I have never been here

Numbers 13:1-3 (AMP) Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,“Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am going to give to the sons of Israel. From each of their fathers’ tribes you shall send a man, every one a leader among them.” So Moses sent spies from the Wilderness of Paran at the command of the Lord, all of them men who were heads of the Israelites.

My oldest son will be returning from his first ever solo trip today. He got to the airport before ten this morning and his flight out does not take place until after six this evening. He is ready to come home. This trip was a gift for his high school graduation from us (mom and dad). He flew eight hundred miles, to a city he had never been before, to meet people he had only had a relationship with online. This was not a hook up. This was suppose to be an in person meeting because they play games online with each other nightly.

The Lord told Moses to send out leaders to spy out the land. One from every tribe. They were to be gone for forty days, longer than the trip took to reach their destination.

Numbers 13:17-20 (AMP) Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, and said to them, “Go up this way into the Negev (the South country); then go up into the hill country See what the land is like and whether the people who live there are strong or weak, few or many,  and whether the land in which they live is good or bad, and whether the cities in which they live are [open] camps or fortifications,  and what the land is, whether it is fat (productive) or lean, whether there is timber on it or not. Make an effort to get some of the fruit of the land.” Now the time was the time of the first ripe grapes.

Before my son’s trip I encouraged him to research the area. What are some places you can go? Find out how you will get around? Let’s just say, he was clueless when he arrived. The person who was suppose to stay with him backed out at the last minute, because he was not good with talking to people in person. The others that he was suppose to meet up with did not want to leave their hotel rooms and the ones that lived in the city had their car towed the night before. It took my son until the third day to leave the little place we rented him for the week. He had to learn to get out for himself and go.

Eventually he made it to the beach, which was three miles from where he was staying. He took an Uber to an island, that a couple of the people were working, so he could meet them. He made an effort. He did not just order in all week and not leave until it was time to fly home. He got out. An effort is a serious attempt, it is not just showing up.

When the Israelites got back to the camp they were excited for the land. Verses 17-18, “We went in to the land where you sent us; and it certainly does flow with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. But the people who live in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified (walled) and very large…” They had never been there before. They could not move forward because of fear of who they might come in contact with. This is the same group of people that witness God stop an army with the Red Sea. These were heads of the camps. They were leaders. They were men Moses trusted. Did they carry the vision? Could they walk in trust that God would deliver them into the Promised Land? Unfortunately, they could not and wandered in the wilderness for an other forty years. They were so close. However, since they had never been there before they did not have confidence and wanted to go back (under new leadership) to what they knew even though it would not be a land of milk and honey.

Right now we are navigating through areas we have never been before. Gas prices are at an all time high. It takes over a hundred dollars to fill up our tanks. Food costs are at an all time high. We are having to get creative with what we cook. Businesses do not have the man power to keep open and are cutting their hours short.

Refuse to let fear make the decisions for you. Do not let fear be how you raise your kids. We are raising them to GO. Raise them for the Great Commission. Do not let fear of someone else’s views be why you do not want to listen to them. Be an example of the New Commandment (love that unselfishly seeks the best for others). Do not let the fear of circumstances halt your generosity. We are to encourage each other to do good works. Do not let fear of never being here cause you to go back to where you are familiar.

My prayer for you: I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God. God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. (Ephesians 3:15-21 MSG)

Do not let the roar of the lion drown out your voice

Amos 3:17-18 (AMP) Surely the Lord God does nothing without revealing His secret plan [of the judgment to come] to His servants the prophets. The lion has roared! Who will not fear?
The Lord God has spoken [to the prophets]! Who can but prophesy?

Did you know that when you speak you are prophesying? There is a difference in the five fold ministry of a prophet and a born again believer being a prophetic. Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it and indulge it will eat its fruit and bear the consequences of their words.” If my words have power, then that would mean that they are prophetic. My favorite words to speak are those found in His Word.

I love the words in Ezekiel 37 when God tells him to prophesy to the dry bones. He did not just say “get up, dry bones.” He said, “dry bones, hear the Word of the Lord.”

