“Playing the hand that is dealt…”

Blessed New Year to you! I do hope that it has started off to a happier, healthier start and that dreams are being born again into hearts and while I do agree that this title is a bit different I do hope it will encourage someone somewhere today to have that hope and that faith that through Jesus even the toughest hands sometimes dealt in the game of life can be traded out one card at a time for a hand that is so much greater and can very well be the hand that wins it all.

And of course I do have to do my “preacherly” duty here and note that I am not advocating gambling by any means and when you think about this you can relate to playing the game “war”, or “Old Maid” as a child or even friendly for fun games such as “Spades” or “Rummy” and in my humble belief, if it’s not betting for money, it is just a game.

But of course we all must be led by our convictions as how the Lord has dealt with us, so please know I mean no offence whatsoever, but this is how I was led to address this thought today and maybe, just maybe, this  thought is sent forth to “hit the hand” of someone who does love a gamble here and there and today is the day that all that could change.

So on with it shall we go? As we said good-bye to 2020, a year, time, and season certainly destined to go down in the history books as a lyric from the song itself. “should old acquaintance be forgot”, a year everyone will want to forget as if an acquaintance that we wished we had not met due to the pain it brought many but even with the pain it brought it still brought families closer together and hearts bursting with compassion for the hurting, and a well deserved and long overdue admiration and respect for those who literally risk their lives to care for those who can’t care for themselves and often being the last hand to hold the hands of those who were going to their eternal home.

And will it be better and will it cease, not a one except the one who watches over us all knows the answer to that question and the only answer I have is the Gospel, He will NEVER leave you and he WILL never forsake you and He truly holds this world and all that are in it in the palm of his hand. And the hardest question ever to be answered and yet so often asked is why?

The answer to that is we are in this world, and this world was NEVER meant to be our final destination. I have wrote many a post on that subject, but it is well worth repeating, life trips us, the pain we endure on this earth is our stumbling block and the means that we often turn to deal with that pain can be our destruction, if we do not choose to opt for a new card from that deck that life deals from.

That’s what I would like to rely today, life is not always fair, actually the longer you live the more you realize, it is NEVER fair, and that is in our thinking because we can always find someone else whose problems and sufferings are so much greater than our own, and my late sister, my absolutely precious Ruby always said that, that we would never suffer what Jesus did, Jesus was sinless, spotless, and never ever hurt anyone or anything and only did good, always, even blessing those that cursed him and he was beaten absolutely unrecognizable and nailed to a cross.

The God of the universe, in the flesh, nothing but PURE LOVE and gentleness, and grace and they murdered him, they hated him for the same reason they hate you, for the same reason that “deck” of the cards of life seem and probably are stacked against you because you do belong to the Lord, whether you know it at this moment or not, even if you don’t accept it, you still belong to him and all the bad things that seem to come one after another is only the enemy trying to prevent you from ever accepting God’s love, mercy, peace, and forgiveness.

And often those who have accepted Christ feel so burdened, so discouraged, so alone and overwhelmed that the enemy can convince them that it’s just not worth it. but that is such a lie.

It is worth it and the reality is, just as God gave us his word in Eccesslaties chapter three, our human state is just that, the human state, all we all experience the same emotions and hardships, in many different ways, but we still all love, we still all struggle against hate, we all, cry and yet we all find seasons of rejoicing and others do truly experience more pain and sorrow than another but we are all subject to this life and as spring gives way to summer, we are always subject to the wind and rains that the storms of the changing seasons do bring. 

Perseverance pays off and it pays big because you will be rewarded on this earth but your greater reward is eternal and there will be NO heartache, no death, or no more pain once you are given that eternal reward. But don’t lose sight of it, don’t just accept the cards you have been “dealt”, don’t just leave them laying there, pick them up, look at each one, and play that to the best of your ability make the best of your life, don’t automatically assume that everything is over and that there is no hope for a brighter future ahead.

But you have to believe for that future. you have to believe, trust, and have faith, that if Jesus is your Savior, He will take care of you, and they he will give you victory over your enemies and he will take your brokenness and give you something so beautiful in return but you have to stay in the “game” and you have to play out that hand. He is STILL God, the ONLY God. 

He is still very much in the business of restoration.

Check out this passage of scripture, this is one of the many prophetic writings that Jesus fulfilled when He came to earth and He still offers us these wonderful promises TODAY.

Isaiah 61: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings (good news) to the meek; he hath sent me to bind up (HEAL) the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty (FREEDOM) to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;

To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord; and the day of vengeance of our God, to COMFORT all that mourn;

To appoint unto (console) them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they  might be called the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.

And they shall build the old waste (ruins), they shall raise up former desolations, and they shall REPAIR the waste (ruined) cities, the DESOLATION OF MANY GENERATIONS.

And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowman and vinedressers. 

But  ye shall be named the Priests of the Lord: Men shall call you Ministers (Servants) of our God: and ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves. 

