"No weapon formed against you shall prosper...Isaiah 54:17. He said, "Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: "Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's..." 2 Chronicles 20:15. The Battle is the Lord's, song by Yolanda Adams.
Here we are, having faced Covid-19 head-on and survived and dare I say, thrived! Praise God who makes all things possible. The world took a long pause, but it did not stop. Challenges existed during the pandemic, but were not as aggressively addressed. We can now turn our attention back to what was simmering on the back burner: issues that we hoped would fade, but did not. Personally, now that the world is opening back up, there are people that I know who have changed (temporarily) and not for the better. I am not placing blame because I can work on a few things that this somewhat isolating experience has brought on. I guess what I am getting at is that when life returns to normal, everything that was present before will become noticeable again; the good and the bad.
This is not a message of despair, but one of gratitude and hope. In the wake of this pandemic, many lives were lost, marriages ended, friendships fell apart and many were left in doubt and fear of the future. Anxiety and feelings of impending doom increased exponentially. Before you pooh-pooh this notion, check out the facts. Google it if you must. Listen to the news. But, you can take my word that a host of unpleasant realities were on display as a result of our collective traumatic experience. That, notwithstanding, I want to briefly discuss and put to rest some of the issues that were abated while we faced the more pressing matter, Covid-19, and to talk about what can be done to recover when those matters that were halted return.
Some people believe that everything happens for a reason. Do you? I will not tell you how or what to think, I am sure you got that covered. But, there are some things that happen in our lives which may or may not be pleasant for which we have no explanation, but that in the end build strength and character. And most helpful, provides us a testimony. The key is always how we react. Another part to this is what or who we are responding with and whether we believe that we can overcome any challenge? In a nutshell, who is on our side? In my humble opinion, I believe that we all need a reentry plan back to normalcy. Life as we knew it was not filled with roses; yes there were roses, but the thorns were stilll attached. Remember. Problems did not melt, they might have even multiplied. The solutions are still available. There is a Guide with a plan. Keep reading.
The scripture noted above, Isaiah 57:17, tells us that we belong to God, and that we can have confidence in our all powerful God who reminds us throughout His word that He is the Almighty, Sovereign Ruler of the universe, and has given us His assurance that no weapon, whether physical or spiritual will prosper against His children. God will protect His people even though we may find ourselves in situations that seem impossible to endure or to escape. By relying on God, you will find yourself strengthened and protected for daily battles.
Each day brings concerns of its own, and for the most part we handle what we have to face and keep moving. It should only be that simple. Lingering doubts, conflicts, misunderstandings, illness, depression, loss of a loved one, family dysfunction, etc., have escalated into peace stealing, heartbreaking, mind deregulating events. The pandemic has only heightened anxiety and weakened our ability to alleviate and/or eliminate these "weapons." I am using weapon as defined in the dictionary: 1. something used to injure, defeat or destroy and: 2. a means of contending against another.
Physical weapons: a knife, gun, club, mace, or any other device, instrument, substance or material animate or inanimate, that, in the manner it is used or intended to be used, is capable of producing death or serious bodily injury. Spiritual weapons: the Word of God, prayer, worship, the name of Jesus, fasting, our testimony, thanksgiving.
Without getting too deep, sometimes we are not sure who or what we are fighting. "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." There are enemies that we can see and those we cannot. Have no fear, God has got this under his control. He instructs us to put on the full armor of God. (See list of full armor above). "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the evil one." Ephesians 6:12-16. I know that some people are skeptical and wonder whether there is really an "evil one" in the world. The Bible says there is. Look around, and then you decide. You do not have to fear because God has equipped you for the battle.
What are some of the weapons that you have had to dodge throughout this day, week, month, year? What battles have left you scarred? What about those endless nights with your mind racing and dawn lingered? What did you do? Well, I pray you did not despair. WHY? It's a waste of time. Get ready for the the next round; only this time be prepared. Put on the full armor. We tend to be strong, and for the most part we have the will to overcome just about any situation. Maybe. What I am telling you is that at some point you will be defeated if you keep relying on your own strength. Before the pandemic, trying to fix everything in your own strength didn't cut it. Be wise, give it over to the One who is greater than any battle you will ever face. At the very least, you will have the best fighting with you and for you. Not only that, you will be assured the victory. Putting on the full armor means to trust in the truth of God's word and His plan for you. That means to get out of your way and let God take the lead.
Know that God is concerned about every aspect of our lives; even to the smallest details. He loves us that much and He is there to see us through life's ups and downs. We have to trust Him, and as Dr. Charles Stanley, noted Pastor and preacher, says, "give it over to the Lord and watch Him work." Amen! You can also read about King Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles: "This is what the Lord says to you: "Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's." I know that would put my mind at ease.
