For He Himself has said: "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
While searching for some inspiration to share today, I came across an interview with Dante Bowe on the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN). I had heard something of his testimony just some days earlier, that he was homeless at one point in his life. Now I finally got to hear his interview.
He is a gospel singer and has sung with Bethel Music, Maverick City Music and Elevation Worship. He called himself a “sneaky singer” because growing up, no one knew that he could sing. He was so nervous about his voice that he would sing out loud when his parents were not at home or hum to himself in the shower. Now, years later, his accomplishments include Grammy Award nominations in both the Christian and Gospel arenas.
However, his present season has taken some time to come to fruition. He remembers the prophecies over his life and the times when he wondered when it would all happen. He grew up with parents who at one point were drug dealers. Fortunately, they stopped when he was sixteen and his mom even gave her heart to the Lord. He was also molested as a child and had to deal with the trauma of that. Yet, he acknowledges that God helped him to deal with the challenges brought on by the abuse. As if that were not enough, he was homeless about three years ago but, on moving to Colombus, was able to stay in a trailer rented by his pastor. During that season, he wrote a lot of songs but he also battled with depression as he wondered when he would get his breakthrough with his music. This breakthrough finally came through his album, Circles.
As I listened to his story, I was touched by the various trials and battles he went through. I was especially touched by the times he wondered when the prophecies over his life would come to pass, when things would finally turn around for him. His uncertainty, I think, is one which many of us face. We wonder when that turnaround will come, when that breakthrough will finally take place, when our hopes, dreams, prophetic words spoken over our lives will finally come to pass. The season of waiting can be so difficult and many times we may give up and simply choose to become cynical and settle for less than God’s best for us.
Jesus had to wait a pretty long time - thirty years to be exact - before he finally began His ministry. He too, like us, had to go through his season of invisibility, a season of pruning, a season of development, while He waited for His season of ministry to begin. The waiting is never easy and for some, it is usually the time when we give up and so miss what God has in store for us.
But I also look at the challenges, the hurt, the pain Dante faced during this season. It wasn’t just the wait but the things he faced that may have caused him to doubt and wonder if the good things his grandparents and others spoke over him would ever come to pass. I think we all go through seasons like this. They are painful, they are seasons when we wonder if the good spoken over and into us would ever become a reality. For some of us, it seems like one bad thing after another is coming our way and the temptation to give up hope becomes real.
There is nothing about Dante’s past life that could have indicated his success now. I look back at the disciples Jesus chose. Take Peter, James and John, for example. They were lowly fishermen. There was nothing about their simple lives that could have indicated that God was going to choose them and do great things in and through them - but He did. And the key thing is God did it! They couldn’t make themselves great on their own, God had to do it. Dante could not make those prophecies come true on his own, God had to do it, because that’s what I hear when I listen to his testimony ... God did it! In spite of all the trauma, discouragement, bad breaks, God was the One who came through for him and made him the success he is today.
God wants to do the same for you and me. In spite of what we have already been through and are even going through, God is going to be the One to do great things in and through us. We can’t do it ourselves. Our negative circumstances already seem to have disqualified us anyway. God is going to get us to where we need to be. He did it for the disciples, he did it for Dante and he will do it for you and for me.
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your life as Lord and Saviour I invite you to do so now. Your life may be in turmoil, with one negative thing after another coming your way. You may even feel as if you are going to be stuck in a place where no good will ever come your way. But there is hope and that hope can only be found in Christ. The journey may seem long, the battles may be fierce, but God will get you through and get you to where you need to be.
Sometimes in our desire for God, we make statements or ask for things that are a reflection of our acute desire for Him. But, what we may not realize at the time, and in the midst of our fervor for Him, is that what we are asking for may take us into a storm that we did not anticipate.
In another testimony I viewed on the 700 Club, the above was so true. Joe, a fifty-five year old man, had asked God to show him His glory and to glorify Himself through him anyway he desired. He did not anticipate, however, what he would have to go through to experience that. After taking a shower one day, he carried out his usual checks on his body searching for leeches which were prevalent where he lived. He found none but instead felt a lump in one of his armpits. Upon checking with his doctor, it was discovered that he had stage four cancer and was given six to twelve months to live. Over the next several months his situation grew worse. He lost a lot of weight and became severely ill. During this time, he and his wife stood together in prayer and faith in God.
What I find interesting is both of their responses to the news of his illness. They did not cower in fear but instead chose to trust and have faith in God, that He would do the impossible. When trials come it can be so very easy to become afraid. It seems as if fear is right there, just waiting for the opportunity to step in and, once, we allow it, it comes in like a flood and wreaks havoc on our mind, our emotions, our faith. Yet, it is still our choice. Fear cannot come and take up residence unless we allow it. In my own life, I have recently realized the power I have over fear – I actually have the power to welcome it or reject it. As a child of God, whatever is not of God, I have the power to reject and cast off ... I don’t have to accept it and allow it control in my life!