For your shame ye shall have double (DOUBLE HONOR); and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion; therefore in their land they shall possess the double (double blessing): everlasting JOY shall be unto them. 

For I the Lord love judgement (JUSTICE), and I hate robbery for burnt offering; and I will direct their work in truth, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.

And their seed (descendants) shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people: all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the Lord hath blessed.

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of SALVATION, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments (dresses himself elegantly for a wedding), and as a bride adorneth herself with jewels. 

For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before ALL nations.” 

Notice all the beautiful promises of the Lord, and the promise of double blessing to you in return for all the shame and hurt that you have been cause by those who have lied on you and mistreated you, you will have double honor, and you will have everlasting joy.

Joy that this world or any person in the world can take away, rejoicing eternally and the awesome promise that not only can this be YOURS, you can through your obedience and your life CHANGE the lives of those you love for the better and for eternity.

Don’t  give away the  inheritance Jesus died to give you.

Anyone who reads any of my posts knows by now that I love the Apostle Paul and I love Paul because he was such a rough character, he was the nightmare of the early church, he persecuted the followers of Christ and hunted them down until that fateful glorious day that he had an unrequested appointment with the King and Jesus took what was the the churches most formidable enemy and changed him into one of the main writer of the New Testament and Paul NEVER forgot where he “came from”.

He knew in himself he was nothing and could do nothing but with Christ living in him God used to change the world and even today as we read and we study, he is STILL changing the world, think about that…

He wrote all these epistles, letters to other believer to encourage them and teach, and warn them all during his sufferings and while he would have prayed it made a difference to those who received those words, do you really really believe that he could have had a inkling that those words would span two thousand years?

Did ANY of them have even a small clue of the impact THEIR lives would have not only in that generation but for all the generations to come until the end of all time?

What about YOUR life? How could possibly know what difference your choices NOW can make even after you leave this world? You can’t know and that is why no one has the option of giving up or worse leaving all those cards turned face down because you are already so sure that you have lost the game.

Nothing is over until it is over and there is always hope, as long as you have breath in your body you have the gift, the grace of God to change your life and play those cards for all they are worth until a better hand is dealt your way.

And with that I am going to leave you with words about staying in the game, written differently by a far superior writer than myself, but “listen” to his words of encouragement to his spiritual son,Timothy, and know that he lived like we do, he had been wrong, he had sinned, he had to ask forgiveness, he hurt, he bled, and he was persecuted as he had persecuted BUT he trusted God, he prevailed through God and he played every hand that life “dealt” to the best of his ability.

2 Timothy 2:1-12:”Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

Thou therefore endure hardness (harshness), as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

No man that warreth (goes to battle) entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath CHOSEN him to be a soldier. And if any man strive for masteries (competes in athletics), yet he in not crowned except he strive lawfully (plays by the rules).

The husbandman (farmer) that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.

Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.

Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel;

Wherein I suffer trouble as an evil doer even unto chains, but the word of God is not bound.

Therefore I endure all things for the elects (chosen ones) sake, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

For it is a faithful saying; For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him; If we suffer (endure), we shall also reign with him; if we deny hi, he will also deny us.”  He was referencing there his almost constant imprisonment for preaching the Gospel and even those he could be chained the word of God could never be bound and he was exhorting Timothy to stand strong, which then translated time as God had ordained taht those words would be to ENCOURAGE US ALL.

Now we’ll finish up here, as he is leaving his last words,a s he is ready to be put to death, beheaded, martyred for the word of God.

2 Timothy 4:1-8: ‘ I charge (urge) thee therefore, before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick (living) and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom.

Preach the word, be instant (ready) in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke. exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

For the time will come when they will NOT endure sound doctrine (true gospel); but after their own lusts heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears (people will only want “preachers” that will tell them what they want to hear);

And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables (will believe lies and false teachings). But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

For I am now ready to be offered (killed), and the time of my departure (death) is at hand.

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course (race) ,I have kept the faith:

Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day and NOT to me only, but unto ALL them that love his appearing.”

Now reading that, even though you have probably read it and heard it all before, refreshing it in your heart should give you hope, hope and courage to go on, go on and stay in the game, you will win, just keep playing and don’t be afraid to change hands,

Φλογιζω NBJ 2021/ Reverend Nina Brown Johnson

“Protecting the Vines”

“And it came to pass, that on one of those days, as he taught in the temple, and preached the gospel, the chief priest and the scribes came upon him with the elders. And spake unto him, saying, Tell us, by what authority doest thou these things? or who is he that gavest thee this authority?

And he answered and said unto them, I will also ask you one thing; and answer me: The baptism of John, was it from heaven or men? 

And they reasoned among themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then believed ye him not? But if we say, Of men; all the people will stone us; for they be persuaded that John was a prophet.

And they answered, that they could not tell where it was hence (where the authority came from). 

And Jesus said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.

