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He Won’t Leave You Empty

And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and it shall be, when you go, that you shall not go empty handed. Exodus 3:21

At this point in Exodus, Moses has just encountered God in the burning bush. The Israelites had been enslaved for 400 years and to them God was a lost notion. He had forgotten about them. The truth was that He had not. The truth was the Egyptians were threatened by their numbers and figured slavery would be a way to keep them in check. They felt like if they could overpower the Israelites and use up their labor, they would be too tired to reproduce.

That is what the enemy does. Just when you start to gain some traction and you begin to get a little more powerful in your purpose, the enemy throws something in your path to keep your mind and spirit enslaved to something (or someone) that has nothing to do with your true destination. The Israelites ended up in Egypt due to famine and had to travel there in order to survive, but when they started doing a little too well for themselves, Pharaoh had to put a stop to it.

You may meet a friend and they are helpful to you at first, but the minute you start doing a little too well, they want you to stay on the level you were, so they aren’t intimidated. They want you to stay enslaved to your past circumstances.

You may end up in situations with the intention of doing one thing but get so caught up in staying busy and checking off lists that you don’t realize that you have lost so much time. We get enslaved to drama, busyness and to making ourselves feel good. We get to the point that we are so caught up that we forget what it is we are supposed to be doing. We have been imprisoned so log that it becomes the only way we know how to function. When the opportunity comes to finally escape it, we don’t really believe it, in the same way the Israelites were hesitant to believe Moses. Sometimes, even when we leave, we bring the prison with us. We have left Egypt, but Egypt hasn’t left us. We feel like if we leave our present circumstances, we won’t have anything left. How will we survive? What will we have to show for it?

There are times we don’t want to let go of what’s in our hands because we don’t know that we will be able to function without it. God wouldn’t give you the opportunity to lay it down if you didn’t have the capacity to move forward without it. Just because your hands may be empty, doesn’t mean that you have to be. God is going to fill you up with what you need unto the point of overflow. You just have to trust that He knows what He is doing. God has a plan far greater than we could imagine. We don’t see all the steps and we get scared. Well if you had all the directions, you wouldn’t need faith. The same God that was with you yesterday, is with you today and is already in your tomorrow.

God won’t let you leave empty.

Whatever it is that you are leaving behind, God has something greater and better for you to replace it.

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Divorce: It’s Not Always About You

As a child of divorce, I have experienced the anger, frustration and depression that often comes with being caught in the middle.  I didn’t really act out a lot but rather drew deep into myself.  I kept trying to figure out what may have been broken within me, that they couldn’t find a way to stay together. There were some times when I thought that maybe I could have done something different to keep it from happening, when in actuality it really had nothing to do with me.  As any child in this situation, you feel and feed off of the tension between your parents and I definitely did that.  I just internalized most of it.

When my parents divorced, I felt like I got divorced too.  There were times that I didn’t speak to my dad, which I horribly regret. I am working to try to repair that now.  The distance was on both sides often perpetuated by my mom.  Then there were times early on when I felt like I was being used as a pawn to hurt my father.  So yeah, good times. It sometimes felt that winning with each other was worth more than what was actually best for me. The message of it is better to be right than loved is a strong one, and a wrong one. Parents have to be careful of this, because what you are teaching your kids is that they came from a person that is unloveable and wrong, which in effect makes the kid wrong too. Which is crazy because at some point you loved the other parent enough to have children with them.  So don’t get upset when your kids are with the other parent, or jealous of what they may be doing.  Kids need to be seen, physically and emotionally by BOTH of their parents. They want to feel okay about spending time with BOTH parents and they want to feel okay to love BOTH parents.

At any rate, as time has gone on, both of my parents have moved on in their own way.  My father remarried, my mother didn’t.  At first I acted out a bit with my stepmother because I felt like she was trying to take my mother’s place, which really wasn’t possible and not even what she was trying to do.  I was 11 years old at the time and my immature mind couldn’t wrap itself around what was happening and so I did what kids do, I acted out.

