Check out the featured image! It’s incredible how punctuation marks make a difference – you can have identical sentences with differently placed punctuation marks and often you can get a completely different message, even an opposite message for that matter! Same words but different message.
The story of our lives unfold that way too.. There are times that we place a full stop and end a chapter of our lives. We decide that the full stop has been placed and thus it’s for our best that we let go of that chapter and move forward to the next chapter with a fresh start. For example if a friend or a loved one walks away we decide that God has taken them out of our lives permanently for a purpose. If it was someone that we were considering as a life partner, people often say that this was God taking away the imperfect person to bring about the perfect person. Yes, it can be true and appropriate for the situation to say that.
However, when do we know that we are putting a FULL STOP on something that God has put a SEMI COLON on? How do we know that God hasn’t hit the pause button so that he can work with the people concerned individually and prepare them to bring them back together at the right time in His way according to His perfect plan. It’s almost like a seed that is planted and from the surface of the soil, it seems that nothing is happening. We think it’s not going to grow and suddenly you see it sprouting.
I think of the friendship and partnership of Barnabas and Paul in Acts. It was Barnabas who introduced Paul to the apostles (9:27) and went back to search for him too (11:25). It is of any wonder then that Barnabas means ‘son of exhortation’ (4:36)? In fact in the list of prophets and teachers his name took first place and Saul was last at the 5th place (13:1). In the references made to their early ministry partnership Barnabas’s name was mentioned before Paul’s. Later on the switch takes place as Paul begins to head.
Barnabas was obviously strong in the Lord.. and the contention between the 2 of them happened when he insisted on taking his cousin Mark along with them. The two separated and went on different mission journeys. The books of the Bible are not necessarily in chronological order. It is believed that the events of the books of Corinthians took place afterwards and thus Paul’s reference to Barnabas is interpreted as the partnership of the two were bridged together again. Specific details of this rejoined partnership if at all, doesn’t seem to be mentioned explicitly anywhere.
Even these two godly men had a sharp dispute. It could have been disobedience or acting in the flesh by them. Yet, perhaps God allowed it so that their ‘gifts’ would be spread out to reach out to more people rather than concentrated together to the same people. I wonder if Barnabas was getting overshadowed by Paul at some stage even though they were working in sync. Or I wonder whether Barnabas was yielding to Paul as opposed to what God would have wanted to do through him. We do find these scenarios happening a lot in today’s life where one takes the reins instead of both bringing their gifts to the table.
I’m just speculating in analysis here as to what could have happened to help us realise that there are a whole lot of possibilities for the punctuation marks in the words, sentences, paragraphs, chapters of the stories of our lives. Besides if sincerely godly people have been friends it’s obvious that God would indeed bring them back to a friendship. Paul would have surely reconciled with Barnabas. After all wasn’t it Paul himself who got the revelation to write:
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone – Romans 12:18
Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification – Romans 14:19
Sometimes God weeds out some people from our lives with a full stop – those that will come in the way of our growth in Him or who will be the weeds that steal the ‘spiritual nutrients’ or will be the thorns to distract us from our calling. They are the ones who hinder and thus not be brought back to our lives. However there are times when God places a momentarily comma or a bit more lengthier semi colon to a friendship or partnership for a purpose. God’s plans are always to give us a hope and a future and there is always purpose behind the scenes during the pregnant pause!
Just surrender to His will, His time and way for His purpose to prevail. We may not always know what is going on but let’s seek His direction and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. He knows what’s best for you and me. Are you willing to trust Him and put your hand in HIS?
Let’s let God place the punctuation marks in the right places of the sentences of our lives and see the PERFECT story unfold🙂
Have you been watching the clock ticking by and the days of the calendar fly by to a week to months to years? Have you been believing in God, that you heard Him clearly regarding some visions or heard His voice regarding promises – whether in terms of ministry or your personal life or even other people? Have they been a long time coming that you start to doubt or wonder whether it was your flesh or indeed Him? Have you shared your dreams with loved ones only to be mocked? Well, remember Joseph was mocked too – not just mocked but kicked out and sold off… They couldn’t stop the dream God from taking place. Not only that, they had to eat humble pie and actually be the benefactors – how the tables turned!
Sometimes there are delays in seeing something happening. Sometimes of course there is disobedience by those concerned that God has ordained and brought together for His purpose. Then of course, He will give a chance for the one who has fallen away or whose heart has been hardened by sin or flesh to return to the right course… And God can turn the pathways around so those people who have put on their running shoes on have to realise the errors of their ways and yield to His will – yes, just like Jonah Then of course there are those whose hearts have become like stone and be stubborn like King Saul. Their refusal to yield will see them where they belong eventually while God will replace them with others who can step up to the plate.
There are times that the enemy will send his angels to masquerade as angels of light to deceive us and pull us away from the perfect plan making his plans seem as if it is God’s will or he sends the Jezebel spirit to entice away from surrendering to God’s ways. Hence there are times we have been ‘deceived’ thinking it is from God when it is of the enemy… bringing the fake and the insincere.
