Predators don’t always play fair. When out for a hunt, they often go after prey that are sick, young, or injured - a cheap and easy catch. The enemy hunts in a similar way by attacking areas where we are most vulnerable and insecure. It takes humility to identify where we are weak, but recognising these areas helps us understand how the enemy hunts us down. It enables us to predict where they will strike - making us wiser and more difficult to catch. Here are some common soft spots to be aware of:
Social situations: The enemy likes to tamper with our emotional responses to social interactions. Today there is minimal face-to-face interaction with texting available. Reading words on a screen allows us to interpret a message however we want - sometimes causing a downward spiral of analysing the sender’s intention. Social anxiety is an easy tool for the enemy to knock us down. It can pull us away from friends and family, leaving us alone and vulnerable. If you feel this is a soft spot for you, try talking on the phone more instead of texting, and pray for peace in your social interactions.
Comparison: Social media inflates the comparison game. We spend hours of free time scrolling through other people’s highlight reels - hundreds of edited photos capturing the positive moments people want us to see. There always seems to be someone who has their life completely together while yours is falling apart. If we accept social media as real life, we feel inadequate, compared to others’. It creates a soft spot within us that makes us question if we are on the right path. Keeping our eyes fixed on God reminds us that we are designed to lead a completely unique storyline. The enemy will try to break you down and shame your unique beauty and abilities - we are called to be our own.
Qualifications: When it comes to careers or new opportunities, we often shy away from positions that seem too grand for us. We have a limited perspective of our abilities and assume we aren’t qualified - but God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called. He loves to make the impossible happen. No matter what the job description says, if God says the role is for you, He will equip you. Do you think a 14 year old girl felt qualified to bring the son of God to this Earth? Doubtful - but she had complete faith in how God would equip her. The enemy will try to weaken you by telling you you’re inadequate - because if you step up you will strengthen others with your faith. Be fearless in stepping towards your calling.
The enemy will try to pull you away from what God is calling you to by adding stress into your heart and mind. Anxiety never comes from God. If you feel stressed, you are allowing the enemy to steal your peace. Do not be shaken - you are unstoppable when you keep your eyes fixed on the Lord. Fight back when the predator tries to bring you down. The battle is already won, you just have to tell the enemy to back up. People of faith are not easy prey.
When God makes us wait, it always seems like an eternity. No one likes to be told to wait, especially in today's fast-paced lifestyle
After my fiancé was killed in a car accident I was devastated. I took some time to heal; I was so angry at God, not just for the grief I was in but also because I had waiting so long to finally get married. I remember lying in bed and screaming at God saying, “I’m not waiting for three years to meet someone else again!”
God healed me quickly, and I began my waiting process. I did not take it well. Each day, with disappointment after disappointment, I became depressed and angry. I was paralysed by fear and worried that the waiting would never end. I often worried that nothing would ever be better than it was before. So many times, I came close to giving up. Just when it looked like a breakthrough was on the horizon, something always happened and discouragement set in.
I remember complaining about waiting on God to my family once. Their response was the same as everyone else’s “God does things in his own time.” I hated hearing people tell me that. I didn’t want to accept the fact God does things on his own time, partially because I felt that God’s time was slow and I wanted things to happen immediately. I had no patience and I was in this mindset that I was entitled to blessings because of what had happened to me.
Though I knew my family was right, I just didn’t want to accept it. God very much does have a set time for everything as it’s described in the book of Ecclesiastes, but I started trying to earn my blessing. “If I just pray like this, God will bless me,” or “If I just have enough faith, I will get what I want.” I did this for a long time throughout my time of waiting for my husband. I also just stopped listening to God in general and got on dating apps, trying to make things happen faster for myself. People also gave me terrible advice, and it discouraged me even more. “Oh, God will give you someone, you may have to date a lot of men, but you’ll find the one.” My heart was crushed and I was so confused. God was telling me to wait on him, while everyone else was telling me that I needed to get out and find a man immediately.