The question regarding whether we really heard God can be like a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8). Although a lion roars, a true servant of God listens to the voice of God above the roar of the lion (John 10:27). If it lines up with His Word, do it, and in boldness, say it. It might look foolish to others (believe me, I battle this too). Often I will argue with God before delivering a hard word. I do not take it lightly. As a teacher of the Word, I know I will be held accountable far greater than those who are not (James 3:1). The call to follow God in obedience should be louder than the roar of defeat.

He speaks through us to others, encouraging them and affirming them, and upon occasion, giving a word of correction for them (this is the part I wrestle with). I have learned to dust off my feet after I have been obedient (Matthew 10:14). My heart is to see people grow and to be blessed. It is not my job to make sure they receive it. My job is to deliver it. May I add a little thought provoking question? If you sit through services and listen to your pastor and it does not prick you to take an evaluation of yourself, has your heart become hard? Being sweet has nothing to do with the status of your heart. Love will propel you to seek the best for others, unselfishly.

Here are some questions I ask myself. Does it line up with His Word? That is not the same as it making you feel good or stroking your spiritual ego. Does it line up with His character and nature? Not how I want Him to be. Sometimes we want God to conform to our image of Him. Finally, will it bring freedom (even if it is correction)? We are called ministers of reconciliation. If you can answer ‘yes’ to these questions. Then be obedient. Do not let Sanballat’s (Nehemiah 4:1) in your life deter you from what God told you to do. Be bold and courageous. Here the voice of the Lord and go!

Tennis Balls and the Holy Spirit

As I was reading Undistracted by Bob Goff, Saturday, I came across him talking about having to decide about whether he would have a heart procedure done because his heart was beating too fast. His resting heart rate was in the two hundreds. A normal resting heart rate is between seventy and one hundred beats per minute. He had to decide to have a procedure that would stop his heart and then send a shock to restart it (all done while medicated sleep). He posed the question: “Would you be willing to risk dying in order for your life to be more lasting? Would you risk everything for the chance to live your life more fully?”

Jesus did just that when He went to the cross for us. He did that, then how is my life better?

John 16:5-7 (AMP) But now I am going to Him who sent Me; and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts [and taken complete possession of them]. But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him (the Holy Spirit) to you [to be in close fellowship with you].

My mind went directly to the gift of the Holy Spirit. He is the reason my life is so much better! Yesterday was Pentecost Sunday. If the Holy Spirit was not here, and within me, then the church would not be able to reach her fullest potential.

Acts 1:8 (AMP) But you will receive power and ability when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be My witnesses [to tell people about Me] both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth.

I fully believe that I would not be able to fulfill the commandment Jesus gave me without the Holy Spirit.

John 15:12 (AMP) This is My commandment, that you love and unselfishly seek the best for one another, just as I have loved you.

Not many of us can say that being unselfish is easy. I am one that likes to have my time. I plan out what I am cooking and how left overs are going to be used when I am doing my weekly shopping. I am at the gym every day at the same time. I plan what errands that I will do each day and will try to be home at a certain time. This is so that I can have time to read and take a nap before we have evening sports. I can say that I have gotten better at letting go of the routine. How do you think those like me would have handled the changes when the Holy Spirit took root in the early church?

Acts 2:41-47 (AMP) So then, those who accepted his message were baptized; and on that day about 3,000 souls were added [to the body of believers]. They were continually and faithfully devoting themselves to the instruction of the apostles, and to fellowship, to eating meals together and to prayers. A sense of awe was felt by everyone, and many wonders and signs (attesting miracles) were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed [in Jesus as Savior] were together and had all things in common [considering their possessions to belong to the group as a whole]. And they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing the proceeds with all [the other believers], as anyone had need. Day after day they met in the temple [area] continuing with one mind, and breaking bread in various private homes. They were eating their meals together with joy and generous hearts, praising God continually, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord kept adding to their number daily those who were being saved.