Then began he to speak to the people this parable; A certain man planted a vineyard, and let it forth (leased it out) to husbandmen, (tenant farmers) and went in a far country for a long time.

And at the season (vintage time) he sent a servant to the husbandmen, that they should give him of the fruit of the vineyard; but the husbandmen beat him, and sent him away empty (empty-handed)

And again he sent another servant: and they beat him also, and entratedhim shamefully, and sent him away empty. And again he sent a third: and they wounded him also, and cast him out. 

Then said the lord of the vineyard, What shall I do? I will send my beloved son: it may be they will reverence him when they see him.

But when the husbandmen saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, This is the HEIR: come, let us kill him, THAT THE INHERITANCE MAY BE OURS.

So they cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him, What therefore shall the lord (owner) of the vineyard do unto them?

He shall come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others. And when they heard it, they said, God forbid.

And he beheld them, and said, What is this then that is written, THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED,THE SAME IS BECOME THE HEAD OF THE CORNER? Whosoever shall fall on that stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. 

And the chief priests and scribes the same hour sought to lay hands on him; and (but) they feared the people: for they perceived (knew) that he had spoken this against them. 

And they watched him, and sent forth spies, which should feign themselves as just men (pretend to be righteous men of God) that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor.” Luke 20: 1-20

A lot going there, of course we know Jesus was referencing the fact that God had leased out earth, if you will, and even the term husbandmen- literally, tenants, farmers living there and owing the owner a portion of those crops.

And as he sent the servants, we know these are the prophets, and instead of heeding the words of the prophets, they chose to beat and ostracize them, and what I really love about this passage is this, when the owner sent his son, they KNEW he was the son, never once says anything otherwise, they knew exactly who he was, they wanted him dead for one reason only, so that they could take his inheritance. 

And we also know that Jesus was also speaking to the fact that his own people had rejected him and in their doing so the vineyard would be given to others.

The priests and scribes who were supposed to be in service to him wanted not him, only the power and prestige that their positions brought them and they wanted that so much so that they will kill the very heir to ensure they kept that statue. And we also know that in their rejection of him, that vineyard was given to “others”, we know also that that means “us”, us being those as Jesus said “whosoever will-come”.

That rejection by his own people opening the door for all nations, all kindreds, and all tongues, as it is written, everyone, anywhere the world over now being offered that beautiful vineyard because those who were to keep only wanted to keep it for themselves. 

But we can also see so much more in this.  as the Bible tells us, “nothing new under the sun”, one of my go to scriptures, and there’s not. 

Is there really that much difference from those of  that day beating the servants and killing the son in order to hold on a little longer to what was nevers theirs to hold on to, and those of today that will try to destroy the servants of that same vineyard in order to keep power and prestige of this day? 

Those who will deny the very existence of God, sanction and even enforce the slaughter of the unborn, euthanize the elderly and those they consider “broken beyond repair” all the while pretending it is all for “the greater good” spreading hatred and division, inflaming others to pledge allegiance to them, being worked into such a frenzy that they never stop to investigate a little farther exactly what and who they are pledging that allegiance to. 

Same vineyard, different keepers and they will so anything, anything to try to keep an inheritance that is not theirs.

We know Jesus was talking about this earth and we know that just as they persecuted him, even sending out pretenders to spy on him, to listen to him, to try to trap him and we know he has children the world over under the same persecution today.

Same vineyard, same owner and same old devil working through those who want to take what belongs to a kingdom that shall never be taken.

So think about it today, and see it for what it really is, all the politics, all the power struggles and those who would sell their souls to the devil himself to feed the power hungry beast inside of them, who only want recognition and power and control over others and in gaining that control they will do everything in their power to keep that control, so choose your allies carefully and if it does not adhere absolutely to the word of God, don’t align yourself with it.

And if those “husbandmen” that are like those before that beat the servants, killed the son, are now persecuting you, know this wonderful thought, they did indeed kill the Son but he ROSE and that the next visitor to the vineyard will be the one who created it and he will protect and he is coming back to defend it.

Φλογιζω NBJ 2020/ Rev. Nina Brown Johnson

 

Groovin’ the Gauntlet

“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” Romans 8:18

The Gauntlet, the reality of the answer of the age old question, what is the meaning of life. That is the answer, not quite what you would think is it?

We are all souls with God, who is eternal, no beginning, no ending, self -existing and ever existent  until we are born to this earth.

As God told Jeremiah, first chapter- fifth verse: “BEFORE I formed thee in the BELLY, I KNEW THEE; and BEFORE thou camest forth out of the womb I SANCTIFIED (set apart) THEE, AND I ORDAINED (appointed)THEE A PROPHET UNTO NATIONS.

As with the names that were written BEFORE the earth was formed. Our souls just as they are eternal, were with Him until time for whatever the reason, to be born onto the gauntlet field of this world.

1st Ephesians 1:4: “According as He hath chosen us in Him BEFORE the FOUNDATIONS OF THE WORLD, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.”

So we are born, hit the ground and IT IS ON.

