Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Pit, Prison and The Palace

Ever received a prophecy or a vision that just catapulted your faith into an euphoria?  You've caught a glimpse of your future and oh, boy!  You're overjoyed and happy!  It looks GOLDEN, baby!  You're leaping for joy and just overly excited about your future.  And then, there goes the BIG BOOM, in the worst way.  You're hit with troubles on every side and that state of euphoria exited stage left and took a seat.
And you wonder, WHAT HAPPENED?

Please understand that although greater is coming according to Jeremiah 29:11, there are a few key items that you must remember.  I list these items with love because I do not want you to be shocked when trials stop by for a visit.  Many of these you're already aware of, but a simple reminder doesn't hurt.

The road to good success and greatness is NOT EASY.  Ask any self-made billionaire, millionaire or "thousandnaire."
There will be challenges.
You will make some mistakes. 
Pride will try to creep in; recognize it and stop it before it grows and take root in your heart.
There will be haters, even those closest to you, be it family or friend.
Everyone will NOT be happy for you.  Sorry, but it's the truth.
You may go through a period of isolation.
You can NOT tell everyone about your dreams.
Folks may lie on you and try to scar your reputation.
You may encounter deception along the way.
There will be some suffering and discomfort.

Doesn't sound fun, right?  But, wait!  The story does not end with those things.  I encourage you to look at each instance or trial simply as a cast member in the stage play of your life.   We must interact and intersect with each character (trial) to be directed into the "next act or scene" or next phase of our destiny.  These steps are necessary; although uncomfortable and confusing at times, it's necessary.  By the end of the "play," you'll have a better understanding and greater appreciation.  Don't knock the PLOT TWIST!

One of the greatest Biblical examples we have pertaining to this subject is Joseph, the son of Jacob (Israel).
Joseph can relate to each item listed and italicized above.  His story is beautiful and somewhat lengthy, but I will try my best to condense the key points so you can have a better understanding and perspective of life. 
You can read about Joseph's journey from the pit to the palace in Genesis 37 through 50.

Joseph was Jacob's favorite son and his brothers hated Joseph because of it. Joseph had two dreams, both having the same meaning: one day, he will rule and his family will bow before him.  In his "infinite wisdom" (comment oozing with sarcasm here), he told his brothers and his father about the dream.  Talk about adding gallons of gasoline to an already-lit match!   His brothers' hatred grew and they decided to kill him.  Thank God, the oldest brother, Reuben stepped in and saved Joseph's life. So they threw him in a pit, saw a band of Ishmeelites headed their way and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites.

Now, I'm going to fast forward and hone in on key points of how necessary it was for him to experience the pit (barren area of desolation, isolation and discomfort) and prison before he began to walk into his dream, his destiny: the palace.

If Reuben had not saved his life and threw him into the pit, Joseph would not have been sold into slavery.
If Joseph wasn't sold into slavery, he would not have connected with Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh (be mindful of your connections).
If Joseph had not found favor in the sight of Potiphar, he would not have been made overseer of Potiphar's house.
If Joseph wasn't overseer, Potiphar's wife would not have seen and pursued him. PLOT TWIST!
If Joseph hadn't ran from Potiphar's wife, she would not have lied on him.
Joseph ended up in prison because of the lie.
If he didn't go to prison, he would not have had the opportunity to interpret the chief baker's and chief butler's dreams. CONNECTION.
If he didn't interpret the chief butler's dream, the butler would not have told Pharaoh about Joseph when Pharaoh needed an interpreter for his own dream.
If Joseph had not interpreted Pharaoh's dream, he would not have been placed second in command to Pharaoh.

See how each event played an intricate role, ultimately leading Joseph to the palace?  I am sure that during this journey, Joseph was not thinking, "I'm headed to the palace, y'all!"  He was trying to survive! 
If you had a conversation with Joseph, I know he would have told you that it was NOT a fun journey, but it was humbling and worth it.  His life was at stake several times, but he became second in command, was given a wife and name change, at the tender age of 30!
Joseph's name was changed to Zaphnath-paaneah.  Although the true meaning is up for debate, some say it means "God speaks, he lives," or "revealer of secrets."

Good success isn't overnight.  It could be, but will it be concrete, lasting success?
It took him 13 years to get from the pit to the palace. Joseph LITERALLY and PHYSICALLY started at the bottom. A pit is a illustrative type of HELL.  Look up the word pit in Webster Dictionary.
It was all necessary-every trial, every tribulation, being lied on, going to prison, even the mistake of Joseph running his mouth too all worked out for his good! (Romans 8:28)

Treat each trial as a learning experience.  Understand that although it may hurt like hell, IT'S NECESSARY, to start at the "pit, in order to get to the palace."

I pray that you were inspired,


Scripture references: Genesis 37-50, Romans 8:28 1 Peter 4:12-13     

**All images are courtesy of Google.  Author does not claim ownership of images used**

Friday, May 26, 2017

Return to Sender

Over the past couple of months, one interesting thing happened to me
two times in a row, in two separate situations.  I've had some "mail returned."

In each situation, I was sharing some words of encouragement with two different people.  On the exact same day, right after I spoke with them, a situation occurred that provoked me to encourage myself with the very same message I shared with them.

What's most interesting, however, is the timing.  These totally RANDOM situations happened almost immediately AFTER speaking with these individuals.  It was like God was preparing me for what was to come by allowing me to minister to someone else WHILE indirectly ministering to myself.  I remember my former pastor, the late Apostle E.K. Wilson saying that when God gives you (the preacher) a message, it's to you first, then to the congregation.

In one of the most recent encounters, after I had a chance to sit down and collect myself after the incident, my phone call with this individual replayed in my mind.  It was as if someone pressed an invisible "PLAY" button.  I had to chuckle; I shook my head and kept saying, "WOW."  I was like, "Okay, God."  The very words I shared with a friend concerning learning the life lessons had to be applied to my own situation.

The Bible declares in 1st Peter 4 to not think it strange concerning fiery trials which is to try us, as though some strange thing happened to us; but instead to rejoice!  As Christians, we will endure trial after trial, tribulation after tribulation.  The life of a believer is not peaches and roses all of the time!  Isn't it wonderful to know that troubles do not last long? Most of the time, there is a lesson to be learned out of the situation. 
We must be prepared to "eat" the same meal we serve to others.  How we face and endure troubles becomes our greatest witness. 

Do you know that you can do the same thing in your prayer time with God?  You can place a "Return to Sender" on your prayers.  The very same words God has spoken to us through the written Word can be returned to Him.  My pastor often says, "put the Word back on Him."  When I'm praying about a particular situation, I'll often say, "God, You said in Your Word that..."
If you're praying about a financial struggle, say "God, You said in Your Word that You shall supply all my need according to Your riches and glory!"  (Philippians 4:19)
If you're praying for healing, say "God, You declared in Your Word that by Your Son's stripes, we're healed!"  (Isaiah 53:5)
If you're in the midst of trouble, say "God, You said in Your Word that we can cast all of our cares upon You!"  (1 Peter 5:7)

Watch God hasten to perform His Word!  God can not lie!
And when you give that brother or sister words of encouragement, make sure you apply those same words  when a similar situation stops by your door.  If you can dish it, you gotta take it.  Endure, come out victoriously and God will be glorified!

I pray that you were inspired,