As the months passed, Joe’s situation seemed more and more hopeless, yet neither he nor his wife chose to lose their faith in God. From the pictures shown in the video, you could see the effects of the cancer on his body. He lost so much weight he was unrecognizable, even to himself. He even reached the point where he couldn’t walk or eat. I am choosing to mention the pictures of his weight loss because the facts showed the negative and debilitating effects of the cancer on his body. Yet, he chose to stand on the truth. As he put it, the truth is Jesus (John 14:6) and the truth says that he could be set free (John 8:32). The truth also says that he could be healed (Isaiah 53:5b). So, he chose to stand on the truth of what God could do for him not the facts of what the cancer was doing to his body.
Facts can be and feel so real that it can be difficult to hold on to anything else. Yet, as children of God, we have a truth that far outweighs any fact no matter how real it is. God, I believe, is not moved by the facts that everyone can see, He is moved only by Himself, who He is and what He is capable of in spite of our perception of reality.
The story of king Hezekiah comes to my mind (2 Kings 20:1-11). He was sick and near death and the Lord told him through the prophet Isaiah that he was going to die. He immediately turned to God in the hope of having his life spared. God did not disappoint him and instead added fifteen years to his life. This story comes to my mind because Hezekiah could have given up and accepted what God told him was going to happen because he knew he was terribly ill. Instead, he chose to turn to God, the One who had told him he was going to die and beg for his life. He realized that, one, he could reason with God, and two, only God could extend his life. He chose not to focus on the fact that he was going to die but instead on the merciful God who could save his life. As hopeless as his situation was, he chose to stand on the truth - that God is the Giver and Restorer of life and He was well able to heal him.
In our story, Joe was healed of cancer. God had told his wife that He would heal him at two and a half chemotherapies. She believed God and after two and a half treatments, they did another pet scan and learned that the cancer had completely left his body. He believes that the power of God healed him.
God can do anything, but we do have a part to play in the outcome of our storm. We can choose to stand on the truth of what God can do or the facts that say that not even God can handle this. I believe God always gives us a Word while we are going through. It is usually a Word that doesn’t even line up with what the facts are showing. My encouragement to us today is this: God is able, God is faithful and whatever word He speaks to us in our season of trial and testing, He will bring to pass!
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your life as Lord and Saviour, I encourage you to do so now. In this life, with so many negative facts coming our way, we need truth that we can stand on, truth that points us to the God who is able to cancel out and turn around every negative situation we will face!
I love watching testimonies from CBN’s the 700 Club. It is sometimes kind of like my therapy at the end of the day to just unwind by listening to people’s testimonies of God’s goodness and faithfulness to them. Recently, this week, I listened to a testimony about a man’s experience with the Corona virus. He is a sports writer who covers college football for the University of Mississippi. He contracted the virus along with his wife and one of his daughters. His symptoms were severe in comparison with their milder experience. He found himself in the hospital and although initially reluctant to be put on the ventilator because he had heard of the high mortality rate of those who did, he was finally convinced by his family to do so anyway. He lost consciousness and his wife was told that he had a 20 percent chance of being able to come off the ventilator. What amazes me and humbles me at the same time is his wife’s response. She was thankful to God for that 20 percent. She made up her mind that they would hang on to that 20 and just keep praying.
Her response reminded me of the fact that we need to be thankful for the little or much God chooses to give us. It would have been so easy to be thankful for 80 percent – in fact it would be easy to rejoice! But to be thankful for a mere 20 percent, I think, was just as important to God. He wants us to be thankful even when it doesn’t make sense ... and to keep praying...
I am reminded here of the story of the prophet Elijah in the Old Testament who believed God for rain during a season of drought in Israel (1 Kings 18:41-45). He sent his servant to check the sky to see if there was any sign of rain. The servant saw nothing. Seven times he went and finally the seventh time he saw something ... a very tiny something. It was a cloud about the size of a man’s hand! It didn’t seem very significant. It didn’t even seem like something worth mentioning but when he told Elijah, Elijah immediately told him to go and tell the king that rain was coming. Isn’t that amazing?! So many times we search the proverbial skies looking for something significant, something huge, something worth telling, something that is an indication that God is answering our prayer. But sometimes God only chooses to give us a tiny glimpse, a seemingly insignificant something that doesn’t seem like an answer to prayer at all. So I love it when this woman says that they were going to hold on to that 20 percent and keep praying. To her that 20 percent was not an indication to stop praying and give up. That seemingly tiny whisper from God was more like a shout declaring that help is on the way! Isn’t it so like God sometimes to answer us but not in the way we expect or hope?! It’s almost as if He is waiting to see what we will do – will we give up or will we keep trusting Him; will we give up or will we keep praying; will we give up or even stop serving Him if it doesn’t work out the way we would like?
