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SOULSEARCHING SATURDAY

In the dictionary the diversity of uses and meanings combined with the complexity of the feelings involved makes love unusually difficult to consistently define, compared to other emotional states. However, the Apostle Paul tells us exactly what love is; Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). Apostle Paul says love never fails, does that mean love never ends? The Greek word translated “fails” in the NIV is related to a verb meaning “to fall.” By saying, “Love never fails,” the Bible means that God’s type of love will not fall or falter. It is constant forever. It is an Endless Love.

We humans are so desperate to find Endless Love that we pursue it more than anything else in this world. More so than money or fame. That is why we look at these people who seem to have everything and wonder why they are unhappy. Why they are not content. It is because they don’t have the one thing that they long for, that we all long for, Endless Love. We want this Endless Love so badly, we make wrong decisions, turn to the wrong people and things in pursuit of it. We are so desperate for it we do terrible things and then we suffer the consequences. The realities of life can teach us harsh lessons. And just when we think we have learned our lesson, we wander aimlessly trying to find it again. As parents we are blessed when we have this endless love with our children. I will love my children as long as I breathe. Sometimes we can even find it with friends. I have Endless Love for my friend/person who I can’t image life without. Some families are fortunate, they have this Endless Love even if the family is dysfunctional. My brother went to his eternal home this week. He was not a perfect man, but he was a perfect brother to me. I was his favorite sister. He was my broro. (hero). I have loved him all his life, unconditional. I will love him all my life. He is no longer physically with me, my heart aches with missing him, with memories of him, but most of all my heart is still full of love for him. My brother and I have Endless Love. If you are really blessed, you have that Endless Love with the man/woman in your life. If you do not yet, there is nothing wrong with being optimistic. There is nothing wrong with taking a chance on Endless Love and risking being hurt. Life is full of risk everyday.. But please be careful and give it some thought, because the wrong person can destroy the little pieces of hope that you store within. Guard your heart. Let God lead you and not your emotions!

This week when sadness and grief threatened to take over my thoughts, I think about the Endless Love of Jesus. He loved me even before I loved Him. Jesus loved me enough to die for me! He believed I was worth saving. He said He would never leave me or forsake me. He loves me unconditionally. He sits on the right-hand side of God and intercedes on my behalf. He is my way maker, provider, comforter, healer, and my peace in times of trouble! He is my strength when I am weak. Why in the world would I pursue meaningless relationships in this world when I have the Endless Love of Jesus?!!! Because of His love for me, I am not ashamed to proclaim my love for Jesus! I don’t want to be selfish with this love, I must tell you that Jesus offers this Endless Love to all. You just have to accept it. Sisters and brothers, not one person has to walk around believing they have no one that loves them. Not one person has to long for this type of love. Jesus is love and His love is endless. Please read todays scriptures. Please help me share God’s Word. Love and Blessings…..

 

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SOULSEARCHING SATURDAY

For a long time, I believed the saying, “God never gives you too much for you to bear”. That is not true. God will give us assignments that we on our own can’t handle. It is God’s strength and His grace that equips us to handle our assignments. Sometimes God’s assignments can be completed in a moment or a season, like praying for someone or a financial gift. Then there’s the difficult assignments? In the Bible, you will see that difficult, long-term assignments were the norm rather than the exception.  Abraham was given the assignment of leaving his home country for another land not knowing where he was going. Moses was given the assignment of telling a hard-hearted Pharaoh to let God’s people go. Jonah was given the assignment of preaching to Nineveh.  Hosea was given the assignment of marrying a prostitute. Paul was given the assignment of being an apostle to the Gentiles knowing that he would suffer terrible things for the cause of Christ.  And let us not forget about our Jesus who was given the most difficult assignment of all, living a sinless life, and bearing the sins of the world. People didn’t always want these assignments, just as we sometimes don’t want ours. But those who walked with God and had faith, eventually accepted their assignments. They understood that the assignment advanced the purposes of God in this world. When it’s clear that God wants us to do something difficult, we must be obedient. We must trust that even if we feel we can’t handle it, that God can. He will equip us and give us everything we need to fulfill the assignment!

I know this because there have been times in my life where I looked back and wondered how in the world did I do that or as Mahalia Jackson would sing, how did I make it over! I realize now I didn’t do that, it was not me, but God! One of those times was in 2005, my mother suffered a stroke. She was paralyzed on one side and diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. This changed her life forever. God put in my Spirit to be her caregiver and to not leave her in a rest home. I did not know how I was going to do it, but I chose to be obedient. It changed my life, as I knew it. Anyone that has been a caregiver or knows someone who is, understands it is physically, mentally, emotionally and financially draining. The next years were challenging to say the least. My siblings and I have never been close, but my mother’s illness pulled us further apart. And even though I chose to accept the assignment, I was hurt, angry, and I resented my siblings. I felt they were not doing their part. They resented me for their own reasons (that’s their story to tell). It was a hot mess! I had to be a caregiver and deal with all these emotions. I was angry and frustrated, I cried a lot. Then one night while I was walking the floor, crying and venting about my siblings, God stopped me dead in my tracks. I could hear Him clearly say to me, “why are you angry with your siblings? I gave you this assignment, not them”. And just as clearly, He sent me to my Bible and scriptures on Moses and Pharaoh. Scripture says God hardened Pharaohs heart. He needed Moses to keep going back to Pharaoh so He could show up and show out! Pharaoh mistakenly thought that he was in control. However, God put him in the place of being an Egyptian leader for His purpose. This is the very reason I don’t get distracted by politics. They may think they are in control, but trust me, God is on it! God has a purpose for everyone, including those who resist Him. In the end God will get the glory no matter the person because God is the Giver of purpose in every life whether they live for Him or not. Our job is to pray for them. 

