We all need friends, especially when they come along at the right time. There are so many Bible verses that teaches on the value of friendship, and their stories of true friendship like with David and Jonathon. In the book of proverbs, Solomon wrote, "a friend loves at all times," and "the wounds of a friend can be trusted. Our friends would be honest with us when our enemies won't. He even wrote that a brother is born for adversity and that a friend is closer than a brother." Can you imagine that? Fanny Cosby wrote a song called, "What a friend we have in Jesus." We can most certainly call him a friend. But when a friend helps us in time of need, or even counsel us, wow! Suddenly, we are dull no more!
The simile that Solomon used is iron. He likens iron to iron as a friend to a friend. "As iron sharpens ( or makes sharp) iron so a friend sharpens (make sharp) his friend's countenance. Chahad is the Hebrew word for sharpen and as stated, it means to make sharpen. It didn't give me much to go, but what came to mind is if something needs sharpens, than something is dull. What could cause a dull countenance and why would a friend need to sharpening. I looked up dull in my thesaurus and there it was: unrelieved, colorless, lifeless, etc. I know in my life, a friend had come to my aid and she revived me. It is so refreshing when a friend helps. It brings color to our face.
Can you share an experience where a friend sharpened your countenance?
Boxes comes in all shape and sizes. A diamond ring may come in the smallest one while things like appliances come in a big box, but you can never put God in a box.
God is not an object.
When you open a box, do you find a person inside of it? Maybe if it is surprise for someone, but most often, no. You might find a big screen TV where you can decide where to hang it, but you can't decide where to put God. God is everywhere. He is omnipresent. The scripture says that God is with us or that he is by our side, but it doesn't say you can put him in a box. Some people pack up boxes like they are planning to store something. So if you put a God in a box, you are saving him for another day, and my friend, you need Him at all times! I am reminded of a story where Jesus came to a person house as a guest. He told Jesus the only room could have and this was liken to someone saying, he can have my heart, and that is it. When a thief came and robbed him, the person wondered why Jesus didn't save him, and Jesus replied it was because he only let have one room. He didn't invite him to the rest of his house. When we put God in a box, how can he help us when he is not allowed in all of our lives?
God is not a man.
Some people make a mistake that we can treat him as we treat man. We look at him from a human perspective. We see a six footer or even a seven footer, but is so much bigger than even Goliath. He is bigger than our problems and our giants yet people puts him in a box. God is spirit. Genesis starts out saying, "In the beginning, God..." The word God is Hebrew for Elohiym which means that more than one divine being was present at creation. The trinity is made up of three: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. How many Gods do you see there? Surely not one or the word would not be Elohiym. When Jesus told the Pharisees that Abraham saw him, they were in disbelief because they viewed him as man and not as God. Jesus was there in the beginning just as the Holy Spirit was. Before Jesus came to earth, he was not yet of flesh and blood as we are. Only when he came as a baby was he born of man and of spirit.
God is bigger than a box.
No man has ever seen God because God is spirit yet some people put him in a box. How can you do that? You can't. What it means is that people limits God. They think that only some thing are possible for God to do so for those he can't, they keep him in a box. Jesus said that All things are possible. There is nothing God can't do and we need to remember that.
When people saw that God didn't meet their deadline, they put God in a box, but God still has big plans for America and on his own timeline. A song I like goes like this: "God will move and who will hinder.." We need to be amazed. If God is the sender of the rain, than He is the sender of snow and wind. Has your weather been unusual? That is God cleansing out your land of the wickedness that was sown. We serve an awesome God.
Do you like to plant seeds? Many of us do, and what grows depends on the seeds we plant. In the gospel (except John), Jesus talks about sowing seeds and the types of soil. He referred the seed as the word of God. He ended by saying that if the seed falls on good soil it produces a great harvest.
The seed is the word of God.
"Faith comes by hearing, and hearing the word of God."
One way to grow your faith is by reading the Bible out loud. When you read, you hear with your ears. Jesus said, "he who hears, let him hear." Although Jesus meant spiritual hearing, I believe he also meant physical hearing. Our ears is one way we can get the word in out heart.