A couple of days later, his liver and kidneys started failing and she was encouraged by a doctor to start planning his funeral. She was told to just take him off the ventilator. She was being encouraged to give up! But she responded that she believed in miracles and that her husband was a fighter. She would not come between God and her husband. When I heard this response I was amazed. She would not get between God and her husband! I took that to mean that she was not going to make that decision to take his life, that would be God’s final decision. She let God make that final decision and when she did He chose to give her husband life. They never stopped praying. They never stopped believing God for a miracle. Her husband believes that prayer was the key weapon to bring about his deliverance. As her husband put it, he was prayed out of there. He admits he doesn’t know why God chose to spare him but he believes that God allowed him to go through that experience so that he can have a story to share with others about the power of prayer.
I am actually in agreement with him. Prayer is more powerful than we can ever imagine. However God chooses to answer is still an answer because God will never respond with anything less than His best for us. It’s not always about getting what we want or about things working out the way we want them to, but it is always about getting God’s best for us. So, my encouragement to us? Don’t stop praying. God has been teaching me this important lesson over the past several years and I am not disappointed. And if I am not disappointed you won’t be either.
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your life as Lord and Saviour, I encourage you to do so now. It is so nice to have someone on call 24/7. It doesn’t matter the time of day or night, God is ALWAYS there. He has promised to never leave us or forsake us. That means that He is always there when we need Him. Even when others fail us God never will!
Last week I shared on coming into agreement with what God says instead of what we may be seeing right in front of us. I don’t want to move on just yet from this concept. I want to spend a little more time on this. Around the same time I watched the video from Pastor Mike Todd that was the motivation for last week’s blog, I also watched a video by Pastor Steven Furtick. It was a tiny snippet from one of his sermons and was entitled “Facts vs Truth.” The line from this video that catches my attention is: “...no word from God will ever fail; if He speaks it it’s true even if the facts say otherwise.” If we didn’t get it last week, here it is again: if God says it that settles it. It's a lovely little cliché we love to bandy about but do we always believe it especially when challenging situations come our way? Pastor Steven used the example of Goliath (1 Samuel 17). The fact was that Goliath was way taller than David. The fact was that Goliath was an experienced warrior while David was not. But the truth was that while Goliath would be relying on his military prowess and strength, David would be relying, not on his meagre strength but on his very big and able God. When presented with that truth there was no doubt who the clear winner would be!!!
I think about the story of the woman who suffered with a blood issue for twelve years (Mark 5:25-34). It wasn’t twelve days, or twelve hours or twelve months, but twelve years! By that time, she had run out of money to pay physicians to help her and instead of getting better she got worse. The doctors themselves had probably given up, friends and family had probably given up, maybe even she too had given up. But here came Jesus on the scene – the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6a). She had been facing and living with facts for twelve years – the fact of her incurable sickness and the sad fact that she was an outcast in society because she was considered impure. But then came Jesus, the Truth – the One who could cure any sickness or disease, the One who could cast out any devil no matter the amount, the One who could raise the dead . . . the One who could do the impossible!!! When she heard He was coming her way, she decided to try one more time. I guess you could say that she chose to take her eyes off of the facts and she became focused on the Truth and she didn’t take her focus off of Him until she had touched the hem of his garment, even in spite of the thick crowd around her. She was drawn to that Truth, she didn’t want facts anymore and she would do anything to reach for that Truth, that One who would be her Healer and Deliverer ... and He did not disappoint!
How willing are we to take our eyes off the facts and fix our focus on the Truth? How willing are we to do whatever we have to, to reach for that Truth which is found only in Christ? Yes, it can be difficult. We are so accustomed to going by what we see, that it is difficult to go by what God says. It takes a whole lot of faith and trust.
I’ll be honest, in my own life, I often go by what I see. It can be so difficult to trust God and have the faith, not so much that He can but that He will. Recently, I had an interesting experience. It really got my attention to the point where I am chucking as I write about it now. I have been concerned and so been praying for a particular individual. After some labored prayer on their behalf, I felt as if God was just telling me to trust Him with them, that He would take care of them. I felt an immediate peace, confidence and relief as I released that person into God’s care. Not long after – about a few hours later – I found myself praying for another individual. Suddenly, out of the blue, God reminded me of the other person I had been praying for just a few hours earlier. If I could trust Him with that person, I could trust Him with this one too. I think I stopped in mid-pacing of my floor as I realized that what God could do for one He could certainly do for the other. I had become so focused I guess on facts. The fact was that these people were going through what they were going through and I was not able to fix things for them. The truth was I was going on their behalf to the One who can fix anything ... even difficult situations! And if He told me He would do it for them, then He would!
I just want to encourage us today. The facts are what they are but the truth is wrapped up in a God who is able to do the impossible. If He says it that settles it. So, remember two things: God’s Word will not return to Him void but will accomplish what He wants it to accomplish (Isaiah 55:11) and with man it is impossible but with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26; Mark 10:27; Luke 18:27)!!!
If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your life as Lord and Saviour, please take that step now. We all need Someone bigger and stronger than us who can handle anything that comes our way and who will not make a promise to us He can’t keep!
This blog provides inspirational nuggets inspired by the Word of God and serves to encourage and motivate Christians in their Christian walk.