Tag Archive | TJ Williams Little Rock

God’s Very Pointed Question

This morning one of my devotionals said that “to truly live you have to forgive”.

The reason this is relevant to me is that just yesterday, as I was driving, I was thinking about my “I forgive” letters that I wrote last year forgiving every person I thought I was to forgive as  a way of getting past any and all things that may have been holding me back. While my list wasn’t long it did reveal something very powerful which will remain with me for now.

During the course of my thinking on the matter, God spoke to me and asked why I had not written a letter to myself. I thought about it and my response was that I never thought about the fact that I needed to forgive myself. We’re so often focused on exercising forgiveness to others that we miss the mark on looking first at ourselves.

Matthew 7:3-5 New International Version (NIV)

3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Absolutely mind blowing. God is so good.

I am still pondering the idea to the point that I nearly need to keep with me a small tablet as I think about all of the things for which I need to forgive myself. Listing my “infractions” is one thing but letting go is indeed another. Even if I am able to articulate my issues with me, how do I forgive myself? Where do I start? Is this the key I’ve been looking for? Will this change my life? What will my forgiveness of me reveal about me? Only God could introduce something so simple, so scary to think about and so exciting all at the same time.

Being aware of others and counting their debts is easy. These days, I’m learning to be more aware of me. Admittedly, my debts are what they are. Thankfully, God’s grace is what it is and that is more than enough.

 

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A Made Up Mind is a Beautiful Thing

Job 22:28 says, “You will also decree a thing, and it will be established for you. And light will shine on your ways”. 

I love it! If you’ve ever been faced with making a decision, you know, it is not a simple thing. Sleepless nights are spent searching for solutions, weighing this one over that one. Hours are spent discussing our issues with friends taking into account their opinion which most of the time boils down to their co-signing whatever it is we want to do. With or without their input, our made up mind is the most wonderful thing in the world.

A made up mind allows us to vocalize exactly how things are going to go and precipitates moving forward. It’s liberating to be in a position that is positive, sure and expectant. It is not until our minds are made up that we see things come together brilliantly on our behalf. Suddenly our next steps are clear because we can see the path we are to take.

Just this week. I made up my mind about a few things. I could kick myself for the torment I allowed in my life over these matters that, though important to me, probably don’t measure up as “worth it” in the big scheme of things.

It occurs to me that I’ve allowed myself to be victimized by other’s actions and opinions, even my own thoughts, primarily out of fear that shouldn’t, by any account, apply to me as a believer! What the heck have I been thinking? The answer is that I wasn’t thinking. Instead I was allowing the winds to determine the direction I should go. But thankfully God is always speaking; always trying to take us to another level. When we’re tormented,  tossing and turning he is speaking. Truly, AM is not just the morning–it is when we wake up!

My solution came upon me through the wisdom found in James 1:6-8, “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.”

There it is. The truth, loud and clear. 

A Vision of Great Love and Protection: Psalm 18

(Image taken from the web.)

I love God. I love his word. I love when I read the word and apply it to my life, it does not return void.  It does what it is sent to do. I love that God’s word is a divine weapon against those things that come up against us in our daily living.  I love my confessions and how they revisit my spirit to make me strong and sure that all is well with me. I heard Charles Stanley say once: “Obey God and leave the consequences to him.” That one line sunk deeply into my spirit and has been with me and has penetrated my thoughts many times. Through my conflicts, this has been a mantra, since introduced to me, that I try to live by.

Inside, I shout: I know my redeemer lives! I know that God knows the plans he has for me for good and not for evil that my outcomes are what I hope for.

There is a scripture I turn to when I’m feeling like I do today those feelings of attack from people, circumstances and situations. It is this scripture that brings me the most peace: Psalm 18. This scripture has a lot of meaning for me because I read it during a time in my life when I needed God on my side. I desperately needed his help. I needed  his power; I needed his might. Then, like now, I had nowhere to turn. This passage brought to life an imagery of incredible love and protection that I could feel. I knew then, like now that victory is mine. Through the verses of this Psalm, I am comforted that God not only hears me but will not allow certain troubles to have their way with me. These verses created an image in my mind and heart of a protective Father whose ears hear my troubles and whose actions prove he is ever-present. Like a body guard God and only he, attends to watching over me.

In my distress, I called upon the Lord. I cried unto my God…

PSALM 18

1 I will love thee, O Lord, my strength.

The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.

