Written by Rev. Oruelle MershonThis ideology of changing someone is a fallacy that comes from an unknowing God complex wherein we start wanting to be someone’s redeemer. But we are not, nor can we ever be, God to someone. When you have a “need-to-be-needed” complex, you’ll allow that need to influence your choices. And the more others warn you about it, the less you listen to them.This process often happens without your even knowing that you have allowed the need-to-be-needed impulse to take over your decision-making process. Perhaps you heard testimonials from those who have experienced massive change through their marriage. But the difference is that the power to change must come from within the person, not from you. When you try to change your spouse, it doesn’t work, and eventually the hope for change makes you sick. “Hope deferred make the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:12)Hope makes you sick when you keep envisioning something that never materializes, sick of making lame excuses for what is not working even as it becomes increasingly obvious to those around you. Sound relationship decisions are not based on hope.Now add in the fact that people of faith often try to spiritualize every issue. In the name of faith, we often dumb down our instincts and ignore our senses. That is not having faith in God. Faith in God should be just that, faith in God. We must not place our faith in men and women. They will fail us. God gives all of us a will and doesn’t force us to change. Change must come from within each of us as we accept the grace God repeatedly extends to each of us.In any relationship decision, make sure you’re processing all the data and listening to your gut. What you see is what you get. Don’t mistake yourself for God in someone else’s life.
I love gospel music. Not only is it encouraging in its message, to me its personal. It’s like the artists were thinking about me when they were writing the songs. When I listen to gospel music it’s like someone is speaking directly to me, to my situation. Then I step back and think, someone is speaking directly to me. It’s God. He was thinking about me when the songs were being written because He knew at some point in time that I was going to need to hear from Him. He uses all kinds of means to reach us in our time of need. We just need to have open ears and open hearts. Your message may come through a song, a sermon, a prayer, a conversation with a friend, or even directly from God himself during your quiet time. I can’t hear my music unless my headphones or speakers are plugged into the device that is playing it. Make sure you are plugged in and connected to God our Father so that you can hear from Him today.
This past Sunday, our Sunday School lesson focused on looking for God in nature. To take that a step further, I encouraged my students to look for God in everything, even their day to day comings and goings. Well today, I got to practice what I taught. I saw God in something so small and seemingly insignificant. As I was preparing to go to work this morning, I packed my lunch and got money for breakfast. I walked out the front door and heard the Holy Spirit tell me to go back and pack some breakfast. So I immediately went back inside and packed something to eat for breakfast and headed to work. As I was driving, I saw a homeless woman standing on the side of the road. I had seen the woman before and had even helped her. But today was very interesting. The last few times I saw homeless people asking for help, I didn’t have any money on me but said to myself, “Next time I have money, I will definitely help them.” Well today, since I went back to pack some breakfast food, I no longer needed the money in my pocket so I had the opportunity to bless the woman. She also blessed me today though too. She actually remembered me and smiled and asked me how I was doing. It really meant a lot to me that even in her circumstances she 1.) smiled and 2.) was concerned about me. That just reminded me that it doesn’t matter who you are or where you are in life, you are always in a position to be a blessing to someone. We have to be sure to listen to the Holy Spirit (that little intuition or gut feeling, yeah that’s God speaking to you) so that we know how God wants to use us. I was able to be a blessing and be blessed all because I saw God in something as small as going back to pack some breakfast. Be on the lookout and listen to what God is saying to you even in the small things. You don’t want to miss an opportunity to be a blessing and to be blessed!
My heart is heavy and I am overwhelmed by all that has taken place in this great nation called America. Only days ago, we celebrated our Independence Day, the day we became a free nation, free from the oppressive rule of England. But I would argue that we are not completely free because as a nation we are still subject to a different oppressive ruler. That ruler is sin. It is sin that causes us to murder one another in cold blood. It is sin that causes us to hate each other. It is sin that divides us.