Your possessions are anything that you get to decide how they are used. Would I give up my time so that others can receive Christ? Would I give up my Saturday so that I can meet the need of someone else?

Bob Goff compared the amount of effort it takes for you heart to beat is like you and I taking a tennis ball in our hand and trying to squeeze it. Try it, it’s not easy. That to me is what it is like to do this love walk (unselfishly seeking the best for others) without the Holy Spirit. I need the Holy Spirit in my time. I need the Holy Spirit in my coming and going. I need the Holy Spirit in my self talk. I need the Holy Spirit in getting to know the heart of the Father. I need the Holy Spirit to become more and more like Jesus. To try to do this without the Holy Spirit is like squeezing a tennis ball. You might get one or two squeezes before you hand cramps, but not enough to sustain a steady heart beat.

If you have not done so invite the Holy Spirit into your life. If you have not received the baptism of the Holy Spirit I would love to talk with you more about that. The benefits of the Holy Spirit that Jesus gave us is so much more than just a Comforter. We also get the benefit of a heavenly prayer language. We get the benefit of not going at this love walk alone. We get the benefit of having God within us. I am so grateful for Pentecost (the gift of the Holy Spirit) and my church. I am so happy that Jesus risked everything so that I could live a life more fully!

Celebrate People

My oldest, Ari, and I

Romans 15:2 (AMP) Let each one of us [make it a practice to] please his neighbor for his good, to build him up spiritually.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 (AMP) Therefore encourage and comfort one another and build up one another, just as you are doing.

Romans 1:11-12 (AMP) For I long to see you so that I may share with you some spiritual gift, to strengthen and establish you; that is, that we may be mutually encouraged and comforted by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.

We had a busy weekend at the Brogdon house. Our oldest son (my mother’s first born grandchild) graduated from high school. We spent the weekend celebrating him. We prepared the home to have family and friends over to celebrate. We put steaks and chicken on the grill. Friends came early and helped pitch in. It was a wonderful time. He felt so loved and is looking forward to going out into the world…because that is what we have been preparing him for.

There were some family that did not come. We did not leave our focus there. We cannot focus on those that do not show up, we have to appreciate the ones that do.

The same is true in all aspects of our lives. Some of you start a business and would love the support of your friends of family. They do not always show up for you the way that you hope. Appreciate the ones that do.

On the other hand, if you are one who struggles to show up for people, why? There are times that I do not feel like it, but I do not want to be known for not being there. I want to be someone that people can count on. I want to be a person that people look forward to coming around because they know that I will celebrate them. Honestly, I am one that avoids the people that want to put me down by comparing what others are doing. I will duck and hide, I will quickly walk the other way and I will even move in a hurry.

We recently have had someone in our lives that is constantly telling us about how much they enjoy attending this other service before they attend the afternoon service we have on Sundays. For the past three years we have been in transition and having to rebuild financially. The place we are able to meet in gave us an availability for us to have Sunday services at one thirty in the afternoon. Some really enjoy it. We have never discouraged anyone from watching or attending someone else’s church. We never imagined how much it would hurt to find out that loyalty and honor are not a part of culture anymore. How easy it is for others to tell you how much they are learning at so and so’s church. We tell them, good for them, but honestly it makes me want to hide.

Hebrews 11:24-25 (AMP)  Let us consider [thoughtfully] how we may encourage one another to love and to do good deeds, not forsaking our meeting together [as believers for worship and instruction], as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more [faithfully] as you see the day [of Christ’s return] approaching.

I do not give myself permission to hide. My heart goes out to all those who fight the same battles that I do, and that are not longer in the five fold ministry. We know many who have left the assembly of a church and gone to online church due to just what I have described above. Online church was not meant to replace assembling together, it was meant to supplement when you could not (not choose not). It hurts to not be encouraged. So here is my encouragement for you today, learn to celebrate people. Learn to build people up. When you get in the middle of a life giving community, the ones that did not show up for you and the ones who try to tear you down with comparison, will not have the power to keep you from doing what God put you on earth to do.

