Posts Tagged ‘faith’

NO LIMITS!

Posted: January 27, 2016 in Christianity, faith, God, Jesus Christ, Uncategorized
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Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26(NIV)

Good morning!

It doesn’t matter what it looks like. Dare to believe that God can do the impossible! You may feel hopeless, defeated and feel like giving up! It may seem like all your problems will never go away! You may believe that nothing good is meant for you! But when those feelings come remember: NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE WITH GOD! ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE WITH HIM! He may not give us what WE think is best. But He will give us what HE KNOWS is best for us! The sky’s the limit??? Don’t believe it!!! With a limitless God there is no limit. So live your life like you deserve the best, without limits and knowing nothing is impossible!

#reaching  beyond the sky

#if God don’t limit you, ain’t no limit

#we moving on up 

With peace and blessings may you continue to rise always,

Stillirise323

 

 

 

Photo credit: Model: Nagelah Cohen

Photographer: Aisha Hinds

 

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Sin, deliverance, grace, faith and mercy.  We throw these words around freely assuming that people understand what they mean. Yet one can’t help but think, “Do people truly understand the Gospel and its significance for their lives?”  Are people grasping the basic teachings and foundations of Christianity?  Do we truly understand what it means to be saved and have eternal life through Jesus Christ?  So in my last post I began to talk about how we in sharing our faith and even every now and again as we teach and preach from the pulpit, have to lay down the basics of Christ and Christianity for our audience.

But before I can go any further however, I think it is absolutely necessary to lay out what I consider to be some essential truths or perspectives that I personally consider PARAMOUNT in following God through Jesus Christ. I learned pretty early-on if you get a good handle of these concepts, its makes it just a little easier to develop and grow in your relationship with the Lord.  This list is by no means exhaustive and please note the disclaimer that this is my personal opinion.  I am sure others and perhaps even some of you reading right now if asked may have similar overlapping suggestions or perspectives that may be somewhat different. Either way, I pray that this list will help bring some enlightenment and understanding to someone as we aim to go back to the basics of Christianity.

Here we go…

1) You cannot follow God strictly by intellect.  Get over how brilliant you think you are.

I know….Ouch!  But yes, you are hearing right.  The truth is, you are just not that smart.  This was a difficult lesson I had to learn firsthand because of the way I am naturally wired. Listen, I’m blessed to work as a medical professional.  By nature I am analytical, detail –oriented and somewhat of a deep thinker.  Confidence, sound judgment and at times quick decisive action are just a few of the skills that I must have in my arsenal in order to care for those who walk through my office door.  All of these facets of intellect allow me to do what I do, just as it allows you to perform certain tasks using the talents and gifts you have been given.

It’s not quite so simple when it comes to the Lord. Why?  Because God is beyond human understanding.  He is an oxymoron in every way. He’s in some ways simple yet mind-blowingly complex; He is loving, gentle, compassionate and meek and at the same time frightening and terrible, especially in times of anger or quite frankly just because of His majestic power.  He can come quiet as a dove or as forceful as a raging fire storm. He knows everything about everything at all times and in all places. Sometimes He gives, sometimes He takes away. Sometimes He punishes, sometimes He pardons.  I could go on and on. My point is, you could merge together the genius of the world’s greatest minds throughout history and it would not begin to scratch the surface of God’s wisdom and knowledge.  And on top of that, He shares with us what He chooses to share.  So there are things you will learn and understand about God because He chooses to share them. And things you will not know because he hides it or alternately because our limited human minds cannot understand it.

