The Promises of God

  
Do you ever find yourself in a moment of doubt toward God? If it makes you feel better, I will go first and say that sometimes, sadly, I do. Some days, I feel like I must wear him out with my neediness in the Help Department. I feel like He must need to put me off because there are millions more worthy requests for help in front of mine. Or, that somehow my disobedience, intentional or not, has encouraged Him to teach me a lesson by making me wait or giving me less than He had originally planned. But I was wrong! In trying to catch up on my Bible reading plan this morning, I found something really life-changing in Romans 11: When it comes to a promise He’s made to us, God cannot, will not, ever find Himself in a position where He looks at you or me and winces and says ‘Oh, sorry! I just couldn’t work that out for you this time.’  

 

For example, right this very minute, God and Abraham are together in Heaven. I can guarantee that God is not having to avoid Abraham or make excuses to him or hedge around on His promise toward Abraham’s descendants, the Jewish people, to bless and redeem them. I know that Abraham is in full worship and adoration of God and is in direct communion and unbroken fellowship with Him. Here’s what Romans 11 says: Yet the Jews are still beloved of God because of His promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Sure, the willfulness of the Jewish people plays a part. Both historically and currently, they almost entirely turned away, turned their backs on God. Does this mean God failed in His promise to Abraham? Does this mean that God has rejected His Jewish people forever? Of course not! His purpose was to make His salvation available to the Gentiles, and then the Jews would be jealous and begin to want God’s salvation for themselves. But because they have turned away from Him, God turned and offered salvation to the Gentiles – you and me. He even used their disobedience to pronounce a blessing upon others. As is His nature, He is delaying His judgment as long as possible so that as many as possible can be saved. Yes, it is true that some of the Jews have set themselves against the Gospel now, but this will last only until all of you Gentiles have come to Christ – those of you who will. And then Israel will be saved.  

 

For God’s gifts and His call can never be withdrawn; He will never go back on His promises. Make no mistake here: God does not, cannot lie. He doesn’t make errors in matters of judgment or timing or in His promises to us. He keeps them all! Even the ones we don’t rightly understand from our puny perspective. How impossible it is for us to understand His decisions and His methods!

 

Look at just how intricately He designed the human body, the design of the stars, galaxies and solar systems, the laws of physics and gravity, the weather and its purpose for sustaining our lives here on earth. Do you think someone Whose very word created and sustains these things is capable of failure in His plan and care of us? Do you think that our problems or the consequences of our sin is too hard or too much for Him to solve? For who among us can know the mind of the Lord? Who knows enough to be His counselor and guide? The One who is creative and merciful enough even to redeem disobedience to save others?  

 

Oh, what a wonderful God we have! How great are His wisdom and knowledge and riches! Use this wonder at His will and creative redemption to take another look at your own circumstances. How impossible it is for us to understand His decisions and His methods! Turn your wonder into a sure trust that the God who began this beautiful love story will weave your story in and the way He helped you when you asked, as a testament to His love. Whatever is it you are dealing with today, His promises to you are true. Ask him, once more, for His help.

      ~Debbie Bouckley 

Transformation 

  

So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak.

When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”

But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” The man asked him, “What is your name?”

“Jacob,” he answered.

Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”

Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.  Genesis 32:24-29 NIV 

 

 

1. The Confrontation Phase – When Jacob is at the forks of Jabbok he is preparing to meet with his brother Esau, whom he had wronged. He split up his belongings, servant, and family and prepared gifts, sending them ahead, hoping that Esau would spare him the retribution he had earned. He was in fear, and was preparing for his own destruction. In verse 24 it states that he was alone. And then there came a Man who began to wrestle with him.

God initiates the wrestling match. People like to say “I found the Lord” – He found you! John 6:44 says that “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” God has already prepared a way for us! He initiates contact with us when we are looking to change into His image. When we stop in our tracks and say, “I’m going to stop making my own plans and just wait.” Be still. Be silent. When we stop our actions to self destruct, that’s when God shows up and begins to interact with us.

 
2. Internal Contesting – Have you ever “wrestled” with a thought, idea, or plan of action? The wrestling that we so often do with God is the world’s philosophy and way of doing things versus God’s way. God’s way vs. our way. What we want versus Love. When we look at verse 25 we see that the angel wrestling with Jacob wasn’t winning! We can be so steeped in what we want that it’s hard for God to get His message across to us. He won’t force you. He will wrestle with your spirit, pursue you, but not force you.

