Sunday, January 7, 2018

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - Darkest Before the Dawn

My brothers and sisters in our Lord Jesus Christ, illness continues to plague me. Because of it, I am unable to record the Sunday Praise & Worship. Illness nor Satan will not stop me from delivering His glorious Word to all those who follow our ministry website. 

When I am well enough, I will record all the services and make them available to those of you who prefer to listen to our message.

Over the past couple of days, my family and I have had to deal with a lot of trying situations. Between my illness and a couple of other things, I began to feel that 2018 was going to be a bad year. It wasn't the size of each problem, it was the fact that they came so quickly. One right after another. I think we have all been in that particular situation. No sooner after clearing one hurdle, you have another to deal with. When you have one hurdle after another, it seems to throw off your stride. You feel that things are off. You go through life with that look of sadness. You are depressed and you just want to press the "Easy" button and restart the year.

However, we need to understand that we all go through problems and situations that cause us to just want to give up. We want to curl up and die. We want to give up. But, if you think about it, it is that moment that we need to reach out to our Father for help. You see, in my case, I tried to go it alone. I tried to be the project manager of my life. I believed that I was in control and I knew the schedule better than God. I dictated the schedule of my life to God. I expected things to occur on my terms and my appointed time. I told God what I expected. Yes, my beloved, I was arrogant enough to believe that I could tell God what to do. I scheduled everything and God just had to execute my life's plan.

It is at that moment that God taught me a lesson. I cannot order God to provide me with what I want when I want things. God has plans to prosper us, but we must understand it is His plan not our plan that prospers us. So, because of my arrogance, I started 2018 not in His light but rather in worldly darkness. While others were celebrating the year with laser lights and bright fireworks that lit up the skies, I started it with illness and in the dark. I allowed my arrogance to get between God and myself. This is not a place to be nor a place to be desired.

After yet another trial Friday night, I stopped and stilled my spirit to allow God's grace and mercy to overcome me. I humbled myself before the Father and asked for that same gift that Solomon asked for, wisdom. In James 1:5, James tells us, "If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking." True to the scriptures, I received that wisdom and acknowledged the errors of my ways.

If it weren't for the darkness that I had to walk through, I would have continued in my own way by being arrogant and disobedient to God and His plan for my life. Even though these moments are, sometimes, the most difficult to deal with, we all must walk through that wall of fire. We must have faith to know that God will see us through it and we will be better Christians for it. God teaches us many lessons. Some lessons teach us endurance. Others may stretch us outside our comfort zones. Still others will humble us so that we are receptive to future lessons and a closer walk with Him.

As I began to let all of this sink into my soul, I remembered a wonderful Bible verse. Paul, in Romans 13:12, tells us, "The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living." Yes, night is almost gone. For me, it was the realization that I traveled a road contrary to God's will. I walked into darkness and away from God's will. That was my night. The trials that I had to endure were like the moments of stumbling in the dark and stubbing your toe on the corner of your bed. You know what I am talking about. You get up in the middle of the night and you think you know where everything is, but you take a corner a little too quickly. Just before you can correct that step, you kick the dresser or the bedpost. You thought you knew where everything was. 

For me, I thought I knew where everything was and should be in my life. I didn't turn on the light to find my way. That is how I knew I was in darkness. I bumped from one situation to another. But, there is one thing that I knew to do, I knew that the darkness would end. A day of salvation was on its way. Light would once again shine into my life and I could once again rest in His light.

But, there is one other thing we need to realize. It isn't over until we remove all of the obstacles in our lives and cast off our dirty clothes of dark deeds. God got me through each situation. All of them, including my illness, have been or will be resolved in God's good time. But, I had to cast away my arrogance. It was that dark deed that separated me from God. Once I did that, I put on God's shining armor of right living. 

I know that some of you are going through some tough times. You can continue walking in darkness and bumping into everything. Or, you can humble yourself before the Lord and ask for wisdom and know that He will grant that request. After you receive it, I guarantee that, if you are truly listening to God, He will give you the plan to get through the night so that you can see the day of salvation. But, you need to take that extra step and remove the dirty garments and put on that shining armor of right living. When you do those things, my dear friends, you can rest assured that you can stand firm in His grace.

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