The MOST impactful lesson I learned in 2018.

Hey there BCU Family!

Typically, you have the option of listening to our podcast, reading the notes or both. For this post, because of the informal format, please tune into the podcast recording and refer to the written post for the highlights. We pray the post blesses and encourages you. If so, please thumbs up AND leave a comment! Thank you and enjoy the post!

Podcast highlights:

  • 2018 was an amazing year of milestones.
  • The last week of the 2018 the Lord allowed a little “surprise” to come into my life.
  • That surprise is yet teaching a lot about rest, assignments, seasons and “no”.

 Scripture references

 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths (Proverbs 3:6).

 All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any (I Corinthians 6:12).

And He [Jesus] said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat (Mark 6:31).

 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him (James 5:14-15). 


So… what are your thoughts about resting and saying no? What are your takeaways from 2018?  How will you apply what you’ve learned to this upcoming year?   Let’s talk some more about this—head down to the comment section so we can continue our dialogue!

If you have not subscribed to BlenCouragesU.com, please do so! It’s free and a good place to get the encouragement, inspiration and information based the Word of God! Additionally, you can also see what we are up to on Facebook, Twitter,  and Instagram! You can also listen in and subscribe to the podcast on Stitcher Radio , Google Play, and Apple podcasts!

Thank you SO much for stopping by. God bless, keep and make His face to shine upon you as you #StayOnTheWall!

Love,

BCU

Gateways, gatekeeping and you!

Hey 👋🏾 there BCU Family!

As usual, you have the option of listening to our podcast (click the BCU avatar below to listen), reading the notes or BOTH. In any case, we pray the message blesses you. If so, please thumbs up or leave a comment! Thank you and enjoy your study!

Last time we were together, God blessed Nehemiah to complete the wall, in spite of the last-minute attempts from Team Tobiah to thwart his efforts. When God commissions you to do something, it will be completed, enemy or not! (that’s another post, though). 🙂

Over our Nehemiah study, where we’ve chatted about overcoming people approval, the importance of gates , what do do when attacked,  when you are weary on the wallgetting back to work on the wall, the enemy within and how to confront him. Nehemiah also walked us through how he led/governed (with the help of the Lord) the people, versus bossing/managing the people, which motivated them finish the work triumphantly!

For the remainder of the chapters in Nehemiah, we’ll highlight some of the Scriptures that I’m sure will bless, encourage and challenge you. Let’s look at Nehemiah 7:1-3.

v1)Now it came to pass, when the wall was built, and I had set up the doors, and the porters and the singers and the Levites were appointed,

v2) That I gave my brother Hanani, and Hananiah the ruler of the palace, charge over Jerusalem: for he was a faithful man, and feared God above many.

v3) And I said unto them, Let not the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun be hot; and while they stand by, let them shut the doors, and bar them: and appoint watches of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, every one in his watch, and every one to be over against his house.

Recall that in biblical times, cities were surrounded by HUGE, thick walls that represented strength, beauty and protection. Gates were needful to let/keep allowable things in and  kick bad things out, so it needed to be manned. Nehemiah assigned porters or gatekeepers to keep watch on the wall.  Gatekeepers were an integral part of the city. They had to be alert, faithful and trustworthy, as they decided who was allowed and denied access.

As a backdrop to verse 3, typically gates were opened before sunrise to allow the shopkeepers to set up tents and such. Because Tobiah, Sanballat and other enemies were likely still lurking, rather than give them a chance to attack in the darkness, Nehemiah gave specific instructions to the gatekeepers to prevent it from happening. God has appointed us gatekeepers as well, along with specific precautionary instructions to help us avoid being ambushed by the enemy. Let’s break down the four directions given in Nehemiah 7:3.

1) Wait until the sun was hot (it was good and light out), so no unfamiliar or threatening person could creep up unaware.

  • We are to walk in the light of Christ and allow The Holy Spirit to spotlight any potential and actual areas of darkness, so we can avoid being attacked unaware. While God does allow certain things to happen to us for a reason, other times our “surprise” attacks are the result of an irregular prayer life, lack of reading/studying the Word of God, attending your local church services, Bible study and Sunday School. Additionally, if we are doing all these things,  we need to apply what we’ve heard. If not, we miss God’s  voice, instructions and the enemy’s sneak attacks come and overtake us–to places of despair, dissatisfaction and discouragement. Let’s check to “no” box on that! Go toward The Light!

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am The Light of the world: he that follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (John 8:12).

2) Until then, the doors were to be shut AND barred to keep the enemy from entering.

