Monday, May 12, 2008

Words of Encouragement

Are we sometimes like this plane? It has all the capabilities to soar, but it is grounded and unable to see all the "visual" possibilities. (Taken at the O'Hare Airport, by Jewel D. Williams).

What can I say for you? With what can I compare you, O Daughter of Jerusalem? To what can I liken you, that I may comfort you, O Virgin Daughter of Zion? Your wound is as deep as the sea. Who can heal you? The visions of your prophets were false and worthless; they did not expose your sin to ward off your captivity. The oracles they gave you were false and misleading. All who pass your way clap their hands at you; they scoff and shake their heads at the Daughter of Jerusalem: "Is this the city that was called the perfection of beauty, the joy of the whole earth?" - Lamentations 2:13-15

What can you see? Is the vision clear? The word Lamentation actually means to express grief or to lament. The prophet Jeremiah laments over the condition of the people of God. They have listened to the many words that have allowed them to do things their own way, but have rejected the truth of God's word.

Because of their disobedience, they find themselves in need of comfort and care. It is the same for us today. If we continue to be disobedient to God's truth, we find ourselves in places of discomfort.

The people listened to those that spoke words that allowed them to feel comfortable in their sins. The messages they listened to allowed them to while they may have sound good to them, were not good for them. It is the truth for us today. If we are going to stay clear of being in a place of captivity, we must have clear vision and see what God is showing us.

I flew to Oklahoma this weekend and as I was sitting on the plane I began to think about our visual, how we see. When I first got on the plane, all I could see was other planes around me. I couldn't see ahead of me, below me, my visual ability was limited. It was not until we took off that I began to be able to see more of what was around me.

It is not until we "take off" that we are able to see clearer. We must take off the sins that so easily beset us. We must take off our attitudes, our wrong beliefs and our fleshly pursuits. When we to that, we then can be healed. We do not want the prophet Jeremiah's lament to upon our lives. We do not want his words to ring true in our lives. We do not want to be in need of healing, but unable to come out of our captivities because we have been running after the wrong vision.

Today I pray that we see clearly what God has for us to see. Lord help us to see your truth and to discern what would lead us into captivity. Lord today give us your vision so that we will not perish.

The Week in Review

Picture of the University of Chicago, taken by Jamie Williams. I encourage all the children to see the beauty of God's world from their perspective.

(As presented at the WCG Conference in 2005)

3. Increase in wisdom: the ability to discern or judge what is true, right or lasting. If our children are not as healthy as they can be emotionally, this will affect where they are spiritually. I want you to know we play a big part in that. We are our children’s first teachers on what is true and what is right. We are their first teachers on how they should handle the things in their lives. Let’s look at some of those areas we can affect.

How to suffer – I know that as a parent our first response to this is I don’t want my child to go through any pain, so out of my love I will protect them from the things that will hurt them. Yes there is some wisdom in that belief. Now you don’t want to sit back and watch your child burn him or herself when you can take them away from the fire that will hurt. There are however times when your child will suffer and what you do with that situation can make a great impact on them and help them to grow in their understanding of God, grow in wisdom. Let’s read Hebrews 2:9-10 and 1 Peter 2:20

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. Hebrews 2:9-10

For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 1 Peter 2:20

Let us look at the example we have here. God the father allowed his son to suffer. What did Jesus suffer? He suffered physical pain, he suffered spiritual pain and he suffered emotional pain. He suffered the physical pain by bearing in his body the nails, the crown, and the piercing. He suffered spiritual pain by feeling the isolation from his father when he took on our sins. He felt the emotional pain of not feeling the closeness to the one most important to him, his father. God being the wise father he is allowed the suffering even though it broke his heart, because he had a purpose he wanted fulfilled through his son’s life.

You and I as the parent must look at suffering the same way. Yes it is a hurtful place to seem to be standing by and not stopping the suffering, but God didn’t just stand by, he was there.

My middle child who is now seven has asthma and suffers from pneumonia quite often. She has problems with sinus infections and the list is endless. When she was about 3 years old she got really sick. It started as a virus and it got worse. I remember waking that morning and feeling the Lord telling me there’s urgency. I kneeled beside my bed and said Lord speak to me, tell me what it is and what do I need to do. He did. He told me what signs to look for in my daughter and how to tell the doctor so he would understand the problem. When I called and told the doctor he sent us immediately to the hospital.

To make this story short, it was really serious. The doctors tried to tell us in as nice a way as they could that we could have lost her. She had to have surgery because she had pneumonia with fluid around her lungs. She ended up having to have a blood transfusion and we were in intensive care for 11 days. She had to have antibodies given for about two months after that. They had to put a pic-line in her arm, so the medicine could go straight to the source. I was ready to ring the neck of the doctor putting that long thing in her arm. She was in such pain. I held my tongue, because I knew that for her to suffer this pain it would be for the betterment of her entire body. When everything was removed and we came home, there was a mark on her stomach from one of the bandages. It was the letter F. I’ve used that letter on her stomach on several occasions to explain to her about her suffering.