 The gauntlet is formed against us BEFORE we can even hit the ground running, because the enemy knows more about you than you do!

The gauntlet of the “tares”, the weeds the devil planted among the children, on one side and facing you on the other side the demonic forces of hell, so you start your run between the tongue wagging finger pointers running themselves, trying to set those stumbling blocks before you, every imaginable scheme will be hatched for their use as a weapon against you, just trying to knock you down with everything they’ve got.

So you are running as fast as you can trying to keep one eye on the course in front of you and one eye on the weapons coming after you but then you see on the other side of your course the demonic forces armed and ready with snares and traps set every step of the way and many, many archers with their bows poised and the fiery darts ready to rain down, the farther you make it the more they are gonna hit from both sides, the “holier than thous” just dying to see you fall so they can tell all their buddies they were right about you the whole time, the devil starts bringing out bigger and bigger giants, more and more archers and sends the storms chasing you.

Sound pretty unbelievable?  Ah, Jesus said “for this cause” He was born into the world.  His cause being to DIE on a cross, not only die but to be tortured, humiliated, and rejected, his gauntlet beginning with his forty days in the wilderness, which HE MADE IT THROUGH HIS FORTY DAYS, he remained completely spotless and sinless and us being human CAN never achieve that, BUT we are to strive and stay on that course.

Now add in just the reality of living, grief, sorrow, heartache, because it rains on the just and the unjust, EVERYONE WILL RUN THE GAUNTLET.

But those with Christ have an expected end to this course.

This is the reason we are commanded to NOT look to the right or to the left, and NEVER EVER LOOK BACK, only forward, if we don’t look to either side we can’t lose focus worrying about what is getting ready to hit us and WE ARE COMMANDED more than once to not look back, if you do you will see what is gaining on you and you will stumble over those blocks that has been placed before you.

Your entire reason for living is to bring glory to the Father and to help as many as you can run the gauntlet that has been set before them by the god of this world  (2nd Corinthians  4:4).

Paul was very apt in describing his gauntlet and we often feel that our burdens are heavy but I know for me, I gain so much encouragement from reading what they suffered and being blessed to read the end of their stories and how God used all those things to enlarge the Kingdom.

2 Corinthians 11:23-30 ” Of the Jews five times I received forty stripes save one (they thought it merciful to give 39 lashes as opposed to the 40 you were sentenced to, so at the time he wrote this Paul HAD RECEIVED A TOTAL OF 195 lashes) . 

Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; journeys often, in perils of waters, IN PERILS BY THE BRETHREN, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, IN PERILS AMONG FALSE BRETHREN ( notice both groups listed, the ones who ARE your brethren that set those stumbling blocks and the FALSE brethren sent by the enemy). 

In weariness and painfulness, in watchings (sleeplessness) often, in hunger, in thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.

BESIDES THOSE THINGS (other things) WHICH COME UPON ME DAILY, the care of all the churches.

Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is offended (MADE TO STUMBLE), and I burn ( BURN WITH INDIGNATION) not?

IF I must needs glory, I WILL GLORY OF THE THINGS WHICH CONCERN MINE INFIRMITIES.”

 What he was saying if he survived all these things and yet glorified God in all them through showing love to others, how could ANYONE complain of their own sufferings?

He learned the groove of the gauntlet,  he learned to accept it for what it is and go with it.    

 He knew that is had to be ran, to fight it just held him up and there was people whose lives would be changed, there were others to help.

His purpose was NOT to fight in retaliation those who manned his gauntlet but to show the love listed above, to grab onto those who had fallen or were wounded by fiery darts and pull them with him to the finish line.

Acts 16 tells us of the arrest of Paul and Silas for doing just that, praying for a possessed girl to be delivered, this enraging those who were using her possession to make money through fortune telling, they were beaten and thrown in prison.

Paul had learned to be content in ALL situations and learned to REJOICE in affliction because the more he suffered for the Gospel, the GREATER the POWER OF GOD rested upon him, so with excruciating lash wounds on their backs they STILL sang and praised God, this pleasing God who sent an earthquake and opened every cell, now they could have left, completely free and thought “Ha, Ha the jerks get what they deserve for beating us.”  

BUT when Paul saw that the jailer was going to commit suicide because they had all escaped, Paul called to him NOT TO harm himself that they were all there.

That is that love and the jailer and his entire family was saved because Paul knew how to play the gauntlet and HE DID EXACTLY what GOD WANTED HIM TOO.

Just as Jesus “who for the joy SET BEFORE HIM ENDURED THE CROSS, DESPISING THE SHAME, and is sat down at the right hand of the Father.”

Those of Hebrews 11, who should give anyone hope and courage to press on.

Learn to groove that gauntlet, play it smoother than any jazz tune ever played.

The prize we seek is NOT in this world.

It is in the next and the true secret is what they knew, press on, press on, press on.

