Count It All Joy…

 By Kendra Clarke

When difficult times present themselves, we are called to “…count it all joy…” (James 1:2-3). This is often easier said than done as we are both flesh and spirit. As we are going through the battles of life and chaos surrounds us, we often lose hope, as well as, our focus and forget that we do not go through these battles alone. Our flesh, oftentimes, chooses to wallow and cry, while asking, “Why me?” But, if wise, we realize that beating ourselves up does not make things any easier nor does it ease the pain. Furthermore, none of these things actually improves our situation.  They, in actuality, may instead lengthen or worsen it…depending on our attitude and response to the adversity.

Tears can cleanse the soul, time can heal all wounds, but our attitude also plays an important part in our healing. When we understand that we are not our circumstances, when we let go and let God, when we come to the realization that this too shall pass, our entire outlook on life will change. When we recognize that the trials that undoubtedly will arise are temporal, we are, then, able to do as James 1:23 says, “…count it all joy when you fall into various trials knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience…” Trials strengthen us and helps to build character. Therefore, our circumstances and the situations pale in comparison and are no match for the essence and the power of God.

No situation is too big, too complicated or too difficult for Him to resolve. It is comforting to know that no matter what may be happening around you, to you or within you, God is the anchor that will keep you grounded. He is the Word that will keep you steadfast. He is the sanity in a world that seems to have lost its mind. He is the tranquility that will ease your mind. As you go through, He will give you “…the peace that surpasses all understanding…” (Philippians 4:7).

count it all joy 3Once we truly accept this fact, we will be able to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and view each obstacle as a set up for a blessing, a chance for growth and an opportunity to give all the glory to God. He prepares us and equips us not only for the battle, but for the victory over our trials. No…tough times and harassment from the enemy will not cease to exist and as Christians we should not expect them to lessen. In fact, the opposite may occur, but God promises “…neither to leave us nor forsake us…” (Deuteronomy 31:6). He will go with us through each battle until we come out on the other side battle tested and ready for the next test which will come no matter what our readiness. So let us pledge to be prepared for the lessons of life as they will be the spiritual food for our minds, bodies and souls.



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True Liberty, Pt. 2

 

In becoming believers in Christ, we have been granted freedom beyond expression and our wildest imagination (Jn 8:32, 36; Rom 6:18-23; 8:2; Gal 5:1). We are free from sin and its curse. We are free from death and the grave and their hold on us once we have walked the way of the earth. We are free from the power of all powers and principalities in high places. We have been granted Kingdom privileges as the children of God through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ through the shedding of His Blood for the remission of the sins of all who believes and receives Its power to translate us from the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom and family of God. We have dominion and spiritual authority over all of the power and works of the devil. This is a part of our Christian heritage and inheritance.

However, this does not give us the right to exercise our liberty and spiritual prerogatives to live in any manner of our choosing. As ambassadors of Christ, we must understand that we have become a new creature (2 Cor 5:17-21). On the other hand, this new found liberty does not give us the right to adopt the spirit and mentality of Lamech (Gen 4:19-24).

In this account, we see that human history has advanced from the Fall in the Garden to point of the increase of the human population over the whole earth. The story of Lamech represents a story which characterizes the heart and mind of a person who is operating under the influence of a proud, presumptuous, and self-confident spirit who feels as though he/she can do whatever he/she chooses to do at will.

Yet, for the Body of Christ, this presents a problem as we must understand that along with the privileges we have received from accepting Christ as our Lord, there are also some restraints which we must also accept. There is a need for restraints because of the simple fact that we were created to be interdependent beings whom interact with other human beings; thereby, forming relationships wherein any thing we do or say will have the potential to affect another person’s life in either a positive or negative manner. Our actions and words can destroy the lives of others, as well as, drive us away from our relationship with God. Although we know and have an understanding that nothing “shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord,” we must also remember not to frustrate (block, counter, hinder, or neutralize) the grace of God by grieving the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:39, KJV; Eph 4:17-32, AMP).