God created us unique. God created us with a purpose. Jesus was accepted by everyone, so why should it surprise you that you are not. Celebrate each other and encourage each other. We are stronger together. Do not allow the discouragements to put you into hiding. You are called out to be a light. Why would He bring us the light for us to hide it? You are wonderfully and beautifully made. The glory of His being is within you. You are celebrated!

Mirror the Glory

2 Corinthians 3:18 (AMP) And we all, with unveiled face, continually seeing as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are progressively being transformed into His image from [one degree of] glory to [even more] glory, which comes from the Lord, [who is] the Spirit.

Progressive is an adjective (a describing word) meaning: happening or developing gradually or in stages; proceeding step by step. I am progressively being transformed. What am I transforming into? His image. By glory to glory.

We were created in His image. What image? His glory! When He breathed His Spirit into man (Genesis 2:7) we took on His likeness. This is part of the restored purpose that Christ came for.

Genesis 1:26 (AMP) Let Us (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) make man in Our image, according to Our likeness [not physical, but a spiritual personality and moral likeness.]

You were created for more than just to exist. You were designed to take on His spiritual personality. John 15:4-5 tells me that I am nothing in myself, but in Christ, I am everything I need to be. My self image matters.

Ruth, often preached as a love story, is a story of perseverance. Ruth was a brave woman. Being a Moabite, Noami’s sons were not supposed to marry them, but they did anyways. Why? Moabites are from Moab, the son of Lot and his oldest daughter. They worshiped idols. In Ezra we see the Levites disowning their wives and children from those unions because they were told not to marry them. However, Ruth set out to change her destiny. Do you know what the future held for a woman that was widowed and had no children? They were either to become a beggar or a prostitute. Ruth did not have to follow Naomi, she chose to. Ruth did not have the right to glean in the field, that is why she went behind everyone else. Everything was set against her. Her race, her culture, her status.

Ruth 1:16 (AMP) Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people will be my people, and your God, my God.

According to the US Census Bureau data released in 2015, the poverty rates for women are substantially higher than the rates for men. The overall poverty rate is 3.8 percentage points higher for women than for men, and difference in the poverty rate among those over the age of sixty-five is even higher, with nearly one in five women who are over sixty-five and live alone in poverty.  (nwlc.org/resources/national-snapshot-poverty-among-women-families-2014)

Ruth is in the lineage of the direct descents of Jesus. Do you think that your past, or what you went through, can keep you from wholeness?

Break the generational bondage in your family. Break the poverty spirit. Break the orphan spirit. Break the spirit of anger. Break the spirit of not being able to accept love. Break the abandonment spirit. Break the spirit of rejection.

What holds you in bondage has control over you. Often we do not understand why we react a certain way is, it is because there is a form of bondage that has been attached to you. It is time to break free.

For me, I battle with not feeling accepted or wanted. There are many women in my family that struggle with the same thing. Where did this root come from? Where did it start? I have no idea. It started to take root in my oldest son and then I became aware that it was generational. What made me feel rejection was starting to show in him.

Ephesians 3:17-19 (AMP) So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through your faith. And may you, having been [deeply] rooted and [securely] grounded in love, be fully capable of comprehending with all the saints (God’s people) the width and length and height and depth of His love [fully experiencing that amazing, endless love]; and [that you may come] to know [practically, through personal experience] the love of Christ which far surpasses [mere] knowledge [without experience], that you may be filled up [throughout your being] to all the fullness of God [so that you may have the richest experience of God’s presence in your lives, completely filled and flooded with God Himself].

I was created to present His glory. He came to make me whole so that I could fulfill that purpose. We were given the Holy Spirit so that we can fulfill that purpose. I am not the result of my past. I am the result of the Holy Spirit taking root in me. I am rooted and grounded in Love!! Do those thought still come up? Yes, I have to choose to put them aside and think on what is true, honorable, confirmed by His Word, what brings peace, and anything worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8). It takes practice. We can choose different because we were created to reflect His glory.

