Tag Archives: Bible

The Righteous May Bend, But Won’t Break

“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree.”  ~ Psalms 92:12

The imagery I have from this scripture is very vivid. I can see a palm tree bent over backwards under the pressure of strong winds from a tropical storm or hurricane. I can see the top of the tree is barely inches off the ground as the base of the tree stays firmly planted into the ground.

When the storm is over, several other types of trees have their limbs sprawled around, are snapped in half or completely ripped from the ground at the roots. Meanwhile the palm tree is standing upright and looking stronger then ever. Actually, the bending of the tree helps strengthen its roots in the ground.

The writer of this Psalm was intentional in using the palm tree as an example of a righteous person because this is what happens to us while going through the rigors of life.

People who do the right thing are often the target of vile opposition. They bear the brunt of their boss and co-workers verbal and professional attacks. Their kindness is taken advantage of by loved ones and friends. Everywhere they turn there seems to be trouble.

But people who do the right things must continue to stay on that path. Because like the Psalm says, they will flourish like the palm tree. When the storms of life and the wrath of their enemies passes, not only will the right standing be stronger, but also better prepared to handle future storms and antagonizing people.

You will learn how to better navigate through the rough moments and when they come, you’ll be better equipped because of your past experiences.

I also believe the good Lord will make your walk more appealing to those watching, thus making you a walking testimony of His greatness and care for those who remain close to Him.

Don’t stop doing what’s right. Your strength depends on it.

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Satan’s Method is Trickery

First we must understand that even though we live in a physical world, it’s under the rule of evil spirits. Darkness is all around us and constantly at work to ruin our lives in a multitude of ways that include temptation, our insecurities, fears, other weak people, and even our own misunderstanding or misinterpretation of The Word against us.

The leader of darkness, Satan, is a slick and deceitful being. Don’t be surprised if he tries to use the word of God against you. He tried it on the “Living Word” Himself while He fasted forty days and nights in the wilderness.

“The tempter came to him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.’ Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ” Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you,and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ ” Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ”Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ ” Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.”  Matthew 4:3-11 | NIV

Have you ever heard the phase “devil will tell the truth to tell a lie”?

As you see, the tempter/devil/opposer, whatever you want to call him, knows The Word too. But he leaves key portions out to make it easier for him to manipulate and deceive. That is why discernment and our own knowledge of the Bible is SO important.

Let me show you how he tried to trick me by making me think I was doing the right thing. In 2008 the U.S. Economy was bad to say the least. Many people lost their jobs, consequently losing their homes, cars and some people even committed suicide to escape their problems.

In late 2008, early 2009, my employer at the time was terminating contracts and offering extensions with pay cuts or salary freezes to employees in an attempt to not have to lay anyone off. Seems like a noble thing right?

In my case, my boss came to me in April 2009 three days before year two of my three-year contract was to end. He told me they were terminating my contract, but wanted to offer me a two-year extension with my salary frozen at my current rate.

The fine print of my contract stated that the company could terminate our original agreement for any reason as long as they gave me sixty days notice before the next contract year was to begin, or else be force to pay me a pro-rated salary for each day they failed to notify me in the two month window if I decided to move on.

My first two years at this job were dreadful. If you’ve read any of my other writings, you’ve heard me discuss my discontent at my last place of full-time employment. I contemplated quitting several times, but didn’t because I did not want to have a blemish on my resume that I walked out of a contract.

So when they came to me I could’ve left with fifty-seven days pay, plus the pay from the current pay period I already worked. I would have had two and a half months pay to walk away from a job and career that I didn’t want anymore and start over.

But Satan had me using human reasoning. Why would God want me to walk out on a job that claimed they wanted me, especially when I had rent and a car note to pay? I reasoned why I should re-sign even though I hated the job instead of relying on faith that God had worked a way out of a bad situation without making me look bad.

Not one week after signing the two-year extension, the first incident that started the worst two years I had there took place. It was all downhill from there. Everything that could go wrong went wrong. From having co-workers lying on me, to even having the boss who said he really wanted me to re-sign question my work ethic and teamwork.

My last two years was twice as worse as the first two years that made me want to quit in the first place.

Had I trusted the Lord and left the job when they gave me a way out, I now believe He would have led me to better opportunities that would’ve financially allowed me to take care of my responsibilities and I would’ve been able to pursue my true passion of creative writing years sooner.

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions” ~  Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (C. 1150)

I thought I was doing the right thing by keeping the job, but in hindsight I realize that I bought into the lie Satan was selling me that it was best for me to keep a job in an dismal economy where hundreds of thousands were losing theirs and everything they built.

Satan wants to keep us from relying on faith in God. Tricking us into thinking we know better. Whether he omits part of The Word or human reasoning, he wants us to not use blind faith. Often times blind faith is how we show God He is the only one we’re relying on. If your situation doesn’t make human sense, then I would advise you to see it as an opportunity to activate your faith and draw closer to God.

Don’t allow yourself to be tricked.

