The Patience of God

I was in my room one morning thinking about the goodness of God. I began to play some instrumental worship music and pray, thanking the Lord for all He has done. The Lord eventually led me to this scripture:

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.

1 Timothy 1:15-16

This really encouraged me because it is indeed a trustworthy statement deserving complete and full acceptance that Jesus Christ came into the world to save a girl like me! I had to take a step back for a minute- being born and raised in the church had me forgetting about His grace!

I remember my very first best friend, my neighbor Julia and the way she was brought up. It was completely different from my own upbringing. Her parents were Italian and her only reference to God was through a Catholic church- a church she rarely ever attended. Whenever summer rolled around, I would invite her and her brothers to Vacation Bible School (VBS) with us. We had a blast and learned so much all at the same time! I quickly realized as a little girl, I was actually introducing her and her siblings to Jesus.

As a result of my upbringing, I guess He’s always been real to me. At 5 or 6 years old, I remember having full conversations with the Lord. And you best believe, I had complete confidence that He was hearing me- and never bored of me! This realization that Jesus, though invisible, is a very real being- He sees, hears, knows and responds to His children, hit me at a young age. Though this was the case, I continue to live out this truth- this revelation even today, in my own life.

“Why was I born into a family like this Lord? Why wasn’t I born into a Catholic family or a Muslim family? How come I get to know the truth right off the bat?”

I use to ask God these questions. These were the questions I wrestled with for years. They were questions that spoke to my privilege! I was privileged to know what it means to cultivate a personal relationship with the Lord from my youth. And I’ve learned that it is a pursuit- a pursuit that is ongoing! It never stops. Just as God is in pursuit of us for our attention and for our affection; in response, we are in pursuit of Him for His love and for His affirmation. It’s a crazy love story that is being unfolded all of the days of our lives!

So when I read 1 Timothy 1:15-16, it brings tears to my eyes because I remember those days- those years that I didn’t have it altogether, though I had a personal relationship with the Lord. I remember those seasons in my life that were filled with bad choices, negative decisions, confusion, hatred, unforgiveness, disobedience…and the list (believe you me) could keep going. Yes, I remember those days, when my heart wasn’t for God, it was against God. Yet still…He waited. And continued to pursue me.

It’s His waiting that fascinates me! God waits for us. And His waiting isn’t just static, His waiting is active- He actively pursues us as He waits.

The bible tells us that we are all born into sin (Psalm 51:5). We didn’t come out knowing and doing right from wrong. It didn’t matter how young I was when I was first introduced to the Lord. I too, was born into sin. Our flesh from the time we are conceived continues to seek it’s own will and our will is in opposition to the Spirit of God. The book of Galations reminds us that the flesh and the Spirit are constantly in opposition to each other (Galations 5:7) and we need to make decisive choices to not just live in the Spirit but to walk by the Spirit (Galations 5:25). Our actions must match our belief.

After all, God’s actions matched His belief!

The bible tells us in 1 John 4 that God is love and He demonstrated His love for you and I by sending His Son to die for all of our wrongs. God’s love doesn’t just pursue us, but it waits for us to recognize His love for us. And for some of us, this takes years, decades, and seasons of our lives to grow in this revelation.

If God can be patient with me, if God can be patient with you; then how much more so will He be patient with our loved ones, our friends and whomever you are believing God for? I know that sounds difficult at times, but here’s the good news- when we walk by the Spirit, we then produce the fruit of the Spirit which is love, joy, peace, PATIENCE, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galations 5:22). When we walk according to God’s word and his leading day by day, we produce things like patience- patience to wait for our loved ones, just as God waited for us.

God grant us the patience to wait- just like you waited for us and continue to wait for us.

1 Timothy 1:15-16 reminds us that God uses our lives as an example of His immense patience for those who would believe in Him.

Have you fully and completely accepted God’s patience for your life?

Do you trust the mastery of God?

Today I want to encourage you to trust God, even in the midst of uncertainty and in the middle of a pandemic- we have to trust the mastery of God! His thoughts and intentions towards us is good, so why not embrace the fact that the God of the universe is aligning all the events in our life to fulfill His master plan?