“It’s just Satan,” I’d tell myself as I sat there in my tears begging God to end this misery. Finally, I realised that trying to do earn things from the Lord wasn’t working out and that I was being selfish. I wanted a husband more than I wanted God, so I surrendered. I gave up trying to do things my way, and started letting God do things His way. I was terrified at first because I like to know when and how things are happening. This time was different, I had to trust God with all of my heart. I was being tested, and from what I’ve learned, the waiting season can be a test. When we finally give up our way and start doing things God’s way, waiting becomes substantially easier.
When I let God do things His way, instead of me trying to do it, I felt peace. I was happy again and focused on other parts of life. We miss so much by only focusing on what we don’t have. After all, God promised me a husband. Waiting is for our own good. Yes, it’s painful, but it creates endurance and strength. If we never had to wait on a blessing, we’d never appreciate it when we received it.
Rest assured, that if you’re still waiting, it will pass and keep waiting with expectation. Psalm 5:3 “In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.”
"And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:28-32)
Have you ever had a defining moment of faith in your relationship with Jesus? Like Peter, many of us do not realize we are caught up in a crisis of faith until the circumstances around us starts going sideways. The thing that makes circumstances so challenging is the fact that we, like Peter, are completely unprepared. Being unprepared frightens us to the core.
In light of the COVID-19 epidemic, many Christians are at a walking on the water moment with Jesus. Our grocery stores are low on supplies, jobs are cutting our hours, church buildings are closed, schools are shutting down, convenient stores are not accepting our returns, everywhere we turn there is seemingly some pandemonium. Throughout all of this, it seems there is a constant wave of fear trying it’s best to crash onto our boats of faith.
Where is Jesus in all of this chaos? He’s on the water, and that’s exactly where we are called to be. Like Peter realised, walking on water with Jesus is realised when we are willing to step outside of the boat. It is hidden deep inside the risk of faith. For Peter, there was no certainty that he wouldn’t sink. In fact, the evidence was completely stacked against him. Who would ever try to walk on water? You’d sink every time if you’d try!
For Peter, this realisation was true, however, there was one thing that was the exception. Jesus. Jesus was walking on water. Peter, wanting to become like Jesus, decided the risk was worth the reward. If the risk meant becoming like the one who was on the water, then Peter was all up for it. Peter took a giant leap of faith with one step. For Peter, the task was simple. Follow Jesus, even if it meant walking on water.
This passage of scripture is so encouraging to me because of the times. The COVID-19 seems as impossible to conquer as walking on water. As a father of three young boys, to think of all the things I have to do to keep my family safe seems impossible at times. When I begin to think of their safety in the midst of COVID-19 I begin to fear, and maybe that’s the point I’m missing - we are missing as Christians. By constantly focusing our minds on the coronavirus, we taking our eyes off of Jesus - who is in the midst of the storm, walking on water.
If you think about it, when did Peter sink? It was only when he looked at the wind and allowed fear to overcome his perspective. The same is true for us today, we must do our very best to keep our eyes on Jesus despite the wind of the coronavirus. Sure, it’s scary. Walking on water, for Peter, was as well. It may be difficult, but it is not impossible. Peter walked on water, and so can we, despite what others may think.
Jesus releases the capacity for us to have supernatural peace during life’s most difficult storms. By fixing our minds on Him through the storm, we enable our lives to access the peace of Jesus.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)
In our world today, communication commonly takes place in 15-30 second bytes like video clips.
There is a relentless crush of media; from text messages, to the internet, and its social media clamor, for our attention.
Smartphones make linking to the world too easy. It lets us talk to most anyone in the world, watch TV, movies, and sending a text, all on our luminescent handheld "gods". There is next no time for reflection, and little else has a chance to grab our attention.
Within this daily media blitz, it is all too easy to let our spiritual man starve and wither away.
Psalm 78 begins with these words,
“My people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth.” Psalm 78:1 NIV
This verse is a clear call to put aside our busyness, to stop, listen, and take to heart the word of God. As Disciples of Christ, we are presented with a daily choice: Will we stop, be still, know He is God and hear His still, small voice speaking to our thirsty souls? Will we Allow our soul to be nourished and restored by the source of all wisdom and goodness?
All too often, we begin our days under the relentless press of life, too busy to listen to those around us. Rarely do we stop to hear God´s gentle knocking on the door of our heart, waiting to nurture and heal our lives.