Pick yourself up, let the tears fly as you run, but RUN, RUN with everything you got and grab on to all you see who have fallen in their own race against the gauntlet, pull them, drag them whatever you have to do to help them to that finish line, but never ever look at those opposing you just look to the Author and Finisher of your faith.

He made it through His forty days and Forty nights and then He ran that gauntlet that hell itself had prepared and he died running it BUT HE ROSE and FOREVER SHALL REIGN!

Φλογιζω/ NBJ 2015 

Original post date 12/04/15 revisited 07/01/2020 As you go through your day and your week, please remember that this world and the troubles of this world are temporary, just as our first verse assures us and in these awful days in which we live set yourself with one purpose and one goal and that goal is this, a reminder of what Jesus told us,NEVER LET THEM STEAL YOUR CROWN.

Groovin’ the Gauntlet

“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” Romans 8:18

The Gauntlet, the reality of the answer of the age old question, what is the meaning of life. That is the answer, not quite what you would think is it?

We are all souls with God, who is eternal, no beginning, no ending, self -existing and ever existent  until we are born to this earth.

As God told Jeremiah, first chapter- fifth verse: “BEFORE I formed thee in the BELLY, I KNEW THEE; and BEFORE thou camest forth out of the womb I SANCTIFIED (set apart) THEE, AND I ORDAINED (appointed)THEE A PROPHET UNTO NATIONS.

As with the names that were written BEFORE the earth was formed. Our souls just as they are eternal, were with Him until time for whatever the reason, to be born onto the gauntlet field of this world.

1st Ephesians 1:4: “According as He hath chosen us in Him BEFORE the FOUNDATIONS OF THE WORLD, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.”

So we are born, hit the ground and IT IS ON.

 The gauntlet is formed against us BEFORE we can even hit the ground running, because the enemy knows more about you than you do!

The gauntlet of the “tares”, the weeds the devil planted among the children, on one side and facing you on the other side the demonic forces of hell, so you start your run between the tongue wagging finger pointers running themselves, trying to set those stumbling blocks before you, every imaginable scheme will be hatched for their use as a weapon against you, just trying to knock you down with everything they’ve got.

So you are running as fast as you can trying to keep one eye on the course in front of you and one eye on the weapons coming after you but then you see on the other side of your course the demonic forces armed and ready with snares and traps set every step of the way and many, many archers with their bows poised and the fiery darts ready to rain down, the farther you make it the more they are gonna hit from both sides, the “holier than thous” just dying to see you fall so they can tell all their buddies they were right about you the whole time, the devil starts bringing out bigger and bigger giants, more and more archers and sends the storms chasing you.

Sound pretty unbelievable?  Ah, Jesus said “for this cause” He was born into the world.  His cause being to DIE on a cross, not only die but to be tortured, humiliated, and rejected, his gauntlet beginning with his forty days in the wilderness, which HE MADE IT THROUGH HIS FORTY DAYS, he remained completely spotless and sinless and us being human CAN never achieve that, BUT we are to strive and stay on that course.

Now add in just the reality of living, grief, sorrow, heartache, because it rains on the just and the unjust, EVERYONE WILL RUN THE GAUNTLET.

But those with Christ have an expected end to this course.

This is the reason we are commanded to NOT look to the right or to the left, and NEVER EVER LOOK BACK, only forward, if we don’t look to either side we can’t lose focus worrying about what is getting ready to hit us and WE ARE COMMANDED more than once to not look back, if you do you will see what is gaining on you and you will stumble over those blocks that has been placed before you.

Your entire reason for living is to bring glory to the Father and to help as many as you can run the gauntlet that has been set before them by the god of this world  (2nd Corinthians  4:4).

Paul was very apt in describing his gauntlet and we often feel that our burdens are heavy but I know for me, I gain so much encouragement from reading what they suffered and being blessed to read the end of their stories and how God used all those things to enlarge the Kingdom.

2 Corinthians 11:23-30 ” Of the Jews five times I received forty stripes save one (they thought it merciful to give 39 lashes as opposed to the 40 you were sentenced to, so at the time he wrote this Paul HAD RECEIVED A TOTAL OF 195 lashes) . 

Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; journeys often, in perils of waters, IN PERILS BY THE BRETHREN, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, IN PERILS AMONG FALSE BRETHREN ( notice both groups listed, the ones who ARE your brethren that set those stumbling blocks and the FALSE brethren sent by the enemy). 

In weariness and painfulness, in watchings (sleeplessness) often, in hunger, in thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.

BESIDES THOSE THINGS (other things) WHICH COME UPON ME DAILY, the care of all the churches.

Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is offended (MADE TO STUMBLE), and I burn ( BURN WITH INDIGNATION) not?

IF I must needs glory, I WILL GLORY OF THE THINGS WHICH CONCERN MINE INFIRMITIES.”

 What he was saying if he survived all these things and yet glorified God in all them through showing love to others, how could ANYONE complain of their own sufferings?

He learned the groove of the gauntlet,  he learned to accept it for what it is and go with it.    

