Saturday, March 26, 2011

"On Fire": A Mistake of Enthusiasm

"Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty. Neither do I concern myself with great matters, nor with things too profound for me. Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever."---Psalm 131:1-3 (NKJV)


Ministers-in-Training,

Recently, I happened upon a quote by Jose Marti: "But when women are moved and lend help, when women, who are by nature calm and controlled, give encouragement and applause, when virtuous and knowledgeable women grace the endeavor with their sweet love, then it is invincible." I must admit that it caused me to pause because, honestly, I don't know a lot of women who are *calm by nature*. THAT DOESN'T MEAN WE WEREN'T MEANT TO BE, THOUGH. I mean, we were created to *help* (Genesis 2:18) and I'm not sure how much assistance or support one can give while being all spastic 'n stuff, so "calm" is probably a telling sign of being a wonderful helpmate. And a great character trait to put into practice. In all things. Now.


THAT SAID...

Earlier this week, I checked out the romantic comedy, "How Do You Know" and while the storyline was...OK, there were some really winning liners in it; two, especially, that I would encourage you to ponder (Proverbs 4:26) in this season. Actually, more like three. Hmph. Now that I *really think about it*, more like four:


1) "I don't want you to end up with someone who wants you to change what you cannot change."

Sometimes I think that we as women are not as *calm* as we need to be because we want to help what doesn't need (or maybe even want) our help and/or we're consumed with changing what shouldn't be changed. In not discerning which is what, we find ourselves frustrated and sometimes also frustrating our "person of interest". In helping others, *please go where you are led by God* not merely where your heart is telling you. It's been said more than once on this blog that Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that the heart is deceitful and when it asks, "Who can know it?", I venture to say even the person that the heart belongs to does not understand all of its depth and...potential for (self) deception (Matthew 24:4). The following verse (Jeremiah 17:10) goes on to say, " I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings." Let the Lord search you, test you and *give to you* in the way and time that he sees fit. *Because that will always be when it's best* (James 1:17, Ecclesiastes 3:11). My prayer for each and everyone of you is just what that quote says: that you will end up with someone who complements you, who betters you, but that you do not spend a lot of energy trying to change...not so much what *cannot* be changed but what *shouldn't*. That wouldn't be much help to you or your future Beloved. You were created as you are for a reason. And a *specific* person.


2) "Leave great enough alone."



This works really well with #1, wouldn't you say? So many relationship choices are made based on trying to fill voids. For instance, you don't feel good about you and so you want someone else to bring validation to those places where you are unsure. In walking my own personal journey with Boreh, the Creator; with Abba, the Father, with El Elyon; the Most High, I am allowing his image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-28) to show me my reflection. Not me. Not a friend. Not the media. Not some guy. And you know what? It's highly-illuminating. To know you and know that you were made to be great (Psalm 139:14) simply because you were made by Adonai, *the God*? Yeah. If you're in a situation where you're feeling like you're not good enough, while we *all* have things we need to improve upon, let your Creator reveal those things to you in his own ways and in his own time (cause that's usually when we're ready to make the adjustments). God has an uncanny way of communicating with us in a fashion where we continue to feel good about ourselves even in the midst of our flaws. He refines the unhealthy parts and yes...leaves what's already great enough...*alone*.


3) "We're all one small adjustment away from making our lives work."

I'm not sure where everyone is on their quest towards fulfilling *all* of their purpose (Psalm 20:4), but the "small adjustment" that I'm encouraging us all to make is found in the lead Scripture. Let's not allow our hearts to be haughty or our eyes to be lofty. We simply do not operate in the way that Adonai does (Isaiah 55:8-9). Confusion (I Corinthians 14:40) comes, I believe, when we really don't resolve this fact within ourselves. When we spend so much time attempting to seek answers to the questions that we don't even fully understand. Let's not (overly) concern ourselves with great matters or things that are too profound for us. Psalm 71:19 tells us that God's righteousness is high (*very high*, to be exact) and that he does great things. And because he is so majestic, the truth is that he *does* have a deeper insight, he *does* go beyond the obvious, he *does* operate intensely and thoroughly. Let him be *thorough* in your life. What you don't understand. Take comfort in the fact that he does.

4) "A mistake of enthusiasm."

One of the characters in the film (Jack Nicholson's character, I believe) said, in response to why he erred in his ways, that it was "a mistake of enthusiasm". That stood out to me because I can certainly relate. Sometimes we do things and while we honestly believed that the intention was good, it was done in haste and as grandma used to say, more times than not, "haste makes waste". Haste can also cause frustration, agitation...emotional and mental disturbances. *These are the opposite of calm*. Jeremiah 33:3 brings the assurance that if we call to the Lord, he will show us things that we do not know. However, as he is revealing pieces of your life to you, as revelations are beginning to unfold within your spirit, as you're gaining supernatural insights, continue to discipline yourself enough to "Be still and know God" (Psalm 46:10) in the sense of not making rash decisions or premature moves towards...or away from anything. A calm person is a methodical person. A rational person. A *peaceful* person.

Well, it's the Sabbath day (Exodus 20:8-11) and I'm gonna actually *rest* in a special way this week so I must be going. If you have some special prayer requests, y'all know where to find me (missnosipho@gmail.com). In the meantime, stay cool, *calm* and collected. Just as a godly helpmate should be. In all things. Even now.

"The believer replied, 'Every promise of God proves true; he protects everyone who runs to him for help. So don't second-guess him; he might take you to task and show up your lies.'"---Proverbs 30:5-6 (Message)

Love to you,

SRW



 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

An Ounce of Prevention: You've Found the Right One When...

“My darling, everything about you is beautiful, and there is nothing at all wrong with you.”---Song of Solomon 4:7 (NCV)

“What you love is a sign from your higher self of what you are to do.”---Sanaya Roman


An author by the name of Werner Erhard once said, “You don't have to go looking for love when it's where you come from.” Actually, that pearl of wisdom makes something that my Baba (my mother’s husband) says just that much more profound: “The devil is not in the business of breaking marriages apart. He’s in the business of putting the wrong people together.” *I know, right?* You can thank Sibusiso Victor Masondo for *that* one! It’s easier to remain where you belong.

I’ll expound…

This morning, I was listening to a song from a project that my mother and a late surrogate mother figure of mine co-executive produced together some years ago. The LP is entitled, “Sisters: The Story Goes On” and on it, there’s a song called, “Somehow She Stays”. Lisa Bevill sings it and it’s about a woman who is basically miserable in her marriage but, “She believes in the promise she made, when her heart wants to wander away. Somehow she stays.” Honestly, it’s been a minute since I’ve cried as hard as the song led me to and a big part of it was due to the fact that *more than a couple* of people have been discussing divorce as an *option* (if you haven’t read “The Deceit Within an Option” devotional, please do) with me. I’m not shocked. I read up on what “11” biblically-symbolizes months ago: disorder, disorganization, imperfection, and disintegration. But it does make me very sad. Psalm 11:5 says that the Lord tests the righteous. A test is “the means by which the presence, quality, or genuineness of anything is determined”. A test is “a set of questions, problems, or the like, used as a means of evaluating the abilities, aptitudes, skills, or performance of an individual or group”. A test is “an oath or other confirmation of one's loyalty, religious beliefs, etc.” When it comes to marriage, here’s an “open book test”:

“The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?’

And He answered and said to them, ‘Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.’

They said to Him, ‘Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?’

He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.’”---Matthew 19:3-9 (NKJV)

Let no man separate what God has joined. In the beginning, divorce was *not* permitted.

As disciples (John 8:32), we are to teach the world about love and salvation (Matthew 28:18-20). To become qualified teachers, there are tests that we all have to pass, first. Pop quizzes. Final exams. And often based on how prepared we are (Job 11, especially verse 13), that determines how easy we will find the tests to be. Personally, I think there are moments when we all have to “pause and reflect” on Hebrews 5:12 (NKJV): “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.” Two of the first *and greatest* gifts that we were given, in the Garden, *in the beginning*, were the Seventh-Day Sabbath (it’s the only commandment with “Remember” in it, for a reason!-Genesis 2:1-3, Exodus 20:8-11) and marriage (Genesis 2:18-25). A good instructor does not pass you just because you’ve been sitting in the same class a long time. *You get promoted when you pass* and no student can pass without humbling themselves to learn the right lessons (Luke 14:11). Learning what we don’t know (or understand)…can be taxing: “It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes.” (Psalm 119:71-NKJV) *But it is necessary*…and spiritually beneficial. Some people feel like they have been at the same place for years. The truth (John 8:32) is, they probably have been. There comes many times in all of our journeys when the focus needs to be, “Show me how to pass this test” rather than, “Forgive me for skipping this class.”