God has a master plan and we get to be participants in it. How exciting! We have a critical role to play. He is not only using you and I as vessels in His grand design, but He’s also perfecting every detail in our lives simply because it concerns us. 

I dare you, trust God’s mastery. He is for you, not against you!

Who Would’ve Thought!

The very thing I ran from for years on end, came to pass.

I grew up in a Christian home where we would ritually attend services on Sunday. My father would periodically lead our family in what was named a devotional. Dad would open up a passage of scripture and share what the Lord laid on his heart. Together, we would pray and then be dismissed.

I grew up in a home that modelled Christian values. We were taught not to be drunk with wine, to dress modestly, to give to the church and to the poor and live faithfully according to scripture. However, I also grew up in a home that lacked my dad’s intimate presence. So even though we were modelling Christian values, at times I found it masked by dad’s constant involvement with the church in opposed to his family. People would speak so well and highly of my father. But they were describing a man I did not know well. Ultimately, as time passed, we continued to grow a part.

As I aged, I became more and more resentful towards the church because in my mind at the time, I felt as though they had robbed my father and I of a relationship. How many times do we blame other people or things for results in our lives that we have poorly assessed because of our unique vantage point?

This truth really disrupted my view of the church. The place I loved to attend became the place I became increasingly resentful. This was the fact, I didn’t trust the church. I didn’t trust that they would refrain from interfering with my life in a way that would be punitive towards my relationships, punitive towards my time nor punitive towards my growth.

Fast forward years later, I now recognize that it wasn’t so much that I didn’t trust the church, my actions actually indicated my lack of trust in God.

-Monique Chambers

So often as people we blame the church and others for things that are really pointing towards a deeper issue- our lack of trust in God. We don’t trust His sovereignty- that He is in control at all times.

It all goes back to my view of God. This is what I am currently teaching in my bible study; that when we are confronted with fear, we have a choice- we can choose to further engage in fear or we can choose to put our faith in God. It’s fear that caused me to resent the church and pull away from any sort of involvement. This was showcasing the issue that flowed from my heart; I didn’t trust God enough to safeguard my relationships and everything else I was holding onto from failing.

This negative mindset creeped into my marriage. Can you believe it? I can distinctly remember giving my husband such a difficult time because he was growing in his role in the ministry and I was terrified! I thought to myself, wait a minute! What will happen to my family, and what will happen to my marriage? This was fear speaking, this was my flesh in control not the Spirit.

Hubby and I fought on and off for years, yes years! As I was busy protecting what I felt was mine (my marriage & my family), I was failing to see that my desire was getting in the way of my walk of obedience to the Lord!

Then one day, the Lord showed me the error of my ways and how important it was to trust Him; to acknowledge Him in all my ways (Prov 3:5,6). I repented for the way I had been secretly conducting myself and opened my heart for the Lord to lead me on a path of trusting Him more.

Can I just say, trusting God isn’t always easy. But the more we practice, the easier it becomes. And just as I recently shared with a congregation, it is through our obedience that we get to see the mastery of our God. It is so true, that He will take the simple things to confound the wise. God will flip things up side down, just to remind us that He alone is God. It’s His sovereignty! God gets to do what He wants, when He wants and how He wants just because He is God. And if His intentions towards us are good and not evil, why not trust that the God who is in control, is the same God who will protect, fight and complete all things which concern us?

Friends, can I tell you that God took the very thing that I was literally running from and flipped the script upside down. Wait, what? Yep, I ran from being heavily involved with the church to being at the helm of a church.

In the fall of 2020, my husband and I became Pastors of a church in Toronto. And I am loving every minute of it! Not only did He heal me in the area of my service to His people, but He healed my relationship with my father. And I am so glad the Lord did what He does best because we are closer than ever before. I wouldn’t trade my dad for the world. The things I couldn’t understand as a broken person, I can now empathize as a whole person.

How can a God so big and so wise, take my experience and turn it around in such a way to be used as an example? Well He can and He did because He is sovereign- and if He wasn’t, He wouldn’t be God.