 

3. The Built-In Chastisement – In verse 25 the man/angel sees that he isn’t winning and touches Jacob’s hip so that it is injured as Jacob fights him. 

God will let you have your way. He will let your actions and defiance of Him bring you pain, but it is pain with a purpose. This pain can stop the destruction that lies in wait for us. We just have to stop fighting. This is demonstrated over and over in the Bible – the pigpen was a painful place to be before the prodigal son returned to his father. The whale’s belly was a painful place to be before Jonah repented. A lot of times we change just because we are hurting so bad. The thing is, although God initiates the struggle, we are the ones who determine how long it lasts and how bad we are injured. He leaves it in our hands.

 

4. Intense Clinging Phase – In verse 25 Jacob realizes that it is almost daybreak. His time is growing short. His window of opportunity is growing smaller. How often do we let our opportunity for God to do something in us slip by because we are too busy fighting him to realize it? Jacob’s response is “I won’t let you go unless you bless me.” Jacob is just holding on to God, because he realizes he needs Him. You can know you need God, and not give up fighting Him and cling to Him. Once you stop fighting God, you have to embrace Him. You have to acknowledge your need for Him and then hold tight to Him. 

 

5. The Request – Jacob asked for blessing. In this act, he not only acknowledged his need for God, but His Lordship. He yielded to Him, and submitted to His authority. He acknowledged that God was in charge and was superior. In his submission he asked for blessing. People’s lives change when they ask for God’s blessing. (1 Chronicles 4:10) When Jabez cried out to God and asked for blessing, God granted it to him. (Joshua 2:12-14) When Rahab asked for mercy and blessing the men of God gave it to her. (Mark 10:46-52) When Bartimaeus cried out to Jesus for mercy and healing he recieved his sight. Jeremiah 33:3 promises “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” When we are in a place of submission and brokenness before God and we cry out to Him He WILL answer that call.

 

6. Identifying Yourself – In verse 27 the reply to this request is “What is your name?” And he says “Jacob.” 

In Hebrew the name Jacob means “supplanter” “one who grasps at the heel”. The root of his name comes from the Hebrew word for “to follow” and can also mean “to cheat.” Jacob identified who he was to God. He admitted his name. He admitted that he was the trickster, the cheater, one who had robbed his very brother. Repentance starts when you ADMIT what you have done wrong. When we confess our guilt to God, He is faithful to forgive us and cleanse us. 1 John 1:9 -I f we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

 

7. Transformation – In verse 28 Jacob is told “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel…” 

When we have done all these things, then God gives us a new name. He gives us a new identity, one working WITH God. Confess out of your mouth that you’re a new person and believe it. GOD defines your identity. Find the word and speak it until God in you outweighs your flesh. This is why God is willing to wrestle with us – it brings change.

                                        ~Dana Smith 
  

Can God Trust You 

  

Here’s the question of the day? Can you be trusted? Christians can we be trusted? 

People are always stating things like if they won the lottery they would do this and they would do that.. or if they made more money they would this, that and the other..but the ultimate question is can you be trusted? We all want God’s blessings but can He trust us enough to bless us?

Let’s be honest no one wants to be in a relationship with anyone that they can’t trust. Whether it’s our husband,wife, boyfriend or girlfriend, we want to assume that we can trust our mates and they will not lie, cheat or steal from us.

Even if it’s something as simple as employment, we want to be able to trust our employer to tell the truth about the possibilities in making more money in our career or even a promotion.

In most of our day to day lives we pretty much demand honesty and trust from everyone that we encounter.

Some people wonder why they are not where they should be in life and they want to know why they are not being blessed, but God wants to know that He can trust us.

Example: If He blesses us with a ministry would we continue to push the ministry to the fullest or would we take shortcuts or delegate the ministry to someone else?
Example: If He blessed us with expensive cars,bigger homes or a better job will we remain humble and continue to help others who are less fortunate?
Luke 12:48 But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

Understand that the more God gives us more is REQUIRED from you.