She asks me sometimes mommy, why do I have to be sick? I don’t like to be sick? I told her you know, mommies don’t know everything, but I believe I can speak with confidence on this matter. God in his wisdom knows something’s that I don’t. And you couldn’t be sick and feeling bad (suffering) if God had not allowed it to happen. Maybe he is allowing it because he wants you to know something about him that’s very special. First he wants you to know that if he is allowing this to happen to you it is because he looked through time and saw this was going to bring about something wonderful in who you are to become. God also said to himself, Jamie, can handle this as long as she trusts in me, because when she is weak, I’ll make her strong. Maybe he’s using it to develop your compassion for others. Maybe he’s using it to build something in you that he will use later to give him glory.

He may also be allowing you a special glimpse into something about him that others take for granted. Because breathing is something that you sometimes have to labor for, he’s allowing you every time you take a breath to think about how you have found favor with him.

You know that “F” on your stomach, that’s God’s mark on your life. He’s allowing you to know that you have found favor with him. He will support you as you continue to trust in him through whatever you go through. It’s a reminder for you that nothing is greater than him, no matter what it looks like.

See we need to tell our children that in the midst of their suffering that can have the favor of God on their lives. They may not have an “F” on their stomachs as a reminder but they have God’s favor as a mark on their lives. Allow them to see that through their disappointments, their upsets, their losses of friends and loved ones that God can support them. If our children can get that while they are young, oh God what a different generation this will be.

Encouragement: We also can encourage our children. My oldest daughter had eczema quite bad when she was younger. She would get such bad flare ups that her skin would look like she had been in a fight with a mountain lion and he had shredded her skin around her neck, arms and legs. She would get it very bad in her hair, and she scratched so bad that she scratched herself bald in places. We would try to give her medicine for her skin and it would burn so much until my husband had to sit on the kitchen floor with her in his arms and hold her until she stopped screaming. She didn’t want us to give her the medicine because it would hurt, but we knew that she had to have it so that her skin would heal. As much as I wanted to remove the hurt, and the pain I couldn’t, it was something we were going to have to go through. So I pulled out my pom poms in the spirit and began to cheer her on. I told her I was proud of her. She asked me why. I told her you could be angry because God hasn’t removed this from your life, but you aren’t. He isn’t punishing you. God in his wisdom knows more that you or I. We will continue to ask for complete healing, but even if he doesn’t, it doesn’t mean that he isn’t still worthy of our praise. I watched someone doing the micro braids and ask God to help me learn how to do them, so that I could keep her hair as pretty as I could. He answered me. I learned to braid and it has helped her to feel pretty again. Her hair is now longer than it was when she first scratched it out. I make sure I affirm her that what we see isn’t who you are. So your outside is doing some really crazy things right now and maybe you don’t see your beauty, but it’s there. See dear sisters, please let us get this great message to our children, you are not your circumstances. The things that happen to you are not who you are. You are not your sickness, you are not poverty, or whatever lot you find yourself in. If we do this we take away the ammunition that the enemy will use against our children to make them feel defeated and useless. He will begin to whisper in their ears, you are of no value, and you might as well give up. Don’t set them up for his tricks. Bind his hands and pull out your pom poms and cheer them on to victory.

When a child comes into this world they are going to feel pain. The birthing process brings about pain. No matter how much medicine we give the mother, the baby will still have to go through some pain. It couldn’t feel good somebody twisting your head and coming from a place of comfort to an unknown place, there has to be some pain, some suffering.
Well that’s what God wants us to know today suffering can birth something inside of your child. If God is allowing something in the life of your child, help them as the doctor does the new born baby, guide them, coach them with your gentle hand to go in the right directions but know that as you do, you are helping to birth in them, God’s glory.

The Week in Review

“The Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth”
Originally preached by Jewel D. Williams
at Faith COG 8/06(Part V)

So what does this truth call for you and I to do?

We must die as Jesus did. – You and I must crucify self so that when we do, we are nailing the sin in our lives on the cross so that they no longer have control over us. Let us stop walking as sinners, but as saints because that is what we have become. That is what Jesus gave his life for, so that you and I could walk in victory. We have the victory right now. We believe that when Jesus died and rose again, he took control from Satan over the people of God. Yes, Satan is still walking to and fro and he still has control over the lives of the unsaved. The day you are saved, he loses his control over you. He cannot do anything to you that God does not allow him to. And he is really stupid. He is stupid because God takes the things he does for harm against us, and God uses it to grow us. See God knows those areas in our lives that are weak or still under the control of the flesh and he will allow Satan to tempt us in those areas because he is going to use the trial to bring about new growth in us. God would not allow you to be tempted if he didn’t know you could make it through, God does not set you up for failure. And secondly Satan wouldn’t tempt you in these areas or try to trick your out of your victory if he didn’t think you could pass. If you were going to fail, he wouldn’t have to bother you. But he bothers you because he knows if you trust God you will pass the test. The oxymoron is you and I allow him to take our victory. Think about that, you already have the victory and you give it away. Stop giving him what is already yours.

