Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Lord, Where Are You

Hebrews 11:1 says now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Many people have heard many interpretations of that verse. For this post, we’re going to focus on having a faith in Him that will carry us when we go through a period of testing and trials in life. At the very end, I’m going to share a little of my struggle during the course of writing my novel, and I wondered where the Lord was.

If we looked at the three Hebrew boys in Daniel 3; you’ll find them at the point where they’re about to be thrown in the fire. Let’s focus closely where they tell the king that our God is able to deliver us from the fire and from the king. They were determined that God will deliver them from their trouble. You have to admit that the boys had a faith that was on point. And you have to admit that this was a trial that would cost them their lives. Because they responded to the king that they weren’t going to bow down to him, the furnace was seven times hotter. The king’s men bound them up and prepared them for the furnace, now watch this: the king’s men ended up in the fire. As a result, the three boys fell into the fire. Let’s pause for a minute. Where’s God in all of this? When we’re in the middle of a crisis, we tend to ask, Lord, where are you. Hopefully, after reading this, you won’t have to ask where He is (or encourage somebody who needs to know God is with them). The three boys weren’t initially delivered from the king or the fire. It was when they were in the fire that God walked with them. Sometimes God won’t deliver us when we’re going through a test or a trial. He will wait till we’re in it to deliver us. What we have to do is to have God’s Word in our heart and a faith that He is with us at all times. With that said, we must have a faith that He will deliver us in His time.

You might have gone through something in your life, and wondered where the Lord was. There’s a possibility that you went through it and weren’t delivered, not because He doesn’t love you or doesn’t care about you; you were chosen to make a serious impact around you. Think about this, when God walked with the three Hebrew boys, what happened? They were called out, and the king worshipped the true & living God. That’s serious. You are a survivor of something unique that can have a positive impact on someone else’s life and the devil doesn’t like you at all. If he can keep you in further torment, you won’t make an impact around you.

The devil wants you to bow down to him. And that’s typically how he’ll do it. He’ll threaten you to comply so you won’t make an impact. Now, I’m not saying that you have to willingly endure hardships. God will allow it for His purpose (though the devil wants to destroy you).

In Genesis 39, when Joseph was thrown in the pit, you’ll find it stated multiple times that the Lord was with Joseph. Potiphar’s wife lied on him (a trap from the devil). If Joseph gave in, his impact to Egypt would’ve been stifled. But Joseph did the right thing and still faced another hardship due to the lie of Potiphar’s wife. God will still with Him and was given favor in prison. God wants you to know that He’s with you in your darkest hour and that you believe He will deliver you and provide for you; but you have faith that He is will you and you are not forgotten. Have faith in His Word, His will for your life, and He will take care of you.

Now let’s pause for a moment. Think back to when you last said, Lord where are you? What was going on in your life? Was it a financial setback? Was someone trying to harm you physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually? Were you let go from your job? Did you lose your child via a miscarriage? And you needed the Lord the day before yesterday.  Of course, there are many more scenarios that I didn’t mention where you needed the Lord the day before yesterday. When you were in this scenario, you were praying, fasting, asking someone to intercede for you, or probably running away from God in anger. Does that sound accurate? Even though all of that occurred, God came through at the last minute (in our eyes, of course). What’s the message here, God knows what’s best for us and wants to have a faith in Him that He is with us no matter what we’re dealing with in life (whether good or bad).

As I promised, here’s what I went through. During the time of writing my novel, I faced something that almost took my life and I wondered where God was at a desperate time of need. Late last year, I experienced the breakup of a friendship. To me it was devastating and I really wanted a relationship with her. I felt that my life was over and I seriously contemplated ending my life. I asked God almost every night, where was He and to take these feelings from me. I was literally left alone (with the exception of very few friends who really prayed for me), for people were abandoning me leaving me to deal with this on my own (and some probably didn’t want to pray for me). I struggled with that for about 4 months until the time I submitted my novel to my editor. The novel wasn’t the cause for me feeling that way, it was the relationship going wrong. I felt like everything was my fault (and granted, people inside & outside the church were saying it was my fault and that I need to deal with it). God showed me that He was with me through it all and it showed during the writing of the novel. If you have a copy of my novel, look at the acknowledgments and you’ll find that was very personal to me. If I had given up, like the devil wanted me to, you all wouldn’t have a novel (and believe me, the devil would’ve been ecstatic if had not been released). I thank you all for receiving my novel so graciously, and most importantly, I give God praise for the strength and being with me through writing it. With that, I want to thank my editor and copyeditor for being my friends through it. You two had to hear me my cries the most (apart from the Lord, of course).