However, this message isn’t for those already married. This message is for singles (and if you’re *not married*, not matter what, *you are single*). This is so you won’t have to relate to Lisa Bevill’s words of that song because contrary to popular *complaint* (Philippians 2:14), there are some really happy marriages out here and it is beyond possible (Mark 9:23) to have one. If you’re willing to learn the right lessons…if you’re willing to be tested on what you’ve been taught. *If you pass*.


Ask. Don’t Tell.

I’m sure by now it’s pretty obvious that I’m passionate about covenant, especially marital covenant (Malachi 2:14). Therefore, I do *a lot of research* on the topic. To this day though, one of the *absolute best* things I have ever heard came from a surrogate aunt of mine: “Don’t *tell* God who your husband is, *ask him*.” The woman who said it is still married to this day, but praise the Lord for her honesty (James 5:16) and her testimony (I Timothy 4:14-16-AMP) in sharing with me that the result of her basically saying to God, “Look, I’m gonna marry this man and that’s just the way it’s gonna be”, there have been some *real* obstacles that have seemed to run concurrently…incessantly so. I’m sure this is a big part of the reason why Philippians 4:6-7 tells us to make our *requests* known to God. He *gives* gifts. He doesn’t force himself upon anyone. Even when it comes to the *gift* of his knowledge and expertise (Hosea 4:6).

Anyway, because there is quite a bit of ground to cover on this matter, I’ll just say this: a couple of years ago, the Holy Spirit led (Luke 12:12) me to pen a message about asking God’s permission for things (if you would like a copy, hit me up) before taking them on. What blew my mind about the revelations (Jeremiah 33:3) within that devotional was that the word “permission” is so powerful. Some of its synonyms include “admission”, “agreement”, “allowance”, “approval”, “endorsement”, “freedom”, “liberty”, “license”, “permit”, “privilege”, “recognition”, “SANCTIFICATION”, “stamp of approval”, “warrant”. A warrant is an “authorization”, a “guarantee”…it’s “something that serves to give reliable or formal assurance of something”.

Now how many of you have found yourself attracted to someone and asked the Lord, the “manufacturer” if that individual, if you had *permission* to desire them *before* acting upon your feelings? Indeed, Matthew 6:8 tells us that the Lord knows of what we need *before we ask him*, yet, I’ll go so far as to say that 9 times out of 10, *we don’t*. Yeah, a lot of us seem to ignorantly abuse Matthew 21:22 (NKJV): “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” However, asking is based on making inquiries and requesting information. I believe *this* is the assurance of that promise in Matthew. What we *ask* for in prayer, believing that we will be enlightened on what we are questioning, we shall receive. Sometimes the mountain that needs to be removed are the rose-colored glasses that we have over our eyes, the fairytales that we have concocted in our minds, the lust that is motivating our inquires in the first place.

I love that one of the synonyms for “permission” is “sanctification”. When something is sanctified, it is “set apart”, it’s “made holy”, it’s “consecrated”. Something that’s consecrated is “declared sacred”. Something that’s sacred is “regarded with reverence” and “reverently dedicated to some person, purpose, or object”. Although a lot us don’t treat it as such (*sigh*), I’m sure we all can agree that marriage is sacred. When it comes to oneness, physically or spiritually, that is reserved for the marriage bed (Hebrews 13:4) and so that means that yahasey min (Hebrew for “sexual relations”) is *also sacred*. And so yes, upon an encounter with someone of interest, getting permission, for one, spares a lot of unnecessary heartache later down the road because if you are granted permission by Adonai to desire an individual (and he is not going to release you to desire multiple people, *trust me*), then he will set the relationship apart, he will consecrate it, he will declare it as sacred and put things in place to reverently dedicate those two individuals to one another. Hmph. Kind of like a betrothal, wouldn’t you say?

Honestly, it has only been (fairly) recently that I have incorporated this “ounce of prevention” gemstone into my own life and when I tell you it’s a lifesaver and a heart guarder (Proverbs 4:23), whew! *You have no idea*. It’s the difference between receiving manna from God and demanding quail from him (Exodus 16, Numbers 11). One will bless you. One will suffocate you. Both meet an initial want. It’s only the former that gives you what you really need, though. You have no idea how many times I demanded quail. And how often it made me sick.

Moving on.


What Love Does

I think another thing that jacks a lot of people up in the area of relationships is that they don’t adhere to the *purpose* of love. When the Word speaks of the man being united with his wife and becoming one flesh with her, that unity is to carry on a legacy. Malachi 2:15 tells us what kind it is to be:

“God made husbands and wives to become one body and one spirit for his purpose—so they would have children who are true to God.”---Malachi 2:15 (NCV)

I actually find it kinda fascinating that it seems like more men look for women with motherly qualities than women look for men who would be good fathers (maybe that’s because more men were raised by their mothers than women were by their dads…hmph). However, in men doing that, therein lies *great* wisdom. One of my favorite courtship stories is about a friend of mine who’s been married for over 15 years now. He told me that when he saw his (now) wife with her nephew, ironically at a wedding reception, although he was young and enjoying the single life, in his mind he said, “Crap! There goes my wife. And she’s gonna be a good mother too!” A person with great parenting characteristics, even if the two of you do not desire to procreate, is something *all* of us should be desiring to be with because it speaks to them having nurturing qualities. As my mother often says, “A woman’s job is to mentor her daughters and nurture her sons.” And a man? Just the opposite. Titus 2 is *very clear* on how older men and women are supposed to act. Your “intended” needs to be able to be a good mentor to those around them. *Before you meet them*.

Yet that’s not the main point that I’m trying to make here. After spending some time in meditation (Psalm 119:15) and prayer (2 Chronicles 6:40) on this, in “passing down love” from generation to generation (Daniel 4:3), I think a lot of marriages are suffering/ending because we have lost sight of what love actually does for mankind. A woman by the name of Willa Cather once said, “Where there is great love there are always miracles” and another woman, Mary Baker Eddy, was once quoted as saying, “Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need.” A “miracle” is a “wonder” or a “marvel”. It’s “an amazing and wonderful event”. It’s also something that happens…supernaturally. Love is a supernatural experience. I know this because it does just what the supernatural is defined to do: it “exceeds the ordinary”. Divorce? That’s “commonplace”. Fornication and adultery? That’s “business as usual”. “Falling out love” (which would be like “falling out of God”, right?-I John 4:16)? That has become frighteningly “customary” (Matthew 7:13). Love is the antidote to all of these things.

Hosea 4:14 (NKJV) says, “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely, for My anger has turned away from him.” LOVE HEALS BACKSLIDING.

Deuteronomy 7:13 (NKJV) says, “And He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your land, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flock, in the land of which He swore to your fathers to give you.” LOVE BLESSES AND MULTIPLIES.

Deuteronomy 30:6 (NKJV) says, “And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.” LOVE GIVES LIFE.

This is just a *few* examples of what love does. When two people come together in a covenant, this is what should be resonating within them. Miraculous, supernatural love. Love that heals. Love that blesses and multiplies. Love that gives life. Continually.

I was just telling a loved one earlier today that one of the biggest consequences of fornication is that it taints trust. The Bible *clearly states*, “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” (James 1:12-15-NKJV) And yet, people still give into their lusts. There are a few folks in my life with a wheat allergy. When they eat wheat, they get sick. At *least* they’re mature enough to say, “I want this and I know it’s gonna make me sick. I’ll just have to suffer the consequences.” Hmph. *Suffer is right*. Our spirits have a sin allergy (Galatians 5:16-17). So when, for instance, you sleep with someone before marriage, when you partake in any kind of sexual sin at all, even though Lord *clearly said not to* and then you’re surprised when all hell, literally, breaks lose (kinda like a spiritual allergic reaction)…*why is that?* Is it because you put more faith in man than in God? When has that ever worked out for the best? Love gives life. Lust brings forth death. That’s not a gamble. That’s a guarantee. When I look back on my past relationships, *not one time* was love a real priority…no matter how much the word was (ab)used. How do I know? Because this is how we are told to love:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”---Deuteronomy 6:5 (NKJV)

“Therefore you shall love the Lord your God, and keep His charge, His statutes, His judgments, and His commandments always.”---Deuteronomy 11:1 (NKJV)

“But take careful heed to do the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to keep His commandments, to hold fast to Him, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.”---Joshua 22:5 (NKJV)


So many people fall for physical attraction more than spiritual compatibility. Above anything, your future spouse should encourage and expect you to love God. With your all. If you two aren’t praying together (or for one another); if you two are compromising your personal standards; if you two are breaking commandments to be together…you need to spend some time apart. One of the main things that the Liar (John 8:44) likes to do in a relationship is get people’s hearts away from God. *By any means necessary*. On this side of wisdom, there is nothing better, nothing safer, nothing more sacred than having someone in your life that pursues righteousness (2 Timothy 2:22). *And expects you to do the same*. Both in and out of their presence. Love gives life, right? Proverbs 11:19 tells us that righteousness leads to life. A healthy relationship, a godly relationship, a purposeful relationship, it will carry within it the motto, “Hate evil, love good” (Amos 5:5-NKJV). Good lovin’ brings you closer to God. Period.


