Thursday, July 20, 2017

"Wait...I still have more work to do?!?": After the Blessings Arrive...

Okay, so you got your blessing, what’s next?  If you thought your happily ever after would begin the moment God blessed you, allow me to lovingly burst your bubble…

Your work has just started!

I was always aware that my new chapter would set into motion new spiritual work to target and lessons to learn.  And let me tell you, there’s already been so much.  Side Note: If you happen to be in a season of waiting, please enjoy it.  I learned that God uses moments of waiting to also give us rest.

So, I’m just going to jump right into it (it’s been a while and we have to catch up ๐Ÿ˜Š)!

In retrospect (once again), clarity settled and I realized the reason behind everything I had to go through during my last season.  God spends so much time preparing us for blessings for a number of reasons:

1) He wants you to be able to maintain your blessing.  God just doesn’t want to expose us to a brief brush or encounter with our blessing.  He wants us to enjoy it for as long as possible.

Why?

Well that goes to the next point-

 2) The blessings aren’t just about us.  God wants to use us so we can bless others.  God always blesses us so abundantly to allow us the opportunity to share it with others; He simply allows us to be the vessel or carrier of these blessings.  Ultimately, God uses us so that our testimonies, our stories, can bless others and encourage them in their own journeys.

Let me be real- the fact that God can take a woman like me, and use me in His plan, is so humbling.  Those around me that know me are even amazed by what’s going on in my life.  And, it’s not that I’m special; there’s nothing so great and special about me that makes me different.  My story truly speaks to the glory and power of God.  Even more awesome- God wants to do the same with you.

3) By preparing us for that blessing, God is also equipping us with the tools and strength needed to face adversity.  You see, because we are the vessels or carriers of God’s blessings, enemies will come and try to attack and counter us.  The last thing the enemy wants to do is let God get the glory.  So, he will attack us in order to manipulate us into giving up or sabotaging our blessings from God. 

Note: I want to repeat what I just said- the enemy will try to attack you so that you give up.  The devil only has as much power as you give him. 

Although we weren’t designed to fear Satan, we aren’t called to underestimate him.  The devil is extremely wily.  He won’t use great and magnificent schemes to fight: 

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rules of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
~Ephesians 6:12 (NKJV)

Instead, Satan will use small, deceptive tactics to throw you off.  Maybe it’s a tiny lie here or there, a sprinkle of doubt that could grow, or a statement that appears to be factual, but really grounded in untruth.  Keep in mind, whatever God says will most certainly come to pass, but the devil can manipulate us into delay.

Think of the book of Numbers when the people of Israel were delayed forty (40) years from reaching their Promised Land because of their disbelief (doubt) and complaining/grumbling against God.  Unfortunately, what started as a few murmurs in the camp of Israel eventually grew. 

At one point, there was no time for Israel’s leader, Moses, and head priest, Aaron, to worry about foreign enemies attacking the camp because they were too busy dealing with the very people inside the camp who were putting up the fight!

Sometimes, the devil won’t use strangers to shake us up.  I mean, why should he when he can use the very people around us!  I realized this very concept has been unfolding in my current chapter. 

Okay, let’s back pedal a little.  If you can recall, I’ve shared that God has been working on me in the area of patience.  Although I figured the lesson of patience would play a role in unlocking my blessings (i.e. for starters, publishing my book), I realized that I also needed patience to deal with other things in this new phase. 

My new chapter has brought forth both new people and even new problems with old people into my life and I find myself needing more and more patience in order to interact with these individuals and face these issues.  In addition, from my last chapter, I began to communicate and spend time with God more.  I realize now, developing that habit of engaging with God has helped me in this chapter because I also find myself going to Him about the people and issues in my new chapter.

As a result, I now have this wisdom- and I will emphasize that this wisdom does not come from me, but from God- that allows me to not only handle these new individuals and issues, but also maintain my new blessings.

For example, I’m going to be completely frank: I’m not a business-minded person; I’m a creative person.  You may or may not be aware of the quirky tendencies that come with being a creative.  We creative people tend to be unorganized, scattered, undisciplined, and easily distracted (mind you, this rule only seems to apply outside our time spent creating works of art).  Regardless, we tend to do well with abstract thinking, not numbers or logistics.

 In true testament to the fact that God will always give us the skills we need to handle and maintain our blessings, I have to speak on my newfound ability (and y’all, I even call it a miracle) to manage my new role as a self-published author and business owner.  God’s faithfulness completely overwhelmed me after I began successfully executing decisions that I knew I had never been equipped to make prior to God stepping in! 

After God blessed me with the vision and plan for my upcoming chapter, I couldn’t help but wonder how things were going to unfold.  Although I already knew I wouldn’t be able to complete His assignment on my own, I was still curious how I was going to oversee the task presented before me.