In closing, when we ask the Lord, where is He; remember He said in His Word, that He will never leave us no forsake us. It may not seem like He’s there when we want Him to be, but He’s always there. He’ll show up in His time when we’re in a difficult situation. Most cases, it’s to build our faithfulness in Him, and for us to strengthen someone else after we’ve made it through. Now I have to thank God because He has really strengthened me after releasing my novel. Someone else can say that they have been strengthened by Him after gone through something traumatic. Don’t let the devil lie to you saying that He’s forgotten about you. But remember, we have choices to make and we must learn to make Godly choices under pressure. Even if we make unrighteous choices, we repent and He will still be with us. Now the question we really should be asking is not where God is; but asking where we are. Most of the time, we’re hiding like Adam & Eve from the Lord. He wants us to run to Him (whether we sin or not). Let’s stop our hiding and find refuge in a God who loves us, who is with us and wants us to be faithful to Him alone.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Power of Relationships

Many people say that people are in our lives for a reason, season, or a lifetime. If we carry this attitude in our relationships with people, we can miss a lot of blessings. It can also breed selfishness. Why do I say this? If we have a spirit of love towards everyone, we don’t have to spend all of our time focused on how long a person is in our life. Most people classify people like that is because they have a motive of their own. This is not to condemn anyone; we should always have a spirit of love and generosity towards people. No matter how long a person stays in your life, treasure the time with them and don’t cut them off unless you really need to regulate or terminate the relationship (especially if they’re taking you down a path that’s contrary to Scripture). Sadly, we terminate relationship because of trivial things (I could write the numerous trivial things, but it’s not relevant to this post) and our own selfishness. Think about it, Jesus didn’t cut Judas out of His life. Judas cut himself off by betraying Him and taking his own life. Jesus really wanted Judas to repent and He still showed compassion towards him.

If the truth be told, the Kingdom of God is centered on relationships. Yes, He is the Lord of the Harvest but we need to understand that our breakthrough, our increase, our open and closed doors are hinged on someone. Many times we miss that blessing because we don’t want to get along with people or we’re judging them because they appear different than you. Some of us are holding on to Bitterness, Unforgiveness, and Grudges (what I call the BUG syndrome), which is a great hindrance to our blessings. What we need to understand is that the one who annoys you totally can be the very one who has your breakthrough. This is why we need to follow God’s lead and not our own! Let’s look at Luke 6:38, it says “Give and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall MEN give into your bosom.” Notice that it didn’t say shall God. I need to say this: sometimes we miss a blessing because of pride. Someone reading this post needs to swallow their pride and ask for help or prayer, or not look down on people because they don’t have a title. Some of those people you look down on could actually have your blessing. Remember pride goes before destruction. That selfish spirit of “I can do it by myself” or “I’m to have all the answers” needs to go! In summary of this paragraph, there will be people who mistreat you. Don’t think for one minute that it’s not God. They could be, but we need to learn to get along with others and relate to people (now I’m not saying to kiss up to people – many of you know me and how I feel about that). Always remember, the righteous will never be forsaken!

Another problem is that we’re trying to determine our blessings on our own terms. Most blessings come when we are united with other brothers and sisters as we’re helping each other with our God-given assignments. And to think, God gave us all of the resources we need. He didn’t drop anything from the sky. A little side-note: there will some people who will be complacent and not put their hands to the plow when it comes to their assignment, while still praying for a blessing from God. He can do all things, but He won’t do your assignment for you. As I just mentioned, He has given us the resources so we can complete our respective assignment. My assignment affects you, and your assignment affects me and they both make us better and more effective to the world.

In closing: relationships are critical. Always treat people with respect and with God’s love. Philippians 2:3-4 says this: Don’t do anything from selfish ambition or from a cheap desire to boast, but be humble toward one another, always considering others better than yourselves. And look out for one another’s interests, not just for your own.

This is why we need to be led by His Spirit (walking and living by faith) and not be moved by what we see in front of us!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Author Spotlight (Sheri Henry-Harrigan)

This week, the author spotlight is on Sheri Henry-Harrigan.

Sheri Henry-Harrigan  is an author and publisher for her company Diamond Studded Publications which was founded in 2012. She has one short story and two flash fiction titles published under the pen name MzSheriBaby. They are Tales of the Broken Hearted, Tangled Desires and Da Streetz Don't Luv Me Like She Do. She is currently working on 4 projects including her first screen play. Sheri also is a promoter. She promotes authors works via social media. 

She is a wife and the mother of a two year old son. She is currently a student at John Jay college of Criminal Justice in New York, New York expected to graduate in 2013. She resides in New York City.