In the book of Revelation´s Letter to the church of Laodicea, we find this verse,
“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” Rev. 3:20 NIV
Many think this verse is meant for the lost, but it is part of a letter written to members of the Laodicean Church, who were professing Christians. We all need to ask the question, “Am I like the Laodicean church, independent and too busy for God? Do I make time for him, does he have a place in my life?”
Even though peace and restoration await us in His Words, we are often too busy for our Creator. But make no mistake, God will be heard. Although He may not always cause it but allow it, He can be heard in a raging firestorm, during an illness, during the loss of a job, in our home, during the actions of a rebellious child, and through a loving voice that is gently guiding, teaching, restoring, and feeding the deepest parts of our being.
How we hear God or how He gets our attention is the choice you and I are faced with daily. In any case, God will be heard. Dwell on that thought as you read a verse from Psalm 23:2-3 NIV,
“He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul.”
The Psalmists' words are clear. We have no choice (which is a good thing), somewhere, somehow He makes us Stop and lie down. He leads us to a quiet place to listen, He waits to renew you, his child. God will be Heard!
Unfortunately, I often only hear in crisis. These past few weeks were no exception. What did it take to make me slow down and hear? Heart trouble, as I write this, I am waiting on heart surgery, too weak to do much more than read and yes now listen! Even though the loving and gentle Father has always been waiting to guide and teach me and you!
How about you, what does it take for God to get your attention? Incline your ear to the Lord. Be still and know that He is God and we’re not. Shhhh, quite now, He is speaking; are you listening?
Brian is a missionary based in Maués Amazonas Brazil where he and his wife, minister as ESL teachers, English is their bridge to sharing Jesus. Brian’s background includes pastoral counselling, facilitation of marriage workshops, the coordination of homeless outreaches in the U.S. and Manaus Brazil, and direction of men's ministry in Maués. He Writes on Faith and Family topics. You can find more articles by Brian on his website.
"Those who are standing for truth, must stand"
What does it mean to be a man of God; to be a godly man?
One aspect is to stand for truth no matter the circumstance. To be a man of God is not to be manly in the way the world tells us to be manly. The world demands consumption. The world demands exertion of power. The world demands us to put our own needs before those of others. The world compares people against each other, is constantly changing, and follows it's own desires.
In a letter from the apostle Paul to his disciple, coworker, and true son in the faith Timothy, he gives instruction of what a man of God is to do. 2 Timothy Chapter 4:1-8 says the following:
"I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing."
Here in this passage alone we see a number of points relating to godly men standing for the truth.
I'll break it down into three main points:
The man of God must stand for truth as defined by the One that is Truth.
The man of God must stand for truth in his word.
The man of God must stand for truth in his deeds.
1. The man of God must stand for truth as defined by the One that is Truth.
In this passage Paul's charge begins with an exhortation of who God is and that is where our foundation of truth must come from. God and Christ Jesus: judge of the living and the dead, king over all creation, whose righteous reign is coming quickly. God is not small, He is great beyond our understanding (Job 36:26)! He is not finite, He is eternal and enthroned (Psalm 90:2)! He is ultimately the one through whom His church will be established and through whom His grace will be known (1Cor3:5-7, Eph2:4-7). It is He through whom we live and have our being (Acts17:28). Christ Himself claimed "I am the way the truth and the life" (John14:6). He is truth, He is majesty, and He is the one through whom truth was established in the earth.
On the other hand, we have the world's shifts. If we allow our truth to be defined by society or culture, what Paul said will happen, "the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths" (2 Tim 4:3). If we go by our own desires we will give up true teaching, we will give up truth, and we will be as one who has built their house on shifting sands (Matt7:24-27).
The man of God must stand for truth as defined by God Himself, Truth Himself.
In the previous chapter, Paul also exhorts Timothy to know the sacred scriptures well, the Spirit-inspired words of God. In Him we know truth.
2. The man of God must stand for truth in his word.
The second portion of the passage focuses on a short list of commands, "preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching" (2 Tim 4:2). This list contains a variety of actions, but each relates to speaking and teaching truth. Although some may argue, 'only some are called to be teachers. I'm not, so this list doesn't apply to me.' I would argue however that all believers are called to make disciples as God's Holy Spirit works in us (Matt 28:18-20) and that we are all called to teach those who are younger than us, men and women (Titus 2:3-4, 1 Tim2:1-2).