There is only one solution to the issues we are facing here in America. There is only one way to overcome our present day slave master in disguise. Jesus said, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Well what teachings are Jesus referring to? He taught us to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves. But this is where it gets a little tricky. Our human minds would have us to believe that we can do that on our own, but we can’t. It’s hard to love our enemies. It’s hard to love those who insult, stereotype, demean, undervalue, and kill us. We need help with that. But that help is readily available in Jesus. He is that truth that will set us free. He is the only way that we can truly be free.
As I look around the room, I see so much black love
A gift so amazing, it could have only been sent from God above
I see beauty in my black sisters, strength in my black men
So many valuable treasures hidden down deep within
The voices they tried to silence, the hearts they tried to break
Are the very things, my friends, that we are here to celebrate
From the civil rights movement back then, to black lives matter today
Black love has been pushed, pulled, and pressed on every side, in every way
But there’s something that I love about you, my black people
You have a way of overcoming every kind of evil
Your love has stood firm, enduring the toughest of trials
Those strong winds may have blown, but you stood firm all the while
Like Barack and Michelle, you’ve walked in your power
Like Will and Jada, you stayed united in your darkest hour
Like Martin and Coretta, you fought the good fight and won
Like Ossie and Ruby, you loved until your job was done
You can’t tell me that black love doesn’t exist or that it isn’t strong
They may discredit the black family, but we can prove them all wrong
Like glass hitting the floor, I see stereotypes shatter
Because today we celebrate that black love does matter.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything on this blog, but it hasn’t been for a lack of desire to write. There have been so many days that I longed to write an inspiring message from God to share with His people. There have even been days where I started writing, but the words just would not flow. I decided it was best to not to write for the sake of writing but to truly listen to what God is saying to write.
Over the last few days the song “Fill Me Up” has been ringing in my spirit. This song has ministered to me so much and I believe that God wants me to share how I’ve been feeling from listening to it. I realize that I have been running on empty lately. Not that I feel empty, because I actually feel great. Things at home and work are great. We have had many things to celebrate and thank God for over the last few months. But I haven’t felt that close intimacy with God that I so desperately need and want. We have still been going to church every Sunday, praying and reading the bible during the week, but I still haven’t been where I wanted to be.
It reminds me of back in the day when I didn’t always have a lot of money, so whenever I needed gas in my car, I would only put about $10-$15 dollars in the tank. It didn’t fill it up, but it got me where I needed to go. Well, the same can’t be said for my relationship with God. I feel like I’ve been putting a little gas in my spiritual tank, but definitely not enough to be filled up. And with God, I’m just not satisfied until I’m full of His spirit. I want to be full to overflowing. Have you ever felt this way? Have you ever just wanted more and more of God? I truly believe this is where He wants us. We cannot only be satisfied when life is good to us. We can only be satisfied when we are truly filled with God’s love and His Holy Spirit.
My prayer for you today is that no matter how great or not so great your situation is right now, that you would have a renewed thirst and hunger for God and that He will fill you up, permeate and saturate your being, and overflow into every aspect of your life and those around you.
Romans 3:23 tells us that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. But some of us at some time in our lives, or maybe even now, have been to a point where sin had seemingly overtaken us, making the phrase “fall short” an extreme understatement. We got so deep into our sin that not only could we not experience God’s glory, we couldn’t feel his presence or hear his voice. Our sin separated us from God so much so that we were in another world. Isolated from the Father, we couldn’t hear him calling us back to hum. We couldn’t hear the outcry against us. That’s what happened in this passage in Genesis. The people were so wicked and entrenched in their sin that God was trying to save them. We love God because he is so merciful, but he is also faithful and just. When we have accepted God’s call to salvation those attributes are beneficial to us, however that is not the case when we choose to live outside of God’s grace. Romans 6:23 says that the wages of sin is death and the people of Sodom were soon approaching their payday.
