Heavenly Places

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Background on Heavenly Places

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Years ago, when my kids were little, I worked in the financial corporate world of the IT department.  I absolutely loved my job as a computer technician.  As a matter of fact, there were several things that I liked about my job in general:  flexibility in your schedule, the ability to talk to people as you worked on repairing their issues, whether it be computer, networking, or printer.   Last, but not least, I liked the whole idea of getting to listen to the problems that the end users were having, and then the challenge of recreating the problem in order to come up with a solution.

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While working at this financial institution, I decided that I would get my Masters Degree in Information Technology.  The degree was a 14-month intensive online program.  Although I had two small children, I was up for the challenge.  I also had the idea in the back of my mind that this degree would increase my value and my salary.

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After obtaining the degree, I spoke to my supervisor, who in turn stated that she had to talk to her boss.  I was told that the raise wouldn’t happen, and that they were on a hiring and salary freeze for the entire company.  What made matters worse, is that I found out that what was said was not the entire truth.  They were giving raising.  Specifically, significant salary increasing to non-minority employees without degrees.  I was disheartened and discouraged because I felt that I had done all of this hard work for nothing.

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What I didn’t realize then, but do now, is that I felt that I had no worth there because of this incident.  In their eyes, I didn’t qualify to sit at the same time with other individuals with my qualifications.

One thing that I now see is that when it comes to God, even in all our brokenness, because of Jesus’ death on the cross, we will always receive the “exempt” stamp of condemnation.  There is always room at God’s table of executives.

Ephesians 2:4-7 New King James Version (NKJV)

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

 

Blessings,

 

Katina

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Foolish Advice

Jeroboam, Rehoboam, king, Solomon, advice, decisions, trials, Titus, family problems, foolish advice, devotions, spiritual health, character development

Background on Foolish Advice

There are times in all of our lives, when we hit a brick wall due to a trial that was unexpected.  During this time, the first thing that we often do is to panic instead of getting on our knees to pray, asking God for wisdom, discernment, and direction.  The second thing that we usually do is to seek the advice of our friends.  Some of this advice can be like gold, while other advice can be foolish, which is where prayer and discernment comes in.

When it comes to getting advice from others, there are three things that are possibilities:  we can learn things from people who are behind us in years, we can learn from the people who are beside us in years, and we can from the people who are ahead of us in years.  God has blessed me to be in small groups where all three of these are going on at the same time.  I am thankful for learning from all three of these groups.  However, the most growth that has taken place have been from the women who are way ahead of me in years.  They are old enough to be my mother, but they are my friends.  Titus gives us instructions on how the mentoring process for women should go:

Titus 2:3-5

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

King Rehoboam was approached by the spokesperson Jeroboam to reduce the workload of the Israelites.  They promised that they would serve him for the rest of their lives if he obliged.  King Rehoboam had the blessing of seeing his dad, King Solomon, both fill himself with the wisdom from God, and surround himself with wise people.  He went to the wise older men who gave his dad advice, to see what they thought that he should do:

2 Chronicles 10:3-8 New International Version (NIV)

So they sent for Jeroboam, and he and all Israel went to Rehoboam and said to him: “Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labor and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you.”

Rehoboam answered, “Come back to me in three days.” So the people went away.

Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who had served his father Solomon during his lifetime. “How would you advise me to answer these people?” he asked.

They replied, “If you will be kind to these people and please them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your servants.”

But Rehoboam rejected the advice the elders gave him and consulted the young men who had grown up with him and were serving him.

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You would think that his father’s example and entourage would have been a clue.  But, it wasn’t.  Rehoboam listened to the young men growing up with him, and in turn, causing an uprising, and he himself had to flee for his life:

2 Chronicles 10:10-19 New International Version (NIV)

10 The young men who had grown up with him replied, “The people have said to you, ‘Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but make our yoke lighter.’ Now tell them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist.11 My father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.’”

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12 Three days later Jeroboam and all the people returned to Rehoboam, as the king had said, “Come back to me in three days.” 13 The king answered them harshly. Rejecting the advice of the elders, 14 he followed the advice of the young men and said, “My father made your yoke heavy; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.” 15 So the king did not listen to the people, for this turn of events was from God, to fulfill the word the Lordhad spoken to Jeroboam son of Nebat through Ahijah the Shilonite.

16 When all Israel saw that the king refused to listen to them, they answered the king:

“What share do we have in David,
    what part in Jesse’s son?
To your tents, Israel!
    Look after your own house, David!”

So all the Israelites went home. 17 But as for the Israelites who were living in the towns of Judah, Rehoboam still ruled over them.

18 King Rehoboam sent out Adoniram, who was in charge of forced labor, but the Israelites stoned him to death. King Rehoboam, however, managed to get into his chariot and escape to Jerusalem. 19 So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day.

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This serves as a reminder of how important it is to truly seek God for wisdom in making decisions, along with seeking the wisdom of other wise individuals who may be well ahead of us in years.

Dear God,

Thank you for your advice being the best advice.  We pray that we will use discernment when getting wisdom from others when we are faced with our unexpected trials.  Please help us not to be filled with pride when it comes to taking advice from older adults, remembering that they have already been where we are trying to go.

In your name we pray,

Amen

Waiting or Rushing

The Waiting

When we’re waiting for something to happen, there are several things going on: 

  • We want to know when things are going to take place.
  • We want to know where things are going to take place.
  • We want to know how things are going to take place.
  • We want to know if there is something we can do to make things move faster. 