Summing up the list, it says that we get preach, reprove, rebuke, exhort, and teach. Teaching really covers all the other four, so let's dive into them briefly:
Preach (κήρυξον) - To proclaim after the manner of a herald used frequently in regard to public proclamation of the good news of the gospel. The word suggests formality, gravity and an authority which must be listened to and obeyed. We are to share the truth with those around us who do not yet know it.
Reprove (ἔλεγξον) - To find fault and to convict, refute, or confute and expose that fault to the one in the wrong. To correct by word (chide, admonish, reprove, to call to account, show one his fault, demand an explanation) by deed (to chasten, to punish). We are to correct in truth.
Rebuke (ἐπιτίμησον) - to tax with fault, rate, chide, rebuke, censure severely; to admonish or charge sharply. express sharp disapproval or criticism of (someone) because of their behavior or actions. We are to call out those who are in the wrong and point them back to the truth.
Exhort (παρακάλεσον) - To speak to in the way of exhortation, entreaty, comfort, instruction; to console, to encourage and strengthen by consolation, to comfort; to encourage, strengthen. We are to encourage and strengthen others in truth.
This is in all of these things, in every area of speech, to those struggling, to those in error, to the weak, to those who don't know the truth; the man of God must stand for truth in his word and help others grow in that truth lest they continue in the way of the world which would stand opposed to truth.
3. The man of God must stand for truth in his deeds.
In the last portion of this passage Paul calls Timothy to: "be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry" (2 Timothy 4:5). Standing for truth is not merely a thing to be done theoretically, but in earnest and action as well in response to God's action on the cross. Here, Paul is calling Timothy to be self-controlled and calm in the Spirit. To patiently and with hope endure any suffering caused by doing good (1 Peter 2:20/3:14). This is to encourage to continue to take action, to go to those who don't have the truth as an evangelist, and to serve others by doing the ministry prepared for him in the church at Ephesus.
Those who are standing for truth must not only understand the truth and leave it. Those who are standing for truth must stand. This is echoed in Jesus' parable of the wise and foolish builders in Matthew 7:24-27. “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” As well as the words in James 2:26, "For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead." Faith requires a response. He refers to Abraham, the father of faith, that it was credited to him as righteousness when he acted on the trust he had in God's promises and faithfulness.
Finally, Paul ends this section with the example of himself and how he has stood for truth since his conversion. Even now, at the end of his times, he was looking forward to the hope he had in Christ and in God's promises. Even in death he was standing for truth. "For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing" (2 Timothy 4: 6-8).
Whatever it is that God has called us to, in all areas of life, to those works God has prepared us for (see Eph2:10), the man of God must stand for truth in his deeds.
Speaking directly to this call to stand for truth in a corrupt and twisted world, in the letter to the Romans, Paul wrote: "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." (Rom12:1-2)
A man of God must stand for truth as defined by God allowing his mind to be renewed. A man of God must stand for truth in his word as Paul did to point the Romans to the true ways of God. A man of God must stand for truth in his deeds, presenting our whole body as a living sacrifice to a just God who is worthy of all our affection and worship.
A final note to add is that inevitably we will fall short of perfection, we will compromise, we will give in to temptation. But even then we are called to stand in the truth which says that God has made a way through the cross for forgiveness and salvation, and through reliance on His holy Spirit in us we can live lives that are glorifying to Him. May we stand for truth in His strength not ours.
Disclaimer: I believe this is a key component of what it means to be a man of God and although I am phrasing it in that manner it would be good here to note that the points may equally well address this aspect of being a godly woman and in no way do I mean that to be a woman of God would be the opposite.
Currently working on his Master's degree in Toxicology, God has given him a heart for His Word and bringing the gospel to the nations. His current goal is pursuing tent-making missions in Asia upon graduation and trusting in God's plans as he seeks to share Christ with those around him.