God is a gracious and merciful God, but we cannot live our lives in sin thinking he will tolerate our disobedience forever. We love to rest on the promises of God when we hear that he will supply all our needs according to his riches in glory or when we hear he’s going to pour us out a blessing we won’t have room enough to receive but there is a flip side. The bible clearly tells us in Galatians 5 that we cannot live any way we want to on earth and expect to live with God forever in heaven. “Now the works of the flesh are clearly revealed, which are adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lustfulness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, fightings, jealousies, angers, rivalries, divisions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and things like these; they who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”
But I am so thankful to God that when we find ourselves stuck in the center of a sin situation, he doesn’t slam heaven’s doors in our faces. He provides us a way out of our sin. Lot was a righteous man surrounded by sin, but he wasn’t a slave to it. Because we are human, we are bound to sin. This doesn’t give us a free pass to sin and nor is that an excuse to stay in sin. In Genesis 19, God sent his angels to deliver Lot and his family from the destruction that was facing Sodom as a consequence of their sin. Before the angels came, Lot didn’t know what was about to happen. Someone reading this today, may not realize that God us faithful to his word in every respect. The wages of sin is death and if you let sin reign over your life, the end you face will be death. But in the same way God sent his angels to save Lot and his family, God sent Jesus Christ to save us. We don’t have to stay in our sin because Jesus died on the cross taking our sin with him. Meaning that we no longer have to accept the death we deserve, but we cab accept the gift of God which is eternal life.
The bible tells us that through Jesus’ death and resurrection we are free from sin which means we don’t have to live in sin any longer. But like many things in life, that is much easier said than done. When you are ready to leave your sin situation, everyone around you may not be ready or willing to leave with you. Some may even ridicule you for choosing to change. They may even question your ability to change believing that you really can’t. But you can’t let others hold you back. Leaving a life of sin may be a journey you have to take without the company of friends, family, or loved ones, but it certainly isn’t a journey you have to take alone. Just as the angels took Lot’s hands, Jesus will take our hands and guide us every step of the way. And when we feel like we can’t make it any further, he will even carry us. All we have to do is stay close to him, follow him, and trust him.
When the angels were leading Lot and his family out of Sodom, they gave them a vital piece of instruction and that was, “Don’t look back.” The path to righteousness isn’t one filled with roses and daisies and everyday of the journey the sky won’t always be blue and clear. In our own strength, attaining righteousness isn’t an easy task. It takes time and effort. It is not impossible to live a godly life on this earth but the only way to do it is to keep moving forward.
When we face hardships in our Christian walk we are tempted to think about how easy we had it or how much fun we had in our old sinful lives. I’m reminded of how the Israelites complained about the food they had while in the desert because they thought about how well they ate when they were back in Egypt. But it seems they forgot one major part about their past lives in Egypt, they were slaves. We only tend to remember the fun of sin but never seem to remember the pain, the hurt, or the emptiness we felt at the same time. The message for today is that although it may be hard, don’t look back.
When Lot’s wife looked back, she turned into a pillar of salt. She was frozen where she was. She was worse off than she was in Sodom and she never reached the freedom from destruction that her family would soon enjoy. We have to take on the mind of Paul who said in Philippians 3:12-13, “I do not count myself to have taken possession, but one thing I do, forgetting the things behind and reaching forward to the things before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” No runner has ever won a race by focusing on what’s going on behind them. The victory is always ahead of us. Let us claim our prize of eternal life by pressing forward and remembering not to look back.
God is the Holy One, Sovereign One, Almighty One, and All-Powerful One. He is the ultimate one man show. He doesn’t need our help to do anything. The only thing that He asks of us, really what He requires of us, is to trust Him.
Think of a boss that micromanages. They give you an assignment, but the entire time you are working on it, they are standing over your shoulder constantly correcting you every time they think you are about to make a mistake. Eventually they start doing the task themselves in fear that you won’t do it the way they want it done when they want it done. If you’ve ever been in that situation, you know it can be very frustrating. You told them that you would do it and you have never given your boss a reason to doubt your abilities before. You even had several ways to make the assignment better. But because they took over you weren’t given the room to work like you wanted to. So why do we sometimes try to micromanage God?
