Wednesday, August 6, 2014
I went to Ruach City Church to see Bishop TD Jakes preach, his ministry has blessed me many times before, reaching across borders and through laptop and TV screens. I sometimes joke that he is my granddad (in wisdom) so why not see him in person a second time? I had no clue what he would be preaching on, I also had no idea that Pastor Penny Francis would be preaching beforehand and that her sermon on “There’s a Greater Revelation” would give me much needed answers. His message was entitled ‘When Opportunity Knocks’ based on John 12:20-32. To summarise and paraphrase “There’s a knock at the door, the Greeks have come to see Jesus and Jesus starts talking about wheat. It seems like He is out of touch with His surroundings but He is teaching that there is a difference between being buried and being planted! Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies it remains alone, but if it dies it produces much grain. You cannot open the door to the Greeks before the cross. In order to open this door I have to go through a process. Are you stuck? You’ve gone as far as you can go in the form that you’re in”.
Before Bishop broke down the scripture he eased us in by casually telling us about his conversation with God. God told him “I Am an agriculturalist”, this wasn’t necessarily part of ‘Christian terminology’ so T.D Jakes asked how, God took him to John 15:5 “I AM THE VINE”. Of all the things he could talk about and all the scriptures he could use, he picks this text! My jaw dropped, this was confirmation of what I posted earlier that morning (see: The Unfruitful Tree). My last two blog posts are based on two key scriptures, those being John 15:1-8 and Matthew 21:18-19. In his introduction Bishop did say that although he was preaching a word it would also be a prophetic word for someone. “The only things you lost are the things that you don’t need. Don’t wait for them to come back, let them go. God let what was ON you go because He was only interested in preserving what was IN you. You have more on the inside than your life reflects on the outside”.
This is only a small portion of what was insightful timely teaching, there were so many other things he said that spoke directly to me. Initially I thought that I just happened to be there, I soon realised that I needed to be there. This prophetic word confirmed my prophetic declaration. He prophesied “You’re gonna have more fruit than you ever had in your life, expect an unexpected harvest”, and I agree, Amen!!!
Saturday, August 2, 2014
Don’t look down on little things and don’t despise the day of small beginnings (Zechariah 4:10). The problem is not that little was produced but that nothing was produced. God will honour what you give no matter how small (Mark 12:41-44). It’s not a number game, when Jesus said you will know them by their fruit, he wasn’t talking about amounts or sizes but whether the fruit is good or bad. Luke 6:43-45 For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. A good man out of the treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Are all your fish rotten and smelly? When you inspect the fruit is it nasty and mean? Don’t be deceived, God is not mocked. He who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life (Galatians 6:7-9), Galatians 5:22-23 The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
Fruit of Obedience
God never commands us to do something without empowering us to do so. This is why the fig tree was cursed, because it was disobedient, in that it didn’t fulfil its purpose. To obey is to be blessed, to disobey is to be cursed (Deuteronomy 28). Remember balance, struggle is a part of life and God takes what was meant for evil and uses it for good (Romans 8:28), regardless there’s no need to make things harder for yourself. God does everything according to His purpose, for instance Joseph’s process served a purpose (Genesis 50:20) don’t struggle because you’re stubborn. Romans 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God these are the sons of God". To be stubborn is to be stiff necked. Acts 7:51 “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you”. Some people are happy to stay in one place, others are compelled to follow God. He moves. At the command of the Lord Israel would journey and at the command of the Lord they would camp (Numbers 9:15-23). Hebrews 3:15 Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.
A Fresh Start
He does new things. Do not remember the old. Isaiah 43:18-19 “Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” We flock to the familiar, the old seems reliable because it worked before, and what God is speaking now seems impossible. Nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37), in your dry place He can bring forth streams and where you can’t see the way He can direct your path (Proverbs 3:5-6). You're fixated on recovering the old thing when God wants to do a new thing! He's not bringing in the new for the sake of it. You're trying to build ON man's tradition (the way it’s always been done) but the foundation isn't right. Tear it down! 1 Corinthians 3:11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. The fire will reveal it (1 Corinthians 3:13) ever consider that the relationship didn't survive the fire because it wasn't meant to. Straw!! Iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17), and you're upset because it didn't work out with HAY??