True liberty begins when we understand and begin to apply the principle that states, “Just because something is technically legal doesn’t mean that it’s spiritually appropriate.” (1 Cor 6:12, MSG). We should use wise and sound judgment whenever we consider saying something or engaging in any type of activity. We, as the new creation in Christ, are temples and vessels which house the Spirit of God. Anything we say or do as ambassadors of Christ can present to the world a misconception of the true Person and Nature of Jesus Christ. While Jesus only had the Jewish people and some of the Roman government watching Him during His time on earth, He now has over six billion people watching Him through our daily lifestyles. True liberty in Christ means living in a manner that represents Christ within the world, while simultaneously living without misrepresenting Him to the world…DISCERN THE DIFFERENCE!



True Liberty, Pt. 1…

Understanding what liberty means can help the people of God to learn what it truly means to be free. It begins with a change within the manner in which one thinks about himself or herself, what he or she believes about a situation in which he or she may find himself or herself, and what he or she believes is the truth concerning it all. As believers, when we think of self-examination and identifying who we are in Christ, one of the first passages we love to quote is found in Proverbs 23:7, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…” (KJV).

However, when we look further into what the author meant to convey to his readers, we realize that the ruler within this particular passage is referring to the person who is rendering the goods to another. The ruler is offering goods to someone who is considered beneath him in socioeconomic and cultural status, but desires to have what the ruler has in terms of lifestyle, influence, etc. Yet, if we continue to read the second half of the verse, we also can observe that the ruler is actually counting the cost and his motives toward his subordinate are not in the subordinate’s favor (Prov 23:7, NIV, NLT). By the time the subordinate person is cognizant of the significance of this variable within this relational equation, he/she would have already given up something of far more value than what has been received.

When reflecting upon the entire 23rd chapter of Proverbs, we can observe that it deals with the use of wise and sound judgment prior to engaging in any activity. This understanding is found when we look closer at the rendering of the word, thinks, as it used within verse seven. “Thinks” comes from the Hebrew word, Sha’ar, which originally means, “to split; to open; to act as a gatekeeper.” It is used in the figurative sense only in Proverbs 23, verse 7, and means “to think; to estimate, set a price (i.e., verbs of cleaving often had the sense of judging).”

In other words, we must first consider the matter prior to becoming identified with the elements that comprise the situation. We can become perceived as being guilty just by our association with a person or with a situation without ever having any actual involvement with either factor. When we associate with someone or a situation, we are opening (in the sense mentioned in the definition above) ourselves up to being scrutinized with every thing that is within proximity of the person or thing. For this reason, Paul states,

Everything is permissible (allowable and lawful) for me, but not all things are helpful (good for me to do, expedient and profitable when considered with other things). Everything is lawful for me, but I will not become the slave of anything or be brought under its power.” (1 Cor 6:12, AMP)

…to be continued


Anoint vs. Appoint, Pt. 2

By Candace A. Jones

Now let’s take a look at appoint. Once again, in the Old Testament, appoint, as it regards rights to the throne, comes from the Hebrew word, tsavah, which literally means, “to lay charge, to give charge, to commission.” Whenever God places someone in a position of leadership, He gives them His blessing and right to rule. It is not just a part of His permissive will, but also His perfect will. The Lord God did not give a charge to King Saul because He had appointed Himself as their true King; however, they did not want Him. Israel wanted a man they could see and follow, someone similar to the kings of their neighboring, godless nations.

To the natural eye, it seemed harmless and understandable to want a king of Saul’s stature. As described in 1 Samuel 9, Saul had come from a powerful family and had the appearance of someone great (tall and very handsome). Sometimes in our vanity, we, as people, tend to gravitate towards someone because of the outward appearance and never discerning the contents and intents of his, or her, heart. Lord, help us…

Bringing it back to the contemporary context…the desire of your heart that you believe is the will of God for you…Are you basing it upon what others have prophesied concerning you or upon what the Lord has confirmed within your spirit as you sought His heart? I, personally, am not against people speaking things over our lives and prophesying to us; however, I believe that we should do what the Word of God says and test the spirit, as well as, consult with the Lord about His plan and will for us. People have good intentions, but sometimes those intentions can be misconstrued and based upon what they want for us and provide us with a prophetic word based upon that.