One day I cried out to God, “Please, Get me out of here!” Spiritually, mentally and emotionally I was spent. So many incidents had led to my current conundrum; finding out about my husband’s affairs and potential other child, lack of self-value, not enough income, uninformed decision making and unresolved emotions to name a few. Even my enthusiasm for my cleaning company I enjoyed so much in the beginning was starting to wane in my mind. I had a lifetime of working in positions but up to this point not a whole lot of satisfying works. My dilemma was buried under my titles of wife, mother of a very blended family, pastor’s wife, minister and usually whatever else I needed to be at the time. These cycles were going to cause me to crash and burn if I didn’t do something fast.
Let Me Off This Rollercoaster Please!
After a couple of months, I moved out of what I knew as home and into a small apartment with my kids and the work began. The immense grief of the days ahead gripped me. My family as I knew it seemed to have been ripped away and I had been abandoned, betrayed, rejected and even more ridiculed. My heart cried for change for myself and my family, but I knew the work would have to start with me. I made a decision to get spiritually and naturally in-tune to where I was as a person and where I wanted to go: I knew that there was more to my faith and my life than this! I was missing something but what was it? My dreams of becoming a life coach; traveling speaker and servant in ministry seemed as far away as the Land of Oz.
My bridge to breakthrough would come from some deep soul searching and healing. The only way off the rollercoaster of repeat was to get off and commit to doing the work. I knew about the pit and the prison, and I was ready for some palace moments in my life.
Time for Work
This is never easy but necessary. To say the days ahead for me were trying is a colossal understatement, some days I thought I was losing it but I had found the missing piece. It was time to unpack the pain through prayer, bible study, support meetings and some very candid conversations. Out of this intentional time of what I like to call soul-work, I re-wrote a book and a follow-up work book. This was a great turning point but I still experienced inconsistent revenue and had yet to breakthrough into fully realizing my dreams of healthy relationships, speaking, financial wellness and coaching. So, where would I go from here? How could I or anyone else breakthrough? Well, there are several ways but let’s narrow them to three steps that revolutionised my existence:
Renew- renew your mind concerning your value. You are partially here not just because of what someone did to you but in some cases, what you allowed to happen over a period of time. You matter, act like it! By renewing your mind about your value and taking responsibility for where you are, you take power for your life. Be honest about where you have allowed people to de-value you and where you have devalued yourself or played small, then build yourself up and stay there. Protect your precious soul-work. The renewal stage includes getting rid of the victim mentality and taking ownership for knowing yourself, your needs and desires. You are God’s masterpiece!
Rededicate- Re-dedicate your efforts to dream again and take responsibility to write your life vision and make it plain so you can go with it! Do you need to go back to school? Change careers? Start a business? This is where you become intentional about what you want and how you want to feel. You can do this by creating a vision board, taking a life-skills class, most importantly get around other like-minded people on the journey to purpose. Keep toxins out! Even when you miss your target and you sometimes will; use mistakes and problems as fuel to learn new lessons on your journey of purpose, adding to your expertise. Pastor John Ramsey says, “When things go wrong, don’t go with them.”
Rhythm- Once you’ve gained momentum, keep it at strong regular repeated patterns to see results. Accept your life’s new rhythm it will give voice to your purpose! Unearthing pain and unprofitable habits helps you to clearly see how massively creative you are and that you were born for good works! Your new rhythm will look a lot like new circles, new jobs, and new freedom’s new doors opening, all to make room for the gifts you’ve discovered. If you allow, this new rhythm will give voice to your pain and purpose when given the right opportunity.
When you need a breakthrough, a common misconception is that it is an “aha moment” and it happens overnight. Breakthrough is as much about process as it is progress. I still had my cleaning business and my first speaking engagement did not come for months but I remained faithful in my giving and new healthy habits. When I walked in the auditorium to speak on breakthrough, I was a different person. I courageously stepped up to purpose and finished the assignment and I was blessed with an honorarium of $400! I opened myself up to answer God’s call on my life and increase showed up. So when you are tempted to give in to frustration because things aren’t moving fast as you’d like, maybe step away and check your state of mind; commit to praying, reflecting, and recalibrate by remembering how far you’ve come and where you want to go from here. You are worth the effort to advance your dreams and get off the rollercoaster of repeat and on to your purpose.