God’s plan for us is to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28) may everything that is robbing you of your harvest be cut off. I declare that we will call forth the things that are meant to live, leaving that which is without depth, direction and is dead behind. I pray that in your calling, character and connections you will bear much good fruit. We will not hold onto the old but we will be open to new divinely inspired ways of doing things. Through your obedience your nets will be drawn in with a multitude. No man can curse what God has blessed, whoever blesses you will be blessed and everyone joined to you will be blessed from your overflow.
Not every day revive, sometimes just let it die *pause* yes I mean that. Sometimes unfruitful things must be burned (John 15:1-8). This is coming from someone who promotes hope. I have said "leave room for hope" and I stand by that, for you cannot have faith without hope (Hebrews 11:1). Bear in mind that although I am positive #GoTeamGo I am not delusional LOL!! The same God who asked "Can these dry bones live?" and answered His own question with a declaration "Surely breath shall enter into you” (Ezekiel 37) is the same God who caused the fig tree to wither and die (Matthew 21:18-19). Jesus said "The Son can do nothing by Himself, He can only do what He sees the Father doing (John 5:19). A branch cannot bear fruit of itself, it needs to abide in the vine. Unless it's rooted in God it will fail. Many are the plans in a man's heart, you could have the greatest intentions, but the Lord's purpose will prevail (Proverbs 19:21). Are you trying to restore what God has put to rest? Psalm 127:1 Unless the Lord builds the house they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, watchmen stay awake in vain" Unless God is breathing into it, it's dead.
Seedtime & Harvest
How can God curse one thing and bless another? Is He the God of contradiction? No He is the God of wisdom and wisdom involves balance. This is how the world works, we will always have seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer and day and night (Genesis 8:22). If life is on one extreme end of the scale it’s only for a moment. You need to shout for some things but you need to rebuke others. Different circumstances require different responses, you don’t wear a winter coat in the summer. There are times when you will call the dead thing to life and other times when you will leave it be. Inquire of the Lord’s timing. David inquired of the Lord BEFORE he pursued (1 Samuel 30:8). Don't waste your time and never judge something before it’s time. If God had told him “no” what would be the point of trying to chase it? If God had told David to wait for the right season he would have to exercise self-control to not run after it before time and strength of heart to not lose faith in the promise. Could it be that the only thing disappointing you is impatience? What time is it? There is a time and season for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8).
You may have a good word but how much longer can you continue to sow into bad soil? Whatever falls on good ground yields a crop (Matthew 13:8). Sometimes the only thing disappointing you is expectation. Don't kill your faith, just re-think what type of soil you're putting your seed of faith in? Is it a dead thing? Is it that thing/person/situation or God? You’re trying to find depth in stony places. It's not always a write off, it's not always you cursing the metaphorical fig tree. By refusing to force something that is not there for you, you are not saying it should die. You can ignore wisdom and keep throwing your net out where you are, or you can turn and cast it on the right side (John 21:3-6). In the parable of the talents the servant was rebuked because though he had been given talent he produced nothing with it (Matthew 25:14-30). The servant said “I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground”. Don’t sit on what God has given you because of fear. Don’t stay in unfruitful relationships because of fear either. You don’t need perfection, it might not seem like much but five loaves and two fish fed the multitude (Mark 6:30-44). By killing what is unfruitful in your life, you free yourself from the distraction and focus on what will work.
Monday, June 30, 2014
I’m not asking for your pity but I know what it’s like to be in a one sided relationship with sleep; up all night waiting in vain when sleep refused to call. I also know what it’s like on the flip side, fighting sleep, rejecting sleep because I’m ’busy’ watching, writing, replying. Sleep can wait. I’ve heard people remark that they will sleep when they die, blissfully unaware that if they continue to disregard their bodies they may reach their death bed earlier than expected. It wasn’t long ago that I was hoping for a ‘miracle sleep’, I was praying to repeat the times when I had the best sleep known to man and woke up with smooth refreshed skin. When I tell people about this kind of sleep they chuckle assuming it’s just another ‘Joelle’ thing to say. It wasn’t actually a miracle per se.