  • With God’s help, we need to practice shutting and barring the doors that lead to darkness. Ancient Greeks believed that the heart and mind were linked and work in tandem, thus the saying “I know it by heart”. That said, the gateway of your mind is where things originate, they grow in your heart and come out in our words and deeds. Therefore, it’s vital to proactively protect the mind and heart.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things (Philppians 4:8).

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life (Proverbs 4:23).

3) The gatekeepers were appointed to watch over the people in Jerusalem at their assigned time/post on the wall.

  • At first glance, yes, this directive is for the leaders that God has chosen–bishops, pastors, elders, teachers, etc. When we are blessed to be under good, godly leadership, what they tell us is ALWAYS rightly divided and ALWAYS be in line with the Word of God.  We can also  glean wisdom from our leaders’ painful, difficult experiences they share, so we do not have to go through the same experience, or if we are going through, our leaders are a source of encouragement.

Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you (Hebrews 13:17).

  • We also need to gatekeeper for our young people. The music, movies, lifestyles and activities that were once considered risqué and taboo to see, hear, talk about and do, have become the norm and our babies are intentionally  exposed to darkness, in the hopes it becomes normal to them. While restricting access and explaining why (with love and the words God gives you to say), may not make your popular with your child now, prayerfully, they will thank you for saving them from a world of trouble later. And if not, God will certainly reward you.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)

And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4).

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not (Galatians 6:9).

4) And keep watch in front of their own home.

  • Finally, we are the gatekeepers over our houses (our souls). What are we allowing in that the Lord expressly deny access to? What gateway is most vulnerable to you? The programming you watch, the music you hear, the company you keep? We often dismiss away things that God is nudging us to give up as a form of entertainment. If that “entertainment” is causing you to think on and act in ways that are contrary to the what God says, we need to get our amusement from a wholesome place. Additionally, we want to practice yielding to Christ, thereby, lessening our desire to do anything that jeopardizes our soul.

And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire (Matthew 18:9).

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would (Galatians 5:16-17).

Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners (I Corinthians 15:33).

This is a call to action, BCU Family! How are our gatekeeping skills?  Where are the places we are opening our shops while the sun is still down? Are we intentional in ensuring the gates of darkness are shut and barred? While it may be a challenge, with God all things are  possible! We can do all things through Christ that strengthens us! (Philippians 4:13)

Once again, we’ll continue to spotlight certain passages of scripture to close out our Nehemiah study,  so please stay tuned for our next post/podcast. In the meantime, we’d love hear what YOU took away from what we talked about today, so please leave a comment in the designated section below!

As a reminder, if you have not subscribed to BlenCouragesU.com, please do so! It’s free and a good place to get the encouragement, inspiration and information based the Word of God! Additionally, you can also see what we are up to on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and now YouTube! You can also listen in and subscribe to the podcast on Stitcher Radio , Google Play, and iTunes!

Thank you SO much for stopping by. God bless, keep and make His face to shine upon you as you #StayOnTheWall!

 

Love,

 

BCU

 

 

 

The enemy strikes back!

Hey 👋🏾 there BCU Family!

As usual, you have the option of listening to our podcast (click the BCU avatar below to listen), reading the notes or BOTH. In any case, we pray the post blesses you. If so, please thumbs up or leave a comment! Thank you and enjoy the post!

We’re back with our Nehemiah series where we’ve chatted about overcoming people approval, the importance of gates , what do do when attacked,  when you are weary on the wallgetting back to work on the wall, the enemy within and how to confront him. Nehemiah also walked us through how he led/governed (with the help of the Lord) the people, versus bossing/managing the people, as the former and very corrupt leadership had done in the past. Now the wall is nearly completed and Nehemiah has been confronted and successfully overcame his arch enemies, Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem… until now. Let’s dig in!

Scene: Sanballat and Tobiah tried to lure Nehemiah off the wall under the “auspice” of having a meet-up in a desolate place. Nehemiah cited he was doing a great work and he would not come down. The wicked duo tried to wear Nehemiah down by coming after him FOUR times. And all four times, Nehemiah answered the same way and kept working. 

Before we begin, in Luke 4:13, after Jesus had been tempted by the enemy, Luke writes, “and when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from Him [Jesus] for a season.” Apparently it was open season on Nehemiah, because the duo came back for a fifth time!

v5Then sent Sanballat his servant unto me in like manner the fifth time with an open letter in his hand;

v6 Wherein was written, It is reported among the heathen, and Gashmu saith it, that thou and the Jews think to rebel: for which cause thou buildest the wall, that thou mayest be their king, according to these words.

v7 And thou hast also appointed prophets to preach of thee at Jerusalem, saying, There is a king in Judah: and now shall it be reported to the king according to these words. Come now therefore, and let us take counsel together.