Kimberly Lee is a transformational leader, author and the director of the Bridge to Breakthrough Experience. She is fiercely committed to those who are processing their pain and yet pursuing their purpose so they can come into their own value, voice and life vision. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Management, runs a small company, and in her spare time you can find her spending time with family, creating videos for social media, teaching classes and honing her coaching skills. For more information and her book, you can find her on her website.
Article Written by: Titi Funto O.
~ It was a very hot day. Pretty much like any other. The dusty sand-filled streets were practically empty. Yet here she was, under the sun, a bucket in one hand. She must be out of her mind, she thought. Fetching water at noon? Under this scorching sun? She sighed, wiping the sweat off her brow. She would rather be out in the heat at this time than wait till sundown when the other women came out to fetch water from the well as well. She couldn’t stand their gossip. The way they looked at her, judging. The things they said to her. No, she couldn’t take any more of that. The burning sun was nothing compared to the things the other women said about her. She shut her eyes as if wishing away the words that had hunted her for years now, the loneliness, the wrong choices she had made. She opened her eyes to see a man sitting beside the well. She could tell he was a Jew. She stiffened and hesitated. Sucking in some air, she approached the well, staring curiously at the stranger…readying herself to be ignored and shunned. ~
There’s this thing called grace that I will probably never understand. And then there’s mercy. We hear about grace all the time. And we are told countless times how God is merciful. I recently attended a spring retreat where I learnt that grace was receiving something nice you didn’t deserve. And mercy was not receiving something nasty that you did deserve. I love the distinction. But very often no matter how many times I am told about grace or mercy, I have a hard time getting my head around either. I think, if I don’t read my bible, pray, volunteer to help the needy, serve in church, and have some quiet time with God – amongst other things - then I am not good enough. It’s crazy right? But you know you’ve been there. I used to lead praise and worship in church and there were certain Sundays where I felt “unworthy” to do so because I hadn’t spent enough time with God during the week. Now, doesn’t that fall into the mindset of working to “earn” something?
Now, let me tell you this, it doesn’t matter who you are or what you did last year or two hours ago. It doesn’t change the way God sees you. You are not “better” in His eyes because you do certain things. No, you’re already pretty awesome. In our last student Bible study, someone described it like this: when you have infinity, it doesn’t matter whether you add 1 or 2 or 5000 to it. It remains infinity. God’s love is already there. You are already accepted by Him so you can’t “do” things in order to add to that love or to that acceptance. That, my friends, is grace.
And do you want to know the mind-blowing part? When I mess up, He doesn’t leave me in my mistake. No, He goes out of His way to reach out to me. And He’s been doing so with the human race since the very beginning. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God and hid from him (how many times have we done that?) He came looking for Adam and asked “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9). He didn’t wait for Adam to come to Him. The same way, when Cain did not offer up an acceptable sacrifice, God was the one to initiate the conversation when he asked “why are you angry?” (Genesis 4: 6). But not only did God go looking for Adam and Eve after their sin, He even clothed them and covered them up. God covers up our sin and clothes us with grace. Isn’t that beautiful? How He doesn’t shun us despite of our faults? That, my dear friends, is mercy.
But another story in which grace and mercy are demonstrated is that of the Samaritan woman at the well. The Bible tells us that while on his way to Galilee from Judea, Jesus decided to stop by a Samaritan town called Sychar and then He sat down beside a well (John 4). The Samaritan woman came to draw water and Jesus spoke to her. At first glance, nothing seems odd about that. But when we put on the glasses of those times, we realize there are lots of things wrong with that picture. Firstly, I once read that Jesus could have taken a much shorter route to get to Galilee. Instead, he chose to not only pass by Sychar, but he decided to stop by. Secondly, in those days, men didn’t just publicly speak to women they did not know. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, this particular woman was a Samaritan for goodness sake! A Samaritan! Jews and Samaritans weren’t known for friendly conversation back then. Even the woman herself said “how come you, a jew, are asking me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” Are you getting the picture? And to top it all off, this was a woman with a very bad record. And that record seemed to be pretty obvious – like stamped on her forehead kind of obvious.