It Just Feels Right

How often have you heard someone say that? That they’re in what they’re in because it “feels right”? I think I mention Jeremiah 17:9 at least once every other message, but aside from the heart being deceitful, again, as it says in Hosea 4:6, so many people perish from a lack of knowledge. So many people seem to be ignorant to the fact that it can only truly *feel* right if it *is* right.

Right: in accordance with what is good, proper, or just; in conformity with fact, reason, truth, or some standard or principle; correct; fitting or appropriate; suitable; most convenient, desirable, or favorable; in good order; in good health or spirits; straight

OK, and while we’re here, let’s define “wrong” as well:

Wrong: not in accordance with what is morally right or good; deviating from truth or fact; erroneous; not correct in action, judgment, opinion, method, etc., as a person; in error; not proper or usual; not in accordance with requirements or recommended practice; out of order; awry; amiss; not suitable or appropriate

Amiss. Wow. James 4:3 (NKJV) says, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” I’ve mentioned in other messages that one of the biggest tricks in (potential) romance is falling for someone’s *personality* rather than their *character*. You have no idea how many emails, from *grown women*, I’ve read about wanting to be with a guy because he’s cute, or can sing, or because he gives them butterflies. Not because he’s godly. Or a good example to others. Or a man of character. Any time you are in something that causes you to deviate from godly truth, that is the first sign that it’s not *right* for you. It’s, at least in this season (pun intended), dead *wrong*. God makes it very clear what he requires of us. John 14:15 says that if we love him, we will keep his commandments. I Corinthians 4:2 says that we are required to be found *faithful*. When it comes to serving Adonai, we are to be “steady in allegiance or affection; loyal; constant”.

A man by the name of Antoine de Saint-Exupery once said, “Love is not just looking at each other, it's looking in the same direction.” In Psalm 119:133 (NKJV), King David prayed, “Direct my steps by Your word, and let no iniquity have dominion over me.” For a love connection to really *feel right*, it will support one another in iniquity (sin) not having dominion over one another. It will encourage each other to spend time in the Word of God. It will expect the other to acknowledge Adonai in *all* things; for them not to be wise in their own eyes and to depart from evil (Psalm 3:4-6). It will pray for that each will have their work directed in truth (Isaiah 61:8) and that their hearts will be directed into the *love* of God and the *patience* of Christ (2 Thessalonians 3:5). The right kind of love operates in a decent order (I Corinthians 14:40) and dwells in accordance to what is good, proper and just.

Let’s pause here for a moment.

If the love is *really right*, it’s going to reflect in *all* areas of a person’s life. Isaiah 1:17 (NKJV) instructs, “Learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke the oppressor; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow.” Love should empower people to do great things not just for one another but for the Church and world at large. Love isn’t selfish (I Corinthians 13:5) and so it *rallies* for its love relationship to illuminate beyond one another. As a matter of fact, it will make the necessary sacrifices for that to be possible. Why? Because the main direction that true love should be headed towards is salvation (Genesis 49:18). And here’s the thing about salvation. It saves and protects from harm, risk, loss and destruction. So many so-called love relationships are not guarding people from drama. It’s seducing them into it. In God, there is safety (Psalm 4:8). In love, there is to be safety as well. There is to be assurance. There is to be a covering. There is to be refuge, security and shelter. There is to be *preservation*. When you feel spiritually safe and closer to rather than further from God in your relationship, that is a good sign that the two of you are headed in the right direction.


“Love is friendship set on fire.”

A man by the name of Jeremy Irons said that quote above. And while there is *most definitely* a time and a place for passion, I think we should look at fire from a different perspective. Psalm 66:10 (NKJV) says, “For You, O God, have tested us; You have refined us as silver is refined.” So many people want to be coddled in their friendships, which is oftentimes what’s stunting their (spiritual) growth. Proverbs 27:17 (NKJV) says, “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” TRUE FRIENDSHIP CHALLENGES ONE ANOTHER…TO BE BETTER. Another reason why a lot of marriages fail? *Because a lot of people don’t marry their friends*. Not just people they have things in common with, but people who have proven to refine them. Isaiah 48:10 (NKJV) says, “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.” How can you say, “For better or for worse”, for sure, if you haven’t gone through any “worse” together? Affliction is “sickness, loss, calamity and persecution”. Yeah, that “The Bachelor” stuff? They should put those folks on a deserted island where they have to survive for six weeks with no amenities and see who “falls in love” from that! Affliction is brought about to refine you. Refining comes “to purify from what is coarse, vulgar, or debasing”. So many people marry the unrefined and then wonder why their love tarnishes. We all have sinned (I John 1:10) and will again, but on this side of healthy, you know what I want? Someone who makes me more like Christ---more tolerant, more compassionate, more obedient, more loving, more spiritually-aware/alert, more godly. *More refined*.

You know when it was stated in Song of Solomon that the Shulamite woman had nothing wrong with her, as sweet as that sounds, we know that’s not true. *Everyone has something wrong with them*. But I think that statement speaks to what love is supposed to do in our lives. My mom used to say all of the time that, “God doesn’t give you someone for where you are, but where you’re going and no one knows that but God.” I think that complements the lead Scripture and quote really well. I believe that God can love us so intensely, so completely, so faithfully because he sees beyond what sin has done and into what he created and intended for us to be: 100% PURE LOVE. When you take on the task of loving another individual, that is what you should be committed to doing as well. Which, now that I think about it, makes “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 19:19-NKJV) make even more sense. It’s not about not rejecting them due to their flaws. It’s about committing to helping them be better people through Adonai’s abundant mercy and grace. Love helps you to see them as they were created to be, not as they currently are.

Whenever I public speak, I often address how interesting (and a bit hypocritical) it is that platonic relationships don’t have *nearly* the long list of “cut off requirements” that romantic relationships seem to. Again, that’s because platonic relationships tend to be based on something that’s a bit more honest. A bit more sincere. A bit more stable. *A bit more real*. Proverbs 27:6 (NKJV) says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” So many people are currently in relationships with their spiritual enemies and they don’t even know it. The kisses, embraces and sexual activity are deceiving them. Your friend, *your real friend*, assists and supports you. They are your ally, especially in spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:12). They serve as your advocate, your backer…your companion in this life. A friend doesn’t need physical involvement to feel an intimate connection. A friend makes sacrifices. A friend loves *at all times* (Proverbs 17:17). A friend recommends, teaches and helps. The person you’re either interested in or in a relationship with? What are they recommending you to do with your life? What is their example teaching you? How are they helping you to be a better person? I love how the lead quote says that love is a sign from your higher self of what you are to do. But that’s just the thing. True love *elevates* you. If the object of your affection is not aiding in making you a better person, there is only one other alternative. *No in-between*.


Finding the Right One

And yet, after all of this, some will still say, “OK, but how do I know when I’ve found the right one for me?” Two other definitions of right are: “to put in or restore to an upright position” and “to put in proper order, condition, or relationship”. The presence of the *right one* should help to “reestablish” you. It should aid in bring you back to “health, sound and vigor”. It should assist in putting you back into your “original” position; the way Adonai intended for you to be (Genesis 1:26-28). The presence of the *right one* should help in getting you “adapted to [your] purpose”. It should support you in becoming a “thorough” and “whole” person. It should strive to make you want to be of “good character” and “respectable”.