The lesson I learned was that when God gives us an assignment, and we accept it, we can’t get resentful and look to other people for help. We look to God. That is how God gets His glory. That night, God freed me from all that and it was wonderful! It was my assignment and I can tell you that I have never been the same spiritually! There is no way I could have done that assignment myself! He kept me strong. He made sure we had everything we needed, even though I had left my job to take care of her. He put who I needed in my life when I needed them. My mother lived like a queen until the day He took her home! God will cause people to be blessed because of your obedience! He kept me healthy even though I was diagnosed back then. Never had any symptoms until after my mom went to her permanent home! Tell me God won’t sustain you when you are on His assignment! What I have learned is we don’t have to worry about the how’s, when’s, why’s, or what ifs. God will provide the resources, time, and the anointing. Kingdom assignments only requires our obedience, God provides everything we need in our lives once we accept. I am not going to lie, being a caregiver was not easy most of the time. It was a challenge but also so rewarding! God gave me the opportunity to love on my mother the last years of her life. I would do it all over again! Long-term assignments are more challenging because they require long-term commitment and determination. I’m thinking about difficult assignments like family life, leadership roles in the body of Christ, or difficult ongoing circumstances related to your health or your finances.  These assignments need huge amounts of grace from God because our human willpower will run out. Difficult assignments sometimes will mean that you give up your ideal of a nice, controlled, comfortable life. Your life may seem out of control and you feel overwhelmed. Matthew 16:24-25 says, “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it”.  Joseph just came to my mind. This man had an assignment that was not only difficult but would last his lifetime. I can’t imagine what Joseph was thinking when he found out his wife-to-be was pregnant. In that era, the only explanation for pregnancy, was that you had been with a man. Believing this Joseph still wanted to make things easier for her. Joseph didn’t want her to be stoned to death; he didn’t even want her to be disgraced. So, he planned to send her away secretly. But then the angel explained to Joseph that he shouldn’t fear violating his righteousness by taking Mary as his wife, because the Child within her was of the Holy Spirit. Once God made clear to Joseph that he was supposed to marry Mary, Joseph was willing; he accepted that assignment from God.  Scripture calls Joseph a righteous man. He also was a compassionate man. Reading about Joseph, tells me he was a man of God. In calling Joseph, a “righteous man”, Matthew is saying that Joseph was faithful to the Old Testament law. He brought sacrifices and meditated on the law day and night (Psalm 1). These qualities made Joseph the type of person who could receive a difficult assignment from God. He was the type of person who had learned how to submit to the will of God. Trust me, this was not a surprise to God. He knew just how Joseph would react when he found out that Mary was pregnant. He knew this because He had prepared him for this specific assignment. He was able to prepare him because Joseph seeked Him and was a righteous man.  I talk about Joseph’s difficult assignment here because Joseph shows that our walks with God should prepare us for the difficult, challenging assignments that God might give us. We must discipline ourselves for the purposes of God and nurture the qualities in our lives that will help us when the difficult assignments come. It is also important that we stay connected to God. When we abandon ourselves to the will of God, like Joseph did, we may lose the life we always wanted for ourselves, but we will find the life that God wants for us. And that life will be more satisfying. I know the assignment had to be difficult for Joseph, but look at the reward, Joseph had been given the honor of being the earthly father of Jesus Christ! God always rewards us when we are obedient! Kingdom assignments always further God’s purposes, even if we are not sure exactly what purpose they serve! Limited information is not a sign that God doesn’t know what the future holds. God is Almighty and all knowing, He knows well what each day holds. When God withholds information from us, it causes us to stay close to Him, to depend on Him, to lean on Him moment by moment, day by day. If we miss our assignment, we miss out on our blessings and everything that God has for us. We miss out on the anointing, insights, revelations, and the transformation our assignments bring. I can look back and see the purpose for just about everything that I have been through, each one leads me to where I am now. The pieces of the puzzle fits! I am enjoying the journey! My desire is to hear God say, “well done my good and faithful child”. Mark Twain said, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” I believe this to be true. God’s assignments draw us into His plans and purposes for this world and our lives. Sisters and brothers, obedience is better than sacrifice! Please go to “Food for the Soul” and read today’s scriptures. Meditate on them and seek God’s purpose for your life if you don’t know already. Please share and help me spread God’s word. Love and Blessings…

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SANCTIFIED SUNDAY

When we let our minds shape the state of our souls, we can become lost. I don’t know about you, but almost every day I face temptations that seek to destroy, confuse, and entangle my mind. I look at what is happening all around me in this dark and fallen world and fear comes creeping in. I fear for the safety of my children, my grandchildren, all children! Statistics from the National Center for Victims of Crime report that, “an estimated 800,000 children are reported missing each year, more that 2,000 children every day. An estimated 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 10 boys will be sexually victimized before age 18. Yet, only 1 in 3 will tell anyone.” I look at the homeless and my heart aches. The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty estimates between 2.3 and 3.5 million people in America experience homelessness. And you don’t want me to get started on how the elderly in this country get lost in the system. And Politics! What a joke! Scripture says we perish from lack of knowledge! (Hosea 4:6). We must know what’s going on while at the same time looking to God for answers, not man! I could name many more injustices in this world, but these are the ones that tear into my heart. These are the ones that make me angry and leave me depressed! But I am so thankful to God that I no longer allow them to jeopardize my faith. I no longer let them shape the state of my mind and soul. (Romans 12:2)

 It is not through my own efforts that I don’t lock myself up in the house from fear of what is happening all around me. It is not through my own efforts that I don’t call my grandchildren every night to see if they made it home safety! It is not through my own efforts that I remain grounded in the Lord. Faith and fear cannot exist together! It is because I keep my focus on God and my faith in Him knowing that despite what it looks like, He is in control! Someone once said, “our faith is what connects our weakness to God’s power. You can see God’s signature everywhere around you once you learn to recognize His handwriting”. That’s what keeps me grounded, I can recognize His signature. Even though it may look and feel bad in the natural eye, by faith I know God is working it out for our good! And that gives me peace I need to make it day by day. (John 14:27)

 So, I meditate on the kind of things Paul list in Philippians 4:8. It is a powerful antidote to the gloom that sometimes can settle on us as we see the conditions of our world. We can fill our minds with a steady diet of God’s Words and not the what is going on in this world. However, faith that does not translate into action is no faith at all! (James 2:17). I do what I can to help those issues that tear at my soul. I am committed to letting God use me however and wherever He chooses. We must do what we can, where we are, to rectify the injustices of this world! The rest we leave to our Father who is in control and has the power to change things in one prayer! I am very careful about what I watch and how much I watch the news on TV (idiot box I sometimes call it). Someone said they don’t call the shows programs for nothing, that they program your mind and your way of thinking. I agree. There was a time, not to long ago, I would have withdrawal symptoms if I didn’t see a certain show for that week. I may still be having them. Don’t judge me. I’m working on it! And when the news keeps reporting the same thing repeatedly, it is very easy to get hypnotized. And I am very careful about what I listen to or read on Social Media. It may seem like an innocent joke but to someone else it could be cruel or bullying. Words hurt! My rule is if it is not positive, or if I don’t have something nice to say, or if I don’t have a  solution to the problem, I keep it moving. My main purpose on Social Media is to glorify God. Because He told me too! We must understand that satan has access to Social Media and TV. He gets mad when we use Social Media to praise and worship God. Well devil, you just keep on getting mad because with every breath I will praise God everywhere!

Instead of allowing the things of this world to enter our minds and get into our souls, we will keep mediating on God and all that is good. (Colossians 3:2) Sisters and brothers, we can refuse to fill our minds with a steady diet of the darker side of life. We can train our ourselves to flip the script from negative to positive. We can make careful decisions about what fills our minds and choose the things which will honor God and guard our souls! (Romans 8:5-7) Please comment and share. Thank you for helping me share God’s Word. Love and Blessings….

