Have you stopped and taken note that everything God spoke into existence during the “Week of Creation” still operates in the thing it was created to do except mankind? The sun still rises in the east and sets in the west! The moon and the stars still light up the night sky! The flowers still bloom! Tress of all types still reach upward toward heaven! The fowl of the air still soar through the sky and the beast of the earth and all the creeping things still move about and do what they were created to do. So even though you are disobedient and wayward at times, God never forsakes you nor leaves you because He created you and He cares about you. (Eph. 2:10) – “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ps. 139:14) – “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are thy works and that my soul knoweth right well.”
No matter what circumstances you face, know that you have a right, a responsibility and a reason to praise God. No matter what trials you face, you must hold fast to the confidence that God will overrule all until his divinely appointed purposes are completed in your life all because God cares!
I’m sure many of you are familiar with the old saying, “When you are born you cry and the world rejoices. Live your life in such a way that when you die the world cries and you rejoice!” This is such a wonderful turn of phrase and such a beautiful sentiment. To die with no regrets, leaving behind scores of people who mourn your departure. But the big question comes from the middle line; the DASH. “Live your life in such a way. . .” What does such a life look like? How should you live in order to die with no regrets, having impacted the lives of those around you in positive ways? These may very well be the most important questions you ever ask yourself. Questions that invite you to deep reflection on the extent to which your daily living is consistent with your most cherished values. Questions which enable you to see needed course corrections and inspire you to live out the highest expression of yourself.
There are three major components that you should always be conscious of as you are living your life.
Let’s define “character”. Your individuality, your caliber, your integrity, your personality, your reputation and your temperament. In other words it is who you are when no one else is around. God demands your honor and praise. And seeks nothing less than your total love, loyalty and true devotion! Therefore you must:
– walk uprightly
– work righteousness
– speak the truth in your heart
There is a specific code of ethics that a believer should follow at all times. God’s will and God’s way is always wrapped up in God’s word. So if you ever wonder or forget how you should be living – Stop, Look and Listen! Everything you need to know is right there in the word of God!
Everybody wants to get paid. Right? Your job, as a true Believer, is to work and live for Jesus. And whatever is right, He will surely pay! When you live your life according to God’s precepts and principles that have been laid out for you, there are bountiful blessings that will chase you down and overtake you. God will load you up daily with benefits! But you must exemplify “Kingdom” living!
Jesus shows the continuity between the ministry of the prophets and the ministry of the Kingdom Servant. Both are serving the same cause, advancing the same kingdom, and serving the same king. Jesus promised that both would suffer the same abuse, but that both would also receive indescribable reward in heaven. So both have cause for rejoicing in spite of their temporal circumstances. Read Matthew 5:1-12 and ask yourself, “How Ya Livin!?”
I Thessalonians 5:16-18 – Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Do you find yourself always complaining about what is wrong in your life instead of appreciating what is right in your life? Are you the one who always looks at the glass as being half empty instead of it being half full? Are you the one who always expects the worse in your situation instead of hoping for the best in your situation? Do you often blame the devil for what you perceive as a problem instead of it simply being God protecting you from unseen danger? In order for you to stay in the will of God, you are commanded to rejoice always, pray continually and thank Him for everything!
In the book of 1 Thessalonians, Paul praised the Thessalonians’ faith; defended his ministry against outsiders’ attacks; and laid down basic theology about righteous living in a decaying culture, and the final hope of all believers, both living and dead—eternity with God. In this final chapter of 1 Thessalonians, Paul also revisited Christ’s warnings by reminding his readers that there are strong, specific commands for life. And that there are some specific ways to display the changes Christ brings into your life. When Christ is in your life as Lord, Ruler and Savior, your life is no longer the same!
In verses 16-18 it speaks on the inner attitude that the Gentiles needed then, and we as modern-day Christians need to maintain today! It says that you are to be joyful always, pray continually and give thanks in all circumstances.
So let’s take a closer look at your inner attitude…
You and I know that even though you profess that you are a child of the King, Holy Ghost-filled, water-baptized and Blood-bought, you are not always joyful in the situation and circumstances that you often find yourself in. Am I right? Look at the word. It says “ALWAYS”! Listen, your joy is not bound by circumstances or hindered by difficulties. Paul reminds you that you have a part in this joy. It is a choice, a deliberate response that focuses on the grace and goodness of God. The joy that you have, the world didn’t give it and the world can’t take it away! This is one of the ways to stay in the will of God.