Yet at other times the dreams, the visions, the promises could also not be literally given but rather symbolic for something. For example a warning for someone else! Or it could have been given as a ‘fore running’ role to prepare the way of what is to come – like John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus and like David began to get the materials required for Solomon to build the temple, the temple that God had burdened David with! David wasn’t called to actually build it!
Then of course there is God’s T-I-M-E!! The hardest part for us humans beings living in an instant ‘do it now’ world.
17 The God of the people of Israel chose our ancestors; he made the people prosper during their stay in Egypt; with mighty power he led them out of that country; 18 for about forty years he endured their conduct[a] in the wilderness; 19 and he overthrew seven nations in Canaan, giving their land to his people as their inheritance. 20 All this took about 450 years. – Acts 13:17-29
32 “We tell you the good news: What God promised our ancestors 33 he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus – vs 32
Look at that!! 40 years in the wilderness, 7 nations over thrown, 450 years of exodus.. but it was their children not the ancestors that received the fulfillment at the end. In fact the ancestors except Caleb and Joshua didn’t even ENTER the promised land!
For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay – Habakkuk 2:3
It may not be the way we interpreted it to be or expected it to be or at a particular time we thought it would take place.. yet what He says will be brought to pass in His time, in His way and in accordance to His will.
Be joyful in all circumstances and focus on what God would have you to do and let what He wants for you to unfold in His way, His time🙂
We live in an era of endless information! There is so much out there circulating on the various social media apps and of course on the web. So many believe whatever they see or read. and promptly go ahead to forward it to others via the various avenues. How are we loving our neighbours and how are we stewarding the resources God has blessed us and others with, through these actions?
What about the posts that people share expecting an ‘Amen’ for a sick patient or disabled child? Do these people know that ‘Amen’ means ‘so be it’? Are they expecting these individuals to remain in their suffering? I twirl my eyes with much sadness seeing this ‘hype’. What about the posts that are shared saying ‘if you have a heart, share and you will receive your blessing”! Else your heart is of stone – some dare to add! I wonder who will get their ‘reward’ at the end?! Are Christians not understanding the Christian faith? Or are they assuming the way the other religions operate of making a vow and demanding is the same way the Living God operates?
So often I see posts that seem ‘not quite’ right stating the death of a ‘celebrity’. Surely then the trusted websites such as BBC or CNN will be splashed over with such information right? I quickly search the internet and find that it is not on those sites and then discover that they are ‘hoaxes’.
How often are we verifying information before we pass it on blindly and in many situations causing panic? The ‘negative’ publicity of Coca Cola really bothers me! The people who circulate that – well have they done the same tests with other fizzy drinks? Isn’t baking soda and vinegar used in many household tips for cleaning etc? So are you going to avoid intake of those or do you believe that for many things it’s all about moderation? Could you be actually aiding the Coke competitors in an unethical way of boosting their businesses?
The ‘spiritual’ isn’t exempt either!
A number of people consider devotions and reflections and any images that sound spiritual or have a scriptural verse included as ‘God’s Word’. They then think they need to pass it on to every Christian they come across and share the good news. A number of these people will have access to free WiFi so how much of data they use isn’t of any limitation… Perhaps this is their ‘ministries’. If they are still infants of course this is understandable in one sense as they then perceive of others the same way.
Yet information overload results in people viewing the information and stops at the eye level.. without going into their minds let alone their hearts.
In fact personally, I have been so tired of seeing my emails and messaging apps being bombarded with so many ‘Christian’ images and devotionals from so many directions. At least if it’s just a link in our inboxes then we can choose to open at a convenient time or delete them.. but when it is ‘forced’ on us to view it’s frustrating. I have tried to explain to many that it is like them sending nursery rhymes to an English graduate while adding, that having said that if they feel led by the Spirit that any particular devotional or image will ‘touch’ me or ‘speak’ to me then of course to feel free to forward those select ones. Some understand and respect that while others respond by belittling or condemning me personally by putting down my character even to the point of being blocked. Yesterday one guy replied that I’m obviously not a ‘godly person’ as a godly person would appreciate any spiritual food (followed with a ROFL emoji)!
12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil – Hebrews 5:12-14
When we are infants we see everything that has ‘scripture’ and treat it as if that whole piece of writing or image is God Himself. Yet when we are mature, we learn to discern whether it is out of context or misrepresentation or twisting of God’s Word. Legalism of do’s and don’ts is thrown out of the window and we learn that the life of a believer is about LOVING… Not just loving God but also loving one another. We seek God’s love and grace to be able to be led in a walk of GODLY love.
Even in our ‘sharing’, let us love one another and check ourselves whether we are wasting not only ours but also other peoples’ time and resources especially internet data.. Are we sharing these things that we consider ‘gems’ at the cost of loving one another in word and deed? Could we use our valuable time more effectively for Him to perhaps actually carry out the ‘one another’ commands listed in the New Testament?