Just Be There 

“You don’t have to have a pulpit and a following of hundreds to have a ministry. It can be just as simple as overcoming all the obstacles, heartache and pain, and someone being inspired by your faith through it all.” – Kavis K. Peak (am I allowed to quote myself?)

Everyone doesn’t have the gift of public speaking, small talk, singing or playing an instrument. So that would more than likely rule out being a pastor, usher, praise and worship leader, member of the choir and even a church musician. All of those are positions in the church that are revered, and dare I say highly coveted. I purposely used the word coveted. Look up the definition in the dictionary, and the Tenth Commandment in Exodus 20:17 to know why.

But even if God didn’t give you a gift that is on display on Sunday mornings, or whenever service is being held in the sanctuary you attend, it doesn’t mean what you do have isn’t as valuable.

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” ~ 1 Peter 4:10

I believe you can be blessed with the gift of availability. In sports the saying goes “the best ability is availability.” What I mean is, some people are very good at just doing the simple task of sitting in comforting silence with a person who is grieving so they don’t feel alone, or listen when a person is venting their pain and frustrations. Some are good at organization, which can help a person who feels their life is out of balance, causing them enormous amounts of stress. Others may be good at writing resumes and cover letters, and can take their time to help someone get theirs in proper order to obtain a great job. There are also those who are able to lift a person’s spirits just by saying hello and offering a friendly smile. Many are living examples of just doing the right thing.

I’ll give you a few examples from my life where my availability was used by God to help someone else. In mid 2012 to late 2013 I was in the midst of a lengthy unemployment period after leaving a career I no longer wanted to be apart of. As I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do next, both my maternal grandfather and Dad became very ill. My grandfather was in Georgia, where my mother is from, my Dad in my home state of Ohio. My mom asked me could I go stay with my Grannie while Paw-Paw was in a nursing home waiting for a life saving surgery. Of course I said “yes.” I lived in Thomaston, Georgia for a year, finishing grad school online, while staying with my grandmother and going to the hospital with her when Paw-Paw had a few late night emergency scares. I really didn’t feel like I was doing much, but my Dad told me during those days where I felt useless, that my presence was enough to keep my grandmother at peace, as well as other family members who were concerned about her being alone had I not been there. Eventually my Paw-Paw passed and I stayed with my grandmother for half a year after that before my Dad fell even more ill.

“A generous person will prosper. Whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” ~ Proverbs 11:25

Then I flew back to Cleveland, Ohio where he was being treated by specialists for his condition. I was there everyday for three months, many times ten hours a day, for every surgery, medical test and doctor visit until unfortunately he passed. A couple weeks before he died, my Dad said “thanks for coming to see me everyday.” I replied “no problem, you’d do it for me.” I know being there for him provided some sort of normalcy in a scary situation, even though I couldn’t really help him with what he was going through. But in saying thanks, he assured me I was doing something helpful.

Here’s another less sad example. A while back I was at the gym working out when I saw a lady I see there often. We always speak to each other and extend pleasantries, but we never get too personal. I was walking on the track cooling off at the end of my workout and was going to be leaving in a few minutes, but I didn’t want to leave before at least saying hello. So I went by and softly tapped her on the shoulder and said “hi” while she was on the rowing machine. She smiled, waved and said “hello” in return. When I came back around the next time, she got off the machine and waved me over. She said “this may sound silly, but I was having a rough day with all my health issues and my body isn’t dealing with my mess so well… and it made my day that you would come over and say hello.” A couple days later I saw her again at the gym and she repeated how much it meant that I said hello. All I was trying to do was greet her because I hadn’t seen her in a while. I don’t say this to brag on myself, but to let you know that what you think is a simple act or small gesture, God can use to make a bigger impact.

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” ~ Matthew 25:40

My overall point is, don’t get caught up in believing you must do something grand to have a purpose or make an impact. It really is the little things as they say. Take what you do have and make a difference.

I leave you with this, one of my favorite scriptures… “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” ~ Galatians 6:2 

We Need to be More Childlike

 
Let me make this clear, this doesn’t mean be immature.

Here is an example of what I mean. When I was a child I never worried about how my parents were going to pay the mortgage, the utilities, put food on the table or clothes on my back. I TRUSTED they would do those things because they had never NOT done them before. Is that a double negative? I don’t know. But, you get what I’m trying to say. I just went to school and did the things they told me to do like obey my teachers, give great effort to make good grades, and enjoy the extra curricular activities I worked hard to be good at like basketball, football and creative writing.

We need to have this same childlike faith in terms of our relationship with the Lord, no matter how old we get biologically.

“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children.” ~ Ephesians 5:1 | NIV

Look at your life and the needs God has met consistently and where He came through, on time, with an answer or help in a situation that looked utterly helpless or bleak. He always delivers, just like my parents did, still do in the case of my mother, and to a degree my father in his death with how he allocated resources to help us in the potential of his passing.