In the parable of the sower, Jesus said anyone who hears the word of the kingdom, but does not understand it is like the seed that fell along the wayside where the birds of the air ate the seed. The devil can come along and snatch the word from you before it can grow. You need understanding in order for the word to grow. As you read the word out loud, you can think about what it means before the devil can snatch it from you? As you read, ask the Lord to give you understanding. At one other time, Jesus taught about understanding. He said he who has, more will be given, and he will think he has, it will be given to him. In other words, If you understand what the scripture is saying, then God will be give you more, but if not the devil will it from you. It is not God that will take it from you. God prunes not steals.
"And the apostles said unto the Lord, 'increase our faith'." Luke 17:5
Another word for grow is increase. (There are a few other scriptures that uses the word increase and some uses "grow") The disciples needed enough faith to forgive their brother of his sin. They asked Jesus to increase their faith or cause it to grow because Jesus had just told them about offenses. What was Jesus response? "If you have faith as a mustard seed..." He didn't say as small as a mustard seed, he said "as". A mustard seed is so small but it grows to become a huge tree. This is another way of saying "grow your faith." Faith is believing what God says and acting on it. If God's word says you can do all things through Christ which strengthens you", then go about doing what he has called you to do in his strength. When you do that, you have faith. The more you act on what his word says, the more your faith will grow, "Wow! I did it?" You'll be shaking your head in amazement and want to do it again. Later in Luke, Jesus goes onto say, "you can say to the mulberry tree, be uprooted and moved to the sea." Your faith will be so great, that nothing will be impossible for you to do as long as the anointing one is you strengthening you. Christ means the anointed one and his anointing. Now isn't that great news?
"You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Christ" 2Timothy2:3
Timothy had just been anointed to preach the gospel, but he was young. and one of his grandparent was a gentile. He had a long road ahead of him. Even in the next chapter of that letter, Paul warns of perilous times. He previous told Timothy to endure hardship as a good soldier. Preaching what would not be easy and he would have to fight the good fight of faith. The same applies to us believers of Christ.
Many of us aren't called to preach but we are called to advance the kingdom of God one way of another, and just as it wasn't easy for Timothy, Life would not be easy for us.
The word hardship is like the word friendship or relationship or citizenship. You can't have a friendship without friends nor can you have citizenship if you are not a citizen of some place. You have hardship when life is hard. In the NLT, suffering replaces hardship. I don't think God makes life hard for us.
When we go into battle (the reference to soldiers), our enemy will make life hard for us. He will throw whatever we can to stop us from advancing the kingdom. Paul instructed Timothy and us to "fight the good fight of faith."(1 Timothy 6:12)
Enduring hardship basically mean to suffer evil or trouble. If you look up the two words, they are one: Kakeopathos. Their concordance number is 2553. God is not the author of evil, but because there is sin in the world, evil prevails. The good news is God is fighting our battle. Paul wrote to the Ephesians that we just need the armor of God on and stand.
"Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us." Psalms 62:8 (NKJV)
Facebook doesn't need you to unload on it's platform. Yes, it ask what is on your mind, but if you tell your woes, your friends might not like it, or worst yet they become like Job's friends: they will give you all kinds of advice without knowing what is really going on. His friends were known as "Job's comforters" yet even Job complained they were worthless physicians. They assumed Job had sinned and that was why he was in bad shape.
On Facebook, your friends may try to understand, and may even succeed. You may even have that one friend who can even help you feel better, but what if you don't? Worst yet, if you dare pour out your heart or confide in them they may tell you to keep that information to yourself: you can't trust Facebook, even social media because in these days, social media is not for us. You may even have people on your friend list who really aren't your friends. So what do you do?
David wrote that we should pour our hearts to God. God knows what you will go through and He has gone through it with you that nothing surprises him. Psalms 139 states that He knows our next day even before we know it. Isn't it comforting to know that God won't get annoyed with us or "unfriend" us if we doesn't like our woes? And far as friends go, how do we know we can trust our friends? People may tire of hearing about our bad days, but God doesn't. That's why God is a safe refuge, and if you ask for help (or wisdom), God will give it...as long as you don't doubt. He is a ever present help in times of trouble. Psalms 46 states that when mountains crumble or the earth shake, God is still there, ready to help.
We can trust God to keep our secrets unlike social media which is owned by the deep state. Facebook keeps tabs on our post. One post about anything that contradicts their beliefs, and they will either stick a disclaimer or whatever you want to call it or have you in Facebook jail. They love to impose what they believe on you and keep it in your newsfeed. God won't impose anything on you because he gave you free choice. You can choose to believe what His word says or you can choose not to, but He won't tell you what to believe. He won't punish you or push you away if you refuse to believe His word. God is patient and He knows whether you will come back to Him or not. I am so glad I can come to God and tell him what my friends may not understand because He does.