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SOULFUL SATURDAY

Looking back over my life, life has knocked me down time and time again. I told myself I was going to let it go and give God the fight, but then I would try to fight again. And of course it would be another TKO! Sounds kind of like the Teddy Pendergrass song, right? I used to love this song! The song however is talking about the fight of love; I am talking about the fight between my fleshself and my spiritself. When I tried to go in the ring with my flesh self, the majority of the time I didn’t make it through the first round, mostly it would be a TKO! In boxing, TKO stands for the term technical knockout. A technical knockout is when the referee stops the boxing match to declare a winner. This could be due to severe injury of one or both of the boxers.

Notice I put parenthesis on I in my first paragraph? The problem was I kept trying to fight the battle! Stepping up in the ring of life with my strong, prideful self, thinking that I was stronger than my fleshself. Ha! I got knocked down every time. Thank God, I finally realized I can’t win the fight with my fleshself. But my spiritself can! When I let my spiritself rumble with my fleshself, trust me, the only one gets knocked out is satan himself! Hallelujah! It’s a TKO every time!

I’m not saying the fight is easy. The struggle is real. But it does not have to be. The spiritself will always win if kept in shape. We struggle when we try to get in the ring and fight ourselves! We struggle when we don’t know who we are rooting for, the spirit or the flesh! We struggle when we let our fleshself get stronger than our spiritself! We struggle when we forget to put on the whole armor of God! We know that boxers have to train for a fight. They have to get in shape; you know, eat right and exercise. They prepare mentally as well as physically. And they never go into the ring without their gloves! They prepare long before the fight. They don’t wait until the day of the fight and try to get ready! The same should apply to our spiritself. We can’t wait until fleshself challenges spiritself and think spiritself is strong enough to fight. We have to stay in the Word, study the Word and live the Word! We have to pray and fast. We must die daily; the flesh has to die so the spirit can live! And we must never send spiritself into the ring without wearing the full armor of God! We have to stay focus on the prize! (Our God). We have to train before the fight! This is what God revealed to me sisters and brothers; our job is to be the trainer, not the fighter. Our job is to keep spiritself in shape, He will fight for us! He will win the fight and we will never have to worry about a TKO! Please read what God says about this in “FOOD FOR THE SOUL.” Please give your thoughts and share on Emmanuel FB. Thank you for helping me share God’s Word. Love and Blessings….

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FAITHFUL FRIDAY

When my relationship with Jesus was new, I was very sin-conscious. I felt I had to be this perfect Christian. If I had any type of negative thoughts or actions, I beat myself up about it, even after asking God for forgiveness. Of course satin helped me out, “and you call yourself a Christian?” he would tell me in my mind.  I would tell myself that I wasn’t going to do this or that because it was a sin. And I honestly made a conscious effort not to. Which means I thought about sin all the time? I spent more time trying to be this perfect Christian, than I did increasing my relationship with God! Which means I was more sin-conscious than Christ-conscious. The struggle is real! The struggle is real because of temptation. What I finally understood is that there is no trial, difficulty, challenge or temptation that we face, Jesus cannot identify with. Jesus took a human body to save our bodies. And he took a human mind to save our minds. Jesus is like us in every respect, human body, heart, mind, and will. All except for sin, for He was sinless. God allowed Jesus to be tempted so that He could be touched by our humanity, weaknesses, and our sins. Through it all He chose to do His Father’s will, and He now stands before God on our behalf.

If we are Christ-conscious, sinful thoughts and actions cannot be at the center of our mind, because our mind is so full of God. He has it covered! It’s like being on a diet, once we say that word, the struggle gets worst! All we think about is not eating, and then food becomes our main thought which makes us want to eat more! It works the same with sin. Developing our relationship with Christ and focusing on him is the key. I always say, “keep your gaze on God and your glance on the world”. When we focus on His goodness and His faithfulness, sin becomes less of an option. We just want to please Him!

The good news is that God is faithful; He will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear. Our Father will always provide a way out for us! (1 Corinthians 10:13). My brothers and sisters, we can rejoice in the fact that Jesus is our advocate. He is the reason that we can draw near to Father God and enter into His presence. How do we draw near to Him? By spending time with Him and meditating on His Word. Spending time with God helps align our desires with God’s desires for us. You want that family member saved.  You want God to provide for you. You want help with a particular sin. You want God to open a door to advance His kingdom. You want God to provide you with a spouse. You have not because you ask not. And to ask you have to spend time with Him. As we draw near to Him we enter into His grace and mercy, not judgment! So let us pray that our minds stay on Jesus and our focus on His love for us. This way we can be confident that we are covered by the blood of Jesus! Please read today’s scriptures in “FOOD FOR THE SOUL” and share God’s Word. Love and Blessings….

 

 

 

 

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MOTIVATIONAL MONDAY

Every morning when God allows us to see the beginning of another day, we should remind ourselves of Psalm 118:24 and thank God for another day of life. Sometimes we get caught up in our little to do lists, the everyday highs and lows of life, and the tendency to chase many things, thinking that in them we will find meaning and purpose. We chase our dreams and goals, fame and wealth, relationships, perfect bodies, and so on. We believe once we achieve these things we will be content and happy. And somewhere along the line we lose perspective of the real meaning of life. That is why once the chase is over and we achieve these things, we are disappointed because we still feel empty, like something is missing, and then we start a new chase.

 Scripture tells us that King Solomon had wealth beyond measure, wisdom beyond any man of his time or ours, hundreds of women, palaces and gardens that were the envy of kingdoms, the best food and wine, and every form of entertainment available. Solomon said that anything his heart wanted, he pursued and yet he wrote he gained nothing and was chasing after the wind. He described life “under the sun” as meaningless. (Ecclesiastes 2:10-11). In other words, living life as though all there is to life is what we can see with our eyes and experience with our senses is meaningless. I believe King Solomon was disappointed because he was pursuing what he wanted instead of what God wanted for him. He writes, “I denied myself nothing, I refused my heart no pleasure, I toiled to achieve.”  No wonder he would think life was meaningless, it was all about him and not about God!