Whoever has ears, let them hear!

Acts 2:17 (MEV) ‘In the last days it shall be,’ says God, ‘that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.

Why does God choose to speak to us in different ways? Some have dreams, some see visions, some see angels…how does God speak to you? The bigger question is, are you really hearing and doing what He speaks to you?

When the Holy Spirit pour out on your life, He will inspire dreams and visions, which will picture not just your present and future, but those you are to impact for His glory. Dreams and visions always conform to biblical truth. They will not present individualism. They will not cause you to fight against flesh and blood. Their purpose is to establish His Kingdom here on earth.

What if you say, “God does not talk to me.” What if the real reason is because we have become selective in what we choose to hear? For Mother’s Day I have this big pile of giveaways for our church, enough to require a table to be brought out to display them all. I had asked for my oldest to come with me and instructed him to grab the small table in the room we were in and that I would be on my way with a table cloth to put on the table. As I walked into the room, and the place we put the table, I see the large table and them placing the items on the table without table cloth. My son heard “table” and that is what he went on.

A lot of the times God is speaking, but we are selective in what we choose to hear. Or, we do not like how it is being brought to us. We want to hear His audible voice like he spoke to Samuel in (1 Samuel 3). God is not a human being. He is God. He can talk to you however He wants to, not the way you want Him to. Humans are limited, God is not. He can communicate through other followers, through experiences, through your gifts, through dreams, through visions, through nature…the list is endless. When you have ears to hear.

Matthew 11:15 (NIV) Whoever has ears, let them hear.

The Hebrew word for hear is shama. It means to hear, to listen, to pay heed, to obey. The voice of God will always line up with His Word. Here is my test: 1) Will it cause division? This is me being self seeking, the benefactor is me and it does not matter what division it will cause in the body of Christ. This will not line up with God. 2) Will it help establish His kingdom here on earth? This is the heart of a servant. My actions benefit God’s plan and purpose in others and me. This glorifies God and I can believe that it is His voice (no matter if it is out of my comfort).

If you get the chance today, read Acts 10. It is a great example of how God speaks to us and what happens when we obey. He can speak to us in different ways. He speaks to me in different illustrations of His Word. He speaks to me to be generous. He speaks to me to bake and deliver goodies. He speaks to me to buy flowers and deliver them. Whoever has ears, let them hear!

How I think of myself matters

Romans 12:2 (AMP) And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].

Yesterday I had the privilege of ministering the word to my church. It was called “Mirror the Glory.” This is an excerpt from it. I believe our minds are the biggest battle we face to keep us from walking in the command to love, just as Jesus commanded us to. It all starts on how we see ourselves. The NIV starts off the above verse with “Do not conform to the pattern of this world.”

What is the pattern of this world? “I am the result of my upbringing.” “I cannot move ahead because I was not set up to succeed.” “I was not loved as a child so I do not know how to show love (or receive love).” “I grew up in dysfunction so all I know is dysfunction.” “I was abused so I seek out relationships that abuse.” “I have been through too much.”

1 Corinthians 7:23 You were bought with a price [a precious price paid by Christ]; do not become slaves to men [but to Christ].

Do not become slaves to this thought pattern. Do not allow this to keep you from the abundant life that He came for (John 10:10).

1 Corinthians 6:12 (AMP) Everything is permissible for me, but not all things are beneficial. Everything is permissible for me, but I will not be enslaved by anything [and brought under its power, allowing it to control me].

We are held in bondage by the thoughts we have. This has nothing to do with His love for you. I can be held in emotional bondage and He still loves us.

Romans 8:38-39 (AMP) For I am convinced [and continue to be convinced—beyond any doubt] that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present and threatening, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the [unlimited] love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This has nothing to do about whether you are saved (going to Heaven), whether He loves you, this has to do about the SOZO. SOZO means to save, deliver, heal, to make whole. The devil’s goal is to separate us from God’s love, because God’s love is the main factor in our emotional healing.