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"Therefore since we have such crowd of witnesses, let us throw aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us." Hebrews 12:1
Have you ever watch children run at school? Their little legs, depending on the weight of their mother can carry them far. Or how about your own kids when you play chase with them? They run so fast, you can't keep up because they have more energy than you. As a Christian, we run a race. It's called the faith race and Paul wrote that we should run as to get the prize. In the pic above (not my own), the man in the black made it to the finish line. Do you notice something? Juts like most children, he has nothing on him that would hinder him from running.
Recently, I had a dream where I was running and believe me, in real life, I am no runner. I can run as far as two blocks and that is it yet I dreamt that I ran. The amazing part was I ran faster than a man ahead of me and far as I passed Walmart which was a few miles away from where I live. The reason for my success is I too had nothing to hinder me.
What is weight? If you think about it, it something heavy that you lift. You see them in gyms. Suppose you took those weights with you out onto the racecourse. Could you run with weights in your hands? Weights are what keeps you grounded. Circumstances could keep you grounded. "This Christian walk is too hard. I lost my job. How could I go on? Today, many Christians are being weighed down by what is going on in the political arena. Some have given up on their faith because they thought God had failed them. Suddenly, they stopped running and turn back the other way. They didn't have any endurance to keep running. We are to keep our eyes on Jesus. Just as he called to come to him, we must run to him without letting our surroundings stop us and cause us to lose faith.
So what is the sin? Anything that could make you miss the mark. It could be losing faith in God or having unbelief. If God had called you to endure the race and you decided to quit, you lost faith in God. Sin is disobedience to God. In my life, sometimes I feel the pull to quit subbing. The students and staff still has to wear a mask, the trip to the school is too much and I sometimes get very little respect that I want to quit, but I hear God saying, don't quit, persevere. I had asked him to open the door for employment but he may still need me the schools. If I stopped now, I would feel I had failed God. So I persevere until that day comes. I rather obey God cause me gives me joy. Quitting is like the weight or sin that keeps me from running the race.
The scripture says that everyday is a good day because God made it, but what about when adverse circumstances hits you in your face? Does it make the day bad? No, the day is still good, but God can turn it around for you.
The other day, my sister and I had planned to visit a new coffee shop, thinking walk up was open. I had to work that day so we planned to meet there. For her, she would have to get on the bus with her pass she got for thirty dollar less. The transportation department had a special for the spring months and I will tell you, this is a blessing.
When we had arrived, we had found out that the Walk Up was temporarily closed. I was fumed. How could they do that to us? I don't live in that town and the only time, I could visit was when I worked at a school in that area. Yet I saw nothing about it being closed. No Facebook post telling me they were closed. Assuming that the lockdown didn't affect the Walk Up, I didn't even checked. Walk Up at other places like Rally's were open so why not? The temporary closure told me that the manager favored drivers over pedestrians. She even told me, it wouldn't be fair for the driver if they served us. It's not fair on pedestrians!
We tried to make the best of the day. Grateful that she got there using a pass and not a ten dollar trip ticket (worth ten rides), we walked to Dollar General for my sister had never been there then bought a soda that day. Later, I realized how glad I was when I found out my finances wasn't as much as I thought it was. God kept me from spending money on coffee.
God made up for it the next day. My sister had left over money from what a friend gave her and we had planned on going to Black Bear. We expected to dine outside because of the lockdowns, but to my surprise, we could dine inside! The waiting experience was different but not bad. They would text us when they had a table for us. Since I thought we would have to wait awhile, I went to use the lady's room. A sign on the door simply stated that because of lockdown one person only in the restroom. Holding my breath, I went in to check. No one inside. I thanked God.
When I came back, they had a table ready for us! How about that waiting? And I had almost forgotten my water bottle until a waitress bought it to me! The meal itself was good. I love sweet potato fries dipped in ranch dressing.