A widely accepted basic belief that is rooted in the teachings of ancient philosophers and commonly accepted in Christianity and among many world religions today is that human beings are essentially made of 2 main parts:   the material and the immaterial or what is considered the natural (the things in the world we can detect with our human senses) and supernatural (those things in the world that are present beyond the natural senses).  That being said, there are different theories proposed to further explain the makeup of human beings with 2 such popular thoughts in Christianity being the tripartite theory and bipartite theory of humankind. Stay with me now! The tripartite theory asserts that human beings are comprised of three main parts:  body, soul and spirit.  The bipartite theory asserts that human beings are made up of two parts:  body and soul/spirit.  So in other words, although tripartite and bipartite theory share the belief that human beings are made of the body, bipartite theory sees no separation between soul and spirit.  The word soul or the word spirit are different words that can both be used to describe the same thing.[1] Tripartite theory would argue that the soul is a distinct entity and the spirit is a distinct entity.  For reasons beyond the scope of discussion for this blog post, my personal belief is in the tripartite theory of man so I will elaborate more from that perspective.  I hope you are still with me? I know some of this detailed information may seem pointless, but trust me in believing you will soon see that these points will help to bring greater insight into why following God is not strictly about intellect and reason.   Almost there!

So the body constitutes the natural or material part of us. It would include our natural senses, organs and limbs for example.  It is essentially the parts of us that can be seen, heard, touched, smelled, etc. and it is also through the natural senses that we interact with the natural world we live in.

The soul and spirit are considered to be more supernatural aspects of ourselves and the parts we know the least about. The soul is made up of the mind (intellect, reasoning and judgment), will (the power of choosing one’s own actions, conscious choice in regards to actions or thoughts, desires)[2] and emotions (feelings).  It is through the soul that we have our cravings, passions, appetite and desires for certain things.   You can now imagine why someone with a “sick” soul can make bad decisions based on irrational judgment or unhealthy emotions.

And then there is the spirit. This is perhaps the most mysterious and supernatural aspect of us that we know.  The spirit is believed to be the part of us that makes us conscious or aware of God.

It operates in ways outside of the natural world as we know it. Now am I saying we don’t use our minds in some capacity to have a relationship with God? Of course not.  You have to love and follow God with every dimension of your being:  your body, your soul and your spirit.   But the ego and pride that naturally comes with our human intellect must be buried to follow and love God. First as I keep emphasizing, your intellect is less than adequate to fully decipher the vastness of God so there is no reason to boast. Second, if you approach God with a superior know-it-all mindset, how can you ever humble yourself and give Him the reverence that He demands and the honor that He is due?

Because of sin (deeper discussion in later posts), every human being is born with what is known as an unregenerate spirit. It means by nature, humans are naturally wicked and we naturally oppose the things of God. However, when we open ourselves, surrender our will and allow God’s Spirit to have an authentic encounter with our spirit, he will give you the gift of spiritual regeneration.  In other words, God will illuminate, renew, restore and transform your spirit and cause you to gravitate to Him. And your regenerated spirit, under the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit will then influence your soul and body to live a life that honors and desires God and the things of God.[3]  The deeper in relationship you get with God, the more your appetite and cravings will be for Him and what He represents. Through this ongoing transforming process, you will learn to love the Lord God with all your body, soul and spirit.  It is

especially through our spiritual connection with God, as God Himself is a Spirit that we get insight based on what God shares with us that is outside of what the mind can understand.  It is primarily by the leading of our spirit by God’s Spirit that we love Him, obey Him and love each other, even the unlovable, when it naturally doesn’t make sense and when we naturally would choose to do the opposite.  It is God’s amazing Spirit that enables us to do extraordinary things beyond our natural human ability. The concept of the spirit will come up over and over again in this Back to Basics series where I can elaborate further on this crucial part of who we are.  Furthermore, this Spirit-to spirit connection between us and our Creator is why people can still worship, have relationship and connection with God despite mental, intellectual or physical disability.  The point is not to get hung on the details but to realize that God connects with us prominently through the supernatural aspects of ourselves.  He wants to have a deep connection with you!

At the risk of becoming too long winded, I will stop here for now.  Looks like each concept will have to be its own separate post versus completing it all in one writing as I initially thought.