Ephesians 3:17-19 (AMP) So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through your faith. And may you, having been [deeply] rooted and [securely] grounded in love, be fully capable of comprehending with all the saints (God’s people) the width and length and height and depth of His love [fully experiencing that amazing, endless love]; and [that you may come] to know [practically, through personal experience] the love of Christ which far surpasses [mere] knowledge [without experience], that you may be filled up [throughout your being] to all the fullness of God [so that you may have the richest experience of God’s presence in your lives, completely filled and flooded with God Himself].

In order to full experience this amazing and endless love, you need to go through the process of giving Him what bounds you. It is through this process that you experience the love to the fullest. The Holy Spirit was given to us to Comfort us through the process. It is going to hurt, but it is a good hurt. Let the spiritual roots of bondage be set free. Receive the wholeness that He came to bring you. It is a continual thing. It is not a one and done.

2 Corinthians 3:18 (AMP) And we all, with unveiled face, continually seeing as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are progressively being transformed into His image from [one degree of] glory to [even more] glory, which comes from the Lord, [who is] the Spirit.

Look yourself in the mirror today and make this declaration: I am fully loved by God. He adopted me into His family. The pain of my past does not determine my future. The spirit that now dwells in me has full access to my life. He has permission to search within me and clear out anything that the enemy can use to hinder the call that He has on my life. I am free! I am healed! I am whole!!

Options or Obedience?

Jeremiah 42:13-16 (AMP) But if you are going to say, “We will not stay in this land,” and [in so doing] do not listen to the voice of the Lord your God saying, “No, but we will go to the land of Egypt, where we will not see war or hear the sound of the [warrior’s] trumpet or hunger for bread, and we will stay there,”  then in that case listen to the word of the Lord, O remnant of Judah. Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, “If you are really determined to go to Egypt and to reside there [temporarily], then the sword, of which you are afraid, will overtake you there in the land of Egypt; and the famine of which you are afraid will follow closely after you in Egypt, and you will die there. 

How frustrating must it have been to be Jeremiah during this time. He was the man God decided to speak His Word through. It was not an easy Word either. He was beaten for it, put in stocks for it, put in a pit for it and even spent time in the courts prison for it. Yet, he did not change what God proclaimed.

Here the people are asking Jeremiah what God says about their decision to go to Egypt. Exodus happened in the 13th century BC, Babylonian captivity in 539 BC, yet the people were still looking back to Egypt. How many generations had passed? Whenever, there was a threat, Egypt was their answer. God delivered them from there before, He would do it again, right?

This is what He told them: verses 9-12, and said to them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, to whom you sent me to present your petition before Him: If you will indeed remain in this land, then I will build you up and not tear you down, and I will plant you and not uproot you; for I will relent and be satisfied concerning the disaster that I have inflicted on you [as discipline, and I will replace judgment with compassion]. Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon, whom you now fear [as if he were deity]; do not be afraid of him,’ says the Lord, ‘for [he is a mere man, but I am the living, omniscient God and] I am with you [always] to protect you and to deliver you from his hand. And I will show you compassion, so that he will have compassion on you and restore you to your own land

The Babylonian captivity was going to last 70 years. There were people who would be led captive and would return in their life time. This could not be said of those who chose to return to Egypt. One such person that is possibly recorded, but I cannot find any definite disproof or proof of, was Mordecai. Mordecai is the uncle of Esther, who raised her as his own. We read in Esther that he and his family were led away to Babylon as part of the captivity (Esther 1:6). He did not live a terrible life. It even shows that he held office at the king’s gate (Esther 2:21). He was able to carry out his duties in his customs. He honored the king. There was some upset that happened, but God worked it out in their favor. Upsets are going to happen.

What caused me to take notice was Mordecai was mentioned again in Nehemiah (7:7). Could this be the same Mordecai? He would be very old, but that would not be unheard of. Ezra 3:12, “But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ households, the old men who had seen the first house (temple), wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, while many shouted aloud for joy.” This could very well be the same Mordecai. Proof that God did keep His promise.