“Just then his disciples came back. They were shocked. They couldn’t believe he was talking with that kind of a woman. No one said what they were all thinking, but their faces showed it” John 4:27 MSG.
She was that kind of a woman. Stigmatized and judged. Shunned by society because of the choices she’d made in life. But Jesus went out of His way to meet with her that day. He went out of His way just for her. That blows my mind. In the same way, He goes out of His way to reach out to you and I despite of what we may have done. He seeks to establish a dialogue just like He did with Adam and Eve and with Cain.
The Woman answered “I have no husband”. Jesus said to her, “you are right to say you have no husband. Really you have had five husbands, and the man you live with now is not your husband. You told the truth”. John 4: 17-18 NCV.
The Samaritan woman came clean before Jesus. She didn’t try to hide. You see, her issues might not be my own, but still, just like her I tend to turn to other things instead of going to my Maker. Just like she did, I am encouraged to bring my own issues before God. Bring them out into the open. Dealing with pride? Anger? Feel like you’re too busy to ‘put God first’? That’s OK. But take those issues to Him and bring it to the foot of the cross. He’s waiting.
The Samaritan woman at the well was never the same again after that day. In a brief conversation, Jesus revealed a number of things to her. One of which was His identity as the Messiah. What a privilege! And you know what? The Samaritan woman didn’t have to “do” anything to “deserve” Jesus’ attention nor his revelation. In fact, she pretty much disqualified. But after her encounter with Jesus, she went from being that kind of woman to being the one God used to draw the Samaritans in that town to Himself (John 4: 39-42). That day, the Samaritan woman received grace and mercy. While she deserved to be shunned, Jesus gave her all His attention and while she didn’t deserve a clean slate, He covered up her past (- like God clothed Adam and Eve -) and gave her just that.
And He’s sitting by the well, waiting to meet with us too. Constantly pursuing us. If only we would stop hiding from our flaws or sins, come clean and accept His grace and mercy which were fully demonstrated on the Cross. I’m going to have that conversation with God. How about you?
-Titi Funto O.
Titi Funto Ogunlade is a 22 year old law student and aspiring writer who loves all things literary. She enjoys serving in the music and children’s ministries, appreciates every opportunity spent with family and friends and enjoys watching animations or playing Nintendo with her big sister while laughing till it hurts. She speaks French, Spanish, a bit of German and currently pretends to speak Dutch. Her number one desire is to know God and her passion is to live a life that glories Him. You may visit Titi's blog at Tell The World. You may also catch her on Facebook.
Article Written by: Vocalz
After finally getting my NVQ level 2 and 3 and teaching qualification in hairdressing I had all these plans that I could get a really good job in a top class salon, even to go into teaching in a college and finally make some decent money! I had a good job at the time, and was looking for a teaching job.
On day the Lord said to me " leave your job".
I thought to myself, is that God? I mean I'm making some good money, I am able to pay my bills comfortably, no more struggle. But again it came stronger, " leave your job".
In the natural, this made no sense at all with three small children to raise practically on my own. I always had clients of my own that I would do at home but I had began to bring them into the salon.
"Leave your job".
But I am getting a steady wage Lord, no more wondering when the next client will come to do their hair.
Until, one month, I didn't get paid from work for about two weeks! I was so angry, fuming, I need my money! "I told you to leave your job".
See, I told you God has a sense of humour! Three months after He told me to leave, I was obedient and left. After procrastinating, and eventually getting my money!
The Lord was showing me that I had become reliant on my job and not on him! He is my provider, plus He had called me to the music industry, to sing, and I had work to do! How could one focus and step into my destiny whilst in a full-time job? Don't get me wrong, the gift of hairdressing has helped provide for me and my family. In my hairdressing chair a huge part of my ministry took place, but God has a plan for my life and all I have to do is walk where He directs me!
Proverbs 16:9 says, "A mans heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his path."
Psalm 37:23 " The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord."
Today I can say I am walking in my destiny, fulfilling the Call on my life! Nothing else matters as much to me as pleasing the Lord, and answering the Call!
Isn't that amazing?
And because of this, God is blessing me, He gives me peace that passes all understanding, joy unspeakable, HE opens the doors and HE directs my path.