We must be made alive to Christ. – We then rise from the grave (the places were we were buried. We were buried under the weight of sin, shame, and guilt) to a new life in Christ. Christ rose in power and when we rise, we rise in power. We rise to do those things that Christ did. The truth is, you and I were raised by the power of Christ not to simply come to church Sunday after Sunday never changing and growing. The power of the cross and the resurrection gives us the ability to move from our ordinary life to an extraordinary one. So me, a simple mother of three, with a past history of abuses, with no self worth, with no sense of value, with no power to overcome the past hurts can now become a great warrior in the battle for the Lord. See before I could not see the vast wonders before me. I could not see that my prayers would availeth much. I could not see that I could preach the word of God and that it would set the captives free, and it would bring new life into that which was dead. I did not see that I could use all my gifts to the glory of God.

Are our lives reflective of the one we believe in? I don’t know about you but I want to see the miraculous show forth from my life. I want to see God’s power do wonderful things through me. And so I stand as one that carries a burden for the church just as Paul loved the church and cared for her, so I stand to say, do not allow anything to move you from the truth of God’s word. Do not be fooled either that you can do as you wish and because you got saved you can continue in sin. One of the greatest areas I see of issues in the lives of individuals is they want to hide sins. If you confess them to God he will forgive you of your sins. The problem comes in when you listen to the enemy tell you don’t let anyone know what you did, because God forgave you, that is all is needed, besides who does your sin hurt? You would be surprised how your sins and its consequences can affect the lives of others. Do not expect God to listen to your prayers until you go back and correct what you have done to someone else. We have to start being willing to be transparent before the Lord and before each other. That’s why Adam and Eve covered up; they were trying to hide their sins. God is calling for his people to be transparent before each other. We cannot do anyone any good with hidden sins. Do you know that God can’t grow you until you confess those hidden things in your life? Don’t say, well I confess them to God so that is all that counts. It is not. God is concerned about our relationships with each other. You might have to go to some people you have offended because of your sins and ask them to forgive you. Now if they don’t that’s between them and God, but now you have cleared your path to God. That is God’s truth uncut. See I am not going to give you a message to sooth you, or pacify you, but the truth because truth sets you free, lies only call for more lies and when you lie, even if it is by omission, you are trying to protect yourself. Self-preservation. That is not of God. Truth uncovers, and truth does what is right even if it calls for hurt to self. Truth people, God wants truth to be evident in your walk.

Let me tell you the truth on why this is most important, no sin can enter into heaven. Hell is a real place. Hell is a place of eternal torment. And let me give you my understanding of what makes the torment so horrific, God’s presence isn’t there. I had a conversation with someone about the fact that all, even the unsaved have someone they can say love them. You feel love from your parent, your spouse, friends or brothers and sisters. And do you know that in hell you won’t have love. And the most terrible part is this, when you stand before the judgment seat of God, you will for that brief moment experience the fullness of God’s presence and in that presence is love, to have it quickly taken away. So you will be in hell forever remembering how that love felt, but to have it no longer. Your heart will long for it, but it will never be quenched. Your mind will remember it, but you will not ever get it. See the Jehovah’s Witness preach their truth that if you die you will go to an eternal sleep and not be in the presence of God. That is not true. You will be awake, feeling the torment, the agony of hell. You will be aware eternally of what you have done. I weep to think of an eternity without feeling the love of God, an eternity without feeling joy, peace, rest, or his comfort. And the greatest torment is knowing you could have had all these things, but you refused and sent yourself to hell, not God.

So today, I come to say to you, let us not lean to our own understanding. Let us eat God’s word so that we can be equipped to stand in these last and evil days. Many are coming and have already entered this world that want to deceive you. The enemy wants to lull you into a false sense of security in yourself. He wants you to doubt what you have been taught. He wants you to walk away from the truth of God’s word. But I come in love and say do not be deceived. I come to say, do not give away the liberty you have been given in Christ. Christ came to set you free from sin and death. He requires you to walk in his ways. God gives you his Spirit so that you can walk this Christian walk. He does not expect you to do this alone. So no amount of work, self-denial, will make you reach heaven. Only the precious gift of salvation offered because of the Son of God can open to you heavens gates.