So remember—the mind and the intellect is a gift from God.  But make it easier on yourself and humble yourself from now. Never think you are sharp enough to outthink or fully grasp Him.  He will baffle you every time.  A mind tempered in humility is the best mind to have….and yet still I rise.

With peace and blessings may you continue to rise always,

Stillirise323

Bibliography

[1] Strauss, Lehman, “Man A Trinity (Body, Soul, Spirit),” published June 14, 2004, https://bible.org/seriespage/2-man-trinity-spirit-soul-body (accessed October 14, 2015).

[2] Dictionary.com, s.v. “Willl,” http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/will (accessed October 17, 2015).

[3] Strauss, Lehman  “Man A Trinity (Body, Soul, Spirit)

It is never easy to lose a loved one. We miss the sound of their voice, the warmth of their embrace  and the very scent that defines them.  Yes even for those of us who trust and believe that heaven is our final destination, in our humanity, the grief of loss is a pain that is comparable to none.  A verse that is often used for comfort or is commonly used in times of grief reads “to be absent from the body is to be present with The Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). In other words, we can find some comfort in knowing that death takes us from the  perils, suffering and devastations of this world and brings us to an unimaginable place of joy and ecstasy, as we stand in the very presence of God.  

But as I read this verse a few weeks ago, The Lord would show me a different perspective. We don’t have to wait to be literally absent from the body through death to be present with The Lord.  We can be present with The Lord in this life. How?  By choosing to be absent from the body of our “fleshly ways” and walking in the power of the Spirit.  Besides the literal meaning of what our bodies are, that being the physical aspect of ourselves, metaphorically the “body” or “flesh” biblically represents the aspects of ourselves that are earthly, sinful, carnal. It is through the medium of the sinful flesh that we lie, steal, cheat, hate, walk in pride, lust, anger and indulge in all things sinful.

When we have a carnal or fleshly mindset it separates us from God. How could this be? Simply because the carnal mind is enmity(hostile) against God; it is not subject to the law of God nor indeed can  be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:7-8, NKJV). So not only does the flesh or a carnal/fleshly mindset offend God, but it literally causes us to be hostile toward God. If not put in check, it pushes us away from the very Source of our life. That’s why every day, every minute, every second, we have to make the decision to be “absent from the body, so we can be present with Lord” even in this life. This however cannot not be done with sheer motivation or will-power. We alone, in our limited sinful human capacity cannot overcome the “flesh” on our own. We must accept the free gift of salvation through making Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Then God’s Holy Spirit, through our cooperation and submission, will transform us to become more like Christ. Just like Jesus willingly gave up his flesh to be crucified, through the power of the Holy Spirit fortifying and empowering our own spirit, we can crucify those fleshly ways. We can deaden that fleshly mindset that is hostile and contrary to God. We can begin to walk in holiness, righteousness and become all who God has called us to be. Through the power of the Holy Spirit we can have access to God’s presence and all the benefits that it entails–indescribable love, peace, joy, wisdom, guidance, supernatural power and everything we need to endure the trial of this life.

It will not happen overnight. I’m not saying it is alway comfortable. The flesh to be sure does not go down easily or submit willingly. It will fight submission to God. You will even fight yourself. You may still say an unkind word when the Spirit says to hold your peace; you may still lie sometimes when you know it is wrong; you may still feel some bitterness when God says to love. Transformation is a lifelong process. But know that through the limitless power of the Holy Spirit it can be done. You can adapt the mind of Christ. You can the enjoy the presence of His Presence in the present…..and yet still I rise.

With peace and blessings may you continue to rise always,
Stillirise323

 

 

School had been a part of my journey for so long.  Beyond elementary education and high school, I pushed through 4 years of college, 4 years of medical school and 3 years of residency training to become a physician.  That’s in addition to presently having to keep up with continuing medical education studies on an ongoing basis through my professional career.   I don’t take credit for these accomplishments.  All that I am, all that I have done and all that I will become I fully recognize and admit is due to the benefits of God’s grace.  I am the tangible and visible manifestation of the miracle and mystery, the immeasurable depth and detail, the intimacy and infinite possibilities of God’s grace.