And to be honest with you, I don’t think that’s as vast in abundance as one may like; not someone who can meet those needs…*individually*. Just as the Lord fashions our hearts individually (Psalm 33:15), I believe that just as he did for Adam, Adonai custom-creates our covenant partners in very distinctive ways as well. There’s a particular “form” about them. They are made in a way that “accommodates” us by “adjusting” and “adapting” to us in ways that others simply cannot. Do not. *Will not*. I remember watching Jennifer Lopez in an interview a few months ago and in reference to her marriage she said, “It’s wonderful when you can speak in shorthand with someone.” I loved that. Expounding on it, another thing that causes marriages to suffer is that the husband and wife often forget that Adonai is also apart of the relationship. The *right one*? The Lord communicates with you about them. And with them about you. You will understand, tolerate, forgive, accept things in ways and for reasons that others do not…*because they were not created to*. That person is not their “right one”. Different puzzles have different pieces, right? In the movie, “A Good Woman”, one of the characters said, “Marriage takes your whole heart. Selfish people can’t pull it off.” Yeah, the Bible does warn us to do *nothing* from selfish ambition (Philippians 2:3) and I’m sure that includes broom jumping. Yet, when it comes to who Adonai has ordained for you, loving them completely will seem more like a natural thing to do than a rigorous obligation. Perhaps that’s because it will seem a lot like loving yourself. Do I like everything that I do? Nope. Am I gonna kill myself off because of it? Uh-uh. I’m gonna ask God for forgiveness, I’m going to forgive myself, I’m going to rebuild and move forward. With the *right one*, this same formula applies. You love God, you love you. *Of course you’re gonna love the one God gave you* because he equipped you to do so. To whom much is given, much is required (Luke 12:48), but God’s gifts are wrapped up in big bows of grace (2 Corinthians 12:9). Always.

You know, a lot of women love the fact that Genesis 29:20 tells us that Jacob worked for years for Rachel although it seemed like only days. Here’s what people need to pay attention to, though: the love he had for her made the work not seem so much like, well, work. With love, labor is always involved. That’s just the way it is. Oh, but here’s the thing about *godly love*: *its productive labor*. It will produce abundance. That’s what the definition of “productive” is. And here’s the other thing: godly love doesn’t look at ticking clocks. It doesn’t pay attention to what everyone else is doing. It doesn’t let panic or fear or anxiety or jealousy or coveting navigate it. *Love is timeless*. Jacob loved Rachel so much that time was almost irrelevant. The right time was going to be the best time. When you’ve found the right one, the same sentiment will apply. You will want to be joined to them whenever God deems fit (Acts 1:7-Message). Because he said in his Word, “It is not good (sufficient, satisfactory) that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper meet (suitable, adapted, complementary) for him” (Genesis 2:18-AMP), being “suitable” will be a priority. There is *nothing* like a man in a tailor-made suit. Sometimes even the best attire needs alterations. Sometimes, even in being brought to or discovered by the right one, there needs to be time for adjustments to be made…for the perfect fit.

And even *now*, I know that some of you still have questions (LOL). I do hope this makes things a bit more clear, though, because something else that I think needs to be preached from the rooftops, steeples and bed covers more than it is? MARRIAGE IS MINISTRY. It’s an act of service…to each other, but also to God. In marriage, *you are serving the Lord*. The right one is going to inspire you to serve God in ways that you never even thought of because the right one is going to be doing it as well. The right one shows you more of God. There’s no doubt about it.

Baba was so on it. Satan knows all of this and so without a doubt, he is all about pairing us up with the wrong people. Having our flesh make the choice. Letting our lusts motivate our decision. Picking from our present wants rather than our eternal needs. That’s so out of order. That’s so incorrect. It’s so…*wrong*.

I remember watching an indie movie not too long ago and the main male character said, “It's time for me to protect someone. I choose you." In many ways, that kind of sums it all up. Love protects. It is designed “to defend or guard from attack, invasion, loss, annoyance, insult, etc.; cover or shield from injury or danger”. If you’re in a relationship, do you feel *protected*? If you’re contemplating getting into one, is it because you have a desire to *protect* someone else?

Love really doesn’t have to be so complicated.

You’re on the right road when finding the right one is leading you the right way.

Consistently.

Closer to God (spirit). Further from self (flesh).

Eternally.

No wonder marriage vows are to be until death parts you. Ah ha!.

Selah. Amen.

©Shellie R. Warren/2011

Friday, March 18, 2011

"On Fire": Does the Story Add Up?

"Fools on the road have no sense of direction. The way they walk tells the story: 'There goes the fool again!'"---Ecclesiastes 10:3 (Message)


You know how sometimes when you're in the middle of watching your favorite television show, all of a sudden a random PSA (Public Service Announcement) breaks in with, "This is a test. This is a test of the Emergency Broadcast System...this is only a test"? Some of y'all are in relationships and either things seem to be going great *or* you are hell bent (pun intended) on making them go great (crickets-LOL) and this lil' message is like your relationship emergency message. It's a gut check. Well. *Heart check*.

If you've been rollin' with these (or the devotionals that I send out) long enough, then you know that the Comforter (John 14:16-AMP) loves to sing to me (LOL). Well, this morning he serenaded me with some throwback Lionel Richie. Oh, I knew it was gonna be *something* because the song was, of all songs, "Penny Lover" (click here to re-check it out). And while the entire song is just...*precious*, there has always been this one line that tends to send chills up my spine. Or at least goosebumps on my arms:

"Cause when a man's in love, he's only got one story."

ONE. STORY.

The husband of the March feature couple on 10...Again's website has a book. It's entitled, "The Power of a Pregnant Man" and one of the things that I really appreciate about it is that on the back it says that it's a good read for women because it will help them to: recognize Mr. Right, adjust their surroundings to match their destiny, heighten their expectations even when things appear bleak and...to SAY NO.

Someone was recently asking me why I don't date. I think I've referenced before that I don't do it because wives don't do it (Proverbs 18:22). I go out with my male friends, I know how to have a good time, but "taste-testing" men and creating more "non-relative families" to bond (and break-up) with (something I used to be *notorious* for) is just not on my "fun things to do" list...anymore. My heart is my husband's and I want to give him *all of it*. And since my heart is infinitely invaluable, so is my time...so *my feelings are no longer contingent upon his arrival*. We'll be one when God says we are to be. And that will be not just when it's good, but when it's right. *When it's best*. Selah and amen.

THAT'S MY STORY. AND I'M STICKING TO IT.

Do you see where I'm going with this? Something else that Mr. Forde mentions in his book (on pg.115) is, "Your Godly commitment to fulfilling what has already been predestined for your life will ensure the safety of your 'fetus expectation'. Miscarriage is not an option."

If you're apart of this blog's mission, then you are "some kinda pregnant" with a desire for marriage. It's your *commitment to God* that will play a major part in fulfilling what has already been predestined for your life. There is an article that the Comforter led me to sometime ago and if I've already mentioned it on here before, please forgive me ahead of time. It's rich enough to spend again. It's entitled, "The Miracle of Marrying the King" and while it's speaking to our relationship with Adonai, the King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16), I dig that there seems to be a formula that should be applied in marital preparation as well. I love how the article says, "But her preparation won the king's favor, and she became his bride." I believe that spiritual preparation (I Corinthians 2:14) for a faith-based union (Matthew 19:6) requires the same list that the author presented in coming before Abba Father as well:

First, by surrendering our former lives.
Second comes repentance.
Third, we prepare for intimacy with the King through praise and worship.

I love this line as well: "When we abandon ourselves to loving Him, we will have the King's favor and His ear, and we will ask for what we will and it shall be done for us (John 14:13-14). That is when we will become equipped to manifest signs and wonders and bring about a miraculous reversal for those around us who are dead while they live, but will be saved. And besides that, we will avoid the peril of doing great things in His name without knowing Him."

Through my prayer time, I know that some of you are not focused on the right things. Marriage may be the bottom line, but the paragraphs preceding it aren't really adding up. Sometimes you act like a desperate female. Other times like a child. More times like an emotional schizophrenic. Yeah. Ouch. I know. I can only "peep the game" because I used to be one of the players. If the story is that you want to be united to who *GOD* has in mind for you, then your life has to depict that. A (good) wife doesn't sleep around. A (good) wife is not a junkie (whether that's substance abuse or being a poor homemaker). A (good) wife controls her emotions...and her finances. A (good) wife isn't in love with one man one year and someone else the next. And here's the real clincher: a (good) wife, by her example, is often used to keep her husband on point as well. I Corinthians 7:10-16 tells us so.