As an adult I can see how silly that was and there are times when I wish I was closer to my stepmother and I am trying to make steps toward that now.  I try to be sure to include her when things happen in my life because she IS a part of my life.  She is my father’s wife and as such I expect her to show up when I ask to my father to be somewhere.  It is only right.  As I hit milestones in my life, I would like her to be able to celebrate those too. Too much time has passed (26 years) for there to still be pettiness on my part. I had to mature first to fully understand.  Things happen, it isn’t always pleasant, but I can choose how to react to it. Besides, I got an extra mother figure, what’s not to like about that?

On the whole my parents (including my stepmom) have done a pretty good job.  Whenever there is a big event going on in my life, they are usually all there. There is no, “Well this side of the family is going to have an event for you and then you will just have to arrange something with the other side of the family”.  First off that isn’t always fair because one set of family members will feel like they are being left out or not getting all the details on something.  Also, it isn’t fair for the child, whether they are an adult or not.  Most of the time parents do that because they feel awkward or uncomfortable being around the other parent after what has happened.  That is understandable.  However, at what point… how much has to pass before you just decide to suck it up and everyone come together for the kids?  Sometimes when you do that, you basically end up having the kid trying to decide what is the best way to keep the peace or how to see both sets of parents without making the someone uncomfortable.  It isn’t your kids’ job to make you feel comfortable.  At some point it isn’t about your comfort, it’s about what is easiest for the kids. You entered into a relationship and had kids with this person, they are now a part of your life forever, whether you stay married or not.  You were comfortable enough to have kids with this person and now as a co-parent you have to decide to get comfortable with the idea that they are going to be at events in their child’s life and there are times when you may have to come and work together for the kids to make it easier.  As the children get older, get married, and have kids, it’s only going to get more complicated.

Refiner’s Fire

But who can endure the day of his coming? And who will be able to sand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire and like a launderer’s bleach. Malachi 3:2

Jesus is the refiner’s fire. He will return to sort out true believers from those who just call themselves Christians. Titles are great, but they aren’t the only thing. Everyone wants a title, but do you know your name? What good is the title if your true name is deceiver, manipulator or liar? Titles don’t mean much when your true nature doesn’t match.  The two must be in alignment and they must be in alignment with God.

In Malachi’s day, silver was crushed into small granules and then ground into powder. Water was then poured over the powder to wash away the dross or the impurities. The remaining powder was then melted in a crucible.  The more heat (Refiner’s Fire) that was added, the more lead dross that came to the surface. By blowing hot air over the melted surface, the lead dross was blown away, leaving pure silver. When Jesus returns, He will judge us all and determine who is true to Him. His breath is the Word of God; it will blow away the dross.

We are very much like the silver.  We are born into sin, born with impurities.  God has to crush us to get the purest form of us out.  Just like grapes, the best part of us comes out after the crushing. After we are crushed, we are ground down to the point where we have nothing left of ourselves, but only God to depend on.  Then comes the heat, the pressure of things around us, the pressure of the call on our lives.  As things begin to heat up, the impurities, the characteristics that are not like God start to come to surface.  We don’t like to be uncomfortable, but sometimes that is the only way to get those things to come to the surface in order to remove them. When He blows His breath on you, all that is left is the part that reflects Him.

There is so much ore in the world that looks like silver, but it really isn’t. In the same sense there are so many people who look like Christians, but they really aren’t.  Even after being crushed by persecution and ground to powder by trials it isn’t readily apparent who is who. The water of the Word of God is poured over us through sermons and bible readings but even that may not expose imposters.  Only the Refiner’s Fire will do it with certainty.

Fire symbolizes the character of God because He is flawless, pure in every sense of the word. He is a “consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29). His glory radiates like an infinite flame.  To draw near to God is to experience the heat of His holiness in a way that purifies us from the inside out.  His Is no ordinary flame, He is wholly loving and good “We went through fire and water” the psalmist writes, “but you brought us out to abundance” (Psalm 66:12).

Being refined isn’t always pleasant, but it is always necessary.

Manifestation

Sometimes we sit back and wonder why certain things haven’t happened for us. We often ask, “Did I do something wrong?” “Am I not praying the right thing?”

There are a few reasons why this happens.

Belief

Sometimes we are guilty of having faith for everyone else but ourselves. That’s why ‘it” hasn’t happened for us yet. We refuse to believe it for us like we’ll speak it over them. If you can’t believe it, then how will it manifest. The Bible says if you ask and believe, God will grant what you ask if it is in His will.

