Last week I had the privilege of preaching for the first time.
Now, anyone who knows me personally or who has followed this blog for a while may be saying, “You’ve been preaching for years.” But last week was the first time I’d been invited to speak…in a church…from a pulpit…with the express purpose of bringing the Word.
I was nervous and exhilarated and humbled that God would choose me for such an awesome and important task. But the word He gave me for this young adult audience was unique and on-time…just as He is and just as our relationship is.
Gratefully, my dear friend Penny videoed the entire 13-minute sermon. Take a few minutes, check it out, and commit to #bepetty for Jesus.
And I have to give credit to the amazing Awesomely Luvvie who is the genius behind all the “petty” names at the end. Pick up her petty T-shirt here! *And no, she didn’t ask me to endorse this and I’m not being compensated. Just giving a shout out to something/someone who inspired me.
Blessings to you! I hope it inspires you and speaks to your situation.
(I originally wrote this as a Mother’s Day post, but it’s some pretty powerful #MotivationMonday material!)
Stop abdicating your power.
The word “abdicate” means to renounce one’s throne. To vacate.
It’s not as simple as giving up one’s power, because anyone can give up power. The dog walker, the custodian, heck, even the President. Because they are of the world and walk in and execute in worldly power.
But to renounce a throne, one must first be royal and then decide to walk away. Having the status of a king or queen or a member of their family and choosing to leave.
So, mothers, daughters, sisters, Christians! If we are to stop abdicating our power we first must know who we are, and we are royalty. The Bible tells us that in 1 Pet 2:9 NIV:
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
The second key thing that must happen in order for us to stop abdicating our power is we must them make a decision. To decide takes power.
Ever had to decide to fire someone? Break up with someone? Leave that job? Move to that new place? Start that new company?
The word says that faith without works, without actions, is dead.
The reality is that not moving, not taking action, IS in fact a decision.
And I know decisions can be tough. God knows decisions can be tough. But He promises us that when we’re weak His grace is sufficient, His strength is perfected.
I’ll leave you with two examples of women who made decisions not to abdicate their power – even in their most broken, most vulnerable, most hurt, most empty states – but their decisions changed the trajectories of their lives and of ours.
The woman with the alabaster box and the woman with the issue of blood.
Because they decided to push through, to offer their last, to put it all on the line, to use the only power they had, not only were they healed, their demonstrations became examples of how giving God all we have can result in great moves of power on our behalf.
And get this: they didn’t even know Jesus like we do. They didn’t have a relationship him. They weren’t meeting him and falling down crying every Sunday. They had a chance encounter with the king and they DECIDED not to give up the POWER they FELT in that moment.
So how much more so should we fight for, walk in, and own our power because we know the Prince of Princes and the King of Kings? The alpha and the omega. The bright and morning star. The lily in the valley. Our beginning and our end. Our shepherd. Our all and all.
Because He lives, we can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, all fear is gone.
I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back. No turning back.
Decide today not to abdicate your power, ladies.
Your healing is in the power of Christ. Your promotion is the power of Christ. The legacy of the great women of the bible is in that blood and because of that there’s no pain too great, no problem too big that you cannot overcome.
So adjust your crown and walk fully in the power, authority, and dominion that are your birthright simply because your God’s kid. Monday ain’t got nothing on you!
“The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.”
As children of God, we’re His sheep. He calls us by name and we follow him…and Him only. It’s a critical goal of our walk – to learn and decipher His voice from the “noise” of life – but we so often fall short.
In life, so many other things beckon for us and our attention. The enemy wants us to follow the money, or the “in-crowd.” He wants us to follow what feels right or what the world dictates. Chase that promotion. Chase that girl/guy. Follow that high. Walk this way.
The enemy calls our names…but we shouldn’t answer. We shouldn’t follow him. In fact, Jesus says (and I’m paraphrasing here, “Nah, son, they with me. I betchu they won’t follow you. Mine is the only voice they know.”
So if our lives are the only God some folks see if. If we know there is a group of folks looking for a reason to discredit our Father and our Savior, when we choose to listen to AND FOLLOW voices that aren’t our Shepherd’s, we’re in effect calling Jesus a liar.
Now, fret not. God’s gon’ get ALL His glory, whether it’s from you and me or not. (Remember those rocks?) But I can’t help but to think…
Who you callin’ a liar?!
I for one don’t want to be responsible for calling my Risen Saviour a liar simply because I couldn’t control my flesh, or because I thought I knew better, or I couldn’t get past what I wanted for what He has ordained.
Nope. I’m good. Because the last I checked it was the devil who was a liar. See how crafty he is?!
Life is a series of experiences bookended by decisions. (Credit me when y’all take that!)
Sometimes our decisions are between two choices or about a circumstance we find ourselves in. And still other times the decision is more simply wherher or not to trust God.
So how do we know when we’ve made the right choice?
LET’S BE CLEAR: it’s ALWAYS the right decision to trust God.