It is the thread that weaves through and holds together every fabric of our existence.  When you draw breath each morning, can take a step forward, see food in the cupboard, clothes on your back, loving friends and family, enjoy the scent of spring flowers,  was spared that car accident, so and so forth –all of this  and more, every thing we are blessed to have or do, are compliments of that curious thing called grace.  Rooted in grace, is God’s  love; even when we don’t deserve it.  I will be the first to admit I am not perfect.  I’m an ok person, but catch me in the right mood and I am not so lovable.  But grace says I love you irregardless of , irrespective of and in spite of you.  I see your flaws, but I love you and I want to bless you anyhow.  God is merciful to extend His grace to us and in the same way, despite what we see and know, we must extend that type of grace to others.

It was by God’s grace that I came from being a little Jamaican girl of a modest background, to a family physician practicing in New York City.  When endless hours in the hospital sometimes overwhelmed me to the point of wanting to give up, it was God’s grace that was sufficient and His strength that was shown perfect in my weakness.   It was God’s grace that kept my sanity through some really difficult trials and heartbreak.   It was His mercy and grace that spared my life and supernaturally delivered me from some dangerous situations.  I need no convincing regarding the reality of God’s grace.  I have seen and experienced it firsthand over and over again in day to day living and in miraculous ways. The unbelievable fact is that grace is not something I earned or deserved.  True to the scripture that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Roman 3:23, NKJV), I fall short of His glory and commit trespasses every day.  But God’s grace, his unmerited favor, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the gift that He lovingly and freely gives to bless us and allow us to overcome the inevitable trials we must face.

That being said, given my journey thus far, surely I would be the last  person that anyone would expect to return back to school.  Surely I had paid my dues and put in enough time?  Right?  Well, God is certainly not everyone and He certainly is not just anyone. The Lord spoke to me about seminary back in 2010 while taking a bible course at a friend’s church, where the pastor of the church wrote “this is seminary level work” on a paper I had written.  This would give me a further glimpse of the overall plan God had for my life.   Shocked and humbled by the comment, I got a quickening in my spirit that comes when only God is speaking.  Terrified and still unsure, I didn’t share this with anyone.  My thought process was something like this:

“Really Lord?  More school”?   I enjoyed the bible institute and the subsequent discipleship classes I took a at Greater Allen Cathedral, but formal school? I loved learning more about God, the things related to the gospel, the Church and the Kingdom.  I looked forward to that aspect of school.  But the pressures of papers, deadlines, public speaking—Lord are you serious? Seminary school?  “Alright, Lord if this is You,  I really don’t believe it is for now.  You have to confirm every detail of this endeavor—timing, location, everything.  I told you wherever you take me I will go, but this is a big move.  I don’t want to take this step until I’m absolutely sure.”  That was fall 2010. Over the following years I prayed, waited and watched.  All the while I drew closer to Him and developed a deep relationship with Him.  He began to show Himself in ways I never knew before and where I struggled with hearing God previously, I now am so much better at discerning His still small voice.   I learned to allow God’s Holy Spirit to “ …guide me in all truth..” (John 16:13, NLT) and “… teach me in all things…” (John 14:26, NKJV).

