Better or Bitter

There is an adage that says, some things get better with time. In the food world, cheese increases in taste during the aging process. The breakdown of enzymes and microbes with a complex mix of amino and fatty acids transforms the cheese’s texture and intensifies the flavor. However, this process will not work without the correct timing, temperature, and technique if not managed. 

Have you ever had food unchecked spoil in your refrigerator or cabinet passing the expiration date? Dairy products and raw meats, especially when not monitored or set at the right temperature, will rot. You will know it’s rancid by the awful smell or patches of mold and fuzzy bacteria growing on the surface. No one with good judgment will find these foods appetizing and consequently throw them out.

But did you realize that our human spirit can operate the same way? Life presents various challenges, but if checked and monitored in the Mighty Hands of God, He can use it for His glory. However, if we don’t cast our care upon Him, we hold these situations in our hearts where it ferments and becomes putrid – reeking of poison. Without the correct temperature, the Holy Spirit, to gauge these circumstances, your sweet savor or spirit becomes bitter and gross.

The Bible speaks of a man guilty of this current discussion. Jacob despitefully and cunningly stole Esau’s birthright. (Keep in mind, however, that Esau, through bribery, despised it in previous years – Genesis 25:34) Though time had passed and Esau had “supposedly” forgiven his brother (Genesis 33:4), he never did forget what he did.

Time has a way of changing things.

But in Esau’s case, he grew worse. He got bitter and rancid. Keep in mind that during their encounter, they exchanged no harsh words. No wars or battles with each other in their lifetime are recorded. Yet, Esau became bitter. So much so that he could not find space to repent though it was his heart’s desire.

Hebrews 12:

15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;

16 Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.

17 For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.

In Scripture, we’re reminded to: Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. (Proverbs 4:23) God is familiar with our frail makeup and knows what we cannot handle. Life can hurt, but God can take those painful situations and turn them into glorious circumstances. He can exchange those curses into blessings, give beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness – Isaiah 61:3.

Only God can shield us from the hurt because He is a Defense and Shield. May God help us to cast all our care upon Him as he molds us to be the better person He designed us to be. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work. II Timothy 2:21

Feel Like a Failure?

Feel Like a Failure?

Well, if it gives you any consolation – I do! A recent incident took place in my life that has me questioning my motives. Did I ignorantly escalate the situation? What could’ve I done differently?

It is refreshing, however, that how we feel does not define who we are.

It’s true that we do make mistakes (I make no excuse or reference to sin. Sin is disobedience to God’s commands and going against the knowledge He has implanted within us. I am relating to our human nature and character flaws that may at times create unintentional conflicts within ourselves and surrounding individuals).

I find the quote pictured above to be so encouraging – a winner never quits even when he appears to be losing! Remember the story of the mule? His owner found no use for him and decided to bury the old, tried but true beast. Instead of giving into despair while in the pit, the steady mule stomped on the dirt his discontented owner had thrown on his back. In time, the faithful mule had packed enough dirt under his hooves and tromped his way out of the pit.

Like the mule, may we use our failures as stepping stones to reach higher heights in Christ. In turn, we will be a blessing to others and a great example of perseverance.

But If Not…

But If Not…

Choosing to suffer.

We recently lost a dear brother from Jackson, MI. I personally did not know him but was told of his reputable and strong stand on divine healing. I was informed that Bro. Warren had a disease or condition in his body that he suffered with for 30 years. At one point, his weight reduced to 67 pounds! It was shared of his relentless will to hold on to the promises of God that though nigh to death he walked right out of the hospital. I mused over these facts and wondered in awe of his ability to choose to suffer for the cause of Christ.

One may question, with all the pain and suffering he underwent, where was the deliverance?

The three Hebrew boys, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were true worshipers of God. When forced to bow down to the magnificent idol that King Nebuchadnezzar had made, they simply refused. When placed before the king for their violation, they said, “O Nebuchadnezzarwe are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be soour God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnaceand he will deliver us out of thine handO king. But if notbe it known unto thee, O kingthat we will not serve thy godsnor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

You may well know the story – the furnace was heated seven times more and the three Hebrew boys were bound and thrown into the fiery furnace. In reasoning one may wonder, why didn’t God deliver them from going into the flames? Surely, He had the power to change the king’s mind. He saw these men were faithful and loyal, why didn’t He defend their cause? My mind began to race with other Biblical heroes that suffered.

Noah and the great Flood.

Joseph – falsely accused and thrown into prison.

Job – lost all his children and possessions and was plagued with a cruel disease.

Daniel – intentionally thrown into the den of lions.

Jesus – accused and nailed to an old rugged cross.

So, where was the deliverance?

During the Flood, God kept Noah dry in the Ark and safe through the tempestuous storm and crashing waves. Granting him peace and harmony within when chaos raged without.

Joseph, in prison, was tried and proven faithful – God exalting him second in command to Pharoah in a land where he was a once a stranger, a slave, and prisoner and having his enemies be at his feet.

Job was completely restored and gained more in wealth and honor than what was lost, the favor of God resting upon him and his family.

Daniel, when in the den of lions, was kept from all harm – God having shut the lion’s mouth and giving him great peace and the heart of the king.