I have experienced beautiful sleep that had amazing effects and recently I was waiting to relive the moment. I have slept since but my sleeping pattern was ridiculous, if you can even call it that, shouldn’t a pattern have some sort of consistency? My only consistency was inconsistency. So I decided to fix it, last week I decided to go to bed early and make myself sleep for 8 hours, even if I randomly woke up. I made sleep at night at a reasonable time, for the recommended length of time, my goal. I would be still and focus on resting rather than entertaining time, thoughts or technology. If ever I was disrupted I would focus on returning, every distraction would be dismissed.
When your body and mind are tired respect the signals and prioritise sleep. I saw immediate results. A few days into my change of lifestyle I watched Wendy Williams converse with her guest Arianna Huffington, editor in chief of Huffington Post. She came to talk about her new book called ‘Thrive’. I assumed it was just another 'steps to success' story but I was pleasantly surprised to find it was more than a rigid checklist. Judging by the interview it was wisdom for life. She shared her experience of collapsing from exhaustion due to stress, and asked “Is this success?” Arianna briefly spoke about protecting your peace, joy and personal wellbeing. My shock came with the confirmation of my actions, she suggested we turn off technology and get our 7-8 hours sleep. Getting a good deep sleep is vital. I was like *hi5*
Wendy commented on our culture’s general attitude towards sleep, nowadays people brag about how little sleep they get as though it’s a badge of honour. Personally, it reminds me of bragging about coming from the ghetto - trying to make the most of a bad situation lol. Insomnia is real. A comedian’s set comes to mind, he was making light of his hatred for and secret envy of people who sleep easily… through anything. I laughed at his impression of their bobbing heads in moving vehicles. I try to resist sleeping on road trips, but I reminisced on all the times I pushed my sibling’s unconscious heads off my shoulder. They sleep through films, good films, they’ve fallen asleep in so many uncomfortable positions that I’m surprised they don’t sleep standing up. “I slept right through that earthquake”.
Sleep doesn’t have to be the enemy of your dream, the bed won’t hold you captive, but a wrong mind-set will (Proverbs 6:10-11). Proverbs 6 verse 9 poses the question “How long will you slumber?” you don’t need to reply, because they are asking the lazy person, not the disciplined dutiful one. Sleep is not sin. God stays awake so we don’t have to, He neither sleeps nor slumbers (Psalm 121:3-4). Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy that it cannot hear (Isaiah 59:1). He can reach you in your sleep. Job 33:15-16 In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls upon men, while slumbering on their beds, then He opens the ear of man and seals their instruction. Go to sleep and God will wake you. Isaiah 50:4 … He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to hear as the learned. You need an awakening to realise that God has been speaking to you all this time. Be enlightened for God may speak in one way, or in another, yet man does not perceive it (Job 33:14).
Be still and know (Psalm 46:10). Too much chatter with people intervenes with quiet time, aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your own hands (1 Thessalonians 4:11). Too many assume that sleeping is detrimental to their destiny, but it’s the pointless conversations with small minded people that hold us back. He who has knowledge spares his words and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit (Proverbs 17:27). Often we can’t sleep because we have been immersed in a constant stream of voices, a river of opinion and not enough truth (Philippians 4:8). If you listen God will give you a vision, without it the people perish (Proverbs 29:18). There is a process and a journey towards fulfilment of that vision, you need to rest so you won’t grow weary (Galatian 6:9). Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28). You’ve done what you could during the day, give it to God and go to sleep. It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows (Psalm 127:2).
What has been ruined because you would not rest? I can recall times when I heard “Go to sleep” but I refused and I ruined artwork I could have saved had I gone to sleep and approached it again with fresh eyes. At University when my Nan’s funeral occurred a week before my 5 deadlines plus dissertation I sacrificed sleep. I’d do it again, it worked on the most part, until the last deadline when my body wasn’t having any more abuse. This time I listened, I went to bed, it was a risk but my body was drained. To my surprise I woke up with more energy and finished my assignment. Worry seemed legitimate but I had no other option but to trust that it would work out. We tend to claim we don’t sleep because we’re being productive, when actually insufficient sleep reduces productivity. Lack of sleep makes you more subject to error. Your faithfulness is noble but your fatigue is affecting your effectiveness. Have we been in denial? Are we up working or worrying or both? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? (Matthew 6:27) God wouldn’t tell us not to worry if it wasn’t a habit we could change. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble (Matthew 6:25-34).