Scripture used for today’s devotion:

Job 1:7-8

7 The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.” 

8 Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” 

In this verse where Satan looked for someone “righteous”, Jesus said, ” Have you considered my friend Job?” Most people have always admired the scriptures of Job because it taught us as Christians about patience and endurance but if we really think of this passage closely – Jesus REFERRED Job to Satan because he was TRUSTWORTHY.  Jesus knew that Job would do whatever to serve Him regardless of what trials and tribulations that he experienced

 Job lost his children, his livestock,property, dignity and some parts of his mind, but he was trustworthy because of his faithfulness to God.

So going back to the subject:

Most of us are known to stay faithful and trustworthy to God when we need something, but He is waiting on a steady commitment. With alot of us we are looking for a quick fix type of God. When most of us are down and out it’s really easy for us to stay faithful to God. When we experience deaths in the family, job loss, when bills are due we become really close with God.

He has the power to do all things for us but can He trust you? Walking with Christ is not a sugar daddy type of relationship where you only call on Him when you need Him, He needs a real commitment from you. ~LaNette Kincaid 
 {Sidenote: A sugar daddy is someone that only came around when you called him and he would pay and handle everything lacking for you. The sugar daddy wasn’t to serve any other purpose other than to handle bills and business-no real relationship. Also known as “The big spender”or a pimp}
  
Women With Gifts is an organization that promotes women to use the gifts and talents that GOD has given them for survival. Our organization believes in leadership development, teaching and motivating others. Essentially, we are the products of the seeds we’ve sown. Growing Roses from a Briefcase is an inspirational motto we use that means we are believers and we have the ability to do anything that we put our minds to. Growing roses from a briefcase sounds difficult but “WE can do all things through Christ who strengthens US.” Philippians 4:13
LaNette Kincaid is a Marine wife and mother of two, that took on the challenge of owning a business shortly after graduating college. Most of her tips and advice that you will read come from her personal experiences of trial and error. To see more of LaNette’s business and inspirational tips be sure to follow her on Twitter @LaNetteKincaid
  

How’s Your Heart?

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Worthy thought:
We should always be aware of our heart attitude when God speaks to us.

According to the Gospel of Luke Chapter 1:5-38
The angel of The Lord, Gabriel, sent by God appeared twice and spoke to two would-be parents.

Zachariah
In the first appearance, Gabriel visits Zachariah, a very important Priest. In fact, was chosen to be the High Priest for the Jewish people. Zachariah is married to a righteous woman named Elizabeth, who is descended from the daughters of Aaron, the Israelite tribe who were to be trained as priests for the temple. This extraordinary couple had known many years of faith and law and had prayed for a son, because Elizabeth could not conceive. The Angel, Gabriel, visits Zachariah and tells him that his miraculous prayers have been answered: Elizabeth will conceive a son and his name will be John. However, Zachariah’s heart then doubted God’s Word. He says “How is it possible? I am an old man and my wife is beyond her years.” (v.18)

The consequence for Zachariah’s unbelief:

Zachariah was silenced and unable to speak until the day all of these miraculous things take place. (v.20)

Even though he should have been held up as a lasting example of God’s partnering with those who follow His laws because of his training and heritage of Biblical knowledge and familiarity with the Lord, his response was the cause of his family’s lineage dying with his only son. Zachariah’s first reaction to a messenger directly from God was disbelief and scorn.

Mary
Six months later, the angel of the Lord appears to a young virgin girl named Mary. The same messenger, Gabriel, tells Mary she is favored by God and will conceive and give birth to the son of the Most High and his name will be Jesus. Mary’s first reaction was telling and her heart didn’t doubt God’s word. She merely asked a question for explanation of the mechanics of how it would work, since she had never been with a man. Gabriel tells her the Holy Spirit would come upon her and the power of the Most High would overshadow her. Mary’s response is complete submission and says” I am the Lord’s slave. May it be done according to your Word. “ (v. 38)

It is an interesting paradox. Here are two examples of righteous, godly people. The one who had the most training in God’s word, yet doubted, was Zachariah, a longtime righteous God-fearing Priest, married, and praying for a son. He was settled and had waited long enough to begin to question God’s timing. He was the very one who knew the Word and the Law inside and out. He would have been familiar with the story of God providing this exact thing for His chosen friend, Abraham. Zachariah would not only have known the story, but would have by this time taught it to his flock at the temple many, many times.