Sometimes, I think we forget that *men need us*. I know this because Adonai said that it was not good for man to be alone and so he would create some *help* for him (Genesis 2:18). Yet, it's like *whatever* they want to do, we do. Whatever they think is best, we settle for. Wherever they want us to "cut corners", we get to chopping away to where a lot of us don't even recognize ourselves anymore (James 1:22-24). *How is that helping them?*  Some women don't seem to realize that how they carry themselves during courtship can actually mold a man in transitioning him from the status of single to husband. Not being common often piques a curiosity that can convict internal change. It's not manipulation. It's actually a form of ministry. An act of service. More men *should* see wives around. Instead of girlfriends (in context, I'm sure you get my point). If your *story* is that you want to be married, then your *character* should indicate that.

What's funny is that I thought this was gonna be more about men than us. But ain't that just what a good therapist (and ain't Adonai the *absolute best* that there is?) would do? You go to them about someone else and the first thing they tell you is "Um, sweetie...yeah. *You*." (LOL) You'd be amazed how many men fade into the sunset of my mind these days. Some are fine (FIIIIIIIINE) and I'm still like, "If you ain't *him*, I'm not interested." And, I'm really not. I'm not out shopping. My man will be delivered (Psalm 37:4).

But I do want you to catch one thing about what Lionel said. Sometimes, in my lonely hours (cause we all have 'em), I'll go to Song of Solomon, more than anything to see just how passionate the love was. The story was consistent in that way. Sistahs, whenever the Lord deems fit for us to be united to our soul mates (I Samuel 18:1), there will be MUTUAL CONSISTENCY as well. Confusion comes when either there is a *lack of order* or a *lack of clarity*. But one thing that I do know for sure is that that "Lionel line"? Flesh and blood (Matthew 16:17) did not reveal that to Mr. Richie (LOL). WHEN A MAN'S IN LOVE, HE'S ONLY GOT ONE STORY. He only has "one account or report of a matter". He only has one "statement". There are no *versions* of it, either. (SMH)

And because God is love (I John 4:16), the more accurate way to put this is that when a man's *in God*, he only has one statement: "He loves God enough to want what God wants for him and he will live in complete and total surrender to God's plan of purpose by preparing for it." We as women have more discernment than we often give ourselves credit for. Yeah, your "fella" may be *saying* one thing but what did King Solomon tell us? THAT THE WAY SOMEONE WALKS TELLS THE STORY.

It's the way to tell the difference between the lies and the truth.

So, the man you're diggin' loves you?

All I have to say is "Make sure his story adds up."

To God's truth.

Before it takes you away...

From God's plan.

"We now return you to your life. Already in progress."

Love to you,

SRW

Saturday, March 12, 2011

On Fire: SPRING. FORWARD.

"Now to Caleb the son of Jephunneh he gave a share among the children of Judah, according to the commandment of the Lord to Joshua, namely, Kirjath Arba, which is Hebron (Arba was the father of Anak). Caleb drove out the three sons of Anak from there: Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai, the children of Anak.  Then he went up from there to the inhabitants of Debir (formerly the name of Debir was Kirjath Sepher).

And Caleb said, 'He who attacks Kirjath Sepher and takes it, to him I will give Achsah my daughter as wife.' So Othniel the son of Kenaz, the brother of Caleb, took it; and he gave him Achsah his daughter as wife. Now it was so, when she came to him, that she persuaded him to ask her father for a field. So she dismounted from her donkey, and Caleb said to her, 'What do you wish?' She answered, 'Give me a blessing; since you have given me land in the South, give me also springs of water.' So he gave her the upper springs and the lower springs."---Joshua 15:13-19 (NKJV)


A man by the name of Victor Hugo once said, "By putting forward the hands of the clock you shall not advance the hour." What an interesting thought being that time officially springs forward an hour this weekend.

As I was praying about which direction this week's message should go, I had the hardest time deciding between two stories: the one referenced above and a particular part of Hagar's journey with the Lord. We'll get to that in a moment.

Currently, I am doing some *serious praying* for some people in my social sphere. I just can't seem to shake how many people seem to believe that they are followers of Christ and yet, their lifestyle (Matthew 12:33), is a *clear indication* that they are not. They may *want* to serve the Lord, but kinda doing that is like being kinda pregnant. Right. *No such thing*. And, as it relates to the "On Fire" women, I think what has me concerned most is that if there is some self-deceit going on over this way, then choosing the man who is *best* (Psalm 84:11) for you could prove to be a very tricky feat. TO ATTRACT A GOD-FEARING MAN, YOU MUST BE A GOD-FEARING WOMAN...AND NOT BY YOUR OPINION BUT THE LORD'S STANDARDS. Real talk. And here's another hard truth: the kind of men you're attracted to tends to speak *volumes* to the kind of person that you *really are*. Some women---many women, actually---end up with men who are "not as they seem (or say)" because they are reaping what they have sown (Galatians 6:7-9): also not being what *they* seem (or say). God is not mocked. On any level. In any fashion. Some of us may feel like we're in the midst of a "man drought" and that actually may be true. The remedy? Water. SPRINGS OF WATER. In the Bible, "water" symbolizes the Holy Spirit. Yeah, time *springs forward* this weekend and in a minute, the Comforter (John 14:16-AMP) will share some of the spiritual symbolism in that. Yet, no matter what, Mr. Hugo was right:

"You don't get to know the time. Timing is the Father's business. What you'll get is the Holy Spirit."---Acts 1:7 (Message)

Trying to manipulate time doesn't alter God's purpose.

In both the stories of Achsah and the Hagar, the trigger word is "spring". In Achsah's case, there are three main things jumped out at me as I revisited this particular situation. Some years ago, I penned a message about this in the "Make Him Weak (in the Knees)" series: about how on point she was, how much of a businesswoman she was to ask for more for her family than they were initially given. Caleb had done a good job raising his daughter: she was smart, bold and fearless. And being a good businesswoman is certainly Adonai-ordained. It's apart of Proverbs 31 that is not honed in on, nearly as much as it should be, actually (Proverbs 31:16). *It takes good credit to buy things*. I'll leave *that* right there. However, when I revisited the story this time there were some other lessons that I learned.

1) Othniel (which means "power of God", by the way) had to "win her over". It wasn't because of what *she* thought he needed to do...it was because of the standards that *her father* put into place. A relationship with our Abba Father will put us under the *proper covering* so that *he* can determine what our Beloveds must do in order to receive us. The Lord has been bringing to me more and more the importance of just how much marriage is a *spiritual union* (Matthew 19:6) and how it must be *spiritually discerned* (I Corinthians 2:14). Because we as humans are made up of both flesh and spirit (Galatians 5:16-17) and Adonai is Spirit (John 4:24) *only*, it's not a good idea for us to come up with our own "man nabbing plan". In many ways, I think Caleb represented the, well, godliness of God. Manliness had to be proven before Othniel could be blessed. With the additional favor (Proverbs 18:22) of Acsah (whose name means "anklet", "bangle"). A lot of women are in the trouble they're in now because it's evident that they are picking men as the result of being raised without a relationship with their father. Or their Father.

2) My mother often says, "You don't have to tell people *everything*. You can go to God and ask him to translate." GOD CAN SPEAK IN WAYS WHERE PEOPLE CAN RECEIVE HIM. That said, I love this line in the story: "Now it was so, when she came to him, that she persuaded him to ask her father for a field." A big lesson (HUGE!) that I am learning right now in my own journey is the importance of going to God about things, even when it may appear like/that others are choosing not to. A nag does not a good wife make (Proverbs 21:9 & 19 & 27:15-16) and here's the thing: nagging a man means you are putting your faith---or at the very least, your energy---in flesh. That isn't going to get you very far. Yes, Achsah went to her husband, Othniel first but from the way the rest of the story reads, when that proved to be ineffective, she consulted with her father. *The one who had the power to give to her what she desired.(Psalm 37:4)* In the spirit realm, some things that we are waiting on man to do, he doesn't have either the gumption or the power to do it. GOD DOES, THOUGH.