One size doesn’t fit all, not all are destined

My husband preached a message where he talked about faith being like a key. In the natural, a key is mated to a specific lock. Meaning, a key will only open the lock made for it. I can’t take my house key and go open my neighbor’s house. I am sure that they are very thankful for that and I am glad that it doesn’t work the other way around as well. My key will only work on my house. Our faith is like that. We often get stuck on who we are associated with and wanting to take them places with us, but everyone who is with you can’t walk through the doors that you can. Their keys won’t fit. Your door was specifically created by God and He knew the amount and shape of faith you would need to open it and only you possess it. Their faith can’t open your door and your faith won’t open theirs. I can’t ride in on my parent’s faith, but I have to have my own.

Look at Abraham and Lot. Abraham was called to be the father of many nations, to have descendants as numerous as the stars. He wasn’t entirely sure how it would all happen but he knew without a doubt that God would do it. Lot being his only family he had left, naturally he wanted Lot to take the journey with him that God was calling him to. There is nothing wrong with that, but Lot’s key wasn’t made to open the door that Abraham was about to walk through. The path laid out for Abraham was carved out for him and no one else. God told Abraham and Sarah to go and possess a land where he would bless them. He didn’t say a word about Lot. Now for Abraham’s sake, God kept Lot alive but he still could not go with him. Just because Lot was associated, didn’t make him destined. Just because Lot was family didn’t make him destined either. Stop thinking that just because you are related that they HAVE to go with you. If they are not called to your assignment, it won’t matter who they are to you, they can’t go.

Talking too much

Sometimes things don’t happen because we haven’t learned how to be quiet and let God work in the background. There is nothing wrong with decreeing the things you want and are believing God for but the problem is everyone that is with you isn’t FOR you. Sometimes people are with you to see how far they can get by association but at some point you are going to hit a door that they can’t walk through. Then that is when it will all come out, “You think you are better than me”, “You forgot where you came from”, “There is nothing that special about you”. Decreeing things to yourself and to God is one thing but you have to watch the people you declare things to. If they are not godly, then you might have a problem. That is where we mess up sometimes. We decree the right things in front of the wrong people and wonder why our plans haven’t manifested yet. What happened is you spoke your prayers to enemies who used your desires as an instructional manual on what area of your life to attack. Now, there has to be a battle to do some damage control so your blessings have a clean space to land. God will always fashion you for your blessing/level up in private. Look at David. When he stood against Goliath, the giant thought he already had him figured out. He had already decided that David wasn’t going to be able to do anything to defeat him. That is how a lot of us get treated. People have already counted you out based on what they THINK they know of you. They have weighed their facts, ignorant of God’s truth about you. David was young, inexperienced, and never had seen battle. The truth was although he wasn’t trained for battle he was trained for VICTORY. He had already defeated a lion and bear, victories no one knew anything about. It’s a battle when you have to wrestle, but it’s a victory when all you have to do is take aim. Had David just been there telling everybody about all he had been through in the wilderness the whole time he was on the front line, he would have seemed cocky and it would have been used against him. Since no one knew about any of that, they didn’t have any extra fodder to try to use to undermine what he knew he had to do.

Won’t He Do it?!?! But Will He for me?

While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Luke 5:12

The man in this scripture had heard of Jesus.  He had heard what he was capable of.  He didn’t necessarily doubt that Jesus could do it.  His question was would He do it?  We often find ourselves in the same situation.  We know He is powerful and nothing moves without Him being aware.  It is a lot easier to believe that He will move on someone else’s behalf, rather than our own.

It is easy for us to feel like people are doing all these things around us but it feels like we can’t have those same things.  It makes us wonder if God has forgotten about us.  He hasn’t.  His timetable isn’t ours.  I have to keep telling myself this in one area of my life.  I have to remind myself that it isn’t in His timing or it isn’t in His will, and I have to be okay with that.  It is easier said than done, but I have to work on it continually.

Fire: Is It In You?

If I say, “I will not mention Him or speak any more in His name,” His message becomes a fire burning in my heart, shut up in my bones, and I become weary of holding it in, and I cannot prevail. Jeremiah 20:9

Luke 3:16 I baptize you with water, but there is One coming after me who will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

1 Corinthians 3:13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work.
• Day – Jesus, He will bring it all to light. He reveals things that are hidden.
• Revealed with fire – revealed by the Holy Spirit, which will test each person’s work.