But if you need more guidance, you’ll know that you made the right decision when after praying about it, feeling consistently led to move in a certain direction, and then taking that action, you’re overcome with an indescribable peace. And suddenly, that situation that had been costing you sleep doesn’t anymore.
A peace that’s predicated on faith. Faith that’s founded on a decision to trust the Word of God over the world. And a Word that tells us that ALL THINGS work together for our GOOD.
Sure, you may still have questions about how it’s all going to work out. But HOW is none of our business; that’s God’s domain.
Our concern is only the WHO – God, our Lord and Saviour – whom, once we seek first, has promised to take care of everything else.
You’re so busy kicking that closed door that you (1) can’t see the one God’s opened behind you or (2) you’ve lost sight of God’s plan choosing instead to pursue things the way YOU think they are supposed to go.
Here’s how I know:
“A man’s gift makes room for him, And brings him before great men.”
For everyone with a case of the Mondays today. God gave me this this morning to put the J-O-B in perspective — and to call me out for my hypocrisy.
(And as I write this, knowing there are many other ways that Christians are hypocrites, I reserve the right for this to be the first in a series. Anyway…)
HYPOCRITE, STOP WORRYING!
Oh, God’s your source? Then why is it that every time you need something, or it looks like your bank account is getting thin, you start thinking of ways to make ends meet IN YOUR OWN STRENGTH and using YOUR OWN LOGIC?
The Bible says in Prov 10:22 ESV: “The blessing of the Lord makes rich, and He adds no sorrow to it.” And, in the footnotes and some other translations it goes further to say of 10:22b, “And no toil/work adds to it.”
See, your job is an assignment, it isn’t your Source. You can’t work your way wealthy. So do what you were sent to do, get what you were sent to get, and give what you were sent to give.
Tithers, we’ve gotta stop panicking every time our money gets a little funny — or looks like it will be. Considering second jobs, taking on unnecessary side hustles, pursuing the wrong clients, and all kinds of things just to get what God has already promised to provide.
As tithers, Malachi tells us we’re covered, and God’s our Source anyway! It’s our birthright.
Stop telling people “God won’t put more on you than you can bear.”
That’s not Bible.
The truth is that He WILL put more on us than we can bear. It’s how He grows our faith and trust in Him. If He didn’t strategically and purposefully allow adversity in our lives, we wouldn’t come to know His power for ourselves and then trust Him more and more. And if He didn’t allow situations where we were forced to trust Him, how could we ever come to a place where we could have faith for the “exceedingly abundantly” He’s already promised us?
I mean, how could you trust God for that bill being paid, that job, that car, that house, or that healing if you hadn’t already learned through experiencing Him yourself in your challenges that He’s able?
If He didn’t put more on us than we could bear, we wouldn’t need Him and we certainly wouldn’t need Jesus. Heck, we’d be our own saviors every time.
This is why the Bible says we should rejoice in our weaknesses because it gives God a chance to show Himself strong, to show up and show off on our behalf.
With the things I’m fighting, the things I’ve been through, the things you’re up against and been through, you would have lost your natural mind, maybe even taken your own life BUT for God.
I absolutely believe that God puts more on me than I can bear — not overcome, but bear — because otherwise how will He prepare me for what’s to come? What testimony would I have if I never had to cry out to Him in my dark places? And what kind of faith would I have if I didn’t have to believe — while I sat in those dark places, even as tears streamed — that He’d purposed that moment to bless me only AFTER He guaranteed that the weapon wouldn’t prosper and that I would win, it would all work to my good?
I don’t know who else I’m talking to right now, but know this: you ain’t always gotta be strong. He wants you to let Him be your strength. To grow you, to grow your faith, and to increase your expectation in Him.
God’s got more for you on the other side of this — no matter what your “this” is.
But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
As I read and re-read this passage this morning, the thing that really stuck in my Spirit was the tense of the words the author chose.
Preceding verse five, the author was crying out to God, asking Him how long will he endure struggle, imploring our Savior to answer him, to show up.
But then we get to verse five and something amazing happens. The sense of woe ends sharply and, if we look closely enough, we see a change — not in the author’s circumstances, but in his perspective.
Verse five begins with the word “but.” The word “but” can play a number of roles in English grammar. It can be a preposition, an adverb. However, in this use I believe it’s most important as a conjunction, a word to add together groups of words. That’s what’s important to note: even though a change is occurring in the author, nothing has changed in his circumstances. Rather, he’s chosen to use what he’s going through as a part of what’s to come.
Further, any good grammarian will also point out that the use of “but” also signifies that everything before it is now inconsequential in reference to what will follow.
My bills are due and I don’t know how I’m going to pay them, BUT…
My body is ill and the doctors say they don’t know what more they can do, BUT…
The vision You gave me is too big/expensive/scary and I don’t know if I can accomplish it BUT…
They said they’d always be there for me, and they’re gone now that I need them, BUT…
It feels like I’m going through this all alone, BUT…
The verse goes on, after signaling a change in the author’s perspective to say, “But I trust in your unfailing love.”