Do you know that God loved us first? Scripture tells us that before we were formed in our mothers womb he knew us. He sent his only begotten son to die for our sins! What an awesome God we serve.
We can never outLOVE God as we don't have the capacity to love the way He loves us. Unconditionally, an everlasting love that never fails, His tender mercies are new everyday as He submerges us in His endless Grace!
Grace that gives us the opportunity to repent when we make a mistake!
He protects us, keeps us safe from harm, provides for us, heals us, comforts us, guides us! Oh the list is endless! When we put God first in our lives, the benefits are endless. His word says, "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added to you" Matthew 6:33.
Meaning everything that is good will be added to us, as every good thing comes from the Lord.
Some make the mistake of seeking first money, and even when they have it they are not satisfied, why? Because we were created to worship the Lord, created for His glory and His pleasure. Therefore we must desire to please him, seek his ways and not our ways, his will and not our will, his righteousness, his word, his presence, his glory!
When we give God FIRST PLACE in all that we do, he will surly bless us, promote us, protect and provide for us, give us access to all that is his.
God bless you and make the decision today to put God First and watch your life transform!
Vocalz is a gospel artist and minister of the Word of God. Vocalz is called to minister to broken women through songs that are written through the Holy Spirit. The Vocalz Ministry is about bringing people back to the heart of worship, healing and restoration to everyone who receives. For more info on vocalz visit www.vocalz7.co.uk
Article Written by: Vocalz
So I was asked by TawanaRay to be a guest writer and write a blog for her website!
First of all thank you, but I was a bit baffled as to what I would write about.
You see I write songs, I am a gospel artist and God has given me the gift of writing songs and singing. Until one day, He told me to start writing blogs about the songs I write!
Ok, so when I was asked to write this blog, I thought to myself "I only write about the songs I write, soooo what am I going to write about?"
Immediately I asked the Lord, and He said to me, FIRST PLACE. Then he reminded me that He had recently given me the chorus to a new song titled FIRST PLACE. Isn't God good? And He has a sense of humour!
"You take first place in my heart, you take first place in my life! Because you loved me first, and now I'm so submerged in your endless grace, because you take first place"
This was the chorus that the Lord had given me.
As I meditate on those words, I ask you, what does it mean for the Lord to take first place in your heart?
For me, it was a sacrifice. Giving up, letting go of someone who I really, I mean really loved.
Even though this person caused me a lot of pain in my life, I would have done anything for him! But I let him go because God took first place in my heart. I mean, he has never ever failed me, never hurt me, never left me or forsaken me so why wouldn't he take FIRST PLACE in my heart?
Some of us are in such destructive relationships, claiming that it is love, but why not give the one who IS love a chance?
I remember when I was in my marriage, the Lord once said to me you can not serve two masters.
Luke 16:13 "no one can serve two masters. Either you will hate one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money"
Now I know what your thinking, this scripture is talking about money. Yes but the word became flesh therefore at that time it became relevant and real to what I was going through. You see, anyone or anything that we put before God, becomes our god. Harsh but true. I used to put my ex-husband before God, serving him, living for him; can anyone identify with this? I was looking to him like he was my savior, but the problem is, when you drink from a broken cup, you will never be satisfied! Jesus is the living water that NEVER RUNS DRY!! And those who drink from Him will never thirst again. Hallelujah!!!
Now I am not saying to anyone that you should abandon their relationships, what I am saying is put no man before God. (Just thought I would clarify that before I get in trouble lol!).
Does God take FIRST PLACE in you life? Wow this one is serious!!! lol. Just kidding. But honestly, we all have dreams and aspirations, plans of where we want to be and what we want to do. And I believe God has given us those dreams, but when we say "God take control of my life" do we know what we are saying? We are saying "Lord, I will do what you tell me to do, go where you say I should go, even if I don't like it!" Ha ha, yes, that is what we are saying, but the question is do we mean it?
Vocalz is a gospel artist and minister of the Word of God. Vocalz is called to minister to broken women through songs that are written through the Holy Spirit. The Vocalz Ministry is about bringing people back to the heart of worship, healing and restoration to everyone who receives. For more info on vocalz visit www.vocalz7.co.uk