So they say Nehemiah, I have this letter—a public accusation here, with a report backed up by a leader, that you and your team are rebelling and wanting to be king. Further, you have appointed prophets to pump you up as the new king and you do not want that to get back to the current king. We need to talk.

For most of us, it’s one thing when we are accused privately like Nehemiah was in the beginning of chapter 6. It’s quite another when your name is being dragged through the mud and named as the leader of a plot to overthrow the king. At that time, any governmental coup was punishable by death–all this was based on a LIE!!! How many of us would have marched off that wall to answer these charges so that these accusations would not get back to the king? Me, too. Nehemiah kept cool, though and walked out Matthew 10:16 that says, “behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” His response:

v8Then I sent unto him, saying, There are no such things done as thou sayest, but thou feignest [making]them out of thine own heart.

Nehemiah could have gotten into his feelings and explained how he consulted the Lord, had the king’s permission, he prayed, well, look at all that was done, he never took money, etc. Rather, he simply said, “you’re making this up, liar, then talked to the Lord  to get some extra strength. 

v9For they all made us afraid, saying, their hands shall be weakened from the work, that it be not done. Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands.

Nehemiah survives that attack to come up against another sneaky one.

v10Afterward I came unto the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah the son of Mehetabeel, who was shut up; and he said, Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us shut the doors of the temple: for they will come to slay thee; yea, in the night will they come to slay thee.

BCU Family!! This man, Shemaiah, was on the “sick and shut-in list” and Nehemiah goes by to see about him, only to hear that they BOTH needed to run to the temple, because there was a hit out for them [insert confused face]. Nehemiah recognized the shut-in was hired to frighten him into fleeing into the temple to save his life. Only priests were allowed in the temple, if word got out about Nehemiah running into a holy place because of fear (really, an empty threat), Nehemiah’s stellar reputation and all he had done on the wall, would have gone up in smoke. Obviously this wall was a real threat, because Team Tobiah got other prophets to scare Nehemiah as well.

v11And I said, Should such a man as I flee? and who is there, that, being as I am, would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in.

v12And, lo, I perceived that God had not sent him; but that he pronounced this prophecy against me: for Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him.
V13 Therefore was he hired, that I should be afraid, and do so, and sin, and that they might have matter for an evil report, that they might reproach me.

V14My God, think thou upon Tobiah and Sanballat according to these their works, and on the prophetess Noadiah, and the rest of the prophets, that would have put me in fear.

“Would have” did not win, though!  Nehemiah trusted God and now victory is coming up!


THE WALL IS FINISHED!!!!!!

v15So the wall was finished in the twenty and fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty and two days.

v16And it came to pass, that when all our enemies heard thereof, and all the heathen that were about us saw these things, they were much cast down in their own eyes: for they perceived that this work was wrought of our God.”

v17Moreover in those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters unto Tobiah, and the letters of Tobiah came unto them.

v18For there were many in Judah sworn unto him, because he was the son in law of Shechaniah the son of Arah; and his son Jehohanan had taken the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berechiah.

V19 Also they reported his good deeds before me, and uttered my words to him. And Tobiah sent letters to put me in fear.

 

As this chapter comes to a glorious close, what can we apply to our lives?

  1. The enemy only goes away for a season. Be prepared by staying tuned to God in prayer, fasting, memorizing the Word of God, recognizing and listening to HIS voice on how to best deal with an attack, so we live and walk in the Spirit versus the flesh (See Galatians 5:16-26).
  2. Be strong in the Lord and the power of His might when it comes to your assignment, so you are not easily swayed, hurt, worried or act in haste when an accusation or attack comes. Also, we do not need to justify in any detail what God has called us to do unless He says otherwise (See Ephesians 6:10 and Nehemiah 6:3). 
  3. Fear, whether real or perceived, is a tactic that the enemy uses to neutralize, distract and eventually stop us from our divine assignment. Since God does not give us a spirit of fear, (2 Timothy 1:7) we need to ask God to rebuke it and carry it to completion in Jesus name (See Philippians 1:6).  Amen? Amen!

Well, BCU Family, through it all, the assignment God gave Nehemiah is complete!  Are you encouraged?! Me, too! For the remaining chapters, there are some details to attend to, so please stay tuned for our next post/podcast. In the meantime, we’d love hear what YOU took away from the study, so please leave a comment in the designated section below!

