Nuggets from Noah: The Perks of Living in an Ark

This reflection was written July 8, 2016 in one of my journals. Today I was reminded of it. I was encouraged all over again. I pray it encourages you:

Today I felt led to read the story of Noah (Genesis 7:9-17). While reading, I tried to rush through it assuming I knew everything there was about Noah. The Holy Spirit, said “slow down and read all of it.”  As I started to take my time to read, I recognized the time it took for Noah’s world to return to its regularly scheduled programming (i.e. no animals, no living in an ark, and etc.). It took well over a year for things to return to “normal.” It took 40 days to flood the earth and over a year to restore the land.

As I read this story, I started to see my life. I too have been in an ark, a place of protection during the flood of life.  It is as if all that was good, honest, and true were permitted to remain while every lie, deception, past mistake, and negative mindset were left out of my ark. The world as I knew it was being destroyed around me; and I was forced to be by myself as things from my past were being drowned by the torrential rains of God’s love, truth, forgiveness, and grace. It was cold and dark, but I was never alone. Being in similar situations, I assumed it would not take as long to get out the ark. However almost 7 ½ months later, I am still in the ark. Things are slowly returning to normal, and the sun is starting to shine again. It is not quite time to come out, but I have more hope that the doors will be opening soon.

I must retract my statement about Noah’s life returning to normal. Nothing was normal about Noah’s life after leaving the ark. In the beginning of the story, he had just a piece of land to call his own. Now, he had the world as his possession. He already had authority as the patriarch of his family; but he obtained dominion over the earth upon leaving the ark. His family had been entrusted with replenishing the earth for the glory of God. He went into the ark as a servant, and he left it as a Ruler. He went into the ark following commands, but he left it free to do what his heart desired.  Noah was a completely different man a year or so later after being in the ark. He had become wiser; skilled at taming animals; and a great strategist dealing with the issues that arouse on the ark. Noah’s patience was perfected while waiting to be released from the ark. He became a master at caring for creation. He developed a deeper understanding of God while enduring the flood. Building the ark proved God to be a provider. Living in the ark proved God to be a protector and sustainer of His creation.

 Today you may be in what appears to be the greatest storm of your life. Having gone through a few storms, you assumed God would have responded by now. However, you do not know what is being prepared beyond your limited view of the situation. God is developing a place where you can thrive, have dominion, and enjoy His creation. Take a lesson from Noah and wait on God. Allow God to handle what is outside of your power, and you tend to what you can fix. Allow this time to perfect your love and skills. Let the truth of God’s love for you assure you that this time will not last forever.

Noah received new instructions upon leaving the ark, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth.” (Genesis 9:2) Initially, he was restricted by what could go into the ark. Once Noah was released, he was given permission to produce as much as he could for as long as he could. Authority is given to those who submit themselves to God’s will during the time of a storm. I pray you will be found submitting yourself to God’s will while in your storm. There is something God is working inside of you and outside of the ark. Yield to the process and watch God keep his promise of protection and provision. You’ll be released from the ark at the perfect time. Thanks for reading!-Charity Israel

 

 

 

 

Getting Know God: El Roi

El Roi: The God Who Sees Me

One of my favorite names to use for God when praying is El Roi. Every time I use it I find it to be an instant reminder that He is aware of my circumstances. It tends to ease the ache of the request; and it sets God back in his proper place as God above all that is bothering me. In Genesis 16, we are introduced to the name El Roi, by a woman named Hagar. For those of us who may not be familiar with Hagar, she was the servant of Sarai (Abram’s wife). Sarai had the bright idea to help God in fulfilling His promise to her husband and suggested that Abram sleep with Hagar. As Sarai desired, Hagar became pregnant. Once pregnant Hagar started to treat Sarai with contempt (v.4). Sarai returns the favor and treats Hagar so harshly that she runs away.  It is in this time of running that she is found by the loving-kindness of God:

7 The angel of the LORD found Hagar beside a spring of water in the wilderness, along the road to Shur. 8 The angel said to her, “Hagar, Sarai’s servant, where have you come from, and where are you going?”“I’m running away from my mistress, Sarai,” she replied. 9 The angel of the LORD said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit to her authority.” 10 Then he added, “I will give you more descendants than you can count.”11 And the angel also said, “You are now pregnant and will give birth to a son. You are to name him Ishmael (which means ‘God hears’), for the LORD has heard your cry of distress. 12 This son of yours will be a wild man, as untamed as a wild donkey! He will raise his fist against everyone, and everyone will be against him. Yes, he will live in open hostility against all his relatives.”13 Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the LORD, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.”a She also said, “Have I truly seen the One who sees me?” 14 So that well was named Beer-lahai-roi (which means “well of the Living One who sees me”). It can still be found between Kadesh and Bered. 15 So Hagar gave Abram a son, and Abram named him Ishmael. (New Living Translation)