My take away…stop looking to what worked in the past. God is not a formula to plug in to get the outcome you desire. Do not look back to the old land that He delivered you out of? We are a people that craves familiarity and want to keep our options open. We survived there and we can survive there again. What if He wants better for you than to just survive? What if He wants you to thrive? What I love about Mordecai’s story is that when he was led into captivity, sorrow and self-pity were not part of his story. He was told by God that he would be able to trust the king, and He would take care of him and his people. Just because harm was intended by someone else, did not mean that it was able to succeed. Mordecai did not run. He did not go back to the familiar. He trusted God at His Word.

Luke 9:62 (AMP) But Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back [to the things left behind] is fit for the kingdom of God.”

It is never going to be as good as it was back there. He wants better for you! Stop trying to get back there, move forward. God is not something you plug into the equation for the favorable outcome. He should be the source. My question to you is, “Are you looking for options or choosing obedience?” The Israelites wanted options. Mordecai chose obedience.

Do You Trust Him?

Jeremiah 18:1-6 (AMP) The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will make you hear My words.” Then I went down to the potter’s house, and saw that he was working at the wheel. But the vessel that he was making from clay was spoiled by the potter’s hand; so he made it over, reworking it and making it into another pot that seemed good to him. Then the word of the Lord came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?” says the Lord. “Look carefully, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel. 

As I was reading my Bible last week, I came across this text. The potter was working with clay that had already been made into something. He decided to make it into another pot, because he saw fit to make it over. God asked Israel, if He could do the same thing with them. This was a passage of hope for me. We can never be too far gone to give it back to Him. I have to keep reminding myself that I am still in the Potter’s Hands. There are two illustrations using this passage that I would like to share. I did not write them, but I thought you would enjoy reading them.

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of putting broken pottery pieces back together with gold — built on the idea that in embracing flaws and imperfections, you can create an even stronger, more beautiful piece of art. Every break is unique and instead of repairing an item like new, the 400-year-old technique actually highlights the “scars” as a part of the design. Using this as a metaphor for healing ourselves teaches us an important lesson: Sometimes in the process of repairing things that have broken, we actually create something more unique, beautiful and resilient. (Source: https://www.nbcnews.com/better/health/how-japanese-art-technique-kintsugi-can-help-you-be-more-ncna866471)

When life is unfolding in hard ways, it can feel impossible to understand why God would allow hurt upon hurt. How could His mercy not fix all of this? How could He possibly use any of this for good? We see more and more unnecessary heartbreak. But God sees the exact pieces and parts that must be added right now to protect us, provide for us and prepare us with more and more of His strength working through us. I learned about these very necessary “pieces and parts” one day with a friend whose mother is a professional potter. I was sharing with her about how, when we place the dust of our shattered places into God’s hands and He mixes it with His living water, the clay that’s formed can then be made into anything. She smiled so big. She’d seen clay being formed into many beautiful things when placed into her mother’s hands. And she shared something with me that made my jaw drop. She told me that wise potters not only know how to form beautiful things from clay, but they also know how important it is to add some of the dust from previously broken pieces of pottery to the new clay. This type of dust is called “grog.” When shattered just right, the grog dust added to the new clay will enable the potter to form the clay into a larger and stronger vessel than ever before. And it can go through fires much hotter as well. Plus, when glazed, these pieces end up having a much more beautiful, artistic look to them than they would have otherwise. (Source: Lysa TerKeurst, It Is Not Supposed to Be This Way)

I love both of these illustrations. There is so much hope in knowing that I can never be so broken that I would no longer have any value. I am preparing my message for Mother’s Day. I have been doing so since God placed the topic in my heart at the first of the year. It is a message of putting our lives back into the Potter’s Hands. When God asks us, “Can I do with you as the potter does?” He is asking us, “Do you trust me?” When calamity and folly comes our way? When we do not get the house we wanted? When we did not get that job? When the bills keep piling up or the car breaks down again? Do you trust Him?