Finally, over the past year the Lord began to confirm through other people, unaware of what I felt in my spirit years ago, that I was destined to go  to seminary or pursue some sort of path in formal ministry.   I still don’t know all that God is up to.   But that is the comforting thing about God. I don’t have to have it all figured out.   Even when we are clueless and totally unsure,  God knows.  God is omniscient—He is all knowing.  He knows everything about all things at all times.  He knows the grandest to the most minuscule details of my life.  Even when I step out in blind faith, I am stepping out with an all-seeing God beside me.  Notice I said beside me because He is omnipresent.  He is always present.  Herbert Lockyer said it best in his book, All the Doctrines  of the Bible when he said God “has no center and His circumference is everywhere.”  God told me through His word “Behold, I am with you and I will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; I will not leave you until  I have done what I have spoken to you” (Genesis 28:15, NKJV).  Based on that scripture, because God is always speaking and it will take my lifetime to fulfill my purpose, God is sure to never forsake me.  His word cannot lie. Finally God is omnipotent.  All power is in His hand.  His very essence is power.  So not only is He with me through this life’s journey, but He has the power to bring every plan and purpose for my life to pass.  The arm of he Lord is not shortened.  Having applied to seminary, by God’s grace and provision I  have been accepted to start in  2014.

And so begins the next leg of the journey and I press on. Where would I be without the gifting of God’s grace?  Grace has brought me thus far and it will see me to the very end.  I know I can’t rise without it simply because, God’s:

Gifts & Resources  Allow Constant Elevation.

And Yet Still I Rise,

With peace and blessings may you continue to rise always,

Stillirise323

More than the civil wars that have ravaged the continent of Africa, the Muslim terrorist attacks against Western culture, the genocides that continue to plague human history, we are engaged in a very real and ongoing spiritual battle. The devil has waged war against God and anything related to God.  That would certainly include His creation. This means you!  No one is off limits.  The devil comes to kill, steal and destroy everything God has for you.  Kill, steal and destroy your life, dreams, joy and peace of mind—all of the blessings of God. You can’t win this war with natural weapons.  Bombs, AK 47’s and hand grenades won’t help you here.  To win this war you have to tap into supernatural weapons.  Access those  weapons that God has granted us coupled with His limitless power.   Thus far I have mentioned praise/worship and discernment as mighty tools available in our arsenal against the powers of darkness.  Next up for discussion:   the power of prayer.

What is prayer?  In simple terms, it’s just communicating with God.  For most of us the majority of the time we communicate through spoken words.  But keep in mind, we can interact with God through our thoughts.  I loved the answer the great evangelist Billy Graham gave when someone asked if God hears our silent prayers .  He wisely said:

“Yes, God hears our prayers on all occasions, whether we’re praying out loud or praying silently in our hearts and minds. After all, He knows all about us and knows what is going on inside us—both good and bad. The Bible says that God “judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). The Bible also says, “The Lord detests the thoughts of the wicked, but those of the pure are pleasing to him” (Proverbs 15:26). (http://www.billygraham.org/articlepage.asp?articleid=3828)

God really does have it all covered.  Sometimes life becomes so heavy that we don’t know how or what to pray.  But we have an all-knowing God who sees and knows the words of our hearts and the words of our thoughts.  Though most of us most frequently pray aloud and some would argue that verbal prayer is better, know that God “hears you” in your silence.

P= Praise, Persistence,

In prayer take time to praise God.  Everyone likes a compliment.  God is no different.  Tell God how awesome He is.  Thank Him for His goodness, His love and His mercy.  Bombard Him with sweet, adoring words from your mouth—what the popular bible verse says is the “fruit of your lips” (Proverbs 12:14) . The more you do it, the more you will begin to feel and connect  to His presence and power.  And we know praise and worship moves God to fight our battles and give us victory over the Enemy.

It is common practice that people set aside time alone to pray in a quiet place.  It may be early morning before confronting the day, late at night before going to sleep  or any other set time.  However, the bible instructs us to “…pray without ceasing(Thessalonians 5:7).  In addition to that quiet time, know that you can and should talk to God all the time.   Need help with a challenging situation? “Lord help me to resolve this.”  Did the Lord show you favor at work? Thank him right then and there.  Something heavy on your heart? You don’t have to wait until you get home to tell God.  Even in the midst of a crowd you can share your concerns. The more we talk to God, the more we grow in relationship with Him and vice versa. Get in the habit of talking to Him all the time and before you know it, it will become second nature.