I find the timing of God very interesting in this story. At any moment, He could have revealed himself. However, he waits until she is expecting and in a dry place before He reveals he has been with her the entire time. He waits until she is out of options, without friends, and without any sense of direction before he says, “I see you!” He allows her to feel every ounce of fear, isolation, and abandonment before revealing the I AM is with you. It was not until she was away from all that she had known that she came to know God for herself.

God did not simply reveal himself to her in the wilderness; but he spoke to her purpose. He provided her with instructions on how to rectify her past mistakes (v.9); and he gave her insight to what her future would entail (vv. 10-12). It never cease to amaze me that how one encounter with God can bring wholeness and clarity to the thing(s) that pains us the most. Hagar heeded to the instructions that were given to her, and she was able to return “home” with a better understanding of who her God was and what was in store for her future.

For those of us who may be in a wilderness situation like Hagar, I would encourage us to:

  1.  Sit still for a moment and allow the voice of God to speak to our situation.
  2. Admit where we were wrong and mishandled the situation, relationship, and etc.
  3. Stop rehearsing the offenses and choose to forgive those who hurt you. 
  4. Obey the instructions that God give us.
  5. Walk free from condemnation knowing that the God who sees has come to your rescue.

El Roi is aware of all that is hurting you, and he is waiting for the moment that you stop trying to figure things out. He longs to commune with you so that He can reveal the truth of who His and who you are to you. My prayer is that you come to know God as El Roi, the God who sees me so that you can see yourself as He does. Hagar’s life was never the same, and I am certain your will not be either.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit: https://biblein2015.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/el-roi-the-god-who-sees-me.jpg

How Firm is Your Faith?

“…Unless your faith is firm I cannot make you stand firm.”-Isaiah 7:9

This was God’s response to King Ahaz in light of the threats that had gone out against Jerusalem. For the sake of time allow me to paraphrase the story. The word on the street was that King Rezin of Syria and King Pekah of Israel were plotting to attack Jerusalem. Fear began to consume the hearts of the people and the king of Jerusalem because of what they knew about the two forces that were coming against them. But God sent the prophet Isaiah to give a word to the king. This is what he says in Isaiah 7:4, “Tell him to stop worrying. Tell him he doesn’t need to fear the fierce anger of those two burned-out-embers, King Rezin of Syria and Pekah son of Remaliah…” God then shares his plans for both of those nations, and he concludes his words to King Ahaz by telling him, “Unless your faith is firm. I cannot make you stand firm.”

In other words, this is my promise to you, but I cannot make you believe it. You now have the option of living in fear because of what “they” said or in faith because of what God said. When the Alpha and Omega declares to you,” Do not worry about your enemies;” you should make it your business not to worry about your enemies. God knows they appear stronger in your sight, but He is greater than those who stand against you.

I also want us to take a moment to consider where the king of Jerusalem was standing when he received the word of the Lord from the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah 7:3 says,”…you will find him at the end of the aqueduct that feeds water into the upper pool near the road leading to the field where the cloth is washed.” In other words, he was near the royal laundry mat which was symbolic of the enemies he was being threatened by. They were washed up! They were useless. God called them “two burned-out-embers.” They possessed no real power to bring harm to Jerusalem, and their threats were in fact harmless.

Please hear me loud and clear if God has given you a word concerning the defeat of those who rise up against you, BELIEVE IT. If God has given you a word concerning healing, restoration, deliverance, and etc., BELIEVE IT! You can be certain of these two things that God  upholds us in our integrity, and he fights for us. You cannot lose with a word from God, but you can wear yourself out by living in doubt and in fear. Today I pray you  choose faith, stand firm, and rest in the truth of God’s word concerning your life. You win!