 He knew that is had to be ran, to fight it just held him up and there was people whose lives would be changed, there were others to help.

His purpose was NOT to fight in retaliation those who manned his gauntlet but to show the love listed above, to grab onto those who had fallen or were wounded by fiery darts and pull them with him to the finish line.

Acts 16 tells us of the arrest of Paul and Silas for doing just that, praying for a possessed girl to be delivered, this enraging those who were using her possession to make money through fortune telling, they were beaten and thrown in prison.

Paul had learned to be content in ALL situations and learned to REJOICE in affliction because the more he suffered for the Gospel, the GREATER the POWER OF GOD rested upon him, so with excruciating lash wounds on their backs they STILL sang and praised God, this pleasing God who sent an earthquake and opened every cell, now they could have left, completely free and thought “Ha, Ha the jerks get what they deserve for beating us.”  

BUT when Paul saw that the jailer was going to commit suicide because they had all escaped, Paul called to him NOT TO harm himself that they were all there.

That is that love and the jailer and his entire family was saved because Paul knew how to play the gauntlet and HE DID EXACTLY what GOD WANTED HIM TOO.

Just as Jesus “who for the joy SET BEFORE HIM ENDURED THE CROSS, DESPISING THE SHAME, and is sat down at the right hand of the Father.”

Those of Hebrews 11, who should give anyone hope and courage to press on.

Learn to groove that gauntlet, play it smoother than any jazz tune ever played.

The prize we seek is NOT in this world.

It is in the next and the true secret is what they knew, press on, press on, press on.

Pick yourself up, let the tears fly as you run, but RUN, RUN with everything you got and grab on to all you see who have fallen in their own race against the gauntlet, pull them, drag them whatever you have to do to help them to that finish line, but never ever look at those opposing you just look to the Author and Finisher of your faith.

He made it through His forty days and Forty nights and then He ran that gauntlet that hell itself had prepared and he died running it BUT HE ROSE and FOREVER SHALL REIGN!

Φλογιζω/ NBJ 2015 

Original post date 12/04/15 revisited 07/01/2020 As you go through your day and your week, please remember that this world and the troubles of this world are temporary, just as our first verse assures us and in these awful days in which we live set yourself with one purpose and one goal and that goal is this, a reminder of what Jesus told us,NEVER LET THEM STEAL YOUR CROWN.

Sticks and Stones #2 “BLOOD BROTHERS”

“Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death.” Mark 13:12

“For the son dishounerth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter in law against her mother in law:  A MANS ENEMIES ARE THE MEN OF HIS OWN HOUSE”  Micah 7:6        

“A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is BORN FOR ADVERSITY.” Proverbs 17:17                                                        

Fair to say these are some serious warnings of ye olde family unit making frequent appearances at Drama Ville dinner theater.

Recorded in the Bible it started at the beginning, Genesis chapter 4, and it started with Cain the firstborn of Adam and Eve and of course the older brother to Able.Cain became jealous and angry because God accepted Able’s offering but not his, Cain had offered what HE wanted to offer NOT what was acceptable as an offering, instead of heeding God’s warning to him, he let his anger simmer and steep until it hit the boiling point.                                            

Genesis 4:8 ” And Cain talked with Able his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in a field, that Cain rose up against Able and slew him.” 

He talked him into going into the field with him, with the intention of killing him the entire time. Again leading me to believe that Able, like Joseph just did not have a clue to this secret hatred was until it was too late.                                                                                            

We know the story of Joseph and how he was one of two sons bore to his father Jacob by his choice wife Rachel and he was half-brother to the ten bore by Leah, the wife that he had been tricked into marrying.

Now maybe the bad blood was a direct result of that and who truly knows the effect that all the strife and hatred between these sister wives had on the ten as they grew up, who knows the discussions they may have heard and who knows if their ultimate hatred for Joseph was born out of their own feelings of inadequacy because we do know Joseph was the favorite son.

But we also know that it was because Joseph was not anything like them,he was like his mother, he was gentle and mild, it was because he was pleasant to his father.                                                                

Maybe it was just the sowing of the tares with the wheat. I really don’t think Joseph understood that his brothers seriously hated him, I believe that in his innocent thinking and his young age that he just did not get it and when he shared his dream, satan then used that to push them over the edge, he was just a teen-aged boy sharing what in his eyes was the coolest dream ever, we know that his Dad rebuked him for this because being older, wiser he knew that the others hated him.        