God is at home in the fire

2 Thessalonians 1:7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed in blazing fire with his powerful angels.

Exodus 19:18 Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently.

Exodus 24-:17 To the Israelites the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain.

God’s wrath shows up like fire

Numbers 11:1 Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord, and when he heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp.

Numbers 16:35 And fire came out from the Lord and consumed the 250 men who were offering the incense.

Fire is innate within us

James 3:6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

Mark 9:49 Everyone will be salted with fire.

Acts 2: 3-4 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

When you are really being used by God, you can’t stay out of the fire. You must have an experience WITH the fire. This is the difference between a motivational speaker and a prophet. Speakers try to manage their life in a way where they never have a fire. While God arranges a prophet’s life to survive the fire. That’s why you can’t envy people who look like they never have any storms. When you don’t have a storm, you also don’t have a rainbow. Fires come to prove to the enemy: if you throw them in, I will bring them out. It comes to prove to your enemies: I will never send them into a fire alone. And finally it proves to you: WHATEVER doesn’t consume you, is authorized to groom you.

The problem is some people don’t want to be on fire, they want to stay on the “keep warm” setting. They are not cold, but they aren’t hot. They do just enough to present and usable. They are good, just not as good as they could be if they were living up to their full potential.
Every girl dreams of a knight in shining armor but all that shining armor is showing you is that his metal hasn’t been tested. If a knight has never been tested, how do you know that they can protect you? If you are never tested, how will you know what you are capable of? Even Jesus was tested and put through the fire, even unto death. How do you think that you will escape it?

Being on fire isn’t a bad thing. It burns away the things that are not necessary and purifies what is there. Use the fire to your advantage.

Sweetening the Water: From Marah to Elim

Exodus 15:25

Don’t stay in the land in of bitterness.
You have to learn to cry out to God, even when they complain, when they come against you, and when they betray you. A cute prayer isn’t going to cut it. The Lord will show you what you need to see.

The way to deal with bitterness is to pray and to see the tree (Calvary).
You have to have the capacity and ability to look past the person and what they did to you and see the Master of the Universe behind it all. He didn’t author the chaos in your life but He permitted it and can orchestrate it so that it turns out for your good. He doesn’t allow anything to happen that He hasn’t built you to be able to handle.

As with Moses, when you cast your tree (suffering, pain, hurt) into the water, He can take it and make the water sweet. He can take all that chaos and bring sweetness out of it.
Beauty for ashes…
Joy for mourning…
Praise for despair…

Although it is rough right now, when you look back you will able to say thank you to those who stood against you.

Thank you for firing me. I found a better job.
Thank you for leaving me. God brought the person He intended me to have.
Thank you for talking about me. I am stronger now than I have ever been.
My water is sweet. I am not bitter, I am better.

Keep moving forward. You are between the land Marah (bitterness) and Elim (prosperity)
In Marah the waters were bitter but at Elim there were 12 wells and 70 palm trees. There was prosperity there: more than what you can drink by yourself. There’s enough for your momma, your grandma, your friends and everyone else. You just have to keep moving and like the children of Israel stop focusing on your current bitter circumstances. Throw your tree in the water, take a sip and keep it moving to the land of prosperity.

Stop whining about it. Let it go.
Stop complaining about it. Let it go.
You’re stronger, richer and blessed because of it (even though it doesn’t look like it now).
All because you learned to put a tree in your bitter waters.