Persistent prayer also comes in handy when we are enlisting God’s help or looking for God’s guidance.  A wonderful example I’ve heard of this was a preacher describing how his little girl would latch on to his leg and not let go until he moved to get the cookie she politely asked for.  In her simple act, the Lord revealed to him that the same tenacity and persistence that this little girl showed in getting what she desired, is the same way we have to latch on to God and pray until He moves on our behalf one way or another.  God may not always answer by giving   exactly what you want, but persistent prayer encourages Him to move in the way that He knows is best for you.  So after you pray, and after you’ve prayed, pray, pray again.

R=requests

“Be anxious for nothing, but in EVERYTHING by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God (Philippians 4:6, NKJV). No matter how big or seemingly insignificant, God wants to be included in every aspect of our lives.  Just take a look at yourself and everything around you. The make-up and complexity of something as simple as an eyelash is astounding, much less our entire human bodies and  all the things of nature.   The phrase “spare me the details” doesn’t apply to God. God is a God of intricacy and intimacy.  He wants to hear about, be involved in and orchestrate every detail of our lives.

I love the example the biblical character Nehemiah represents for presenting our requests before God.  He went to God for anything and everything.   When he needed pardon from the king of Persia to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the destroyed walls of the city, what did he do? He asked that God let him “ prosper this day, I pray, and grant him mercy…” (Nehemiah 1:11, NKJV) in the sight of the king.  Not only was Nehemiah given pardon without hesitation, but the king went a step further and  gave him extra assistance in going.  Through our prayers we can call down the favor of God.

Got haters or opposition causing trouble in your life?  Check Nehemiah again.  When his enemies tried  different tactics to prevent him from rebuilding the wall, Nehemiah didn’t curse, didn’t physically retaliate, didn’t  lose his cool.  Just like a child who tells their parents about the bully at school, Nehemiah simply went to Father God in prayer.   His simple request was this: “…O God strengthen my hands….” (Nehemiah 6:9, NKJV)  and “My God, remember Tobiah and Sanballat, according to these their works…”(Nehemiah 6:14, NKJV).  And voila!  Checkmate!  The very next verse,  the  words of Nehemiah’s victory:  “The wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of Elul, in fifty-two days”(Nehemiah 6:15).   You see the devil just can’t win when a child of God cries out and He decides to step in. So the next time Satan comes and tries to step to you, brandish your weapon! Kaboom! Hit him  with your prayers!

 

A=Answers

The beauty of prayer?  It’s an exchange not one one-sided.  It’s a dialogue not a monologue.  It’s collaborative not selfish.  When we speak, God speaks back.  When we speak God delights in our act of worship through prayer.  When He speaks He speaks life into our being.  Yes..it is important to praise and present your petitions before God.  But also take time to hear what God is saying to you.  Open your spirit and tune your senses to see how God is leading.  He may speak through a person, His Word, your thoughts, a feeling, a song…anything.  Trust that the enemy will always try to hinder you from praying because he knows how powerful of a weapon it is.   Without it you are extremely open and vulnerable to attack.  Just like soldiers must stay connected to their generals for guidance, so we must stay connected to God Almighty for all that we need.  It is through prayer that God will dispatch his Holy angels to fight on our behalf.  It is through prayer that God moves the obstacles in our lives. It is through prayer that God heals, delivers, blesses, empowers, guides, defends and protects us.  So pray and simply trust God. Pray and believe God to answer (in different ways—another topic) in His perfect way, according to His perfect will and in His perfect timing.  I guarantee He will never steer you wrong.