I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.

The sorrows of death compassed me, and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid.

The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me.

In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears.

Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because he was wroth.

There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it.

He bowed the heavens also, and came down: and darkness was under his feet.

10 And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind.

11 He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.

12 At the brightness that was before him his thick clouds passed, hail stones and coals of fire.

13 The Lord also thundered in the heavens, and the Highest gave his voice; hail stones and coals of fire.

14 Yea, he sent out his arrows, and scattered them; and he shot out lightnings, and discomfited them.

15 Then the channels of waters were seen, and the foundations of the world were discovered at thy rebuke, O Lord, at the blast of the breath of thy nostrils.

16 He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters.

17 He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them which hated me: for they were too strong for me.

18 They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the Lord was my stay.

19 He brought me forth also into a large place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me.

20 The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me.

21 For I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not wickedly departed from my God.

22 For all his judgments were before me, and I did not put away his statutes from me.

23 I was also upright before him, and I kept myself from mine iniquity.

24 Therefore hath the Lord recompensed me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his eyesight.

25 With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful; with an upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright;

26 With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward.

27 For thou wilt save the afflicted people; but wilt bring down high looks.

28 For thou wilt light my candle: the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.

29 For by thee I have run through a troop; and by my God have I leaped over a wall.

30 As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.

31 For who is God save the Lord? or who is a rock save our God?

32 It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.

33 He maketh my feet like hinds’ feet, and setteth me upon my high places.

34 He teacheth my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms.

35 Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great.

36 Thou hast enlarged my steps under me, that my feet did not slip.

37 I have pursued mine enemies, and overtaken them: neither did I turn again till they were consumed.

38 I have wounded them that they were not able to rise: they are fallen under my feet.

39 For thou hast girded me with strength unto the battle: thou hast subdued under me those that rose up against me.

40 Thou hast also given me the necks of mine enemies; that I might destroy them that hate me.

41 They cried, but there was none to save them: even unto the Lord, but he answered them not.

42 Then did I beat them small as the dust before the wind: I did cast them out as the dirt in the streets.

43 Thou hast delivered me from the strivings of the people; and thou hast made me the head of the heathen: a people whom I have not known shall serve me.

44 As soon as they hear of me, they shall obey me: the strangers shall submit themselves unto me.

45 The strangers shall fade away, and be afraid out of their close places.

46 The Lord liveth; and blessed be my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted.

47 It is God that avengeth me, and subdueth the people under me.

48 He delivereth me from mine enemies: yea, thou liftest me up above those that rise up against me: thou hast delivered me from the violent man.

49 Therefore will I give thanks unto thee, O Lord, among the heathen, and sing praises unto thy name.

50 Great deliverance giveth he to his king; and sheweth mercy to his anointed, to David, and to his seed for evermore.

The Three R’s

1) RELEASE     2)REFLECT     3)REAP

From the web.

(Image taken from the web)

It is inevitable that offense will find us. The action whether word or deed is designed to strike us to the core. Depending on the offense, we are faced with the choice of how to deal with the state we’re in.  Our choice is to either forgive and move on or to feed the offense. The latter will most certainly leave us stagnant in a life that is meant for constant positive movement.

God knows I have struggled with extending forgiveness. It’s hard. I can’t seem to let go because I am waiting for something that will never show up; some expression that will acknowledge how I feel aka, an apology. Though not intended, the need for an apology makes the issue about the other person when really it’s not. It’s about why we tend to want something in exchange for our forgiveness. Why we can’t give it  just because is a problem considering some things that happen result in a debt that can/will not be repaid in any substantive way. In essence, we will be waiting for something that never comes leaving us with no alternative but to write off the debt and move on, which is not always OK with us.

Exhale. (Silent prayer) God give me a clean heart and renew a right spirit in me!

I thank God that he always hears and is always communicating whether we are listening or not.  For some time, I have been passively listening to God’s communications with me on this issue. I’ve not been ready to let go so I’ve heard only bits and pieces of the wisdom God has been trying to pass along to me.

Like everything else associated with spiritual growth, forgiveness takes time. We have to start with a decision. It is when we decide that God is able to bring wisdom to our level allowing us the understanding that helps us to overcome our obstacles. Unforgiveness is indeed a boulder-size obstacle!