Isaiah 55:8-11 says, “8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. 9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. 10 “ For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
In other words, God is saying, “I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work. Let me do this my way. I can do it better and if I said it, not only is going to happen, but its going to prosper.” He can bless you today and make it last until tomorrow and the next day and the next day and the next day and the next day going into years to come. He can bless you and at the same time bless your mother, your father, your sister, your brother, the person sitting next to you, the person sitting behind you, the person in front of you, and even your server when you go out to eat after church. So instead of trying to micromanage God and do His job for Him, we need to get out of the way so that His word can prosper through us.
When you try to help God out, you can make things worse for yourself. Look at Sarah, Abraham’s wife. In the 15th chapter of Genesis, God promised Abraham a son. But by the time the 16th chapter came around, Sarah still hadn’t become pregnant. I don’t know if it was because she didn’t believe God or if she didn’t fully understand His plan, but either way she decided to take matters into her own hands. This shows why it is important to have a strong relationship with God. Because when you do, you will trust Him unconditionally and through prayer and reading your Word, you will be confident in knowing the plans He has for your life and your actions and desires will reflect that.
We have to be careful that when we don’t see God working the way we think He should, not to think that we have a better idea of how to get the job done. We have to be careful not to be so full of ourselves and our own abilities. 1 Corinthians 1:27-29 says, “27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence.” We can’t let appearances fool us. God can take the things that are nothing and turn them into something. Just because circumstances and situations don’t look the way the way you want them to or how you think they should look, doesn’t mean God can’t use them to accomplish His plan. He can take nothing and make more out of it than you can with the something you think you have. We have to learn to put our trust in Him and not in ourselves and other people. His plan is always going to be better than anything our human minds can come up with.
Although this was written several years ago, I feel that it is still very relevant today.
For some, 2008 was a year of ups and downs. I can remember at the end of 2007 everyone declaring 2008 as the year of change and prosperity. But as we prepare to ring in 2009, we look at 2008 and see little prosperity and what change we had seemed to be a change for the worse. Companies that have been around for decades and some even over a century had to close their doors. Unemployment hit record levels and people lost their homes due to foreclosure at alarming rates. Some people lost everything they had – saved and unsaved alike. In situations like this, people start to question God. How could He let this happen? Is even still here?
A while back I got an e-mail that really put all of this in perspective for me so I will share it with you today. One day a group of women were in a bible study class and came across a verse that left them puzzled. The verse was Malachi 3:3. It read, “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.” Not fully understanding the meaning of this verse, one woman took it upon herself to dig a little deeper. The next day she called a silversmith and made an appointment with him so that she could observe the process of refining silver. As she looked on, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained to her that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were the hottest as to burn away all of the impurities. The woman asked the man if it was true that he had to sit there the entire time the silver was in the fire. His response was yes and not only did he have to sit holding the silver, but he also had to keep his eyes on it the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left in the fire for a moment too long, it would be destroyed by the flames. The woman sat silent for a minute, then asked, “How do you know when the silver is fully refined?” The silversmith smiled at her and answered, “When I see my image in it.”
Some of you may feel like you are in the fire right now. You may have lost your home or your job, your marriage may be falling apart, or every time you try to take a step forward you get knocked ten steps back. Well, there is a message in this story for you. God is sitting as a refiner and purifier of silver. And if you don’t know what it means to refine something, let me tell you. It means to make something better, to make it more effective. You may think things are being taken away from you, but the truth is God is only melting away the impurities so that He can see His image in you and so that He can be glorified through you. You may have lost your house due to foreclosure, but God said take shelter in Him. You may have lost your job and are wondering how you are going to pay your bills, but God said trust in Him. He is Jehovah Jireh, your provider. By taking away our trust and dependency on earthly things, God is molding, reshaping, renewing, and strengthening our trust and faith in Him so that when you come out of the fire (and you will come out), you will be more effective in your witness of Christ Jesus. You will be able to help someone else; because how many of you know that your struggle is not even about you? When you see someone struggling you can tell them that God is there and that He sees what they are going through and that the situation is only temporary. They’ll ask you, “How do you know?” And you can say with confidence, “I know, because He has done it for me!”