 I’m not saying there is anything wrong with pursuing your dreams and reaching for the stars. Neither is there anything wrong with fame or fortune. God wants us to have our hearts desires and live abundantly here on Earth. Psalms 34:9-10 says that we shall not want any good thing. “Then the LORD your God will prosper you abundantly in all the work of your hand, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your cattle and in the produce of your ground, for the LORD will again rejoice over you for good, just as He rejoiced over your fathers;” (Deuteronomy 30:9). However, there are conditions. God just asks that we love Him, put Him first and these things shall be added. First and foremost our purpose on this earth is to glorify God! (Isaiah 43:7). If our visions and pursuits are aligned with God’s purpose for our life, then everything else will fall into place. Life is a journey. Enjoying the journey means not getting so caught up in the chase that we forget to enjoy each day that the Lord gives us. Have you ever got caught up in the little things in this life and God showed up and showed you what is really important? I know I have been guilty of this. So busy stressing over what might happen tomorrow, next week or even the next year. God wants us to not worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:34). I have found that this journey called life is so much easier when you let God be your guide. Wow! If only I had let go and let God earlier in my life, I could have saved myself some pain and frustration. But God does not want us to dwell on the past(Isaiah 43:18-19)or the if only. I know now! If we are to enjoy the journey, we must be thankful and enjoy each day that God gives us. Each day is filled with new mercies and each day, whether or not we can see it, God is doing a new thing! Praise be to the God and Father of our LORD Jesus Christ!

 Sisters and brothers, life here, no matter how good it is, is nothing compared to the life that awaits us in heaven. The glories of heaven, eternal life, righteousness, perfection, God’s presence, rewards, and all else God has planned, is the Christian’s heavenly inheritance (1 Peter 1:3-5) and it will cause even the best life on earth to pale in comparison. Yes, let us rejoice and be glad in today as we look forward to eternity with our Lord and Savior! The real meaning of life, both now and in eternity, is found in the restoration of our relationship with God. Please read and meditate on today’s scriptures in “FOOD for the SOUL”. Love and Blessings….

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TRUTHFUL TUESDAY

I have never been one for making New Year resolutions. I prefer to say I’m making lifestyle changes. Changing what I call it doesn’t make one bit of difference if I don’t follow through! It’s only been a week into the New Year and some things I said I was not going to do, I have done. And some things I said I was going to do, I have not done. Don’t judge me! I know it’s only been a week, but we all get weak at some point. I am not ashamed to say I am weak because God’s power is more easily displayed through our weaknesses. Some days we may make choices that displease God. The good news is that it is never too late to start again, as long as you have breath in your body. The bad news is that we do not know when we may take our last breath. And when we take our last breathe, none of the lifestyle changes or resolutions we made here on Earth will matter except one, our commitment to turn our lives over to God. I am determined not to fall short on this one!

Our relationship with Christ can actually help with any other lifestyle changes we want to make. Because the good news is when we are weak, our Savior is strong!  If Jesus is our Savior, we have to turn our lives over to Him and rethink how we live in all areas of our life. It’s impossible to hold onto our old ways while trying to fit Jesus in. The moment that we receive Christ as Savior, the Holy Spirit comes to live in our hearts. Our body becomes the temple of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit helps us live the Christian life. It is the Holy Spirit who draws us to Christ. It is the Holy Spirit who convicts us of our need of Christ.  If the Holy Spirit lives within us, some things have to change. Our God is Holy and cannot live with ungodliness! Paul said “if any man is in Christ he is a new creature, the old things are passed away and behold they are become new.” Everything becomes new. And we must be careful not to go back to the old! I sometimes say, “The old me would have done…” I am going to make a conscious effort not to say that anymore. I refuse to entertain the old me; I just want to rejoice in the new me!

When we make a commitment to God, every part of our life should be dedicated to God and His righteous. We should not let our thoughts, gifts, talents, or money profit the enemy but it should all be for the glory of God and His Kingdom! We have to decide whether to work with our new beliefs and follow God or go back to our old way of life and follow man. If we know God’s Word, we know that He is Holy and He cannot abide in the same place as evil. The same mouths that we praise and thank God with should not let foul and vulgar language emerge.  The mind of Christ that we strive for should not entertain evil, malicious, jealousy, envy or any other negative thoughts. If old ungodly or depressing thoughts enter your mind, think new thoughts. Believe me satin will try you, but you have a choice. God gives us freedom of choice. Today’s society have stressed our “right to choose” but have not balanced it with the message that our choices also have consequences.  Scripture tells us in Deuteronomy 30:19, “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life that both thou and thy seed may live.” We can decide to put our ways before His or we can ask ourselves, “Is this what Jesus wants of me, does this please Him? And again if you are weak in a certain area, remember our God is strong in all areas!

Living for God may mean leaving people behind. When God is taking us to a new level, everyone is not meant to come. Sometimes who we love is not meant to build a life with or go to the next level with.  We have to learn to leave doors shut that God has shut. We have to trust Him enough to walk through doors that He has opened even if we are scared. Stop trying to fit where you don’t fit! When it is time to move, you got to move! It is dangerous to stay in a place beyond your season! The reason there is frustration is because you’re not getting anything from that man/woman, job, or whatever. You cannot go into a new year hoping for change when you are trying to bring what don’t belong! Trust, you will have the same problems you had last year! God wanted to bless Abraham (then Abram) so He sent Abraham to a new land from his family and his father’s house. Now he told him specifically that he wanted him to depart from his family (Genesis 12:1). Abraham took his wife, his father and Lot went with him. If you read all of Genesis 12, you will see the problems Abram encountered by bringing Lot and Sarah along. Yes, God still blessed him but it created serious problems and delayed blessings for 5 years! We can avoid confusion and/or missed blessings by not taking baggage with us that God told us to leave behind. I’m just saying. This year trust God, let it go so He can send/give you your blessing! This year we will embrace change. Clear away what needs to be cleared away and toss out what needs to be tossed out. I’m not claiming it is easy because we all are a work in progress; we are spiritual beings living in fleshly physical bodies. But God! When we are weak, He is strong!!!!

 Sisters and brothers, do you want a joyful new year? I say joyful and not happy because joy comes from the Lord, and happy depends on what happens this year. Let us place our new wine into new wineskins, not the old wineskins. We will make our lives a testimony to our new awareness of the glory of God! I declare and decree this is the year we will start walking it out, not just talking it out! Please read today’s scriptures in “FOOD FOR THE SOUL” and meditate on God’s Word. We must read the Word to hear the Word if we are to live the Word! This year we will live for Jesus who died for us!! If we live for Him, all the expectations that we have for 2019 will unfold! Love and Blessings….