Disclaimer: Don’t judge me if you see me online posting early in the AM. Inspiration comes when it comes but I have been awake for no reason and just wrote because it was something ‘productive’ to do.
We have campaigns for our ‘5 a day’ we need one for your ‘8’. I have realised why we have things like ‘bed time’ and ‘meal time’, they are not just forced rules and scheduled activities. It feels rigid and so it’s tempting to ‘rebel', missing breakfast feels like freedom *laughs* I’m just not that fond of milk etc. Years ago I had to initiate ‘Operation: drink more water', (a ‘Joelle' thing to say) to get over my distaste and finally understand its value. Sometimes you have to experience life without something to truly appreciate life with it. When a lack of sleep mashes you up (I’m not prophesying this, I mean IF) then you will know. Those energy drinks are bad for you by the way lol, those caffeine addictions eh *plays Tasha Cobbs ‘Break Every Chain’* 3 John 1:2 Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.
The deepest and most restorative sleep is a blessing not a curse of inactivity. Although you may be still your body is working.
To list a few benefits:
Learning Emotional Stability
Memory Immune Function
Muscle Repair Longer lifespan
Stamina Lower Stress
Metabolism Quality of life
If you want to change your life, change your lifestyle. Faith without works is dead. I can never deny that prayer works but take practical steps too. Last Sunday, at Gateway Christian Centre, this saying stood out to me, ‘The practical facilitating the spiritual’. A ‘prayer warrior’ can call down fire against your sleep disorder but unless you are willing nothing will change and old habits won’t die. No more sleep deprivation, for He gives His beloved sleep (Psalm 127:2).
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Believing in Hope.
Faith is the substance of things HOPED for (Hebrews 11:1). Even in God you will go through seasons of disappointment but only because your hope is deferred, when the desire comes it is a tree of life (Proverbs 13:12). Ultimately hope does NOT disappoint because the LOVE of God has been poured in our hearts (Romans 5:5). Poured in our hearts by who, the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Jesus left to give us the Helper, the Holy Spirit who teaches us in all things (John 14:26). However He couldn’t come until Jesus went. There was a divine order. You will have to wait for the appointed time, though it tarries wait for it because it will surely come (Habakkuk 2:3). Even if that means waiting PAST 'possible' like Abraham, hold onto His promises, though your circumstance is contrary to hope in hope believe (Romans 4:18). Wait on God. They that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint (Isaiah 40:31). When He 'disappoints' YOUR plans it's because HIS plans are greater. Be mindful of the things of God. We lay hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast (Hebrews 6:19).
Loving Him Back.
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death (Proverbs 16:25). Walking away from God - the worst - decision - ever. Not just because of hell and other fear mongering truths but because He's for your GOOD! That's what hell is (besides eternal torment etc) it's separation from His goodness. Religious folk who want to look holier than thou will say that's selfish, that it implies we only love Him because we love the idea of heaven and pleasure - well heaven is pleasure because it is an eternity in God's presence (Ephesians 2:4-7). You will show me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11). We love Him BECAUSE He FIRST loved us (1 John 4:19). You couldn't out love Him if you tried, you can't out love LOVE (1 John 4:8). Many waters cannot quench love nor can the floods drown it. If a man would give for love all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly despised (Song of Solomon 8:7). Who has first given to Him that it shall be repaid? (Romans 11:35). We didn't pursue (Jeremiah 31:3). Before you knew Him, He was wooing you!! Before you began to ask, seek or knock (Matthew 7:7-8), He was knocking on your door (Revelation 3:20).
He waited on you (2 Peter 3:9) the least you could do is wait patiently for Him (Psalm 37:7). God gave His only SON because He loves YOU (John 3:16) so don't give up on Him because of someone else. If you think GOD let you down – WAIT Psalm 27:13 I would have lost heart, unless I had BELIEVED that I would see the GOODNESS of the Lord in the land of the living. Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness (Romans 4:3). But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). Hebrews 10:38 Now the just shall live by FAITH; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” NO pleasure. Nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39) but let's not pretend that all roads lead to heaven (John 14:6). God loves everyone but is everyone pleasing to Him? (John 8:42-47). Too many ministers speak to please the itching ears of their congregations. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine (2 Timothy 4:3). If they had stood in His counsel they would cause people to hear His words and they would have turned them from their evil way (Jeremiah 23:21-22).