3) "Give me a blessing." Oh, if we would only come to our Father in this fashion. Not, "Give me a husband" or "Give me a house" or "Give me a new job" but "Give me what you know will bless me." Again, in the spiritual symbolism of the story, in times of want, we all should ask the Lord to give us...water. Not *things* but the Holy Spirit. I love how Psalm 104:10 says that he sends springs into the valleys. Yes, a valley can be a depression in the land, but it's also defined as "a low point or interval in any process, representation or situation"; "any place, period, or situation that is filled with fear, gloom, foreboding or the like". If you feel like you are in a valley period right now, my Spirit-led (Luke 12:12) suggestion would be to pray for the Lord to give you a blessing...and then let the showers of blessings (Ezekiel 34:26) fall as (and where) he deems fit.

Which brings us to Hagar:

"So Abram said to Sarai, 'Indeed your maid is in your hand; do to her as you please.' And when Sarai dealt harshly with her, she fled from her presence.

Now the Angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur.

And He said, 'Hagar, Sarai’s maid, where have you come from, and where are you going?'

She said, 'I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai.'

The Angel of the Lord said to her, 'Return to your mistress, and submit yourself under her hand.'  Then the Angel of the Lord said to her, 'I will multiply your descendants exceedingly, so that they shall not be counted for multitude.'"---Genesis 16:6-10 (NKJV)

OK, I don't know who gets the side-eye more in this story. Sarah, Abraham...or us. Us, because the amount of racism (which is usually nothing more than utter ignorance) towards people of the Muslim faith baffles me. Ishmael was Abraham's son as well. Blessings were given to him as well. ESAU MARRIED ISHMAEL'S DAUGHTER (Genesis 28:9). We should be praying for them not berating them. *sigh*

Back to the issue at hand.

I Corinthians 7:23 (NKJV) says, "You were bought with a price. Do not be slaves of men." Hagar was instructed to sleep with Abraham. SARAH TOLD HER TO DO IT. She wasn't a housewrecker so much as she was a slave. OK, and let me pause here for just a moment. According to Dictionary.com, "housewrecker" is a word but "homewrecker" is not and yet, I hear the latter *far more often* than the former. My point? It's a lot easier to break up a *house* than a happy *home*. Anyway, some of us are in situations right now because we are still being slaves to men. If it's not physically, it's emotionally. If it's not emotionally, it's financially. LET IT GO. It's so poetic to me that the Word says that the Angel of Lord found Hagar by a spring in the wilderness.

Some of us, due to our past (or current) choices, ones that we *know* were/are wrong, are in our own wilderness. Our own desolate place or confused mass. Repent (Revelation 3:19) and be of good courage (Psalm 31:24). Psalm 29:8 says that God shakes the wilderness. Psalm 68:7 says that he marched through the wilderness. Psalm 107:35 (NKJV) tells us, "He turns a wilderness into pools of water, and dry land into watersprings."

Now, we can't do whatever we want and receive these kinds of assurances. Psalm 106:13-15 speaks of some other "wilderness consequences" that come with following our flesh rather than the Spirit. However, what I do want you to hold onto, what I do sense with every fiber of my being, what  I will be praying for re: the "On Fire" daughters of the Most High is that you will not lose hope (Romans 5:5). In our most desolate of places, Adonai can bring forth pools of water. In our most confused situations, the Lord can manifest watersprings. And what's really a trip is that kind of like the time change that's about to take place, we often don't see it coming. One day...it  all just...happens.

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end."---Ecclesiastes 3:14 (NKJV)

Time is changing because a new season is approaching.

LIFE IS CHANGING BECAUSE A NEW SEASON IS APPROACHING.

No matter where you are in this journey, my sistahs...SPRING. FORWARD.

Love to you,

SRW

Friday, March 4, 2011

"On Fire": GIMCRACK

"Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror."---I Peter 3:1-6 (NKJV)


This week, while blogging for another website (www.xxxchurch.com), the Comforter (John 14:16-AMP) gave me an epiphany about nudity in a way that I had never seen it before...really (if you want to check it out, go here). And as I gave *that* more thought, another revelation came to mind---one that I also hadn't really thought about before. Matter of fact, it wasn't until I woke up this morning to research a word for a new devotional that I'm about to pen that it all started to come together. On Dictionary.com, the Word for the Day (which must've been the word for *yesterday* cause I just looked on there again and it's gone now. Hmph.) is the title of this message: "GIMCRACK". Ever heard of it? Yeah. Me neither.

Gimcrack: (n) a showy, useless trifle; gewgaw; (adj.) showy but useless

Yeah, boy! Let's hit it!

I'm not sure if I've shared it with you all or not, but I know I've penned it somewhere. To this day, one of the *best compliments* that I've *ever received* was from a guy who came up to me with my natural hair and no make-up and said, "Thanks for remembering what you look like." Indeed. IN.DEED.


"My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth."---I John 3:18 (NKJV)

I'm a *big advocate* of that fact that when Christ said that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:31), this means that you should have some kind of standard for *how you love you* before even *attempting* to take on another person. And, as it says in I John, that means that we do not just *say* we love ourselves. OUR ACTIONS SHOULD SHOW IT. *We all should remember what we look like* and what that is *supposed to be* is the image and likeness of Elohim (Genesis 1:26-28).

And yet, even as a woman, I look at a lot of other women and yep, GIMCRACK comes to mind. Actually, before today, the word I thought about was "insecure" (subject to fears, doubts, etc.; not self-confident or assured; uneasy; anxious; not secure; exposed or liable to risk, loss, or danger; not firmly or reliably placed or fastened). OK, and did you peep those definitions that are in bold? Anxiousness is a sign of an insecure person. So therefore, *a person who can't wait is insecure* (Philippians 4:6-7). And when that person is head trippin', they tend to expose themselves to risk...loss...and/or danger. Therefore, an insecure person is a vulnerable (to utter foolishness) person.


And when you are vulnerable, when you can't wait...*when you're anxious*, you tend to try and make up (pun intended) things to do. In this case, as it relates to this blog, you (sometimes) want a man *so badly* that you're just being "anxious all over the place" (LOL) thinking that if you do more to yourself that you'll get "his" attention. And because GOD IS SPIRIT (John 4:24), because one of the attributes of the Holy Spirit is the same as a helpmeet (Genesis 2:18) and that is to HELP...because marital covenant is a SPIRITUAL MATTER (Malachi 2:14, I Corinthians 2:14), the Liar (John 8:44) comes in and tells you that your flesh is what's most important. So you keep switchin' it up. 10 pounds bigger for one guy. 15 pounds smaller for the next. Red hair. Then black. Retro-dressing. Then classic-style. WHO ARE YOU?!?


Now, I'll be the *first* to say that being physically attractive ain't no sin. Even the lead Scripture for today says that it's not *merely* the outward that matters. That means that it's not "only" or "entirely" or "simply" how one looks that makes a person beautiful. However, what I am encouraging all of us to consider is that some of us are so busy focusing on the outer that we don't realize that we are becoming GIMCRACKS: showy...but useless. And really...*what's the use in that?!?*


Well, I'll tell you what I think the thief's agenda is (John 10:10). Because, again, marriage is a *spiritual matter*, I don't believe that a lot of us hold the quote about a woman needing to be so hidden in Christ that a man has to go to him to find her very seriously. Why do I say that? Cause I know more women than not who, if they're not physically promiscuous, they emotionally are. Thinking that if they *do more*, "he'll" *see* them quicker. Or better. Women who, if they're not physically showy, they're emotionally pimping themselves out. Proverbs 4:23 tells us to guard our hearts for a reason. And a purpose. When a man marries us, he's not just getting our body. He is uniting himself with our spirits as well. MARRIAGE GIVES A MAN A RIGHT TO THAT KIND OF INTIMACY, NOT US *WANTING TO BE MARRIED* TO A MAN.


And here's the really tripped out thing. Some of us are so busy switching it up by going through "emotional plastic surgery", that I wonder if we forget (?!?) the formula that the Word...that *God* (John 1:1) provided us with. He said that many a man will be won over by our *conduct* not our *words* (again, not in word but in deed). When they observe our *chaste conduct*. Our *virtuous* conduct. Our *celibate* conduct. Our (love this!) *elevated* conduct. Our *self-disciplined*, *unrelenting*, *honorable*, *noble*, *POLITE*, *good* and *worthy* conduct. Some of us are wondering what the hold up is and...*we're the hold up*. God's telling us to be chaste. And we'd rather be...cute.


How GIMCRACK-ISH of us. (LOL)


I was just telling a girlfriend of mine earlier this week that I wonder how many men have not been united with their Ezer Kenegdos (Hebrew for "lifesaver") yet and simply it's because the ladies are so busy "painting up their flesh" that their Beloved can't even recognize them. It's like the state of their spirits are so much on the back-burner on the list of priorities that they're basically in disguise; there's some faint resemblance of what "he" wants but not enough to make a real move. After all, people tend to feel safe around what's familiar to them. *A spiritual man is going to feel safe around a spiritual woman.* A true husband is going to recognize his wife based on her *character* not her *appearance*.