I want to encourage you today, open up your heart, especially to the areas that are hurt, alone, and/or abused. Allow the Lord to literally perform a miracle in your life. I’ve learned that you don’t have to walk around disgruntled, resentful or even cold. God can perform a miracle in your life today, if you simply believe and choose to obey. Choose to obey.

“If you love me, keep my commands.” (John 14:15)

Need a Break?

Can I ask, have you been resting with the Lord?

In my time of prayer, the Lord reminded me, as I learned last week, that He is the Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:28) and that He has gifted us with times and seasons of rest.

It all dawned on me this morning when I stood up from prayer; I could see God’s will confronting my own. On a Saturday morning, what was I heading to do after prayer? I was going to dive straight into my work email (what a trap)! Right then and there, the Lord reminded me of who He is- the Lord of the Sabbath. I am expected to rest in Him and with Him.

As I reflect upon my week, I have noticed that I have developed a new habit of starting work early and ending work later at night- even to the point of using my down time to mentally prepare my to-do list for the next day!

The Lord began to show me my terrible habit of filling my days with work, school, sometimes choosing to take on too many bible studies at one time. I have this habit of always filling myself up to the max! And the Lord is reminding me to be strategic with my days, so that I can be fruitful in my work, in my vocation and in my spiritual life.

I pray that you too are resting with our Lord and allowing Him to order your days. I pray that you experience an even greater sense of peace and contentment today and even into your most busiest seasons of life.

Becoming

I cannot believe this is happening! I remember the night before anything big was to happen, I would be so incredibly nervous. But now look at me; I’m calm, and relaxed, totally copasetic.

I know I’m called to speak. Besides the fact that this has been confirmed through people; I know this because it’s like the only thing I do that makes me feel alive, in control and most true to myself. I see that people are touched by my words and through my voice. But truth is, it’s not me working magic. It’s actually Christ operating through me! That’s it. I yield my will to His and He operates through me. It’s an arrangement we have, that you can have too!

So tomorrow I lead my first in-depth bible study on the book of Mark. Not a big deal for some, but for me it is. I just cannot wait to see who I evolve into after 5 years of leading and studying.

What do you feel is your purpose? How do you know? Who are you becoming?

Fear

COVID-19 has me in my bible like it’s nobody’s business! I’ve always wished for more time but could never find it. Either I was caught up with work, family, or other obligations that I could never do what I actually wanted to do. So while COVID-19 has signified many things to many different people, for me, it has represented peace; peace to do what I wanted to do when I wanted to do them. This is how I found myself in the word; literally tearing it a part after such a long season of secretly wishing I had more time. What are you secretly wishing you could do? And how can you begin to steward that desire? For me, I currently find myself digging for jewels…and the more I dig, the more I want.

Precept Ministries has been such a blessing to me because it has taught me to study the word of God for myself. I didn’t realize you actually don’t need a Theological degree to read, study and understand the word of God. Even though I greatly value education- a theological degree at that, it should not have been an excuse for me to run away from studying the bible. Rather, it should have compelled me to dig even more! To this day I am stunned and feeling slightly guilty for not engaging with the scriptures in the way God has called me to.

In my digging, I found God speaking to me, probing me to start a bible class. As always, I was giving Him some kind of excuse like; ” Yes, I think that’s a great idea God, just after a few more studies- that way I feel more knowledgeable.” How ironic that after studying the book of Judges, which heavily focuses on idolatry, that I find myself holding onto knowledge as a crutch, needing it to stand on, holding onto knowledge as if it were my idol! This classic excuse had me thinking, ‘what am I really afraid of? What is holding me back? Why is this thing that God is urging me to do causing so much discomfort? Why am I scared?’

Why are we afraid?

It’s such a loaded question. What is it about fear that jolts us back? What is it about fear that paralyzes us; keeps us stuck; inhibits us from moving forward?

Just as the disciples were asked, I ask you: Do you know who God is?

Take a moment to reflect on your life. Who do you know God to be or Who has He personally proven Himself to be? In your answer, is that specific characteristic not greater than what you fear?