As a reminder, if you have not subscribed to BlenCouragesU.com, please do so! It’s free and a good place to get the encouragement, inspiration and information based the Word of God! Additionally, you can also see what we are up to on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and now YouTube! You can also listen in and subscribe to the podcast on Stitcher Radio , Google Play, and iTunes!

Thank you SO much for stopping by. God bless, keep and make His face to shine upon you as you #StayOnTheWall!

 

Love,

 

BCU

 

A lesson from the leaves

 

Hey BCU Family,

As usual, you have the option of listening to our podcast (click the BCU avatar below to listen), reading the notes or BOTH. In any case, we pray the podcast blesses you. If so, please thumbs up or leave a comment! Thank you and enjoy your study!

As we fully transition into autumn especially in New England, (my mind is still in August, though :-)), the brilliance of the colors of the leaves changing and falling to the ground is a timely reminder from Solomon: “to everything there is a season and a time and purpose under the heaven” (Ecclesiates 3:1). Yes, we’ve likely heard this before–it’s just that God so beautifully demonstrates this in our lives at this time of year.

A tree has no brain, thinking or decision-making capacity in any way–only what God has told it to do, which is let go of the leaves as they die off.

How this applies to us: God has made us in His own image and likeness, giving us the ability to think, reason and make our own decisions. Now, He has supplied us with the Word of God and His Holy Spirit (for those who have the Acts 2:38 experience) to guide us in the decision making process, but ultimately we do get to make choices, good or bad. It is ALWAYS wise to heed the voice of God in our decision-making–this way the outcome is 100% perfect.

fall-foliage-1740841_640
The leaves are pretty, but can also be deadly…

So, as  your relationship with Christ grows and you hear His voice, when God urges us to let go of the “dead leaves”,  with His help, LET THEM GO!  Dead leaves can come in a variety of ways–maybe it’s time to walk away from that job, a toxic relationship, or telling that able-bodied, freeloading relative you will no longer support them. Nothing in those areas? What about the fear of walking in your calling, witnessing about Christ, a bad habit, (cutting people off when talking,  habitually tardy, angering quickly), a weakness, (seeking comfort in illicit company or going to the wrong types of places, worrying) or whatever “crutch” (excessive shopping, over-eating)–you may have. You all get what I mean, right? We do not have to wait until October to let go, mind you, this is a good time to examine ourselves through the Word of God’s microscope  or just ASK the Lord what needs to be let go of–trust me, HE WILL tell you!

And once we know, it’s our duty with His help to lay aside EVERY dead weight and/or sin (Hebrews 12:1), that will slow you down, trip you up or outright attack you.  Ask God to help you see WHY you want to hold on to something He is asking you to turn loose.  The answer may come right away or later on—just be prepared for the answer! Let’s take a look at an example.

Many years ago, in my B.C. (before Christ) days, for years I dated a “great” guy, we’ll call “Sam” (just to protect his identity). Sam and I were talking marriage. For some reason,  my heart was very unsettled about getting married, but kept planning. I don’t recall the exact sequence of events, but one thing led to another where we broke things off.  I was devastated and hurt, but that break-up led me to the alter where I was filled with the Holy Ghost. Apparently, the Lord knew Sam was not the person for me (and BOY, did I find that out later–YIKES!) Thank God for His protection!

But even after being saved and understanding God’s providence, He was urging me to let go of  the friendship with Sam–period. MAN, that struggle was REAL–it was really hard to let all that love and history. But, eventually with the grace of God, I walked away from it and have not looked back. While I could never accurately predict what would have happened if I had continued holding on the “Sam season”, I’d like to think that I would not have gone as many places, done as many neat things as God has allowed and would have NEVER been as obedient or effective in my Christ-walk, gifts and talents. Glory to God!

While we do not need a change of seasons to remind us to let go of things, we can use the leaves effortlessly falling from the trees as a reminder to trust that when God says drop it, He means it and for good reason. While new growth is dormant for a season, hold on for the new growth/spring coming in your life.

“Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth, shall you not know it?”….(Isaiah 43:19a).

Amen? Amen.

Thank you so much for stopping by! If this was a blessing to you, please comment below and share it with someone–you’ll never know how the Lord may use you to encourage someone else! And if you have not done so, please like BlenCouragesU on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Instagram!  And PLEASE subscribe to the podcast on Stitcher Radio , Google Play, and iTunes! 

Until we are together again, may God bless, keep and make His face to shine upon you—-and #StayOnTheWall!

 

Love,

 

BCU