Hmph. That makes me wonder if that's a part of the reason so many relationships end. Now, it's another message for another time how many guys are "poor appraisers" but I was just watching a rerun of "Dharma & Greg" yesterday where she lost her engagement ring and had it appraised only to discover that it was fake. Actually, what the jeweler said was, "It's a good fake." Basically, it's a GIMCRACK.


So many men seem to be in situations like Dharma: attracted to what *looks* like the real thing and then the Spirit of Discernment comes to them and says, "I mean...keep it if you want. But it's basically a good fake." It's a GIMCRACK. Showy. But useless.


It's the *gentle* and *quiet* spirit that is precious to God and being that God is the *true* matchmaker (Matthew 19:6), shouldn't *he* be our focus? One definition of "precious" is "highly esteemed for some spiritual, nonmaterial, or moral quality". We're precious for our *spirituality*. Not our *physicality* or *sexuality*. It's when we become Adonai's Beloved ("beloved" is another definition of "precious") that he can *trust us* to connect us with our earthly soul mate (I Samuel 18:1). And if you wanna do it right the first (and prayerfully only) time, it won't happen before then. God does things decently. And orderly (I Corinthians 14:40).


Yeah. GIMCRACK. I dig that word. It will definitely be on my "side-eye radar". And prayer list.


That I reflect God's image. That I'm chaste and spiritual. Not showy and useless.


Until it's time.


GOD'S TIME.


Love to you,


SRW

An Ounce of Prevention: DO IT. 'Til You're Satisfied.

“The righteous eats to the satisfying of his soul, but the stomach of the wicked shall be in want.”---Proverbs 13:25 (NKJV)


“I am easily satisfied with the very best.”---Winston Churchill
 



“And Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, ‘This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn nor weep.’ For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law.

Then he said to them, ‘Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’

So the Levites quieted all the people, saying, ‘Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved.’ And all the people went their way to eat and drink, to send portions and rejoice greatly, because they understood the words that were declared to them.”---Nehemiah 8:9-12 (NKJV)


The funniest thing happened to me while I was running on my treadmill yesterday. Actually, for starters, it’s kind of funny that I’m even *running* (rather than strolling) on it to begin with! One day earlier this year, I woke up and the Comforter (John 14:16-AMP) was like, “Um Shellie, you bought that thing a few years ago. You ran on it for a few months. You’re not being a good steward. Use it…or sell it. “ I’ll be 37 in June. I decided to use it.

Yet as I was running, for what seemed like hours (really, it was more like four commercials-LOL), I thought about slowing the setting. All of the sudden, literally out of nowhere, the hook to the old school song by BT Express popped up in my head: “Do it. Do it. Do it ‘til you’re satisfied.”

Wow Lord. *Are you serious?* A throwback to motivate me to run?

Oh, it’s to do a lot more than run, my daughter.

It’s here where this devotional begins.


Joy in the Lord

I’m sure it may seem a bit odd that this would start, not just with that song, but with those verses found in Nehemiah. Sit tight because I’m going somewhere with it. You know, as I ran for the last 20 minutes yesterday, as the chorus of that song ran in my mind like a scratched record (cause can a *broken* record actually play?!?), I couldn’t help but laugh. And it was actually that burst of happy energy which motivated me to finish my exercise regiment.

THE JOY OF THE LORD IS OUR STRENGTH.

Something that I’ve had to remind myself of, sometimes often, is that a *highly overlooked* Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) *is* joy. A verse that many of us are familiar with is found in Psalm 118:24 (NKJV): “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Another not-so-popular-but-should-be one is Psalm 90:14 (NKJV): “Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days!” The Word (John 1:1) tells us the Lord’s mercies are new *every morning*, right? That Adonai is *faithful* (2 Timothy 2:13) enough to grant us with mercies everyday of our lives (Lamentations 3:22-24). Therefore, if we put this entire paragraph together, it would seem like we have a reason, *daily*, to rejoice. To be glad. *To have joy*.

Joy: the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation; a source or cause of keen pleasure or delight; something or someone greatly valued or appreciated; a state of happiness or felicity

God is a Spirit (John 4:24) that *all of us* should greatly value and appreciate. And yes, when you find that in someone (or something), joy should be the manifestation, the emotion. The result. I love how in Nehemiah, the people were told that because it was the day of the Lord that they should “eat, drink and be merry”. Today is also the day of the Lord. Should we not do the same? And if we’re not…*why not?*



I Can’t Get No…Satisfaction

I know, right? The songs just keep coming and coming (LOL)! But you know, as I was thinking about “Doing it ‘til I’m satisfied…whatever it is”, I couldn’t help but to go and look the word “satisfy” up. Yeah. Well.

Satisfied: content; completely paid, as a bill; convinced, as in an argument

Let’s pause here for a moment. As believers, *this* is what we should be *convinced* about:

“I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men. Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense. It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak. Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.”---Romans 14:14-23 (NKJV)

Let’s proceed onto the other definitions of “satisfied”:

Satisfied: to fulfill the desires, expectations, needs, or demands of (a person, the mind, etc.); give full contentment to; to put an end to (a desire, want, need, etc.) by sufficient or ample provision; to give assurance to; convince; to answer sufficiently, as an objection; to solve or dispel, as a doubt; to discharge fully (a debt, obligation, etc.); to make reparations for

Something that satisfies you is to *fulfill* you. Now, the definition of “fulfill”? Yeah, it might trip you out…just a wee bit:

Fulfill: to carry out, or bring to realization, as a prophecy or promise; to perform or do, as duty; obey or follow, as commands; to satisfy (requirements, obligations, etc.); to bring to an end; finish or complete, as a period of time; to develop the full potential of

I think my all-time favorite “well wish” Scripture is Psalm 20:4 (NKJV): “May He grant you according to your heart’s desire, and fulfill all your purpose.” After checking out those definitions of “fulfill”, do you see how…*spiritual* the word is? Psalm 145:19 tells us that the Lord will *fulfill* the desire of those who fear him. Romans 13:8 says that when we love one another, that is the *fulfillment* of the law. Oh, but it’s Romans 13:14 that I am led (Luke 12:12) to focus on for just a moment:

“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.”---Romans 13:14 (NKJV)

Don’t “develop the full potential of” lust. Why? Hmph:

“But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.”---James 1:14-16 (NKJV)

A couple of years ago, while hanging out with a friend of mine and discussing his many, um, escapades and how disgusted he was getting with himself as a result, I said to him, “Maybe you’re getting bored.” His reply stayed with me…on so many levels: “I’ve been bored since I started.”

I John 2:16 (NKJV) says, “For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.” Romans 13:13 (NKJV) instructs, “Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.” Galatians 5:16 (NKJV) states, “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” Oh, but let’s “pause and ponder” (Proverbs 4:26) right here for a moment, shall we? James 4:2 (NKJV) “You lust and do not have.” YOU LUST. AND DO NOT HAVE.

When people think of lust, the definition that almost always and immediately comes to mind is “intense sexual desire or appetite”. You lust. And do not have. On this topic, British philosopher, Bertrand Russell once said, “Civilized people cannot fully satisfy their sexual instinct without love.” Love is patient (I Corinthians 13:4), right? You lust. And do not have. A man by the name of David K. Leung once poignantly stated, “Mortal love is when sensuality is satisfied. True love is when love is sacrificed.” For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, right (John 3:16)? You lust. And do not have. When a person has something, when they are given the God-ordained blessing to have something, it means that they possess it, they own it. They are “permitted” and “allowed” to have it. They are given the ability “to know, understand, or be skilled in” it. One of the scariest things about lust? It’s that you find yourself caught up in the emotions (and quite possibly) the actions of something…that you really don’t, well, *have*. You’re acting like you own it when in God’s eyes, you’re caught up in a line from a poem that I penned to an ex-boyfriend many years ago: “Now I’m bonded to something God never *gave* me. I simply *took*.” There’s “having” and then there’s…*having*.