Genesis 37:18: “And when they saw him afar off,even before he came near unto them, THEY CONSPIRED AGAINST HIM TO SLAY HIM”   

He did not have a clue, but after they had thrown him in a pit to drown (only there was no water in the well ) they sat around laughing and eating lunch and then changed their mind and sold him as a slave, he finally, painfully, understood.                                                                                                                                                                                 Selling Joseph forewarned of the entire Hebrew nation being enslaved to Egypt and many today live enslaved in emotional prisons built by the hands of their family members and built on their spiritual blood  The Bible really doesn’t detail Jesse thoughts toward David but we can read between the lines, he is young, writes poetry, plays music, the creative type, so he is given the job of watching over the flock.                                                                    

David was not even considered by his father when Samuel called for the sons to presented and that just about said it all. And we know when push come to shove and all the men of Israel was cowering down before Goliath, Davids true character started shining through:

1 Samuel 17:26,28: “And David spake to the men who stood by him, saying, What shall be done unto the man that killeth this Philistine, and taketh away the reproach from Israel? for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God? And Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spake unto the men; and Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why comest thou down hither?and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thy heart; for thou hast come down that thou mayest see the battle”

Eliab’s entire personality revealed!

The oldest ones seem to have the biggest issues, the parable of the prodigal son even has this theme, the angry older brother. Always angry because they feel they did not get the attention they deserve. He was angry because he saw something in David that he knew he did not possess in himself, courage in the face of a giant.

He wanted to line David out and “put him in his place” in front of the other men as a show of bravado, he could still tell off little brother there.

Why are you here? Why were you born? Why do you have to be here anyway?

Sounds like some of the things many ears have heard. Who is watching your FEW sheep, just got to prove whatever the younger has watch over is not just quite as good or meaningful.

Now he has to let everyone know what he thinks about David with accusations of pride, (remember the accuser of the brethren, one of satan’s many name’s, well he loves nothing more than to accuse you through your brethren!) and of course he had to give a reason for good show.

And  I know  David put up with this on a regular basis, check out his answer: 1 Samuel 17:29; ” And David said,What have I NOW DONE? (what did I do now?) Is there not a cause?”

Breakdown, Cain was angry and jealous because of Able’s offering being accepted by Father God. his only response for his action was “Am I my brother’s keeper?” In his eyes, his little brother was not his problem and when he was called on his deed, he only cared about saving his own neck.

God was with Joseph, Joseph named his firstborn son Ephraim, meaning “God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction”  and giving us all hope in the fact that what is meant for harm God will use for good.

Joseph’s brother’s were angry and resentful over his relationship with their father.

But he forgave his brothers but the cosmic repercussion of it all still sent an entire race into slavery for over four hundred years.

We do see that David fared pretty well, one whom the whole group of the thought was no more than a singing pretty boy is still considered one of the most fierce warrior Kings to ever have existed and whatever became of his brother Eliab, I haven’t a clue, but David’s throne is forever established of God.

Goliath laughed at David, mocking him, mocking his size and asking did he come against him with sticks as if he were a dog, more or less, sticks were something to beat something else with, but in the giant’s eyes it was no match for him, but the stones, the stones could break him, because just as that stone guided by the hand of God himself took that giant to the ground enabling David to take off the laughing giant’s head with his own weapon, God IS OUR ROCK and He always wins.

Maybe you have been or continue to go through these “family affairs”, but please hear me, just as with Cain and Joseph’s brothers, people can have far darker feelings toward us then we want to accept. It is hard to walk away from family member’s especially when subjected to the good old brainwashing like Eliab tried to use on David.

They will always blame you, they will always accuse you because Satan IS the ultimate older brother, to the children of God, he was created first, we were created in God’s image, he is older than mankind and he is jealous and angry because you can have a relationship with the Father that is now lost to him forever.

Giants even bigger than Goliath can be born of these relationships,so see it for what it is. Please stay with me, next time I want to give a boatload of scripture, God’s word to help with these things and take the heads off some giants, we’ll start it with a little “Blood Transfusion”!

Φλογιζω/ NBJ 2015   

For more in this series, please check out these posts: Bad BloodSticks & StonesAnger DangerStrangle Hold                                                    

EL ROI….. The well in our wilderness

“And Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, PUTTING IT ON HER SHOULDER, and the child and sent her away: and she departed and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.” Genesis 21:14
                                      
I can only imagine the torturous thoughts that played out in Hagar’s mind as she attempted to take her child and embark on what she believed would be their death march to die a slow agonizing death of dehydration and starvation, if they even survived the wild animals that they could be attacked by at even given moment.
Yet again, this was Sarah’s plan, she was quite a character and could have taught Samson a thing or two about manipulation and self righteousness.

She is probably the gene donor responsible for the cattiness, jealousy, and vanity that have plagued women’s relationships one to another since the dawn of time, much more so than anything we inherited from Eve.
How had it come to this? That question surely  flooded her mind, I am sure there were many, many times that she wanted to see both of them suffer, as they had made her suffer.

And now, as he put the bread and water on her shoulder, sending her and the child he was responsible for out into a formidable land to make their way back to Egypt, he was laying the entire burden of the enormous mess on her shoulders to be born alone.
But she WAS NOT alone, she only felt that way. 