We need to go to work, school or do whatever tasks God has given us, without worrying 24/7—and hampering those efforts by doing things our way—about all the stuff we’ve asked Him to help us with, along with the stuff we haven’t ask help with or even know we’ll need help with. When we don’t use our childlike faith and trust, we start getting our hands involved, ultimately making things messier and compromising the coming blessings.

But also, understand being childlike in this manner I’m speaking of, doesn’t mean we make bad decisions and expect our Heavenly Father to bail us out either. It just means that we go about the business we CAN handle and TRUST, as well as have FAITH, that everything will be just right (taken care of) so that we don’t have to be worried about it.

Just something to think about. I can’t always talk about sports. 

A God Opened Door vs. The Devil’s Trap Door 

How do you discern a God ordained door, from an evil door?

It’s a question I find myself asking daily.

Have you ever heard the saying “when God closes one door he opens another?” Of course you have, it’s one of the most repeated mantras in Christianity next to “trust the Lord with all your heart, mind and soul”, and “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” Even though I feel that last one is widely misused. But that’s a different post for another day.

Photo credit: Artist unknow

But sometimes, God will make you wait in the hallway until He opens said other door. And in that time while you’re waiting for His door to open, you must also be careful of the trap doors the devil may open under the disguise of something better.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” ~ Matthew 7:13-14 | NIV

I reference that scripture because the wide gate is the door the enemy offers us.

So how do you know the difference? Here’s what I’ve learned that may help you.

1.) You’re not confused and you don’t settle. In my experience, a God ordained door has never been settling. It has always been something better than I ever hoped for.

“For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.” ~ 1 Corinthians 14:33 | NIV

It’s also clear that it’s from Him. I don’t have to guess if this is the best option for me, it’s straightforward that it is. I.E. The job that not only helps you comfortably pay bills, but also keep the right balance in your spiritual and personal life is a good indicator. Anything that leaves you in the opposite isn’t from Him.

2.) Opposition. Nothing comes easy. When I’ve walked through a God ordained door I’ve immediately encountered unexplainable challenges. Another example, my move from Columbus, Ohio to Orlando, Florida in April of 2007 for a job as a local news producer, and the issues of my apartment lease.

My lease stated that if I got a job out of state I could terminate it as long as I gave them a month notice. I did just that. But, the new property manager went out of his way not to honor the lease. He went as far as to try and make me pay the monthly rent until they could find a new tenant. I was not going to do that. Long story short, after a few months of negotiating, I did pay a small buyout fee—which I wasn’t happy about—but it was still SIGNIFICANTLY less then paying full rent for two or three months for an apartment I wasn’t using.

This situation was an attack to sour my mood and excitement over my new chapter. At times it did work to stress me out as I was dealing with the issue from 16 hours away, and through phone calls and emails, while trying to adjust to a new city, co-workers and job responsibilities. But like most attacks, it was short lived and resolved in my favor.

3.) Passion. A God ordained door will bring out your passion. If it is not a God ordained door you will constantly be unfulfilled.

4.) Temptation. When you are walking through a God opened door, you will face various temptations to get you to screw up the blessing. I have encountered opportunities meant to make me choose to not walk through God’s door.

Going back to the job example, when I first was offered the job in Orlando I had no other job prospects to keep me from taking it. My only struggle was whether or not I was ready to leave my family and hometown where I loved for 26 years. As soon as the offer was made to me, immediately other options popped up. For two years I couldn’t find a job in Columbus, then all of a sudden the opportunities started flowing in making me question leaving, and confused about what to do. Thankfully I was prayed up and followed what I believed to be God’s plan and went to Orlando. That job opportunity that popped up out of nowhere was out-of-business in a little over a year later, and several people who I knew that worked there never got their final checks.

The temptation will continue since you avoided the wrong door. Sucking you into temptation is the only way devil can attempt to derail this God ordained opportunity you’re taking advantage of. Since you avoided the devil’s door he has to get you to self destruct. That’s his only shot at ruining the anointing.

This is not to say God won’t use your journey through the wrong door to get you to His rightful door.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” ~ Romans 8:28

I’ve also heard that when God does open a door for you it doesn’t close. I take that to mean that even though we make mistakes and may get off course, He will get us back on track and we will get where He always planned for us to be.

5.) It’s not easy, but it comes with ease. Nothing in life is easy really if we want to be honest. But I have noticed that the things God desires for me I can do with a peace and ease that I can’t explain. Learning new tasks for a job or an assignment in class seems daunting on first glance, but as soon as I sit down to do them, it quickly feels as if I’ve been doing them for years. I pick them up rather quickly and before long it becomes second nature. Things also seem to always break my way, instead of breaking against me.

6.) It won’t be rushed, nor will you have to rush. God’s timing is perfect, so when you open what is behind His door, everything will flow rather smoothly. Even when a hiccup comes, you’ll see just how everything gets back on track and you won’t have to scramble to make it happen.

Regardless of the signs and points I’ve laid out, if you stay prayed up and with your nose in The Word, you won’t have a problem discerning between the two. The Lord will make sure you choose the right door to walk through.