For the disciples on the boat in Mark 4, they had seen Jesus preform miracles before. They saw Him heal the sick, and feed thousands with two loaves and three fish; but on this boat, they were introduced to the God of Creation. This was a God they had not known. And it caused them to be terribly afraid! More afraid of the storm itself.

When fear arises, we should be asking, ‘what is this fear indicating? And what is it rooted in?’

For the disciples, this fear indicated that they weren’t prepared to see such a display of force. In verse 40 of Mark 4, when Jesus asks them, ‘why are you afraid?’, that word afraid points to a cowardly disposition, but the word afraid in verse 41 points to a standard that had exceeded their expectations because of how large or how great it was. In other words, when Jesus told the wind and sea to hush, and it obeyed; that force displayed was so large or great that it far exceeded their expectations. It’s that Jesus and that level of authority, they did not recognize! Their original fear was rooted in unbelief; but the fear that followed was provoked by a recognition of God’s deity. When Jesus calmed the storm, it blew the disciples out of the water. It far exceeded their expectations of what they knew Jesus could do. Out of this awe, came the fear of God.

What are you so afraid of? Must it not bow to the authority and deity of God? I had to ask myself these hard questions.

Often times, fear is symptomatic of our trust in something or someone outside of God.

@msmochambers

I was afraid because in my leading of a study, it would reveal that I’m not as knowledgeable in the word as I’d like to be. I was afraid of being asked a question and not being able to answer it. I was afraid that I didn’t know enough cross-references, enough bible stories and enough theological principles to lead women towards God. I was afraid of simply not knowing enough.

But if I was to be really honest, my fear was showing that I trusted and valued the opinions of people more than I trusted God.

Once I got a hold of that revelation, I then asked, ‘must the opinions of people not bow to the authority and deity of God?’ The answer is yes. So then why wouldn’t I put my complete trust in Him?

The following week, I signed up to be a bible study leader. I posted on Instagram my upcoming class and the time and I began to prepare for my first online study on fear.

Here’s what I didn’t know.

I didn’t know how impacting my yes would be. The women that joined all shared how much they enjoyed studying together and how they appreciated that I chose to lead this class. What they didn’t know, was that my yes almost became a no. And because I chose to walk in obedience to the nudge in my heart, I latter learned that one of the ladies’ husbands, who struggled with alcohol, drugs and a gambling addiction would hang around and listen in; insisting that she would turn up the volume because he wanted to hear what we’d be sharing together as a group. He would never otherwise show up in a bible study class in a church building, but to hide in a corner while his wife participated in a study online, that he could do! Needless to say, he was disappointed that our 7-week study had come to an end.

How amazing that God would use the yes of an insecure woman to plant seeds of the word of God into the lukewarm heart of a husband! Could you imagine what He do if you simply decided to confront your fears and walk in obedience to Him? I dare you to give it a try!

A Dream, a Vision or a Goal. So what?

I was in the middle of constructing a program for girls when an inner voice spoke to me saying, “These aren’t just girls with a dream Monique, they’re visionaries!” You see, it’s one thing to dream or to simply hope for something, because that’s what a dream is- the creation of the imagination or a state of mind marked by a release from reality; but it’s a whole other thing to see what’s not yet in existence. According to Marriam- Webster dictionary, a vision is the power of seeing: a supernatural appearance that conveys a revelation. 

God was probing me to empower these girls to be more than merely a dreamer. And this is exactly what He wants for you and I, to not only create things by using our imagination; rather, He wants us to see what He sees so that we can live the revelation!

The word ‘see’ in the greek is “beten” and it relates to this idea of seeing from a hollow place; the belly, the womb or womb of the spirit. It means seeing from within. Vision then looks at seeing the intangible or the invisible to perceive the will of God for our life. 

People think that vision is something that comes from the top of our head. When really, vision should be coming from within! We should be pulling out God’s vision for our lives from within by using our spiritual discernment. 

The Bible reminds us that we are only able to see and know in part (1 Cor 13:12). We’re only shown part of the picture. But God sees and knows the details of the entire picture. This is why it’s not ‘a vision’, but it’s ‘the vision’ for our life.

“I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out, plans to take care of you, not to abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for (Jeremiah 29:11 MSG).” 