The bible tells us in Ecclesiastes chapter 3 that there is a time and purpose for everything under the sun. Sometimes we don’t learn the reason until after the season has passed but nonetheless, I assure you that God has a purpose for everything you are going through. Sometimes the Lord takes things away to make room for something even better. Sometimes He has to break us down just to get our attention. We get so caught up in habit and tradition that we forget to get caught up in the Holy Spirit. God has plans for us but sometimes we miss those plans because we are so wrapped up in the plans that we have for ourselves. But then there are times when we are on track, we do spend our time in worship, we seek God constantly, and we are obedient to His word, yet we still find ourselves being tried in the fire. But saints, even still, know that God has a purpose for this season. Because even though you were good before, God can make you better and even though you were strong before, watch out, because God can make you stronger. We can be thankful that a season is just that. It only lasts a season, it is only a period of time and does not last forever. A poet put it this way:
“Just as winter turns to spring
Our lives have changing seasons too
So when a gloomy forecast comes
Remember – God has plans for you.”
And the plans He has for you are for your benefit. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not harm you, to give you hope and a future.” Don’t be discouraged that you are in the fire right now. Although your circumstance says one thing, the word of God says this in Romans 8:28-30, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” The Message translation puts it like this, “God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun.” God has a purpose and a plan for every trial and adverse situation that you are going through today.
Ecclesiastes chapter 3: “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.” Reading through verses 2 through 8 we see that there is a time for good just like there is a time for the not so good. (I say not so good because even though we are in the fire, we still have much to be thankful for.) Look at the order of the words in verses 3 and 4. We see that breaking down comes before building up, that weeping comes before laughter, that mourning comes before dancing. Just looking at the text alone, we see that sometimes, the bad has to come before the good. So when we see that things are not so good, we can rejoice in knowing that the time for good is coming. You may be weeping right now, but you can still rejoice because the time to laugh is coming. You may be mourning right now, but you can rejoice because the time to dance is on its way. You may be losing now and feel like you have nothing left to lose, but praise God, because His word tells us that there is a time to gain.
However, just because we know that God has a time and purpose for everything, doesn’t mean we are just supposed to sit idle, waiting for change. While the refiner holds us in the fire, there are things that He expects from us and desires for us to do. In Joel 2:12, God says, “Turn to me now, while there is time! Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning.” God uses many of our problems and situations to humble us as part of our growth as Christians. Being in the fire puts us in a place where we can hear Him and change our direction. It takes away the distractions that life puts in front of us so that we can truly seek Him with our whole hearts. God wants pure worship from us and sometimes our sacrifices get a little dusty as time goes on. That’s why He will put us back in the fire. He says rend your heart and not your garment. He doesn’t want our material possessions or worldly offerings. He wants us. Just us. Sometimes He will take everything else away so that all we have to give Him is ourselves. Come with fasting He says, to destroy the will of the flesh. Come with weeping to break down the outer image (in other words pride). Come with mourning to bring about passion for change.
Tried in the fire. While we are in the fire, something has to change. Just as in the story of the silversmith, you won’t come out of the fire until His image is seen in you. Don’t let doubt, fear, anger, depression, pride, lust, and so many other sins cloud the image of God that is in you. Leave all of those things in the fire that you may come out pure as refined silver. But this is something we can’t do on our own. Because if we could, those things never would have gotten in the way in the first place. The only way to make it out of the fire, is through Jesus Christ our redeemer. With His blood, He washes away all of those sins so that the image of God can be seen in us.