I have been the woman sobbing into my pillow at night because I was worried about where we would live. Or, I was so exhausted from everything that I could not hold it together any longer. I have to remember to be still (rest in His peace). Do you trust Him? When we have done all, stand on the promise of His Word. He will take you the rest of the way through. He will fill in the cracks. He will make it over if He has to. Trust!

Motives

Colossians 3:17 (AMP) Whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus [and in dependence on Him], giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

I believe this verse needs to be as memorized as Philippians 4:13. What is our motive? Why do you want to do something? Or even why should I do it? I should do everything in the name of the Lord, no matter what.

Is it to please our leadership? Is it to make ourselves feel good or more pious? You have a choice. Many people want to do something and do not want to be held accountable (especially when they make a verbal commitment). Their motive is wrong. Let’s be honest. We are self seeking. When we do not measure up, we say we make a mistake and should never have committed to that. True! You were not doing it unto the Lord.

Who or what is your dependence on? If it is not in Christ then you will feel like a failure. In Christ we cannot fail. Keep your heart motive on Him no matter what!

Luke 19:31 (AMP)  “If anybody asks you, ‘Why are you untying the colt?’ you will say, ‘The Lord needs it.’” 

Matthew 14:28 (AMP) Peter replied to Him, “Lord, if it is [really] You, command me to come to You on the water.”

Jesus was referred to as Teacher, Rabbi, Son of God, Savior, Friend and Lord. Which one of those titles holds the most weight? It is unto the Lord that we serve, worship and dedicate. “Lord” carried the most weight when it came to trust in what they were told to do. Peter, said, “Lord, if it is really you….”

Maybe we get frustrated at our leadership because we want them to be Lord (sometimes, but not all the time, only when it is convenient). That is not their role. When we make a commitment to people, what is the intent? For example, my husband and I are pastors. We have heard “Pastor, I am committed to this church. Nothing can run me off.” Or “Pastor, I am all in.” Both parties are pumped and ready to do ministry together. Can I be honest and transparent? Most of the times it does not end well. Guess who is to blame? The pastor. Not really, but they are left to pick up the pieces and move on. We do have a part to play. We are not perfect. It is in the imperfection that you should pray for us.

We have to make Jesus Lord of our lives. When we try to short cut and submit with the wrong intent, we are setting ourselves up for hurt. Yes, honor your pastor. Your pastor is called to equip and lead you to do the works of the ministry (Ephesians 4:11).

I will not remind you to tithe.Yes, I have had someone ask to hold them accountable to that. Did I do it? NO!! Something else made them mad and they left anyways. That is between you and God. Now, when it comes to giving you a leadership role, should those who do not financially support the church be put in leadership? I will let you answer that question yourself.

I will encourage you to love God, I will encourage you to seek the best for others and to love unselfishly. I will encourage you to pray, to get in your Word and to serve in and outside of your church. I will encourage to make Jesus Lord of your life. You can ask me if you heard Him correct and for the direction of your life? I am going to point you back to your Word and ask if it lines up with His character and nature. Will it cause division among believers? Then you did not hear from Him correctly. Will it cause someone to stumble in their faith? Then you did not hear from Him correctly. Will it bring healing? Will it encourage you and others to grow in their faith? Does it show love? Will it draw people closer to a relationship with Him? Then yes you have heard from Him correctly.

What are our motives?

Lord, I want to glorify you with whatever I put my hands to, no matter who sees it. Lord, I want to serve your people, no matter who acknowledges it. Lord, blind my eyes to what does not need to be seen to keep me from stumbling. Lord, I have faith to step out, all you have to say is ‘come.’ Yes, You have given me free will and everything is permissible for me, but not everything will bring glory to You. I choose to make you Lord over my life. What I choose that may be best for me, may not be what is best to glorify You. My dependence is on You today and every day. I choose today whom I will serve. Amen.