 

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SANCTIFIED SATURDAY

Why do we give presents to each other on Christmas day? The gifts are an expression of our joy over the birth of Jesus and our love for each other. The beauty of Christmas is not in the Presents but in His Presence. I believe anytime we show love for one another, it pleases God. However sometimes we get so caught up in the Presents we forget about the Presence. God has already shown us that the most precious gift cannot be bought or sold. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). In giving us this gift, God gave us His Son’s Presence. And all He wants from us is a portion of ourselves, for us to spend time with Him, to be in His Presence. The fact of the matter is the reward we get is much greater than the time we  give. This is more valuable than any Present we could give to God; as a matter of fact it is the most valuable Present we can give to each other. And again the reward we get is much greater. Think about it, our time is precious. Tomorrow is not promised, even the next minute is not promised. It is good that we proclaim aspirations for 2019, but at 11:59 on December 31, we could cease to exist in this temporary home. I know, I know, it’s a time for celebration and no one wants to think about this! However, it is The Word (James 4:13-15) not my word. And I believe if we give it some thought, we would use our time more wisely. Our time is priceless! The Bible says make the best use of our time. First and foremost we should seek Him and to do that we must spend time in His Presence. Then we should give our Presence to others. Everyone loves to receive Presents, myself included. But the greatest gift I have ever received was the Presence of a friend when I really needed her. She has given me much, but her Presence in my time of need, I will never forget. Presence: visit someone who has no family, invite a struggling family over for a meal, volunteer,, spend time with the elderly or someone who is housebound, call someone you haven’t spoken to in a while, write letters of appreciation, adopt a family, babysit for free, visit the hospitals or rest homes, just to listen. I could go on, but you get my point. Presents are good but Presence is Priceless! While celebrating the birth of Jesus, read Matthew 25:35-45. When we do these things, Jesus is pleased! It is His birthday; the best gift we can give Him is our Presence in the life of others! And not just those in our circle or those who love us, but love up on all of God’s children. As Christians, we should exhibit more fellowship, compassion, and care with one another. Trust me, life becomes peaceful and we get this unspeakable joy when we grasp the reality and goodness of God’s constant Presence living within us.  This time of year can bring out the worst as well as the best in people. I love this time of year! I love the lights and decorations but more importantly for me it brings out gratitude, thankfulness, caring for others, taking time to give others my Presence. It means giving of myself because of the gift God gave me, and believing in magic and miracles! What does the Christmas Spirit mean to you? This Christmas season and throughout the New Year I pray we take time to grace someone with our Presence. Those who know me know I celebrate my birthday the entire month, but I celebrate the birth of Jesus 365 days a year!!!! Merry Christmas my brothers and sisters! Read today’s scriptures in “Food for the Soul” Love and Blessings…

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MOTIVATIONAL MONDAY

Sometimes I don’t even recognize myself. I am changing. I know it’s nothing I have done but all of what God is doing. It is a subtle change. I have this peaceful calmness even when the enemy tries to attack me or my love ones. I am learning to not rely on what I feel or what this world believes to be true, but to believe God’s Word which is the only truth. My loyalty now belongs to God, not to man. I am learning to keep moving in spite of the devil’s lies and destruction. I am learning to claim my victory that our Lord God has given me. I am stronger than I have ever been. I know this new-found strength comes from God. I know the God I serve is alive and that the Blood of Jesus covers me. I know who I am because I know whose I am. I am a warrior!

 We are not born warriors, we are made. We are not self-made, we are shaped and molded by the Master Himself. We become warriors through trial and error, pain and suffering. Through the tears and heartache. We are sometimes shattered into a thousand pieces. But God! We are bent but not broken. We become warriors when we still stand up after being knocked down again and again. We may not be rich or famous, we may not look like beauty queens or models, but we are much more than that. We are women of God! We have substance. We are queens. We are survivors. Each day we grow spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. We are purpose driven. Women warriors possess a determined spirit, an I can do attitude that drives their actions towards their goals. When faced with limitations, disappointment or opposition, we are more determined to make what we envision happen. A warrior’s prayer can move mountains! We know that when the force of our will is aligned with the will of God, we can say to the mountain, “move” and it will move! We move forward with our head high and with a strength that the Lord provides. I am a warrior!

A warrior knows God is her strength and the armor of God is her weapon. She is unstoppable, not because she doesn’t have failures, fears and doubts, but because she keeps moving in spite of them. She stands up for herself and she stands up for others. She refuses to be disrespected, mistreated or taken for granted. She is bold in the authority God has given her. A warrior knows what she brings to the table, so she is not afraid to eat alone! (come correct or not at all). Although strong, a warrior feels deeply and loves fiercely. She cries as quickly as she laughs. She is both soft and powerful, she is practical and spiritual. She is all these things because she listens to the voice of her Father God. She is the daughter of the Most High. She knows she is a winner because God does not birth failures! She is confident in her power because she is confident in God’s faithfulness. A warrior understands her purpose and what God has called her to do. She is committed to God and to being obedient to His Word. I am a warrior! Are you a warrior? I believe there is a warrior inside the heart of every woman; and with the help of God she can be set free. Please read today’s scriptures in “Food for the Soul”,  Love and Blessings…

 “It takes a female to have a baby,
it takes a woman to raise a child,
it takes a mother to raise them correctly,
and it takes a warrior to show them how to change the world.”
― Shannon L. Alder

 

 

 

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WISDOM WEDNESDAY

Today someone lost a loved one, a child is missing, someone was diagnosed with a terminal illness, and there is a hostage situation going on. Today a relationship ended and someone lost their job. Today there are many people who are in pain, homeless, hungry and in a state of depression. I am not making this up, today all these things happened. If you don’t believe me, turn on the news. Some of us don’t have to do that because we are dealing with one of these up close and personal. I can honestly say in spite of all this, I still feel blessed. But I am not going to lie; today I was feeling some type of way. I asked God, how can we still see your beauty in this world of ugliness? And what came into my spirit was to continue to keep my gaze on Him and my glance on the world. Ok God that is what I try to do every day. Yet I live in this world, I see what’s going on, and it is breaking my heart. My next thought was maybe I should try to see the ugly things through spiritual eyes instead of natural eyes. ???????. Whenever I don’t understand something, I go to the Word to study and I research. I allow God to lead me. I found a great man of faith in the Bible, Asaph, he was David’s music director, and he wrote twelve Psalms. Asaph served in Jerusalem for all of David’s reign, He was in Jerusalem when God gave David the great promise that David would have a son who would be the Messiah, and reign forever. He saw the death of David, the accession of Solomon, and the building of the Temple. After Solomon’s dedication of the Temple, Asaph saw Israel turn into something quite different from what he expected. After a promising beginning, Solomon turned his back on God and pursued power, wealth, luxury, and human wisdom, as well as worship of other gods. To finance these pursuits the people were oppressed with slavery and taxes. Asaph and his family, who had remained faithful to the truth, became victims of violence and murder at the hands of the Solomon and the Egyptians. Asaph saw Solomon become a wicked man who entrusted the administration of his Kingdom to other wicked men. After Solomon’s death, Asaph saw David’s kingdom torn in two by God’s decree. Before today, I had not read or remember hearing about Asaph. Today I feel his pain. He must have been heartbroken as he watched the Kingdom destroyed, the Temple ruined and many of his own family killed. Yet, through it all, Asaph found God’s faithfulness a strong tower of hope. And God revealed to Asaph the ultimate truth of what He had promised. It was not what man’s ignorance and David’s impatience sought, but what God’s wisdom provided. It was not about Solomon! It was not about Solomon’s destroyed kingdom and burned Temple! It was not about Solomon’s worldly despairing wisdom! It was not about Solomon’s corrupting and corruptible riches! It was about Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace who was to come! It was His eternal Kingdom, His perfect wisdom, His true riches, and the Temple of His body! I believe as Asaph looked around him and saw all this devastation and felt all this heartbreak; he asked God as I did today, “how can we see your beauty in all this ugliness?” As remarkable as our eyes are, we only see physical things. God has given us spiritual sight through the means of His Holy Spirit. When Asaph looked at events through physical eyes, he could only see unfairness as the wicked seemed to prosper and the righteous seemed to suffer and get weaker. However, as he continued to meditate on these things with spiritual eyesight, he could see the end of all things and learned to trust God for the true long-term conclusion of all things. I really want to be able to see with spiritual eyes like Asaph. We cannot open our own spiritual eyes. We have to come to Christ. He is the light! I believe we start by making Jesus the center of our lives and keeping the focus of our life on Jesus Christ. When we see through spiritual eyes, it reinforces Romans 8:28; “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.”