Heeding His Word.
Only FALSE prophets tell those who despise God 'you shall have peace', they tell the rebellious ‘no evil shall come upon you’ (Jeremiah 23:16-17). They speak a vision of their own heart, for the word says that rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft (1 Samuel 15:23). Obedience is better than sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22). Matthew 7:13 Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction and there are many who go in by it. The TRUE prophet, when he sees the sword coming upon the land blows the trumpet and WARNS the people (Ezekiel 33:3). He who takes warning will SAVE his life (Ezekiel 33:5) If the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet and the people are not warned... *reads consequences* no thank you *trumpets* lol!!! God said: I have NO pleasure in the death of the wicked but that the wicked TURN from his way and LIVE (Ezekiel 33:11). Isaiah 59:2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He will not hear. Don’t be discouraged, it is the GOODNESS of God that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4).
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Knowing For Yourself.
My relationship with God has kept me, not religion. I would have walked away but I just couldn’t walk out on love (1 John 4:10). What I did reject is the tradition of men (Mark 7:6-9) and picked up the living word instead, the light of men (John 1:1-5). Jesus is the author and finisher of your faith not man (Hebrews 12:2). Don’t let a bad relationship get in between you and God. Don’t let a bad example get in the way either. As much as you innocently admired them, they are not your God so their actions do not reflect God’s ways (Deuteronomy 5:7). Anything you have made your god is a false god - Idols fall (1 Samuel 5:4). If you're only following Christ because of a person (that could even be the person that raised you) you won't last long. When my father and mother forsake me, then the Lord will take care of me (Psalm 27:10). At some point you have to choose God for yourself, and that personal commitment will sustain you. As much as people may have led you to church and even supported you through fellowship they did not call you to Christ. Before you were even born He knew you (Jeremiah 1:5) and the thoughts that He thinks toward you are for good and not evil (Jeremiah 29:11).
The Things of Men.
On the contrary people will try you, test you and tick you off and if not for the LOVE of God you would have little to no love for those for who trouble you. Love them anyway, do good to those who hate you (Luke 6:27-36). In the last days the love of many will grow cold. Many will offend each other, betray each other and hate one another (Matthew 24:1-14). As Kevin Mark Trail sang "I've seen men who speak of honour go against their principles" the question is: will you lose faith in a faithful God because of a lawless man? It’s all too easy to get caught up in what we perceive, as opposed to what God is actually doing and trying to reveal. When Jesus spoke of His death, Peter could only see the negative in His prophecy but in it was life and so he was rebuked for speaking against it (Matthew 16:21-22). Be mindful of the things of God and not of men (Matthew 16:23). You know how to discern the face of the sky but you cannot discern the signs of the times? (Matthew 16:3). Are there situations in your life that God has ordained, predestined or allowed that you are rejecting? Some things must come to pass, see that you are not troubled (Matthew 24:6). Father if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will but Yours, be done (Luke 22:42)
Jesus didn’t even speak on His own authority but the Father who sent Him gave Him command on what He should say (John 12:49). The son can do nothing of Himself but what He sees the Father [God] do, for whatever He does, the son [Jesus] also does in like manner (John 5:19). To those who would listen Jesus said 'follow me' (Matthew 4:19) follow suit. The saying comes from card games, you play the same type as the card put down by the person before you (Ephesians 5:1). Whatever you see Him do, do in like manner (John 14:12). His disciples left all they knew to follow Him, so as expected when He spoke of leaving them sorrow filled their heart (John 16:5-6). Why would He lead them to leave them? Though it would seem difficult to understand from their perspective, in light of Pentecost (the outpouring of His Spirit – Acts 2) it’s easy for us to see that it was to their advantage (John 16:7). Concerning your questions and frustrations, you might not see it now but one day you will know (1 Corinthians 13:12). When you can’t understand why, the key to trust is Romans 8:28 And we know that ALL things work together for GOOD to those who LOVE God, to those called according to HIS PURPOSE.