There is a sing that goes like this: count your many blessings and name one one by one. If you ever had a bad experience like I did, rejoice. God is still in the blessing business. He had turned my mourning into dancing by the time I spent with my sister and giving us good service at Black Bear. Keep your eyes open for those blessings and don't focus so much on the bad. Although I would have loved to try their drinks, I might not have liked it and it would have been a waste. I love Starbucks because I'm used to them but because of their connection to the Illuminati, I boycotted them. I could make my own at home and save money. They have copy cat recipes online. Here is one I use:
"Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand, to execute vengeance on the nations and punishments on the people..." Psalms 149:6-8a
After Paul told the Ephesians to have the full armor of God on, he told to pray for saints. Prayer is a weapon of defense, and when we pray in the spirit, the enemy has no idea what we are praying because he is carnal.(fleshly) All weapons of this warfare he knows everything about. He knows how guns, swords, arrows, etc works because they are weapons of this world and he is the god of this world or the god of this age. He is not the Most High God as he wanted to be so he doesn't know everything.
The scripture above calls for the Christian warrior to declare God's high praise. The enemy hates it when we praise God in middle of a bad circumstance. He expects us to complain to God about it, but God told us to tell our mountains to move, not ask God to move our mountains. "Why God is this happening to me?" "Lord, they won't leave me alone!" Those are complaints. It's okay to cry out to Him, but He wants our praise too. "Oh God, You are an awesome God! There is none like you! Oh God, you move mountains!" Psalms is full of praise of God. Even David declared God's high praise in the midst of his circumstances, but he also cried out. There are tons of scripture to quote from The scripture also calls for Christian warriors to declare his word. (The two-edged sword.) The two-edged sword is a weapon of offense. Jesus quoted scripture each time the devil tempted to him. A friend once told me that since Satan is the god of the air, you should use scripture to combat him just as Jesus did and he won! A note of warning, if you don't know, the enemy will take scripture our of context for his advantage, but Paul told Timothy that if we are trained right, we could rightly divide the word of truth. If you would like more on this subject comment below.
If you missed my previous blog on the Spiritual battle, clink the button below.
He trains my hands for war and my fingers for Battle."
There is a song by Phil Wickman I like called the Battle Belongs. (I will post the link below). The song talks about fighting on our knees. What is that called? Prayer. In David's day (when he wrote this Psalms), David fought as a warrior. He fought many battles, but he gave God credit for preparing him for war.
God prepares us for war, but not in the same way as David. Our battle is spiritual. "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds." Two "p" words comes to my mind when I read that and we could use our hands for that: prayer and praise. When we get on our knees, we use our hands to pray. We could also use our hands to praise. Have you seen in a service when people sing God's praises that they lift up hands? They also lift up holy hands to pray for people in authority. We need to do that. If we could see into the spiritual realm, you could see demonic forces at work. That's why our weapons are not carnal. It would defeat the purpose if we use weapons of this world. Paul wrote "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood..." (Ephesians 612) It is a spiritual battle.
So get on your hands and knees and pray. Pray in the spirit too. Use the language that God has given you because when you do, the devil in no way can use what you pray against you. He's clueless! Praise confounds him too! He wants us to look at our circumstances and think it's hopeless. So far he has succeeded with some but not all. Keep your eyes on Jesus then you won't drown in it. If we praise God IN everything, God will do amazing things for you.
One final note and so very important: Unity. This has been on my heart because the devil wants to sow discord. Scripture says that a house divided can not stand. In order to stand strong as one, we need to put aside our differences and see ourselves as one as Jesus is one with the Father.
Scriptures in the old testament pointed to Jesus as the Messiah and the Jews knew it. The problem was they had a wrong understanding what the Messiah was. They believed that the Messiah would free them from Roman control and that he would be their early king.
The disciples believed it too. Yet three times Jesus said how he would die and rise again. At any time he did not say, he would conquer the Romans for them and sit on an earthly throne yet the disciples didn't get it.
James and John had big heads. They imagined reigning with Jesus that they wanted to sit next to him in his glory. All they could think about was themselves! Even in one gospel account, their mother had the same request for these two disciples. They did not get it.
Jesus understood and put them to the test. "Can you drink from the same cup and partake in the same baptism I will partake from?" Do you think they understood what that meant?
When they answered Jesus that they could, he sadly informed them they will, but he said it was not for him to decide who will sit next to him. And here is where he put them in their place. He told them that those who wants to be leader must be a servant and he closes with, "for the son of man did not come to be served, but to serve." Jesus didn't deny his kingship to them, but stated that his kind of kingdom is not of this world as oppose to the gentiles who wants to rule over their citizens.
Author of the Second Chance Series and owner of Unique Pen Press.