But just like God directed Moses on what to say and do before freeing Israel from Egypt’s captivity, and even as God continued to direct Moses (and later on, Joshua) as Israel was led to their Promised Land, God reminded me (and continues to remind me) that He will provide where He guides.

I just want to be transparent: everything I’m doing right now- from my book to my 9FRUITS ministry and platform- is not a result of my own intelligence or creativity or strength or power….

It’s a result of God’s.

I am simply an example of how loving and merciful and powerful God is.  My new chapter and blessings are purely evidence that there is a God and He is so good!

Although this chapter just started, through mistakes and success, I’ve already learned several lessons.  So, for those who are about to receive your blessings or for those that are still waiting, I would like to share some insight God revealed to me during this process so far:

1)   Be careful what you ask for.  Sometimes, God doesn’t say “Yes” because of His omniscience. He knows exactly what the future would hold if He gave us exactly what we wanted and being jealous for us (i.e. fiercely protective), He answers our prayers differently.  HOWEVER, there may be times when God, still being that loving and knowing parent, will grant us exactly what we want so that we (at times being willful, stubborn children) can see that some of our desires aren’t good for us and we don’t always know what’s best for us in the long run.

2)   You have to put in the work.  I have to reiterate this: there’s nothing so significantly special about me.  I’m a sinner and I’m no better than anyone else.  The only difference I see in this part of my life is that I now choose to be obedient to God.  God is powerful enough to do whatever He wants- and make no mistake about it, God doesn’t need us in order to carry out His will.  He does want us to willingly and passionately take part in what He has designed.  Thus, this requires that we work. 

If we want our blessings, we have to be willing to work with God for them.  God is not our genie- He is our Creator and has complete sovereignty.  He wants to bless us with the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4), but He requires that we put in some of the work too.

3)   Show faith. It’s just not good enough to ask for your blessing.  It’s not even good enough to only work for the blessing; you have to act like you’re getting the blessing.  In other words, you have to show faith that God will keep His promise. 

This was one of the areas the people of Israel struggled with after leaving Egypt.  They were free, but they didn’t act like it.  They complained and resisted God (and Moses and Aaron) because they hadn’t fully embraced that they were truly free.  They struggled with God’s promise that He would deliver them to the Promised Land (which was like the first class/the Bentley’s of all freedom). 

There’s this old adage: Dress for the part you want.  Through this simple lesson, we’re taught to dress for that promotion we want, but furthermore, we’re encouraged to act the part.  Why?  On one hand, keeping this sage advice in mind, it shows our true faith.  The book of Hebrews describes what faith is:

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
~Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

There’s a line from the gospel melody, “It’s Not Over,” sung by Karen Clark Sheard that says, “You gotta see it before you see it, or you never will see it!”

We have to speak these blessings into existence as if they’re already here.  And in doing so, we begin to shift the atmosphere around us.  As a true believer of cognitive reframing and positive thinking, I truly believe the first generation of Israel, post Egypt, would’ve received their blessing had they showed faith in God and lived like they were free.

So, if you find yourself waiting on the blessing you asked God to fulfill, ask yourself if you have properly prepared for the blessing, as well as properly showed faith that you will receive it.

4)   Take care of what you already have.  This is one I’ve actively been working on.  Think about it like this: when applying for loans, credit lenders like to have evidence that the applicant is able to handle the loan and its conditions.  One way they check credibility is by the applicant’s prior history with handling other, or similar, loans or financial transactions.

 Why would an investor grant you a loan for a house when you use money so recklessly that you can barely handle the month-to-month expenses of your apartment in a consistent manner?

Guess what- God is like that investor.

How feasible is it to expect God to fulfill your prayer of becoming a leader over a congregation when you can barely minister and love on the few people around you?

How feasible is it to expect God to fulfill your prayer regarding a good and stable marriage when you’re (knowingly) making poor decisions in your dating life?

How feasible is it to expect God to fulfill your prayer for more money and materialistic things when you barely take care of the things you already have?

God simply wants to see that you are able to handle what you already have before He blesses you with more.

More and more, I’m embracing how much God truly and thoroughly wants to bless us; however, if we don’t allow God to properly prepare us, if we refused to have faith, if we take for granted what He has already done, like Israel, we run the risk of not being able to handle those blessings once they come.

On the other hand, for those who have already received your blessing, including me, God wants us to be able to maintain these blessings or He may very well bestow them to someone else.  There’s a reason Joshua led Israel to the Promised Land and not Moses.  Additionally, there’s a reason God took the kingdom of Israel from Saul and gave it to David…. but that’s a whole ‘nother blog ๐Ÿ˜Š

If it is God’s will, I will conclude by saying, “Until next time!”  God bless!


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