“I trust.” That’s current. That’s present. That’s now. And, following the author’s please for response, and then his decision to shift his focus, “I trust” being present tense tells us that even though all hell was breaking out in this man’s life, the hell didn’t negate his faith. In essence he’s showing us that even as he’s going through it and doesn’t know how much more he can or even when God will will show up, he still trusts in God’s unfailing love.
The author knows that no matter how badly it hurts, or how uncomfortable what he’s going through is, his circumstances do not affect or reflect the fact that God loves him and that God’s love never fails. It never falters. It never doesn’t reach us. It never judges us. It never decides to show up today and not tomorrow. It never abandons us because we’ve sinned or doubted. God’s love just is.
You need to know that trials and trust are not and should not be mutually exclusive in your life. They will not be exclusive. In fact, this scripture shows us that trust in the Lord is ever more important when we’re going through our trials. That trust is a reminder that we aren’t in it alone, that God still cares, and that He isn’t oblivious to what we’re going through. Trials and trust in God go hand in hand.
The verse then goes on to say, “I will rejoice because you have rescued me.”
Now this is where it gets really good, where the “but” has shown us that the author’s perspective is changing, and the “I trust” show us what the author’s two conflicting states of mind are, “I will rejoice” shows us a decision.
“Will” is future tense. It also reflects a decision. The author, even though he’s going through hell, even though it doesn’t appear that God has reached out to save him, he knows that in spite of his uncomfortable circumstances that God still loves him unfailing. And, as a result of that knowledge, the author decides that he will rejoice.
Right there in the midst of his hell.
Right there in the midst of his storm, his trial, his going through.
Right there with the overdrawn bank account.
Right there with the 100th no call back after applying for a job.
Right there with the raggedy car that won’t start.
Right there with the daycare closed and no way for you to watch the kids and go to work.
Right there with the rent/mortgage being due and no money to pay it.
Right there with that unreliable friend/partner.
Right there in the midst of those silent cries alone at night.
Right in the thick of it, the author decides, no matter what it looks like or feels like, I am going to rejoice. And that’s an important decision because the Bible tells us that when we choose to celebrate in the midst of our adversity it confuses the enemy.
In fact, when I looked at the word “rejoice” in my concordance, I learned this:
the original word used here is a Hebrew verb
in the Bible it’s used to mean to exult and to be glad
Strong’s Concordance goes on to define it as “to spin around (under the influence of any violent emotion)…be glad, joy, be joyful…”
Whoa. “To spin around under the influence of any violent emotion.” To me, that means that all of the anger, the fear, the frustration, the helplessness, the pain, and every other intense emotion the author was feeling as he cried out to God in the beginning of the chapter was still there.
Even as he decided to change his perspective, he then decided he would force himself to be glad, pouring out all of the negative emotions the enemy wanted to use to oppress and depress him as positive praise for a God that never fails — even, and especially, when hell is breaking out all around us.
Then the verse continues with, “because you have rescued me.”
“Because” is a preposition here. It’s setting us up to understand why. Everything that comes after because tells us why the author’s perspective changed and why he forced himself to praise God in the middle of his turmoil.
And why did he, you ask? “Because you [God] has rescued me.”
Don’t miss that: “rescued” is past tense.
It’s already done.
Before this storm erupted. Before all hell broke loose. Before I lost all my money. Before he or she walked out. Before the doctor gave me the diagnosis. Before the bills became due. Before I lost my job. Before I cried myself to sleep.
Before it all even happened, God had already rescued you. He’d already saved you. He’d already provided. He’d already blessed you. He’d already made a way.
And get this, once a person or a thing has been rescued, that which threatened them can no longer harm them.
So before you started “going through” God had already seen to it that what you would go through wouldn’t hurt you, couldn’t hurt you.
That means that before the storm even erupted in your life, God had already made you victorious over it.
Look, tense matters. Tense matters in this scripture because it reminds us that everything that happened before we were saved, before we prayed, before we rejoiced, before we decided to worship God is no longer important and never could touch us.
And tense matters because if you’re still overcome with the emotion your circumstances have you feeling, then this scripture is a roadmap to peace.
Tense matters because where you are has no bearing on WHOSE you are or where you WILL be.
Tense matters because if He did it back then. If He did it before. He’s the same God, with the same unfailing love. He WILL show up and show out on your behalf this time, too.
Tense matters because how we choose our thoughts and words dictates whether we remain stuck in a place where we’re telling our God — Who’s already saved us — about our problems, or whether we’ll choose to move to a place where we tell our problems about our God.
Tense matters because we have the God-given authority to change our circumstances, to speak life and death to situations in our lives based solely on the words we speak.
So tense matters. Because you can be going through forever, or you can choose to celebrate the victory you already had now.
It matters. It matters to God. It matters to your storm. It matters for you.