I have decided that I have to RELEASE offenses to wherever these things go in the universe; I have to let go.  A better use for hurt feelings and disappointment is to REFLECT over the matters that created the need to forgive. I have to examine what is to be gleaned from the experience. The focus on the lessons will provide insight that can only make me better, stronger and certainly much smarter at maneuvering within relationships and situations.

To REAP God’s blessings to the full requires a choice to forgive that only I can make.

Colossians 3:13
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Did You Know That God is Never Wrong?

Artist, Kerram Jones

 (Image by artist, Kerram Jones)

I’m a believer in support networks. Amazingly, every job I’ve ever had came with a network of praying, believing, God-focused people. These folks were never hard to find. Whether at lunch or just in the hallways, declarations of faith were constantly exchanged. There would be days when office doors were closed. On the inside, prayers for strength, wisdom, and protection were being spoken over ourselves and others. The workplace can be a very scary place without these pockets of time for prayer and edification. Sometimes even an email or text would be enough to change the whole color of the day which brings me to today’s post.

This was sent to me by my friend at work. Timely because I needed to hear and be reminded of the fact that everything happens for a reason. My part is to know it, accept it and believe that whatever is going on is going on for my good according to Jeremiah 29:11:  “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

The message was this very powerful story:

A king who did not believe in the goodness of God, had a slave who, in all circumstances would always say “my king, do not be discouraged, because everything God does is perfect. He makes no mistakes!”

One day they went hunting and along the way a wild animal attacked the king. His slave managed to kill the animal, but could not prevent his majesty from losing a finger.

Furious and without showing his gratitude for being saved, the nobleman asked
“Is God good? If He was good, I would not have been attacked and lost my finger.”

The slave replied:
“My king, despite all these things, I can only tell you that God is good, and he knows why these things happened. What God does is perfect. He is never wrong!”

Outraged by the response, the king ordered the arrest of his slave.

Later, the King left for another hunt, this time alone. He was captured by savages who engaged in human sacrifices.

On the altar and ready to sacrifice the nobleman, the savages discovered that their victim did not have one of his fingers. According to them, only a whole person with all his/her parts intact could be offered to the gods. The King without a finger was deemed an abominable sacrifice for their gods. So they released the King.

Upon his return to the palace, the King authorized the release of his slave. He received the slave affectionately.

He asked his slave, “my dear, God was really good to me! I was almost killed by the wild men, but for lack of a single finger, I was let go! But I have a question: if God is so good, why did he allow me to put you in jail?”

The slave answered, “my King, if I had gone with you on this hunt, I would have been sacrificed instead because I have no missing finger. Remember everything God does is perfect. He is never wrong. He made you keep me in jail so I would not be with you on the hunt.”

Often we complain about life, and negative things that happen to us, forgetting that nothing is random and that everything has a purpose.

Every morning, offer your day to God, don’t be in a rush.

Ask God to inspire your thoughts, guide your actions, and ease your feelings. And do not be afraid. God is never wrong!

You know why this message is for you? I do not know, but God knows, because He never makes mistakes…….

The path of God and his word is perfect, without impurities. He is the way of all those who trust in Him, as He says in 2 Samuel  22: 31.

What you do with this message is up to you. May God put in your heart the desire to send it to someone. God knows why He choose you to receive this message. Please bless someone with it.

God is never wrong!

I chose to share this message here. I am thankful and as always in awe of God’s great wisdom and protection. I am so glad he is never wrong whether I can see his plans or not.

Position yourself.

A few years ago I had the most incredible experience with God. This is not to say he and I haven’t been in contact since–it’s just to say that this particular experience was “a few years ago”!  Seriously. Can I please just tell my story?

I was just beginning in my commitment to follow God and truly embraced the promises. I read them, spoke them and meditated day in and day out over them. I believed that God would give me the desires of my heart. (snap of fingers…just like that!)

I had so much going on in my life at that time and patience was not my strongest suit. I had many needs and no peace. I was under the impression that my decision would bring immediate change and peace.  A day came when I allowed myself to become angry that things seemed to be going worse for me since my big decision to trust God. I didn’t know that things become worse when we make the choice as a challenge to our decision and our faith.

At the time, all I knew was God himself was to blame for the hopelessness I was feeling about my life!

My habit had been to put my son to bed and afterward when the house was quiet spend time with God in prayer or just simply reading his word. On this night things would go differently. God owed me an explanation!