Y=Yes

Prayer is indirectly a sign of worship.    When you pray to God you are saying God I acknowledge you, God you are real and God I am dependent on you.  You wouldn’t pray to something or someone you didn’t believe in. In essence you are saying yes, You are God.  The lie?  A good prayer has to be fancy, eloquent and have a barrage of big words.  The truth—the beauty of prayer is that you simply do it.   That you intentionally reach out to God.  God doesn’t look at the details of the eloquence of words.  He looks at the genuineness of your heart. The amazing thing is as you grow with God and spend time in His holy Word, you will learn to allow his Spirit to guide your prayers and naturally begin to pray according to the promises of the scriptures.  When we pray in obedience to God and declare our yes to Him, this opens the door for God to partner with us in overcoming the forces of darkness.  So if the devil  insists on riding your tail, have no fear! TKO him with your prayers!

This post does not begin to scratch the surface that is the vastness of prayer.  Minister Maurice Belfonte, youth minister at Shekinah Youth Church/Greater Allen AME said it best in this facebook post:   “Prayer redirects, reconnects,  reorders,  recovers,  reinvigorates, refocuses,  reveals, reduces, restores, reactivates,  reminds, replaces,  reforms, recommits.  Just a few things that Prayer has done for me.  I could go on and on. The moral of the story is:  #PRAY.”

So after you pray and after your pray, pray..pray again…and  yet still I rise

With peace and blessings may you continue to rise always,

Stillirise323

Many  people, Christian and non-Christian know the epic story from the book of Exodus of how God parted  the Red sea so that the Israelites could escape their enemies, the Egyptians.  But that wasn’t their last encounter with facing water as an obstacle.  Fast forward to the book of Joshua where they now faced the River Jordan  and God would move miraculously again.  Unlike the first time, when God told Moses to raise his rod and the waters divided, this time with Joshua as their leader, the bible says that the:

“..feet of the priests who bore the ark dipped in the edge of the water…. and  the waters that came from upstream stood still and rose in a heap very far away…(Joshua 3:16, NKJV).  Then the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan; and all Israel crossed over on dry ground…”(Joshua 3:17).  And finally,  ” when all the people had completely crossed over, the ark of the Lord and the priests crossed over in the presence of the people” (Joshua 4:11)

The ark of the covenant, a chest holding the ten commandments, represented the presence of God on the earth. It was considered sacred and holy and not just every and anybody  could carry this sacred treasure. But notice a few things:

1)It was designated that only the Levitical  priests, a chosen group that was set apart for unique dedication to God, could carry the ark.  This was in addition to their duties of offering sacrifices to God to make atonement for the sins of the people as well as pronouncing blessings over the people.

 2)The priests had to step out first into the water, bearing the ark of the covenant and then the people came after.

3)The priest did to cross over themselves until all the people crossed first.

Obviously, the levitical priests played a vital role in the survival of the Israeli nation.   And their function served as a foreshadowing of what Jesus would do for all of us once and for all. Since Jesus Christ died on the cross as a living sacrifice so that our sins could be forgiven and our relationship restored with God, we no longer have need for a levitical priest to work on our behalf.  With Christ as our Lord standing as the perfect High priest , we in turn have become “… a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation…” (1 Peter 2:8) selected to show the world  the goodness of God.  All true Christians now function as priests to the Lord God Almighty.

Furthermore, just as the levitical priests of the bible bore the ark of the covenant, we must bear/carry the glory of God to do His work and make an impact on the lives around us.  As the priests were required to be holy,  we are called to consecrate (i.e. dedicate, devote ) ourselves to God and strive to be holy.  But it’s not so simple! It may mean you have to move ahead of the people and come out of the crowd.  Will you do it?  It may mean the Lord will take you through a rigid lifelong process of molding, shaping and transformation.  People, things, attitudes, character traits–anything that hinders you from becoming the righteous person God demands you to be will be uprooted. Will you cooperate?  You may have to be first to step into unknown waters with faith and trust,  so that those coming behind you (i.e. unsaved family members, friends in need,  etc.) can safely cross over.  Struggles will come!  Will you go? Are you selfless enough to stand firm and sacrifice your own needs so that others may cross safely. Even when it seems like you are being left behind while others move forward.  Can you do it?