For a little backstory, King Jehoshaphat and his kingdom were in great danger and distress from a foreign nation. He began to fast and pray and seek God. God sent assurance of victory through a prophet. The King and his kingdom believed and received those assurances. They began to thank and praise God in advance for the victory. King Jehoshaphat had stood before his people and told them that he did not know what to do, he did not have the answer--their only answer was to trust in God, that His power and goodness would protect them. God answered. God would fight on behalf of Judah against this great multitude. "You will not need to fight in this battle, position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord." Praise and worship was the response on the part of the people. The Lord made them rejoice over their enemies.
Praise God before the battle. It's up to the Lord to determine how the battle will be fought. When God is fighting your battle, you have already won! He is our Guide back to normalcy.
1. What do you say to yourself when it seems that all is lost? Speak encouragement over your life. "So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you'll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind..." 1 Thessalonians 5:11. Start by praising God for who He is and who you are to Him. Choose hope over bitterness. Choose love over hate. Choose life. Chose purpose. In times of trouble, we often seek our own counsel or the counsel of those who sincerely want to help us. This may or may not work depending on the counselor and depending on their availability, and even then, there is no guarantee. God is always present and all powerful. Encourage yourself in the Lord by hoping in the Lord. Let hope in God be your anchor in the storm. There is no storm that He cannot calm.
2. Whose battle is it anyway? If you want to win, you have to be able to answer this question or at least know where to seek the answer. When we submit things to God, we see them in a new light. God brings the light. In effect, our trying to fight battles in our own strength is like trying to punch the darkness. Good exercise, but useless. Or more to the point, having a weapon, but untrained in its use will not help. Either way, you can be defeated. King Jehoshaphat knew that he could not win the battle even with his weapons and his army. What he did not know was that God would take the battle on for him. He decided to trust God not knowing the outcome. His faith was rewarded. We have Jehoshaphat's experience as a guide. This is still relevant today. Listen to a few lines of the lyrics in Yolanda Adams' The Battle is the Lord's: This battle is not yours, no you can not handle it all by yourself. No, This battle is not yours, the Lord is the only one who can fight it, He wants to use you as His vessel, So be open to Him, The battle is not yours, It's the Lords's. Take your struggles, challenges, battles, etc., to the Lord and pray for His intervention. Have faith. He will answer, and you will be victorious. Your testimony will help someone else.
3. You have the the victory! Declare it and give God praise!! It's been handed to you. You just have to receive it and believe that it is yours. Praise God in advance. Wait, you might ask, "How do you know whether God will help me?" God loves us with an everlasting love, and he desires us to come to Him and seek Him in all things. Your life and my life are testimonies to the love, power, grace and mercy of God. He has promised to never leave us or forsake us. We are more than conquerors, but not without His guidance and blessings. Seeking God honors Him. God rewards those who seek Him and place their faith in Him. He instructed us to seek Him first and all things will be added. That includes victory over trials. I am not saying that your life will be a bed of ease, but all will be well with you. Read Romans 8:28.
4. Who is the waymaker in your life? Think about this. On its face, a waymaker is someone who makes a way for you, provides opportunities for your success; one who builds a road. God is a waymaker in that He moves through the earth, living in us. He reaches out to mankind, provides for all our needs, makes a way for us, performs miracles, keeps His promises, and defeats darkness with His light. What more do we need? Is He your Waymaker? My adult granddaughter is in the church choir and is rehearsing a new song for the choir. The song is titled "Waymaker." Well, my three year old granddaughter Journey was visiting and she was asked by my older granddaughter to sing with her. Who knew that she would fall in love with this song. After the rehearsal with my adult granddaughter, Journey asked me to play this song for her on the Alexa device. She listened to it at least 20 times. Each time she sang with the song being played. When it ended, (that is to say when I thought she had been singing long enough), she tried to ask Alexa on her own to play the song. I am not bragging, but she has the cutest voice. But, what struck me most was the reverent emotion evidenced in her singing. Here are some of the lyrics.
You are here moving in our midst
I worship you, I worship you
You are here working in this place
I worship you, I worship you
Waymaker, Miracle Worker,
Promise Keeper, Light in the Darkness
My God, that is who You are
That is who You are
That is who You are
My eyes filled with tears of joy and I said to my little granddaughter: "That is who God is and never forget that!" I say the same to you. God bless!
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SAVE THE DATE: JULY 13, 2021
The New York Public Library is featuring me as a workshop presenter: Carolyn Yvette Murdaugh-Lane also known as Yvette. Please click on the the below link for registration and further details. I would love to see you there on Zoom. Additionally, you will be lifted!! Thank you so much.