Today I was reminded by God that no matter what this world brings, pray, believe and keep the faith anyway. I pray this helps someone. Love and Blessings….

 ANYWAY

 In this world people are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered:

FORGIVE THEM ANYWAY.

In this world if you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;

BE KIND ANYWAY.

In this world if you are successful, you will win some false friends and true enemies;

SUCCEED ANYWAY.

In this world if you are honest and frank, they will cheat you;

BE STRAIGHTFORWARD ANYWAY.

In this world what you spent years building, may be destroyed overnight;

BUILD ANYWAY.

In this world if you find serenity and happiness, people may be jealous and scorn;

BE JOYOUS ANYWAY.

In this world people who you love may disappoint you and break your heart;

LOVE ANYWAY.

In this world you will lose loved ones, trials and tribulations will come, you will get discouraged and sometimes you won’t feel like moving on;

MOVE ON ANYWAY.

In this world the good you do today, may often be forgotten tomorrow;

DO GOOD ANYWAY.

Give the world the best you have and it will never be enough;

GIVE THE WORLD THE BEST YOU’VE GOT ANYWAY.

YOU SEE, IN THE FINAL ANALYSIS, IT IS BETWEEN YOU AND GOD;

IT WAS NEVER BETWEEN YOU AND THIS WORLD ANYWAY!

(Original Author Unknown)

(Additions Added by Curleen Johnson)

 

 

 

 

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SANCTIFIED SUNDAY

As I look out my window at this beautiful, perfect painting of a snowy, winter wonderland, I am amazed! Only God can create such a picture without paints or crayons! Just from nature, He has graced us with this beauty. I don’t care what anybody says; a God who can do this can do anything! There is nothing impossible for God; the Artist!

 We all have struggled at times with the problem of little faith. Maybe like Abraham and Sarah, we have prayed for something for years, but God has not answered. We may have suffered some tragedy, such as the loss of a loved one, and we wonder where God was when this happened. Family problems, health issues, even a small thing that would be easy for God to provide and we wonder why God does not answer. Then the spirit of doubt creeps in. As humans, we tend to trust in ourselves most of the time and in God only when we really have to. If we trust in ourselves, then we glory in ourselves. But God’s purpose is that we glory in Him alone. He will graciously bring us to the place where we have no hope except in Him, so that we trust in Him and He gets the glory. He took me to that place; you would think I learned my lesson! But the problem is that even after we trust in Christ for salvation, we mistakenly think that we are competent to live the Christian life with just a little help from the Lord.  And so the Lord has to bring us again and again to the point of helplessness. Because I am still a work in progress, I put the superwoman cape on and off again and again.  I have to acknowledge my own insufficiency and depend on His all-sufficiency. God brings us to end of our strength so that we will trust in His ability to do the impossible. Look at Hannah, (Samuel 1); she was another barren woman who desperately wanted to have a son. The Lord wanted her to have a son, too. So do you know what He did? He closed her womb! Wait what! That’s a strange way to give a woman a son! Her husband’s other wife, Peninnah, who was not a godly woman, had many children. How frustrating for Hannah, crying out to the Lord for a son, to see Peninnah, who didn’t seek the Lord, with many children! But that’s how God works with His people. He wants us to see that without Him, we can do nothing. If Hannah could have had children on her own, like Peninnah, she wouldn’t have needed the Lord.  But when Hannah finally had Samuel because the Lord gave him to her, she sang a song of praise and gave Samuel back to the Lord to serve Him.

We should never doubt God’s goodness toward His chosen ones or His power to fulfill His purpose with them in His time and way. We may not understand His ways and the reason for His delays. But that doesn’t undermine the faithfulness or power of our great God, the God with whom all things are possible. God wants each of us to see that our situation is humanly impossible without Him. That way, we’ll look to Him for His power, praise Him when He delivers us, and He will be glorified through our lives. If you have any doubt that nothing is impossible for God, look around you at the sun, moon, stars, rainbows, beaches, ocean and the snow. God is the Creator; the Artist! Love and Blessings……

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THANKFUL THURSDAY

Mark 11:23 tells us that Jesus instructed us to speak to our mountain, “For truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, he will have whatever he says” He instructs us to “say.” Say means to utter aloud, express in words, or give a chance to speak. Scripture says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Prov. 18:21). Why is it that we can talk all day long to people, but when it comes to using our authority and speaking aloud to our mountains, we don’t embrace that death and life are in the power of the tongue? Jesus spoke to things! He spoke to a storm. (Mark 4:35-40). He spoke to a fig tree. “When He saw a fig tree by the road, He went to it but found nothing on it except leaves. He said to it, ‘Let no fruit ever grow on you again.’ Immediately the fig tree withered away” (Matt. 21:19). The fig tree responded to what He said. Jesus affected a supernatural dimension with his words. You may say, “Yes, but this was Jesus, the Son of God.” No. He became like you and I. The Bible says he stripped himself of his God-like powers and became like you and me. (Philippians 2:7).