Jesus, though nailed to the cross, accomplished His Father’s will, having victory over death abolished sin so that we can be redeemed and have a great hope of eternal life with Him in Heaven!

Bro. Warren, though sick, was able to provide for his single-income family. God granting him not 15 years, as he did for Hezekiah but double and blessed him with 30 glorious years! When weak God restored him and gave him strength. When needy God supplied and withheld no good thing.

And the half has not been told!

All these men suffered – not for any wrong that they have done but for their stand and belief that God will deliver – and He did!

The three Hebrew boys knew their help came from God even if He chose to send them to the furnace – and it was in the furnace that they saw the Son of God!

In each of these circumstances, God was there. He did not remove the mountain. He didn’t take away the trial but He brought them through it and produced a great deliverance. Because of their stand, God made Himself strong and showed forth His great power and love in these men to be a testimony for you and me.

It’s difficult with the natural eye to process the mind and works of God. When situations arise our expectancy is an immediate deliverance. Delays cause us to question the hand of God.

The Lord did not remove Bro. Warren’s sickness but showed Himself wonderfully in his life.

God will deliver, but if not – by choosing not to remove those mountains… rest assured that He will always, always, ALWAYS be there.

A Cloud of Witness

A Cloud of Witness

My family and I recently returned from a trip to N.Y. to attend a family members’ funeral. A sad occasion but one filled with a greater appreciation for life, family and an honorable respect to those that have paved the way before us.

Needless to say, the family member that passed was a rough man. Selfish by nature and difficult in character, he was not easy to live with. His wife by nature was sweet and giving. She shared with me some of her sad experiences. The abuse to herself and children by his very hands. The words and actions of hate rather than love to a spouse. The lifestyle of a bachelor with no conscience than of a family man providing for his family. It was tough!

This same man became very ill and needed great care. It was the very one he abused, despised and dejected that took him to his appointments, followed – up with his paperwork, by his bedside during hospital visits, and assisted him with things he could no longer do for himself. She watched over him up to the day of his death and she is not a Christian.

I couldn’t help but ponder, could we as Christians do the same? Is the term, “till death do us part” a thing of the past and are they conditional?

My mind shifts to a mother in Zion, an elderly but godly woman. A heavy cross she bears in her christian pathway filled with heartache due to the lack of love and tenderness from her husband. Yet, she toils on by his side with grace that radiates her character. A testament to God’s mighty, keeping and all-sufficient power.

The Bible speaks of a cloud of witnesses. God in His wisdom placed them for our benefit. They are our examples, our inspiration, our pattern to follow. As stated in a previous post, Does This Really Work…or What?, we are reminded that trials have their purpose. The article reads, God chose you and then gave you all the tools to be more than a conqueror and have a light shinning on purpose so the world can see this “modern day Job.”

Yes! We can do it! There are moments when the road seems hard and long. However, it has been cleared before us. Walk in it – for it takes us to glory leading the way for those behind to tread.

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us – Hebrews 12:1

 

Let “It” Go!

Let “It” Go!

Between the years of 2009-2011, I faced some horrific mental battles. I was sure to lose my mind!

While others criticized or blasted individuals for their gruesome crimes, I sympathized realizing the great, unrelenting pressure the powers of darkness can unveil to one’s mind. I shudder to think what would’ve become of me if the Lord was not on my side.

During these times of mental anguish, I would retreat to the outdoors and “walk it out”. To others I may have appeared crazy though I did my best to portray my sanity walking deep in thought – praying, fighting, battling, questioning when will this madness end!

A sister called me one day and in hopes of getting some relief, I shared my struggle. She related to me the concept of “letting go” and referenced it to bubbles leaving its wand and soaring freely into the air. Through this illustration she confirmed that God made this concept more clear.

What she said sounded great and left me yearning for that reality. But how do I let it go? How can I release these burdens, weights, problems that were bringing me down into despair? Everyday was a fight, a struggle to survive til the next day. I was growing weary.

One morning I woke up with the enemy of my soul purposed to overthrow my mind. Crying out to God from the depths of my soul I told Him that I couldn’t fight anymore for I was too weak and worn out. Then something miraculous happened – God stepped in! A rest came over me that is so unexplainable. II  Cor. 12:9 burst in my mind and became so clear, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”  Finally, I let “it” go.

I realize now that unless we get to that same conclusion that God is our Strength – that we are weak, poor, helpless and needy – unless we come to the realization that we need God (the sooner the better) – we are “beating the air.” Sadly, many have given up and may have lost their greatest blessing of experiencing that sweet rest in Jesus.

“It” comes in many forms – a trial, habit, clothes, jewelry, co-workers, relatives, conflict, television, unforgiveness or whatever God has been placing his finger on in your life. There will be no relief until you let it go. It’s only when we release “it” that our hands will be open to receive the greater blessing!

In Jesus I’ve found a sweet rest
From sorrow, from toil, and from care;
In Him I am happy and blest,
For He all my burdens doth bear– L.S. Riggs

Are you suffering from mental battles?  Salvation Echoes  offers a great article that we pray will be a help to you as it was to me. God bless!