The closer you get to God, the more of His glory will be revealed through you.  But carrying God’s glory is not a joke. The requirements of those levitical priests to remain holy were stringent.  Any deviation meant instant death.  They could not approach Him unholy and without some payment for their sins and the sins of the nation.  But thank God for the blood of Jesus that was shed  that we can approach His throne despite our faults and be forgiven by His grace and mercy. Thank God for the payment of the blood of Jesus, that grants us eternal life  and not death.

God wants to demonstrate His power and work miracles through you.  But to carry God’s glory, you must know there will be trials, struggles and hardships.  Don’t let this deter you.  Take hope in the fact that God says “…as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will never leave or forsake you” (Joshua 1:5, NKJV).  Be strong and of good courage….(Joshua 1:6).  With God, you can do all things.  The blessings of His glory far exceed the hardships….and yet still I rise.

With peace and blessings may you continues to rise always,

Stillirise 323

 

Near and dear to my heart, I have a special love for him.  He doesn’t speak.  With a few fragmented sentences he can articulate what he wants:  “I want ice cream, I want car (meaning to drive in the car).”  He points to himself and utters  “soda”, to express his desire for soda.  He’s good at echoing; he can  repeat what you tell him to say and follow directions of what to do. But he can’t  converse.  6″2, handsome, physically well.  Yet thirty years strong with the intellectual capacity of a 2 year old.  He is my brother Kevin.  We call him Kev for short. The doctors chalk it up to autism and mental retardation.  That’s the label and the final diagnosis.  Nothing else to do.  The intellectual part of me, my flesh, can identify with what they say. I work in the medical field and we see it fairly regularly.  But I know different.  It’s deeper than that. Kev’s plight is spiritual.  It is the handiwork of the devil live and in living color.  But I don’t focus on the cause. That’s the least of it.  I focus on the solution.  My faith tells me that whatever the reason, he can be healed.  Whatever the root cause, it can be uprooted. He will be healed in Jesus name.

The bible says with faith the size of a mustard seed we can move mountains (Matthew 17:20).   I’ve personally never seen a mustard seed, but apparently they are very small; about the size of a pencil point.  So even a small amount of faith is acceptable.  That’s all you really need to overcome.  But in the words of my other beloved brother, Drew, I must say: “I don’t know about a mustard seed, but I think I have enough to grow a mustard tree.” Mustard seed faith is good.  But if I could go one step further, I want to have mustard tree level faith. I believe in my Father that much.  I’ve seen the Lord work.  I’ve seen Him level mountains in my life and the lives of others.  Is anything too hard for God? Kevin’s predicament is nothing for Him to fix.

Do you have mustard seed or even more,  mustard tree faith?  The bible says that faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1, KJV).  In simple terms it’s having the assurance that what you are hoping for is already done although you don’t yet see it.  Trusting God will bring it to pass although it has not yet manifested.   We are quick to put our faith in lotto, other people, our own abilities; essentially in everything unstable and flawed.  Yet we fail to put our faith in the God that is faultless and completely flawless.  What are you believing God for today?  As I stand in faith for Kevin’s complete restoration and deliverance in this life, I stand in faith with you for whatever you are believing God for.  Let us bond in faith, trusting and resting  in the power of our awesome God. Know that He is able and He never fails.  And although God may not always give us exactly what we want( that part is not  always easy), He always gives us what is best for us in the end.  Even in disappointment, God can bless us in ways beyond our superficial human expectations and limited human understanding. Trust  and know not some things, not most things, not a few things but ALL things work together for the good of those who love the Lord…. (Romans 8:28, KJV).

May our faith expand from mustard seed to mustard tree….and yet still I rise.

With peace and blessings may you continue to rise always,

Stillirise323