She had been down this road before, as a servant subjected to Sarah’s insane idea to force her to bear a child to Abraham, once accomplished Sarah’s jealousy kicked in and she mistreated Hagar, Abraham refused to intervene, BUT God let Hagar know that it was THE CRIES OF HER HEART that he heard, not necessarily Sarah’s.

 Genesis 16:7-14 tells us: “And the ANGEL of the Lord FOUND her  by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur.  And he said, HAGAR, SARAI’S MAID, whence cometh thou? and whither wilt thou go (why are you here and where will you go?) and she said I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai.

And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands. And the angel of the Lord said unto her, I will multiply THY seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude.

And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael (God hears) BECAUSE THE LORD HATH HEARD THY  AFFLICTION.  And he will be as a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of his brethren.

And she called the name of the Lord that spake unto her, Thou God (EL ROI) seest me: for she said, have I also looked after (saw) him that seest me? wherefore THE WELL was called Beerlahairoi (well of one who lives and sees me); behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered.”

She did as she had been told, even submitting to the humiliation of giving birth to her son while sitting on Sarah’s knees to appease Sarah’s misguided  belief  that somehow this would really make the child hers.

But now they had Isaac and the very child they had forced her to bear and then taken from her, they have now given back, as if he were an unwanted pet replaced by one of a more valued breed and have sent them both on their way to an unknown fate.

But one thing Hagar was not aware of , this plan, although it had come from the mouth of Sarah, who didn’t care if they both died she just wanted them out of her face, God had given permission for this to happen and it WOULD NOW BE USED FOR HER GOOD.

God was going to use this, as He does all things, to her benefit, as when the angel told her to go back, this was a wilderness walk that she had to take, regardless of the pain and the injustice, this walk WOULD NOT LEAD TO THE DESTRUCTION OF HER AND ISHMAEL, BUT IT WOULD LEAD TO THEIR FREEDOM.
She would never again be slave to Abraham or Sarah and her maker would in fact now be her husband and a father to her son, who was now fatherless.

And just as her son was rejected by his own people and sent to Egypt, there would be another son called forth out of Egypt only to face the same rejection by his kindred.

But when all we can see is the wilderness in front of us, the hunger, the thirst and the fear of what is waiting down that road starts to set in, we forget the promises we have been given, what the angel has spoken and sometimes we need to be reminded.
Genesis 21:15-21 “And the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs, And she went, and sat down over against (across) him a good way off, as it were a bowshot: for she had said Let me not see the death of the child. and she sat over against him and lift up her voice and wept.

AND GOD HEARD THE VOICE OF THE LAD; and the ANGEL OF THE LORD CALLED OUT TO HAGAR OUT OF HEAVEN, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? ( THIS TIME HE DID NOT CALL HER SARAI’S MAID) fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad, WHERE HE IS.

Arise, lift up the lad, hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation. And God opened her eyes, and SHE SAW A WELL OF WATER; and she went and filled the bottle with water and gave the lad drink. And God was with the lad; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer. And he dwelt in the wilderness of  Paran: and his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt.”

I know the wilderness is a rough place, I don’t like it myself.
But you know had God not led Hagar on that journey and she had not agreed to trust Him on that trip she would have never realized the power and intimacy of God on her and her son’s life, remember the second time all she could do was cry, God heard Ismael’s prayers, HEAVEN ITSELF ANSWERED!  

She would have never known freedom. Just as Jesus was led by the spirit into the wilderness, and successfully resisted the devil and John the Baptist was prepared for his work and grew strong in the wilderness, it grows us.
There are required traits that we only acquire  in the wilderness, those barren, desolate places, sparse pastures that barely keep us alive, the side paths that are so lonely, we feel like tears are our only companion.
It is in those places, the wilderness, the deserts, the almost uninhabitable lands that the roses bloom and the fountains of living water burst forth out of that parched ground.
If you never had to go there, you would never know the sweetest of that water or the scent of a rose so strong and determined to live that it grew up through sand , pushing the rocks past, as the blazing sun-scorched down on it.

So don’t fight it, don’t even try to resist it, just take that trip with EL ROI, because He does live and He does see and He wants you to know you can depend solely on him, you may be like Hagar, alone in the middle of nowhere feeling like everything you love is about to die, have faith, He sees and He will show up and He will bless that which you thought was hopeless and prosper it and make it something so mighty it will beyond your wildest dreams.
Once you have been given these waters, you will never fear the wilderness quite so much again, I’m sure you won’t be excited to visit there again, but take along an empty suitcase, I promise you will return with a souvenir so rare, so priceless that you will never part with it.
Apostle Paul said “he glorified in his affliction” because he knew the sweet Holy spirit would rest on him and that was worth the brier scratches, the harder the enemy hit him, the greater the power of God would bathe him.
Go, you will be glad you did!
Original Post: 09/05/2014 & 03/28/2015 all rights reserved. Rev. Nina Brown Johnson/ baresoulphlogizo 2015/ revisited 05/02/2021 

Truly beautiful song.. As close as I could find to the thought of this post! Love and Peace!