Since God has the blueprint for our lives and sees the future that we hope for, it only makes sense that we go to the Father to retrieve the vision.

Carve out some quiet time and then go ahead and ask, Lord, what is your vision for my life? Show me in detail what you want for me. Be diligent about seeking Him. Then quiet your voice and your spirit to listen. He will answer you, I promise! Everything He shows you, because more than likely it will be through visual imagery or words- write it down. This is important because the answer may not come all at once. It might come over the course of days, weeks or even months. But be patient and be diligent. It will come!

Once the vision is revealed, create tangible stepping stones- the goals and the markers for EACH area of your life. Yes, God is concerned about every detail of your life! Without knowing the terminal points for which you must direct your effort, you will never move towards your God-given vision. 

Don’t let this year be like past years. Align your faith and direct your effort towards your God-given vision, in spite of how things may appear! 

Feel free to share in the comments below. What do you see for yourself? What steps do you need to take; or have you missed?

Lessons from the Pulpit Part Two: Positioning our Heart

I’d like to believe that I am a lot more humble and selfless than I actually am. I’d like to believe that I think of others more than I think about myself. As kind and gentle as I am towards people, and as comfortable as I make others feel who come into my home or church for the first time; truth is, I am not as humble as I’d like to be. And I didn’t realize this until I recently took stock of the attitude of my heart.

Paul says in Philippians 2:3-4 “Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others more important than yourselves. Everyone should not only look out for his own interests, but also for the interests of others (HCSB).” 

HOW DO WE VIEW OTHERS OUTSIDE OF OURSELVES?

This not only begs the question, do we treat others better than ourselves? But it’s really asking, do we look, view or consider ALL people as more important than ourselves? This is a completely different question, because we could do right before others, but in our hearts, we view them as unworthy of our treatment

It’s time we take stalk of our attitude of heart.

As I was embarking on a new ministry opportunity, this scripture resonated with me, because the requirement of the position was to minister to sex workers- which by the way, was one thing. But it was a whole other thing to provide visitations to their homes, massage parlours and strip clubs. This was wayyyy beyond my comfort zone! Immediately, I became scared and rejected the entire idea.

But then God convicted me.

As ministers of the gospel, must we be in a comfortably cozy environment to share The Good News? Is there an extent to whom we minister? And is there a limit to the extension of our helping hand?

When I think about Christ, I am reminded that He is the Son of the Most High God. Clothed in His deity, Christ being equal to God, emptied Himself to assume the position of a slave (Phil 2: 6-7). And He took on the likeness of man to walk the earth with some of the most rejected people of society; prostitutes, the sick and the dying.

Yet we, who have earned no position of authority nor honour, restrict ourselves to what is most convenient and most comfortable!

Why is this the case? What is it about me or what is it about my upbringing that has caused me to think this way? What experiences am I lacking that would help me understand the experiences of others more?

I had to ask myself these big questions. Who am I to judge others?

I am reminded of Jonah who did not want God to show compassion to a people who he thought were undeserving. He had one mission. And he could not complete that mission with a humble and compassionate heart. As a matter of fact, God questions Jonah and asks, “Do you have a good reason to be angry? (4:4)” I want to re-frame this question by asking;

“Do we have a good reason to judge others?”

I pray that our attitudes become like that of Christ’s- who was willing to give up everything; His status, His comfort and His honour for a greater cause that you and I may become beneficiaries of the Gospel. May we position our hearts to a low place, a place of humility that we may truly demonstrate this glorious Good News!

Amen

Lessons from the Pulpit: Plug into the Power Source

I once heard a man say, “If Jesus was to visit some of our churches today, we’d have to give Him a complete orientation. We’d have to explain to Him what an usher is, why we have a board of directors, and help Him become a bit more acquainted with our Sunday morning program; our 4 songs, prayer, offering and sermon…” I literally burst out laughing when I first heard this because really, a lot of what we do is out of religion not out of necessity.

While this post is not intended to critique the church, because I do understand the need for some of our programs as it relates to the day and age we live in; I really want to get into the condition of the heart for those of us who serve in ministry.