Our words, combined with the name of Jesus have the power to move mountains. We get that we cannot be negative, critical and judgmental. We get that we need to pray and add thanksgiving to our petitions. But sometimes we don’t get that we also need to speak to our mountains in the name of Jesus, and because of our faith, expect them to disappear. We may look and feel foolish. We may sound crazy, but it will have an effect upon our mountains. When I could barely walk at all, I was told that I may not be able to walk. At that time I didn’t know how powerful my words were but I said, “The devil is a lie, and I will walk!” They thought I was crazy but I just refused to believe that, no matter what it looked liked! There is power in our words. I am a walking witness! We pray and pray about our mountains. That’s a good thing. We should pray, but there comes a time when we must speak to it. Praying is great, but don’t stop there. Go one more level and speak to your mountain. When we are faced with a mountain-sized problem, we get scared and run to tell God all about it. That’s good, no better one to run to. But the truth is, He already knows about our problems and He’s already provided everything we need to overcome it. God has supplied everything we need by grace (Ephesians 1:3). Faith doesn’t move God to do what He’s already done; faith moves mountains! So praise the Lord for carrying all your infirmities on the cross and then command your mountain to bow to Jesus! (Titus 2:15) He gave us authority. “I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” (Luke 10:19) The enemy will use mountains to make us lose hope and lose faith. He will use mountains to block our vision of our futures. He wants us to get upset with people and get upset with God. If he can do this, then he has won. He has kept us from experiencing all God has for us with a simple mountain. No one in the Bible ever faced an obstacle and did not advance if they handled it correctly. Your mountain has a name. Cancer, depression, or whatever, it doesn’t matter what the mountain is, if it is outside what Jesus has planned for you, command it to go in Jesus name! Jesus said we could do what he did and even more. (John 14:12).There is a miracle in your mouth! There is power in your words! There is power in the name of Jesus! Love and Blessings….

 

 

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TODAY’S INSPIRATION:KNOW WHO AND WHOSE YOU ARE!

Sometimes because of the way we are treated or because of things that happened in our life, we may feel lonely and invisible. We began to doubt our valve. We lose our sense of purpose, especially when there is trouble in our relationships. I believe God uses life’s challenges to bring us to the end of ourselves, so that we can really think on the purpose of our life. Our purpose is bigger than a failed relationship or marriage. It is bigger than that person who decides they want to walk out of our life. When I think of the story of Amnon, with his wicked self, I get angry. Yes, it makes me mad! Before you judge, there are two kinds of anger, there is the anger of man which does not achieve the righteousness of God (James 1:20), and the anger which is an expression of God’s righteousness (Ephesians 4:26-27). Any injustice makes me angry!

Now back to the Amnon. He raped his sister Tamar (2 Samuel 13:1-21). He destroyed her destiny and her future. He killed her self-esteem and spoiled her integrity. He assassinated her character. And to make matters worse, he did not want her afterwards. The Bible says, “he hated her with a greater intensity than which he loved her before” (2 Samuel 13:15). The old saying goes its a thin line between love and hate. Tamar pleaded with him to not throw her out. She said, “What you’re doing to me now is worse than what you did to me at first. Raping me was horrible, but not wanting me is worse” (2 Samuel 13:16). She lay on the ground outside with nowhere to go. The Bible says she cried. I’m sure many women and men can relate to Tamar. I believe she felt worthless and of no value. Some of us have gone through situations or relationships that left us feeling unwanted. It can destroy your sense of esteem and value. It hurts. If you allow it too, it can change you forever and how you relate to others.

I not going to tell you that it’s an easy fix to get over the pain of being wounded like Tamar was.  I will tell you that it is possible. I believe if you know whose you are, it will change how you think of yourself. And how we think of ourselves, will determine how we respond to life’s hurts and pains.  One of my favorite scriptures is Jeremiah 1:5, “before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; before you were born, I set you apart.” WOW! This always blows me away! Our parents did not even know us before we were born! Each and every one of us was set apart. We were planned in the heart and mind of God. No matter the circumstances of our birth, we are one of a kind, a special product created by God. Because we are a product of God, nothing that happens to us in this life, can diminish our valve! And if that is not enough, take a look at what David declares in Psalm 139:13-14. “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” WOW AGAIN! Our worth and valve is not in the eyes of man, but in the eyes of God! There is another woman the Bible speaks of that felt like a “nobody”. Hagar, who was the slave of Sarah. I’m sure in her culture, pregnant and alone, she felt hopeless and invisible. But God saw her. God stepped in. He protected her twice from Sarah’s hatred (Genesis 21:1-21). And when God saw her, she in return saw him. This empowered her! God became real to her. When we really see God, even through the tears, pain, and life’s ever ending issues, we see an ever-present hope, encouragement, salvation, and joy, not just for this life but for eternity! 

No matter what we face in life, knowing that God knows us, loves us, and will never leave us, is enough for us to face anything. When the pain gets to be too much and you feel like you are worthless with no value, take another look at your label. We are the children of the Most High, the King of Kings! I don’t know about you, but this makes me a princess! That is enough for me to pick up my crown, hold my head high and keep moving! Love and Blessings…  

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SANCTIFIED SUNDAY

I knew I was in trouble when the pain went above my tolerance level. I have always had a high tolerance for pain! I knew something was wrong when the pain began to move from my wrist to my ankles, from shoulders to chest, from head to toes. I knew something was wrong when two days of pain became four days and four days became weeks. And two years later, it’s still hard to explain to people a pain that never goes away. A pain that affects your entire body and that can sometimes get so bad it’s hard to breath! It’s hard to explain to people when you look like there is nothing wrong, but some days you just curl up in bed and medicate. So you hide it most of the time. It affects you mentally; you think you are going crazy. Actually, in the beginning I was told by the “professionals” that it was in my mind, until they finally figured out the problem and came up with a diagnosis. And then they think you are crazy again because you refuse to accept the diagnosis! I’m not telling this because I want pity (I have passed the pity party stage), I’m telling this because someone is dealing with their own pain, and it may not be physical. Someone has their own story. It could be the pain of depression, the pain of divorce, the pain of loneliness, financial pain, the pain of addiction, or the pain of losing a love one. I want you to know that I tried to stand, I fought hard! For a year I dealt with the pain in secret and silence. I believe that was the problem. I stood, I fought, and I dealt with the problem.

 When I could no longer stand, I knelt down to God and I let Him know I was tired and that I was giving my pain to Him. Even when the pain is unbearable, even when we can’t move, even when we are crying, we must pray, we must give our pain to Him, and then trust God, not our feelings. You can call me crazy, but I refuse to accept defeat, in spite of a diagnosis. I refuse to accept defeat because of what my bank account looks like! I refuse to accept defeat because someone walked out of my life! I just refuse to accept defeat! (John 5:4) We serve a God who is greater than any diagnosis, circumstance or problem! (1 John 4:4) Listen, Jesus suffered and died so that we could be healed! I live by His promise, Isaiah 53:5, no matter what it looks or feels like!