When Paul suggests, never stop praying, he is not speaking of non-stop prayers but instead he refers to the attitude of prayer or reverence before God. Your life, as a believer, should be a life of righteousness. Your approach to relationships and responsibilities should be such that you maintain a constant attitude of being in God’s presence. That means you will pray often and about many things, including requests, praise, and thanksgiving! Maintain that attitude of respect and honor for God because He is always listening! This is one of the ways to stay in the will of God.
Lastly, you must recognize God’s eminence in all events. No matter what it looks like and no matter what it feels like, God is still good and He is still God! He’s too wise to make a mistake. And He is too kind to do evil. He is in control and He doeth all things well! You must learn how to thank Him in the good times and the bad times; when you are up and when you are down; when you are well and even when you are sick. You are commanded!
When you can agree with God that He knows what’s best for you, then you can begin to trust Him and thank Him for everything! This is how you stay in the will of God.
John 2:9 – “The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘And in this place I will give peace,’ says the LORD of hosts.”
Here we are once again having crossed the portal into a brand New Year! Seems like the older I get, the faster the years seem to roll around. I don’t know about you, but I am so glad that 2020 is behind me. 2020 was some year for me, as I’m sure it was for you, facing great challenges and hurdles to overcome in many areas! I prayed, fasted, stood firm on the promises of God [which are Yea and Amen] and trusted Him to work things out for my good because I love Him and am the called according to His purpose!
Agree with me, it seemed to be the consensus among many Saints that weapons were formed, tongues rose up in judgment, and all for God’s sake! But He promised us a brighter day! So with that promise deeply rooted in my heart, every time I got a chance to praise Him, I did! Every time I entered into His gates, I did it with Thanksgiving! Every time I entered His courts, I did it with praise! I blessed the Lord at all times and let His praise continually be in my mouth! That was an act of obedience and a sign to God that my Faith was unwavering in spite of what was going on around me! Praise is your weapon and guarantees Victory in Jesus! Listen, I still raised my hands in praise; I still shouted with the voice of triumph; and I still danced before the Lord because I knew without one doubt that if I don’t look back an keep walking, I’ll eventually make it to my destination. Here’s the key. Put all the negativity behind you and concentrate solely on the positive that is forthcoming, and your mind and spirit will be filled with God’s perfect peace!
Who does not want to live in a place of peace when so much confusion, disappointment, heartache and pain is all around you? Let’s see – testing positive for COVID-19, loss of a loved one, job downsizing, car repossession, house foreclosure, credit card accounts maxed out, estranged relationships, African American males unjustly incarcerated, or worse, senselessly murdered in cold blood, wickedness in high places! Can I get a witness? If you’ve not experienced any of those things, keep living! You are either in a storm, just coming out of a storm, or about to enter into a storm. Either way it goes, God is able to speak to your storm and bring you peace!
It has been and still is a struggle, but I’m striving to let go of the past and allow the past to be just that, the past! I’m crying out to the Father to help me forgive those who have wronged me, so that I am free and clear for takeoff in this New Year! Some of us never get off the ground because we have too much junk weighing us down and we cannot sore and be all that God has created us to be! Well it’s a new day, a new month, a new year and a new season! Whatever God is getting ready to do in this season, I don’t want Him to do it without me! God has great things in store for His people. (I Corinthians 2:9) says, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” Is there anybody other than me who loves my Jesus! Do you love Him enough to trust Him with your future? Do you love Him enough to give Him your burdens? Do you love Him enough to believe that He has a plan and a purpose for your life and that He will finish every good thing He has begun in you until the day of Jesus Christ?
So … for those of you, like me, who had to deal with unnecessary, unwanted and unwarranted stress and unrest in 2020, understand that Satan’s job is to circumvent your destiny! He wants to kill, steal, and destroy you! He’s out to abort your hope and your dream! Step on the devil’s neck and let him know he cannot stop you block you any longer. Opportunities are endless and God’s favor is unsolicited, unmerited, uncommon and unstoppable! Walk in that thing! Don’t hinder your future by holding on to your past! Pray to the Father, think positive, surround yourself with people of God who are Kingdom Builders and then believe with all of your heart that God will bring it to pass!