Firstly, when I think about Jesus, I think about a man who was always about His Father’s business (Luke 2:49).  For Him, God was a priority. Numerous times in scripture we see Jesus isolating Himself from the regular rhythms of life to spend time in the presence of God (Matthew 14:13Mark 1:35Mark 6:45-46Mark 14:32-34Luke 4:42Luke 5:16Luke 6:12Luke 9:18John 6:15).

Now silence and solitude might feel uncomfortable at first, especially when we turn on the news in the morning or at night and all we see is doom and gloom. Truth is, silence and solitude is a form of meditation. And what meditation is, is time spent orientating our hearts and minds towards a specific thought or ideal. Studies show that people who take the time to meditate throughout their day are happier; living fuller intentional lives, then those who do not. Given this definition, why would we not orient our hearts and minds towards our Source; not just once or twice, but right throughout our day? Especially first thing in the morning.

Today, I name God the Father our Source, because when we look at the life of Jesus and how effective He was right through out His day, the Bible tells us that on His way, miracles were happening! He may have had an intended assignment but on His way to His destination, a woman with an issue of blood was healed (Matt 9:20-22); and on another occasion, 10 lepers were healed and transformed (Luke 17: 12- 16a). I could go on and on but the fact of the matter remains, Jesus was plugged into His Power Source; His Heavenly Father, which made Him just as effective as He was. 

How incredible would it be if we were regularly plugged into our Power Source? This would enable God’s power to move through us on our way to our intended assignments.

Could you imagine the kinds of testimonies that would arise?

@msmochambers

You see, Jesus had insight. He knew that if He was going to make a mark on this earth, and if He was going to prove Himself to be The Way, The Truth and The Light, He would have to be plugged into His Source.

As believers, the only outlet we have today is in Jesus Christ. It is through Him that we have access to the Source. I challenge you to plug into Him daily- and right throughout your day, to retrieve the kind of ‘God power’ you will need to make a mark on this earth and within your ministry. Let the Source recharge, refuel and renew your passion for what ministry is truly about. 

Define Your Life

While sitting around eating lunch, I found this quote which says,

I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I just lived the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.

Diane Ackerman, Poet

Isn’t that the truth? If most of us were to be honest, we would agree that merely living is not enough. Rather, most of us want to live meaningful lives. Most of us want to live prosperous lives!

But what does living a prosperous life mean to us personally?

When hearing the word prosperity, ideas around money, power or fame naturally come to mind. Rarely do we define prosperity by taking into account the prosperity of our souls. Why is that? Perhaps it is because we are humans- mortal beings that cannot help but focus on the external, the physical and the flesh.

The Bible says in Proverbs 27:20, “Death and destruction are never satisfied, and neither are human eyes.” We have this tendency to always look to gratify our flesh, but the problem is that our flesh is never satisfied!

Think about it…

If you were to buy a car today, I guarantee you after about 3 months or so, when the new car scent has faded, you would be looking to see what’s new on the market. Nothing is wrong with the one you’ve got, but as time passes, your mind begins to wonder- looking to the next best thing. We do this with people, places and things; we move onto the next best thing. Why, because our flesh is never satisfied.

This is why it is so dangerous to relegate our understanding of prosperity merely to outward measures or by the accumulation of things. This kind of prosperity focuses on getting, rather than giving.

And so, people who define prosperity by this ideal- always needing to get a newer car, home, position etc., cheat themselves out of life. They often spend their days working long hours, stepping on others to move up the corporate ladder or by compromising themselves in different ways trying to get ahead. These people who focus on the acquisition of things always end up neglecting their families, relationships, and even their health just to fill a temporary void- a void that will come back again because it will always need refilling.

Why? Because the flesh is never satisfied. 

Our personal definition of prosperity must take our internal needs into account for the prosperity of our souls. 

How would you define prosperity? For you, what does it mean to live a prosperous life? Are you so focused on the external; the accumulation of things, that you’ve neglected the internal or experiences as a marker of cause?

Today, I pray that your personal definition of prosperity reflects God’s view over the world’s. He doesn’t want you to merely live the length of life, He wants you to live the width of life too!