 

 

 

Photo Credit: http://www.skipcohenuniversity.com/uploads/1/6/5/5/16555372/1762985.jpg?524

The Blessing of Confession

PhotoGrid_1469807035387Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.”-Psalm 32:5

For the last few days I have been meditating on this scripture; and reflecting over the many times in my life that I wanted to live in rebellion rather than experience redemption. I remember the countless times I tried to justify certain thoughts, behaviors, and motives. I can recall the plethora of times that I lingered in sin a little longer than I should have and the consequences that accompanied such dumb life decisions.

Once I started to get serious about my relationship with God honesty became a requirement for it to function properly. As I began to spend time in prayer and studying scripture, sin was not so easy to commit or leave unconfessed. The magnitude of His love compelled me to tell the truth about me. I could no longer pretend that the life I was living was one that pleased Him. I had two options: to live a lie and remain outside of his presence or to start confessing so that I could fully enjoy His presence. Like the psalmist I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.”

I John 1:9 tells us “if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” As I did this I began to experience freedom from guilt, shame, and public opinion of my past. Assurance in God’s forgiveness produces freedom. However, we will NEVER know that freedom if we choose to remain in rebellion and unconfessed sin. We will spend our time trying to justify our actions to ourselves and to those around us. Even worse we will become reprobate and sever our relationship with God. He never leaves us, but we will leave Him as we allow both shame and pride to keep us from confessing what we have done. One of the most cunning weapons of the enemy is to convince us that we have done too much wrong to receive the love and forgiveness of God; and I am here to tell you that as the “Father of Lies” that is one of his greatest lies!!!

The Truth of the matter is “God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation.” (Rom. 5:8,9) There is no sin, outside of blaspheming the Holy Ghost, that will keep you from the forgiving grace of God. If he sent His son while we were in sin, surely any sin we have committed is forgivable if we are willing to confess it. Do not allow the enemy of your soul or even yourself talk you out of receiving the freedom from guilt that is made available to us through confession.

God sent Christ so that we could have the opportunity to have a relationship with Him if we so desire it. Do not let the moments of slipping or even falling into sin keep you out experiencing the beauty of having a relationship with the Creator of the universe. He gave us an anecdote for renewing our relationship with Him after we have fallen prey to the sin and our selfish desires. Confession is the key, and it is a blessing to those who will humble themselves and tell God the truth. I pray from this day forward you will choose to confess instead of cover up. You will never have peace inside until you reconcile your relationship with the One who made you, and confession makes it possible. I pray you will find the time to do it.-Charity Israel

Dear Daddy,

Today marks the one year anniversary of your passing (September 3, 2012), and I must admit I have not been able to write about this for a year. But I suppose doing so will put my mind at ease and thoughts of our past to rest. I first want to say “THANK YOU” for rearing two girls that were not your own. It is no secret that we did not have the best of relationships due to some of your personal life decisions; but I must acknowledge the effort you put forth. After leaving home and having to face or suppress my own demons, I understand your internal conflict that we had to physically witness. I understood your need for escape and your temporary leave of absence from your responsibilities as a husband and a father. I understand why you chose certain things to help you cope with failure, unrealized dreams, and the desire to do better but not quite “getting it together.”

I appreciate you staying away at your darkest times and returning when daybreak arrived. I appreciated your charisma, and during your good days how you gave love and laughter to everyone around you. I am grateful for our verbal spats. You taught me how to stand up for myself. I also apologize for them. I should have been more respectful.

We had this talk before but know that I FORGIVE EVERYTHING said that took a blow at my confidence, my talents, and my dreams. I now know your greatest pain in life was coping with your unrealized dream. Until the day of your funeral, I did not know you made history and set  Basketball records in high school and college that have yet to be broken. I did not know I was living with an urban legend until your friends shared stories of the Glory Days with us. I am sorry I never took the time to get to know you.

By the time we met you were living from a place of brokenness, and we did not know how to fix you. I get you now! The older I become the more compassion I have towards the way you handled Chris and I. You honestly had NO CLUE on how to raise young girls, but you were a great friend to us as women. Thanks for the encouraging phone calls and laughs. Thanks for the thick skin you gave me to stand my ground even when the earth around me chooses to crumble. Thanks for every attempt made to show us that you loved us. You did your best. The last time we saw each other, you proudly introduced me to your nurse saying “This is my oldest daughter Charity, and she is a doctor.” You have my word on making that come true.  Your approval was always important to me, and that moment affirmed all those years that you heard and believed in me when I thought you did not. I am glad to know you died proud of me.