Be leery of moving into those positions that people have anointed you to be in…especially if the Lord did not appoint you to be in the position. It may prosper, but only for a season because it may not be the will of God for you. Remember that what He has appointed for you, He has anointed you for it as well. When you are both appointed and anointed by God, then you will succeed and prosper in whatever it is you are doing!



Anoint vs. Appoint, Pt. 1…

By Candace A. Jones

We sometimes become caught up in wondering when to run and do whatever we feel the Lord has called us to do…yet often without yielding to His lead. Sometimes, we are off in our timing. Better yet, we should be asking ourselves, “Am I even sure I have been anointed and appointed to do whatever it is I am desiring to do?” What if there was something that you desired desperately to do and the Lord gave you free course, but this was not His original plan for you? Do you know the difference between being anointed versus being appointed as mentioned in the Bible? Let’s take a moment to look at the children of Israel for a clearer understanding. King Saul, the first king of Israel, was “selected” by God; however, he was not a part of God’s original plan for the children of Israel. Initially, the Lord God wanted to be their King, but after the disdain Samuel’s sons showed for judging them, the children of Israel wanted to be like the other nations and have a king. Samuel tried to discourage this by telling them that the Lord had other plans, but the people were not receptive of it. Though it grieved Samuel, the Lord encouraged him and reassured him that the people were rejecting the Lord and to not take the people’s request personally (1 Sam. 8 – 9). Think about the ramifications of what the children of Israel endured under King Saul’s reign. They did have some victories; however, they also experienced some defeats as well. The Lord even warned Samuel about everything they would endure at King Saul’s hands. Yet He instructed Samuel to go through the anointing process anyway. Before we continue about King Saul, let’s look at the word ‘anoint.’ In the Old Testament, in this particular instance, ‘anoint’ comes from the Hebrew word, mashach, which means, “to consecrate.” When we think of consecration, we think about the ceremonies that were performed by the Levitical priests. ‘To consecrate’ means to set apart, make holy. When God decided that Saul was going to be the king of Israel, He instructed Samuel to set him apart to be made holy for the Lord’s use. This does not mean that Saul was actually found blameless in the sight of God—he was just set apart in the office of the king for the sake of the Israelites…

…to be continued



Pillars…

By Stephanie Scott

So many times in our walk with God we have interruptions that I call pillars. Those things that get in our way which are cemented into the foundation that we can’t move or bypass because they are…pillars. Pillars of habit, tradition, addictions, past loves, lovers, debt, unforgiveness, and self. As you know with most cement, it has to be broken up with a jackhammer, a backhoe, or a wrecking ball. There is simply no easy way to make it budge.

In the book of Isaiah, the prophet was dealing with issues of the mouth. He was not speaking the things that should have been edifying or life forming. Isaiah 6:5-7 says,

“Then said I, Woe is me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts. Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from the altar: And laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin is purged.”

Like Isaiah, our conversation with someone or our own selves can have us speak pillars into our pathway. We can literally speak our own hindrances. But, the power of God can come into the midst of our situations, and move the pillar or break it up so that we can get past it in order toward our destiny, mission, or assignment. Note that in Isaiah 6: 3-4 that as the angels cried “…Holy, holy, holy…” at the presence of the Lord filling the temple, the posts of the door moved. The pillars holding the entry to the door moved and shifted to allow the presence of the Lord to surround the prophet of God. The power of God was able to move the pillars of hindrance by the power of His presence at the cry of one of His own. This demonstrates how much God wants to be at your defense. God will meet you wherever you are in your spiritual walk.

Make no mistake…He meets you there to bring you out, not to keep you and comfort you there. God desires to establish you. This means build you up on a firm foundation with no hindrances…including self (Ps. 148:6). This also means no looking back to in long for what was, but to live in the now and faith of what is to come. Remember Lot’s wife looked back with longing and desire for the familiar and became the pillar (Gen. 19).

Allow God to work in you and through you to purge you of all hindrances and sin that are so easily besetting you from your course. They are making you slow down and stop in an effort to make you believe that you cannot get past it. Jesus is the chief cornerstone. Step around the pillar, climb upon Jesus and let Him help you get over to the other side of what has been holding you back from becoming all that God intended for you to be in Him.

@SK