The one who should have doubted God‘s Word but believed was Mary, a virgin peasant girl, who had no religious position or training, was already engaged, and had everything to lose. She took into account the potential loss of her fiancée and social standing. She would have been facing potential death or at the very least a future with no prospects, no protection and no means to support herself. Here is a person who would only have known about God from a second-hand report. At that time, only males were taught the Torah, which was the first stories of the Bible and God’s laws. It was taught at the temple, but she had to remain in the Women’s Courtyard. She would have only known about God by what she was told. Her sense of expectancy that God could be personally speaking to her was incredible. There must have been a yearning in her heart towards more of God and for an encounter with Him. Obedience and trust are a powerful combination when placed before the Lord.

Consequence of Mary’s Belief:

Mary had the unique privilege of being the mother to the God’s son. In that time period, it was every Israeli woman’s dream to be the mother of the Messiah. She was present at his birth and at His death. She saw him arrive as a helpless baby and watch him die as her Savior. No other woman in history was afforded this physical closeness to the Messiah.

Mary’s obedience cemented her legacy. Today her name, faithful trust and obedience are still being applauded in the modern-day church. Her right reactions to God’s voice have stood the test of time. She is spoken about more than any woman in the gospels or religious people of her time.

Flip through both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible and you will see many contrasting responses to God’s plan and instructions for our lives. Our response to God‘s demands should not be laughter or doubt in God’s ability to carry out His plan, but instead obedience with a willing submissive heart. We must always be on guard against the sin of unbelief.

So the question is: Has there ever been a time you doubted God‘s word like Zachariah or do you have a right, submissive heart like Mary?

When God speaks to our heart and demands something from us, our heart attitude should be like Mary’s “Yes, Lord!” Otherwise, like Zachariah, there could be a consequence of our actions of saying ” Yes but…”

~Angela Lipe-Pattengill / Ordained Minister

The Bright Light Of Hope

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Arise, Jerusalem, and shine like the sun; The glory of the Lord is shining on you! Isaiah 60:1 (GNT)

The Israelites had a rich history with the concept of God’s presence being synonymous with light. During creation, ‘God said “Let there be light”; and there was light’. (Genesis 1:3) Later, they lived it first hand during the plagues brought upon Egypt by God. At God’s instruction, one of the plagues Moses called for was complete darkness for three days…but there was light in all the places where the Israelites lived. (Exodus 10:23) Later, when the Israelites left Egypt, God led them with a great cloud during the day and a pillar of fire to light their way at night. Pharaoh pursued them with his great army. When the Israelites began to panic at the thought of being hunted down and taken back, God then moved His great, tall cloud to the rear of their group. In this way, the cloud stood between the Egyptians and the Israelites. There was darkness for the Egyptians, but there was light for the Israelites. (Exodus 14:20)
So, in Isaiah’s day, God gave him a message of incredible hope for his fellow Israelites. They had returned to Jerusalem from captivity in Babylon and were now under Persian rule. Things looked pretty bleak. Jerusalem was a shell of its former glory. The people were wondering if, as we tend to do today, God was alive and still cared about them and if He was still with them as their God. They wondered if miracles were a thing of the past. Then, as now, God still answers even the questions we dare only speak aloud in our hearts. It’s as if He is reassuring them and us: “Yes, Beloved, I’m here. See? My light is shining upon you and this generation. It’s now your time to be confident and shine in the glory of My love and my presence. Your particular history with Me awaits.”*
For us today, the message of hope is even more incredible! We have experienced what the Israelites of the past only dreamed of. The reality of Christ, the Messiah and Promised One, living inside us. If we believe in Him, we receive His light and His spirit to permanently dwell within us, not to keep to ourselves- but to share with the world. Jesus always says it best:
Jesus spoke to the Pharisees again. He said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will have a life filled with light and will never live in the dark.” John 8:12 (GNT)
“The people who live in spiritual darkness have seen a great light. The light has shined for those who live in the land that is as dark as a grave.” Matthew 4:16 (ERV)
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not defeated it. John 1:5 (ERV)

~Debbie Bouckley

*The Voice translation commentary used as reference