I find myself thinking of you more now that you are gone than I ever did while you were here. I always assumed Ole Cole would be around, but you got to see God before I did. You were always good for surprises. I know you are safe now and free from a world that was not so kind to you. You were a troubled man, but I am grateful your last days were full of the rest you needed. You will be missed and thought of at every event. Maybe we can dance together when I get to heaven since you won’t make my wedding. What I know about a good but severely broken man I learned from you, and no matter the dysfunction that plagued my childhood I will only hold on to the good.

Thanks for Trying,

Your Eldest Daughter

 

Linger or Live?

This morning I woke up and had an epiphany. I realized I have been a resident of my past. I have set up shop in past experiences. I have lived vicariously through the victories of ole. I am guilty of making plans for the future when conversing with others, but I have not put forth any effort in getting those things accomplished. Some where between then and now I lost my motivation and I have become comfortable being mediocre. This may not sound like a big deal for some, but for me this is tragic. How did the Encourager lose motivation? How did the dreamer get comfortable with simply having the dreams and not making them reality?

As I type I am reminded of one incident when I confided in someone that I trusted about my dreams. I told them what I wanted to do for my community, my state, and ultimately the world. I shared how I felt God had placed me on the earth to do something that had never been done. I poured out my heart in hopes this person would provide affirmation and encouragement and instead they told me ” I was not special, and I should focus on other things than what I shared.” Because I held this person in high regards their words held much weight in my decision-making process. I was devastated by the words, but I agreed to their counsel because they were older and had more experience at this thing called “life.” I remember leaving that setting perplexed, disappointed, and discouraged.

By accepting this person’s advice, I had also made the decision to simply exist instead of live. It was the day I subconsciously decided that my dreams were not worth pursuing. It was the day I lost my faith in what could be and started to accept things as they were. All my life I had been on this adventure of doing the impossible, and on that day I entered the never ending saga of simply existing.

At the time I was a bright 23 years old that had returned from college and was ready to change the world. Now I am a soon to be 28 years old mourning the loss of five years wasted. I could be a therapist, lawyer, or doctor by now. I could have started a couple of organizations and could be conducting seminars. But instead I am just lounging in this mediocre life because I chose to esteem the words of man higher than God. I never thought to consult with anyone else. Neither did I consider the fact that the person may be wise in one subject, but it does not qualify them to counsel on another. Looking back, I should have kept my mouth closed and sought counsel from someone who was either doing something similar to what I desired to do or someone who was pursuing their dreams against all odds.

Now with two days before my 28th birthday, I am left with two options: linger or live. I can linger in the past or live pursuing what I believe God has placed me on this earth to do. I can spend another year regretting the time lost; or I can spend this year charting a new path and moving forward. Today I choose to LIVE! I am throwing off my vintage sackcloth and ashes and putting on something that works for the future. I am discarding the words of those who counseled me out of their personal fears and failures; and I’m CHOOSING to CLING to what God has said about me.

I am sure I am not the first or the last person to experience an assassination attempt on their dreams. But to those who have not experienced this let me offer you some advice:
1. Guard Your heart(dreams) with all diligence. It is NOT necessary to share your dreams with everyone around you.
2. If you are certain God told you, do NOT allow man’s word to trump what God said.
3. When pursuing your dreams ONLY take counsel from those who are doing what you desire to do or those who have blazed a trail for others to follow.

If you can relate to the story I just shared, you my friend are familiar with Attempted Dream Assassination. I use the word “attempted” because although it appears that it was dead, I believe God ordained this day to nurse it back to life. To those who have been guilty of living in the past and rehearsing the words that wounded you inside I offer this advice to you:
1. CHOOSE to forgive those who offered wrong counsel or those who maliciously spoke against you.
2. Ask God to restore your faith in Him and what He has called you to do.
3. Build yourself up on your most holy faith and work towards those things God has called you to do (Jude 1:20).

There will always be people who will not understand us or what we do, but we must not allow their opinions to snuff out what God says about us. Today I encourage us all to Live. Live with a determined faith to see what God has promised come to pass. Live with a heart of compassion for those worse off than us. Live with a tolerance for those who do not like us. Live with a love for God that inspires others to do the same. Last but not least, live with the blessed assurance that we can do all things through Christ who strengthen us (Phil. 4:13). God bless you all and I am praying that we will pursue our purpose in the freedom that Love provides!#Philippians 3:13,14