“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

MISSION….Staying the course

“Then Jerubbaal who IS Gideon, and ALL the people that were with him, rose up early, and pitched beside the well of Harod; so that the host of the Midianites were on the north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley.

And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are TOO MANY for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt THEMSELVES AGAINST ME, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me.

Now therefore, go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and DEPART early FROM mount Gilead. And there returned (left) of the people twenty and two thousand; and THERE REMAINED ten thousand.

And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people are yet (still) TOO MANY; bring them down into the water, and I will try (test) them for thee THERE: and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee; and of whomever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go.

So he brought down the people unto the water: and the Lord said unto Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shall thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink.

And the number of them that lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, were THREE HUNDRED men;  but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water.

And the Lord said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped I will save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand; and let all the other people go every man into his place (home).” Judges 7:1-7

Most know the story of the oppression by the Midianites and they were fierce and when God called Gideon  to lead the people to freedom, he wanted some assurance and…. a little more.. well much more  reassurance that this was God’s will and that is a very good and noble desire. So I would imagine that deep down Gideon pictured this battle taking place with a multitude of the strongest of the strong and with the host of heaven as guard and with back ups for his back ups.

We too, fall into this human realm of thinking, we want that back up, that assurance that our numbers are far superior than those of our enemies, but as Christians, we have our enemies we see and we have the many, many more unseen enemies to our salvation and our walk. God sees things a bit differently, He wants the enemies, the world, and US to know that our victories come through Him and through Him ALONE.

Zechariah 4:6: ” Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This IS the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, NOT by might, NOT by power, BUT BY MY SPIRIT, saith the Lord of hosts.” 

Things that may not always look quite right to us can be EXACTLY right on target with God’s plan. Our problem come when we question, ponder, and consider the why’s , why not’s, and the dreaded what-if’s.

Instead of pondering we need to go down to that water for a little bit, what was so different about the three hundred?  For starters, twenty-two thousand left for fear, and there is nothing wrong with admitting fear.

And there is nothing wrong with being afraid, that IS why God gave us so much comfort through His word, with scriptures such as, “What TIME I am afraid, I WILL trust in thee” and His promise to “NEVER leave us or forsake us” but that is sometimes and there are sometime when we have that fear we have to just set it out and wait for that fear to pass, because we have all been afraid in life, BUT in the operations of battles of faith, there IS no room for fear. Fear and faith can not coincide because it will lead to double mindedness and we can not waver into fear creating doubt against the very thing we are believing for, that is why we were warned over and over again about fear, remember, ” For God hath NOT given us the SPIRIT of fear; but OF POWER, and of LOVE, and of a SOUND MIND.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

Those fears play over and over attacking our minds with the what-ifs, and why’s and why not’s and that creates doubt and discouragement that stifles the faith that He has given us and the working of His power in our lives and His perfect love which casts out ALL fear.

So now he is down to ten thousand, still quite a number, but STILL too many, because it would have been a little too easy for the flesh to rise up and convince people that they were strong and that was what won the battle.

And God likes to work in the realm of IMPOSSIBLE, that IS His specialty! The test was in the water… they were ALL at the water, the separation came based on how they chose to drink it. The MAJORITY just bowed at the water and the three hundred paid attention and stayed on alert and they USED what they had, they brought the water to their mouth by hand and they weren’t afraid of being inappropriate or considered uncivilized, they had a mission and the mission was there only concern. 

I think this is how the last day harvesters are going to play out, as the separation continues, as we are in the great falling away but we know we are also approaching the pouring out ( I think we have actually already entered into it) people have to know their mission and not look to the left or to the right, ONLY to the Lord because it IS all Him, just like the mighty victory He gave Gideon. Gideon needed ONLY to obey and God gave him every encouragement he could have dreamt of along the way.

Maybe your church doesn’t look quite as full as you’d like, or your ministry seems stuck on auto pilot, life may seem to be taking you everywhere but where YOU WANT TO GO. Have faith, you have no ide what God is doing behind the scenes and if you give up, you WILL never know hat could have been, so DON”T EVEN ENTERTAIN THAT THOUGHT.

The army of the Lord is not for quitters and once you make that conscious decision to stand, even if you are the last one standing, you will be glad you did, when all looks hopeless, when all looks impossible, THAT is when the sweetest victories come, and it makes you stronger in the Lord because you KNOW, HE has allowed you to stand, in the face of the enemy, in the face of your fears, in the face of your hurt, sorrow, and despair, you then can show others, that they too can stand.

Don’t despise the “small things”, don’t question things you may not understand at the moment, stay your course and accept your mission, USE what He has given you, no matter what others may think, when you find yourself at that water, don’t be too afraid drink!

Φλογίζω Σαλπιζω NBJ 2017

LOVE this song! Try singing it!