After all of the above happens, then we usually go back to the first thing on the list:  We want to know when things are going to take place.  Sometimes when we are in the waiting process, there are tangible things that we can do, but we find ourselves just sitting back and saying, ” Well, I’m just waiting on God.”  There are other times when there isn’t a thing that we can do, except pray and know that God is in control, he loves us, and knows what’s best for us. 

The Rushing

Rushing also involves several things going on:

  • We can’t focus.
  • We react instead of respond.
  • We do things out of character.
  • We forget about involving God in the matter.
  • We disobey.
  • We make things even worse.
  • We suffer severe consequences.

God promised Abraham at a very old age that he would have a son.  When Abraham thought that this son would come from one of his servants, God reassured him that this is not what was going to happen:

Then the word of the LORD came to him: “This one will not be your heir, but one who comes from your own body will be your heir.” And the LORD took him outside and said, “Now look to the heavens and count the stars, if you are able .” Then He declared, “So shall your offspring be.” Abram believed the LORD, and it was credited to him as righteousness. 

Genesis 15:4-6, Berean Study Bible

After waiting for so long, Abraham and Sarah, his wife, went from the waiting stage to the rushing stage.  Sarah decided to take things into her own hands, and have her handmaid to sleep with Abraham to have God’s promise come quicker: 

Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.”

Abram agreed to what Sarai said.  So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife.  He slept with Hagar, and she conceived.

Genesis 16: 1-4, NIV

I wish at this point there was some good news to tell, but there isn’t.  Things went from bad to worse.  Hagar got a little too close for comfort, and Sarah began despising Hagar for her pregnancy.  Not only did she despise Hagar, but she blamed Abraham for the plan that she came up with on her own:

When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. Then Sarai said to Abram, “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the Lord judge between you and me.”

Genesis 16: 4-5, NIV

God was very merciful to Abraham and Sarah, even in the midst of this mess.  Abraham and Sarah did eventually given birth to a son Isaac in their old age, but they still had to bear more consequences for their actions:

  • Sarah allowed herself to step out of character, and treated Hagar contemptuously.

  • Isaac, their son, was taunted by his older brother Ishmael.

  • Hagar and Ishmael were eventually banished from their home because of all the commotion and Sarah’s wonderful plan.

Before we look at Sarah, and shake our heads, we often do the same thing.  For some reason, we just can’t wait. 

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My Story

When I was eight years old, I wanted to participate in a race that was held every year during the summer camp program that they held in the projects.

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The exciting part about it is that we got a chance to ride the school bus to 55th and Cottage Grove, and race on the track there.  All the kids from the projects in my area were going to be there.  Three weeks before the race, my mother bought me some new gym shoes.  On the morning of the race, right before my mother left to go to work, I was so excited, that I decided to try the gym shoes on again.  To my surprise, they didn’t fit.  They were so tight, that I was in excruciating pain.  

My mother told me that she would have to take the shoes back, and that I would have to race next time, and that there was no point in me going since I only had sandals to wear.  Next time meant next year.  I wasn’t going to wait till next year.

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As soon as all the kids got on the school bus, I hopped myself on too.  My mother was gone to work, and I figured I’d be fine racing in sandals.  When we got there, they grouped all of the kids according to age.   The announcer called out. “Get on your mark. Get ready.  Get set. Go!”  I took off running like crazy in my sandals.  I didn’t get far before I fell and injured myself.  My knees were cut open and bleeding.  My arms and hands were  bleeding.  the inside of my wrist was cut and bleeding, since when I fell, I used my hands to protect myself.  My older cousin came over and walked me off the track as I was crying and humiliated.

This story of my race wasn’t so triumphant at all.  I disobeyed my mom.  I hurt myself.  I suffered a permanent scar on the inside of my wrist as a reminder today of the sacrifice that I made.  Praise God for his mercy and grace, and the redemption that he has for every one of our lives!

Dear God,

We praise you for who you are.  We ask that you would help us to consult you in the waiting, and to pray like never before for endurance and perseverance.  We know that your plan for our lives is the best plan.  You are God alone, and you don’t need our help for you to give us what you have already promised us.

In your name we pray,

Amen

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

Hebrews 12: 1, NLT

The Sweet Fragrance of Perfume

The Background

My mother loves perfume.  She absolutely loves it!  The funny thing about it is that ever since I was a little girl, she has been in love with perfume.  As a child, we had special days when we would go downtown to look around.  I liked window shopping, but my mother took this to a whole different level.  To be honest, I wanted to look around for a little bit, and then get to the fun part:  going to Beef N’ Brandy on State Street for a lunchtime sandwich and french fry special.

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We usually looked around for a good three to four hours before she decided that we would eat lunch and head home.  Those four hours entailed several makeup counters, jewelry counters, and finally the perfume and cologne counters, making sure that she had several samples of facial products and cologne by the time we finished shopping.  Every blue moon, she had saved up enough money to buy herself the fragrance that she had been smelling for months.  My mother has smelled so many fragrances over the years, that believe it or not, she has become a specialist at knowing her colognes.  Whenever we are out and about, and she smells a familiar scent, she might strike up a conversation with a person, and then ask them, “Oh, is that such and such?  I love that fragrance.”  There are very few fragrances that she is unfamiliar with.

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“The Christ Fragrance”

As Christians, we are supposed to be a fragrance of Christ.  What fragrance are we giving off?  Do they ask us what cologne we are wearing? Or, are we giving off any scent at all?  Do people stand next to us and want to run because of our attitudes or behaviors, or do they want to stay and “smell” a while, because their noses are filled with the overwhelming fragrance of Christ?

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For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; 2 Corinthians 2:15

Have a blessed night!

 

Katina

 

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