Marriage: Contract vs. Covenant, Us vs. God

Fewer people are getting married or they are doing it later in life, according to many studies. The divorce rate is between 40-50%. A lot of people are test driving, but not actually committing. How many couples do you know that have kids, a house, some combined finances, but aren’t married? The premise is that if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. Okay, well if something happens to one person, in most instances, the survivor doesn’t get much because they aren’t legally married. There is no promise in place that is recognized by any authority that needs to be honored for the party left behind. The other thing I hear often is, “Well if the relationship goes bad, I can just walk away and not have to worry about legalities.” That isn’t necessarily true, especially if you have children. Some sort of agreement to custody more often than not will need to be in place. How are you going to divide up property? Who gets what? My response to this question is normally this: If you are going into this thinking you may need a way out, then what you have is not a commitment, you are operating on a contingency. What I mean is:
As long as:

  • They do the things I like
  • Go the places I want to go
  • Meet my expectations (no matter how crazy)
  • Operate in the way that fits my world
  • They speak my love language
  • They read my mind and know what’s wrong without me telling them

If all these happen, it will be all good. It all boils down to “As long as I get my way, everything will be fine.”
We often treat marriage like a contract, rather than what it was intended to be, which is a covenant.

Now what if God treated His relationship with us like a contract rather than a covenant? I will save them if:

  • They obey me ALL the time.
  • They stop repeating the same sin and learn the lesson the FIRST time.
  • They talk to Me BEFORE they make the decision
  • I am not the last resort, but the constant companion
  • If they read the Bible beyond Sunday morning
  • They FULLY believe Me when they pray for something

Just think if along with that, ANY failure on our part frees Him from His obligation to us.

That would be awful wouldn’t it? He can’t do that because although He isn’t married to us in the natural sense, but there is a promise in place recognized by His authority that was secured by His son’s blood. It’s a promise that says:

  • I will never leave you nor forsake you
  • Even when you’re unfaithful, I am still faithful
  • No matter what you do, My mercies are new every morning
  • You can’t possibly imagine how far, how wide, or how deep My love is for you

A contingency is for a house, not a marriage.

Rise Up

The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Romans 13:12 NIV.

The time has come, we must be on our guard and see what God is doing. You have been scarred and wounded.  You are tired and not sure how you will take another step, let alone fight another battle. That’s just it.  You don’t have to fight this battle. You just have to endure it. God goes before you and will fight on your behalf.  You just have to take your station and see it come to pass (Exodus 14:13-14).  All you have to do is show up and God will show out and do the rest.  We get too caught up in the circumstances of the battle, how long the battle has raged on and how we feel.  We often think we don’t have the strength for it and that is true. We can’t fight the battle ourselves.  We need Him.  We too often try to take control of the battle before we even get our feet set on the battlefield.  Remember the battle isn’t yours anyway. He equips us with His armor (Ephesians 6:10-18), yet He still goes out ahead of us and does battle on our behalf.

You were made for this. Esther 4:14

 

 

Moving in Silence

It’s a new year and many of us have made resolutions that we hope to follow through on.  Some of those resolutions involve improving health or making moves financially. We often can’t wait to share our plans with others or show people what we are doing.  There is nothing wrong with that, but everyone is not able to go to new levels with you and not everyone will appreciate your hustle. Sometimes moving in silence is your best option.

Let’s look at David.  He was a young shepherd boy, keeping his father’s flock.  He was tasked with checking on his brothers and delivering necessities to them at the battlefront. He arrives to see the army of Israel paralyzed with fear.  They had been here at this position for forty days and they were not moving forward.  They were content to sit there and let the giant, Goliath, taunt them day and night. David decides enough is enough and he is going to go out and fight. Now he has no battle training and EVERYONE knew that and made sure he was aware they knew. Here’s the thing though, although David was inexperienced in battle, he was experienced in victory.  He already had victories over a bear and lion while watching his father’s flock.  God had already delivered him on several occasions, so fighting something bigger and stronger than him was nothing new for David.  He knew he couldn’t do it in his power, but he believed in the One who could. When the time came to save his people, he knew he was ready.  It wasn’t because of what anyone had seen him do, but because of the training he had already received from God, away from prying eyes.  In this way, no one else could take the credit and say, “I helped David with this.”, or “I showed him this technique.”  It was all God.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to share what you are doing with others or wanting to share your dreams with others.  You just have to be careful and be sure that the people you are actually sharing things with are for you and not trying to see what they can get from you.  Sometimes we get frustrated when we share things with others and then they don’t come to fruition for one reason or another.

Here’s the thing, you were decreeing the right things in front of the wrong people. That is why it still hasn’t happened.  You spoke your prayers in front of enemies who used your desires as an instructional manual on what area to attack.

Some people want to know what you are up to in order to support you, some people want to know what you are up to so they can find a way to stop you.