Lust is trickery, especially in relationships, because it causes you to be “emotionally illusory”. They call it “playing house”…because it’s not real. And when something’s not real, that means it’s not true. John 8:32 tells us that the *truth* is what makes us *free*. Take it from me: lust is the *worst* kind of bondage. Why do you think Ephesians 5:3 (NKJV) tells us, “But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints”? Remember, it’s the JOY of the Lord that’s our strength and Psalm 145:16 (NKJV) says that, “You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.” It’s not taught nearly as much as it should be, but Elohim is out to SATISFY OUR DESIRES. Not to merely meet a craving, but to give us what really *satisfies* us. A French author from the 1600s by the name of Francois de la Rochefoucauld once said that, “It is much easier to suppress a first desire than to satisfy those that follow.” No wonder we were assured in I Corinthians 10:13 that for every temptation, *for every temptation*, we would be provided a way of escape. Why do you need to *escape* from something that is going to bless you? No, the Lord knows that anything carnal is a trap. Satan (John 10:10, I Peter 5:8) so often tends to be like the most lucrative drug dealers (John 8:44). You always get the first (or few) hits (pun intended) supposedly for free. A high price soon follows. Romans 6:23 (NKJV) comes to mind: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” And yes, let Adam and Eve remind us all that death can come in ways, and at times, when we *least* expect…or can predict it (Genesis 3).

But lust isn’t just sensual or sexual.

Lust is also “a passionate or overmastering desire or craving”, period. Another definition of “satisfy” is “to have full contentment”, right? Contentment isn’t just “satisfaction” but an “ease of mind”. In Hebrews 13:5 (NKJV), we are instructed (we are *instructed*), “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” Let your “personal behavior” and “way of acting” be *without* being “inordinately or wrongly desirous of wealth or possessions”. Let not your actions be *greedy*. Proverbs 16:19 (NKJV) warns, “So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain; it takes away the life of its owners.” The rest of the “lust and do not have” verses in Scripture explain why that is the case:

“You burn with envy and anger and are not able to obtain [the gratification, the contentment, and the happiness that you seek], so you fight and war. You do not have, because you do not ask. [I John 3:15.] [Or] you do ask [God for them] and yet fail to receive, because you ask with wrong purpose and evil, selfish motives. Your intention is [when you get what you desire] to spend it in sensual pleasures. You [are like] unfaithful wives [having illicit love affairs with the world and breaking your marriage vow to God]! Do you not know that being the world's friend is being God's enemy? So whoever chooses to be a friend of the world takes his stand as an enemy of God. Or do you suppose that the Scripture is speaking to no purpose that says, The Spirit Whom He has caused to dwell in us yearns over us and He yearns for the Spirit [to be welcome] with a jealous love? But He gives us more and more grace (power of the Holy Spirit, to meet this evil tendency and all others fully). That is why He says, God sets Himself against the proud and haughty, but gives grace [continually] to the lowly (those who are humble enough to receive it).”---James 4: 2-6 (AMP)

Lust is so rude (love is not, by the way-I Corinthians 13:5-NCV). And presumptuous. It takes without asking. It’s selfish. It’s all about having its carnal needs met. But more than anything, it seeks to bring about separation between the creature (us) and the Creator (Adonai). YOU CANNOT BE FRIENDS WITH THE WORLD AND FRIENDS WITH GOD. You cannot be greedy for what this earth has to offer and still be a loyal follower of our Lord. *Man cannot serve two masters*…”for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matthew 6:34-NKJV) And you see, here’s the thing: lust is not trying to be your “boy/girlfriend”. Lust sets out to *master you* so that you will *hate* and *despise* your Father. It’s not trying to *satisfy* you so much as it’s trying to *lure* you. It doesn’t care about *your* needs. Just what *it* wants.



DO IT. ‘Til You’re Satisfied.

I’m gonna take this moment out to shout-out my unofficial trainer, Rachel Hockett. Cause here’s the thing: she has *miraculously* made running and water-drinking, on a good day, fun and on a bad day, bearable (LOL).  This whole “new normal” is teaching me “spiritual parallel” lessons on so many levels. For one, I am realizing, as I am losing weight, that most of the calories that I intake are from juice. I don’t *eat* sugar nearly as much as I *drink* it. Hmph. Do you recall Christ’s life-altering interaction with the Samaritan woman (John 4:1-26)? How he told her that there was a *water* that she could drink from that would cause her to never thirst again?

If I were to do a live illustration of “love vs. lust”, in this season, I would probably have water represent love and juice represent lust. Now that I’m getting off of my “sugar high”, I realize how much sugar ran my life, whether I realized it or not: my weight, my sleeping habits, my energy levels. It was ridiculous. And here’s the thing: the more I drank, the more I wanted. BUT IT WASN’T SATISFYING ME. Now water on the other hand? Now my system is more regulated. My weight is evening out to where I desire it to be. I’m resting. My hair is growing and my skin is (on its way to) glowing. I didn’t *think* I was as caught up in juice and that it was affecting me in the way that it was…until I stopped drinking so much of it.

A lot of us, when it comes to our “lust cycles”, if we’re *really honest* with ourselves (James 5:16), can share in this sentiment. We just keep chasing after the same thing, over and over, and even though we’re not feeling our best, we just keep…on…settling. Almost to the point that we don’t even realize that being satisfied is not only a good and possible thing, but a very capable way of living out our lives.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “I am satisfied that when the Almighty wants me to do or not do any particular thing, He finds a way of letting me know it.” I love that! However, to know what the Lord wants of us, we have to *trust* him and acknowledge him in *all of our ways* (Proverbs 3:5-6). Proverbs 28:26 (NKJV) tells us that, “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but whoever walks wisely will be delivered.” This is because the Word tells us that the heart is deceitful; that no man can know it (Jeremiah 17:9). YOU trying to figure out what’s best for YOU? It’s a surefire way to live…unsatisfied. Living off of “sugar highs” without ever really *content*. However, the lead verse states that the righteous can eat to the *satisfying* of their soul. When you purpose in your mind to live in a moral way, an upright way, a virtuous way, a clean heart is created within you; a steadfast spirit begins to dwell within (Psalm 51:10). When that happens, “…hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Cause here’s the thing about being steadfast: it means that you are “fixed in direction”, “firm in purpose”, “unwavering, as resolution, faith, adherence, etc.”. A steadfast person is “dependable”, “enduring”, “faithful”, “intent”, “persevering” and “true”. Something else that they are is “wholehearted”.



Now here’s the tripped out thing about some of the synonyms of “satisfied”. They include “keep promise”, “make good”, “put mind at ease” and “serve the purpose”.



Something that satisfies *serves the purpose*. Not just *a* purpose, but *the* purpose. Running everyday, serves *the* purpose of honoring the physical part of my temple (I Corinthians 6:19). In the broader sense, what I am accepting is that whatever I do, it needs to be about what will serve *the* purpose of my life; the one that existed before I began (Jeremiah 1:5). The reason why a lot of the wicked remain in a constant state of want is because our *ultimate purpose* on this earth is to reflect the image and likeness of Elohim (Genesis 1:26-28). Whatever we align with, whatever we connect to, it should not cause us to compromise this. Lust, in any form, is the *ultimate compromise*. It may not seem immediate, but give in and eventually, it dissuades. It fails. It frustrates. The Word tells us that GOD IS LOVE (I John 4:16) and because we came from him, lust doesn’t know us. It’s ignorant to our real needs. It’s neglectful of our holistic wants. That’s why most lust-based relationships? End. Most lust-based endeavors? Fall through. Most lust-based decisions? They’re chaotic (I Corinthians 14:33).



Yeah. I don’t know if the BT Express will ever know the magnitude of the message they inspired today! “Do it. Do it. Do it ‘til you’re satisfied. Whatever it is.” That’ll preach! Whatever it is that you are setting out to do, take a moment to think about it. If you’re not doing it to *satisfy you*, what’s the point in doing it…at all?!?



You have no idea how many times I have done something: put my money into something, my time into something, my heart and body into something, only to leave upset and exacerbated. THE JOY OF THE LORD IS OUR STRENGTH. GOD’S GRACE IS SUFFICIENT (2 Corinthians 12:9). THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD, I SHALL NOT WANT (Psalm 23:1). I think you get the picture. Wholeheartedly.



If God’s in it, it’ll satisfy you.



If lust is in it, it won’t.



Some things require endurance (Hebrews 10:35-37), indeed. But if it’s made from love, it won’t cost you your purpose.



We all have things to do. Whatever it is?



Do it for a good reason.



DO IT ‘TIL YOU’RE *SATISFIED*.



©Shellie R. Warren/2011