I sat in my favorite chair and began to try to manipulate God speaking to him words of thanksgiving and praise. That was just it: I was speaking words. He and I knew this was about to get ugly because I would not be able to keep this up. There was no sense faking my “holiness” which would have to be put aside. I had a lot to get off my chest. This night would be the night.

The conversation did, in fact, take a turn and tears began to flow. I stood in the middle of my floor yelling and stammering through my fit of carnality (as Jesse Duplantis would put it…). I blamed God for all that was going wrong in my life. I even accused him of being unfair to me in that he was requiring so much of me and I was seeing no return on my “being good” investment.

I fell to my knees. Like a strong-willed child I continued my rant going back further in my blame game and digging deeper for the things I most wanted him to know about how I thought he’d failed me.

While I had grown tired, I was not fully spent. My crying had worn me out.  My words faded to a whisper but were said just the same. It was there in the middle of my floor in a prostrate* position that I slept.

The morning came. Such is the cycle. My weeping had endured for that night but it would be much later that my joy would come in the morning.

It was much later that I came to understand what had really happened that night. It was never about what I was saying. It had always been about how I was saying it. God had shifted my posture and through that action showed me something about who he is and who I am.

Remember, in the beginning I stood before God as though I was his equal with no fear, reverence or humility. As the night went on, I thought I had shifted to my knees of fatigue but know now that it was God’s hand that had gently pushed me into that position before him. He was still listening but he was also disciplining me. The prostrate position in which I awoke bore the greatest meaning. God had placed me in a submitted position, bowed and cast down. Humble.  

I came to learn from that night that God listened to me. He heard everything I’d said from the words I’d spoken with my mouth to the truth that came from my heart. He had even heard the words of my tears. He was not angry with me. I had acknowledged through my actions that he was God and without him, nothing would be okay. He just wanted me to know that no matter how I was feeling, I had to know my place. I had to be in a right position to come before him. I learned I could not stand as I was not his equal nor could I kneel if it was going to be in rebellion. My position was to lie before him submitted to him and his way. I was not to accuse. I was to ask.

Whatever was going on with me at the time passed. I don’t recall any of the specifics. Apparently, things turned out alright.

What I remember with vivid surety is the lesson I learned that I am mindful of each time I’ve come before my God. That night was the night I learned something about how to pray when times get tough. (Num. 20:6; 2 Chron. 20:18; Matt. 26:39)

prostrate*

adj[ˈprɒstreɪt]

1. lying with the face downwards, as in submission
2. exhausted physically or emotionally
3. helpless or defenseless
4. (Life Sciences & Allied Applications / Botany) (of a plant) growing closely along the ground
vb [prɒˈstreɪt] (tr)

1. to bow or cast (oneself) down, as in submission
2. to lay or throw down flat, as on the ground
3. to make helpless or defenseless
4. to make exhausted
 

Just Keep Living…

One of the sayings I’ve grown up hearing from my mother is: “keep living.” No matter what it is we happen to be in disagreement about, especially if it is her wisdom against that of her children, “keep living” is her response. We have come to know that “keep living” is our cue that the end of the conversation has come. Through her saying, she has given us and our ideas over to experience which will come to tell the tale. It’s probably the one saying that of my own experience, I will adopt to pass along to someone else one day. As a matter of fact, I think I’ve already used it with my own children!

As a child, I used to listen to my great-grandmother speaking to God. She talked to him like he was physically in the room. I often thought to myself that her conversations with the invisible must be something old folks do. Now that I’m (much) older, I have come to understand what she was doing, to whom she was talking and why. I know now that her relationship with God was real. He was real then. He is real now.

Sometimes I hear myself speaking out loud, “Thank you, God!” or “Praise you God!”. Just thinking about my life and his touch upon it, his guidance and grace force a praise from my mouth. Out loud I confess his promises to build myself up after the activities of the day have tried to tear me down. I’ve learned that acknowledging God with an open mouth is not what old folks do. It’s what believers do.

I’ve come to know that the one constant is God. When truly there is no one else, he is present; when there is nothing, he provides something.

These have been reflective times for me. Life will show you some things. As I continue to walk my path, I know as long as life is given to me, not only will the path’s purposes be revealed to me, a light will shine on them that I might recognize and learn the lessons of the season.