We must breakdown the strongholds of satan against our bodies, our finances, and our families. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5) We must realize that we are the temple of the Holy Ghost. (1 Corinthians 3:16) Greater is He that lives in us than he who lives in this world. Once we realize this, we will experience the power of God. God is greater, and when we simply trust in His wisdom, we are able to behold all the greatness of God! I’m not saying I no longer have pain, I’m saying that God is greater than the pain. His grace is sufficient(2 Corinthians 12:9)and He is using me in ways that I have never imagined! Believe in the promises of our God. When everything is going good in our life, we will probably boast in ourselves. When things are going bad, that’s when we will glorify God and trust in Him more because we know it’s only the almighty God that can help us. And He gets all the credit when we get through it. I know the struggle is real, but so is our God! You may not see the light at the end of the tunnel right now. You may feel that you can’t stand any longer, that’s ok, just kneel. Keep praying, keep fasting. Sometimes God doesn’t answer in our way or our time, but He answers in the best way and at the best time! Sisters and brothers don’t give up when it’s raining or you won’t see the sunshine when it comes.(2 Chronicles 15:7) And it will come! I am a witness of the glory of God! Please read God’s Word in “Food For The Soul”. Love and Blessings…..

 

 

 

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WISDOM WEDNESDAY

***WARNING***WARNING***WARNING***WARNING***WARNING***

    Spoiler Alert—Spoiler Alert—Spoiler Alert—Spoiler Alert—Spoiler Alert

IF YOU ENJOY PARTICIPATING IN HALLOWEEN PLEASE DO NOT READ

I greet you all with love and blessings. I meditated a great while as to how to properly deliver this topic. I prayed to God on how this message should be delivered to honor Him and the Kingdom. His message was clear, tell the truth in love with mercy and full of grace. I Clifton, a servant of God and Jesus Christ, write to all the saints in the Faith and pray that grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ:

As a child, I recall Halloween being one of my favorite times of the year. A time when it’s okay for you to eat as much candy as you want! I wasn’t too big on wearing costumes or anything, but those bite size chocolate candy bars, they were on point! I used to try to hide them because my mom and dad would be digging all in my bag talking about I don’t need all this candy. That was a long time ago, now as a parent I witness my children growing up eager to join in on the festivities. To them they knew only the fun associated with this day, they were unaware of the pagan traditions associated and the merchandising that went along with it.

As a believer in God and Jesus being my Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit has given me deeper insight on Halloween. I want to shed some light on two factors concerning Halloween.

The first is that it originated as an ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred.

In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints; soon, All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. Starting with Feralia, a day in late October when the Romans traditionally commemorated the passing of the dead. The second was a day to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. The symbol of Pomona is the apple, and the incorporation of this celebration into Samhain probably explains the tradition of “bobbing” for apples that is practiced today on Halloween. The evening before was known as All Hallows Eve, and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a day of activities like trick-or-treating, carving jack-o-lanterns, festive gatherings, donning costumes and eating sweet treats. Those of us that try the spirit by the spirit and clearly see this holiday originated with pagan concepts, honoring Samhain instead of God. It also was later changed by Pope Gregory III to in some ways create a positive outlook on a negative celebration. In other words, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil represents Halloween, the Tree of Life represents Christ. Meditate on these scriptures below:

 Ephesians 5:15-16 (ERV)

“be very careful how you live. Live wisely, not like fools. I mean that you should use every opportunity you have for doing good, because these are evil times.”

I Thessalonians 5:19-22 (ERV)

“Don’t stop the work of the Holy Spirit. Don’t treat prophecy like something that is not important. But test everything. Keep what is good, and stay away from everything that is evil.”

 Ephesians 5:6-12 (ERV)

“Don’t let anyone fool you with words that are not true. God gets very angry when people who don’t obey him talk like that. So don’t have anything to do with them. In the past you were full of darkness, but now you are full of light in the Lord. So live like children who belong to the light. This light produces every kind of goodness, right living, and truth. Try to learn what pleases the Lord. Have no part in the things that people in darkness do, which produce nothing good. Instead, tell everyone how wrong those things are. Actually, it is shameful to even talk about the things those people do in secret.”

 The second factor is the merchandising of Halloween. Can you believe that one-quarter of all the candy sold annually in the U.S. is purchased for Halloween? Or that Americans spend an estimated $9 billion annually on Halloween, making it the country’s second largest commercial holiday after Christmas? They estimate this year each American will spend a record $86.79 per person, according to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey. One reason is that Halloween is a very affordable holiday. It doesn’t cost as much as Christmas or Thanksgiving and is still lots of fun. Part of this is a permanent shift to thrift that occurred during the Great Recession. Record Halloween sales statistics buoys retailers. According to the National Retail Federation, Halloween signals how well retailers will do during the all-important holiday season. That’s when about 20% of retail sales occur for the entire year. The kick-off is Black Friday, which is just a month later. In fact, 40% of shoppers begin their holiday shopping before Halloween.

 Which brings us to the point of this revelation. I know many Christians prefer “Trunk or Treat” at their churches or try to exclude all the scary and dark things associated with Halloween and try to make it a righteous event. I pose to you this question, can man alone turn something evil into something good? I present this question not to cause division among the body of Christ, because we are to all be of one accord. I recently noticed how many yards were decorated for Halloween this year. I learned two things, people are very creative, and a lot of adults enjoy this time of the year as much as kids. I started to wonder, what does God say about all of this? So, I asked Him, I said “Lord if Jesus was to come back right now, what would He say about all these fake cemeteries, ghost and all those other scary looking creatures in people’s yard?” I was thrown back by His answer, He told me to look pass the things you see on the outside of people’s houses and look into their hearts. Look into this person’s purpose in my kingdom. Instead of judgment show encouragement, be an example. And then He sent me to this scripture:

 Philippians 5:27 (ERV)

“Just be sure you live as God’s people in a way that honors the Good News of Christ. Then if I come and visit you or if I am away from you, I will hear good things about you. I will know that you stand together with the same purpose and that you work together like a team to help others believe the Good News.”

 As always God is true, righteous and just. I was also reminded by my mother (by the way check out her God inspired website at www.emanne.org), that imagine if God looked at Saul with human eyes, there would not have been a revelation at Damascus, and Saul would’ve remained Saul instead of Paul. Bottom line, Love, Grace and Mercy should be our guiding light when discussing the worship, practice or celebration of Halloween.

 In conclusion, we are aware that Halloween originated as a pagan celebration, and that it is a money-making event. But for those that follow Christ, how do we respond to these things? If God hasn’t revealed to us the hearts of those who celebrate it, we should follow the righteousness of Christ and be led by the Spirit to respond accordingly. Some people will decorate their house with a Fall theme, others believe it is a time of harmless fun without included all the demonic stuff or can we mix things of dark nature with the things of Light nature and call it innocent fun?

 I Corinthians 10:14-22

“Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?”

 You have the origin of Halloween, you have the merchandising of Halloween, now you must pray and seek God concerning our participation in Halloween. To my sisters and brothers in the Faith according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

 COMMENT BY EMMANUEL: Wow! To God be the glory! Deep and thought-provoking. Knowledge is powerful! Charles Spurgeon once wrote,

“Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it. There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom.”

If we think that we know it all, or at least that we already know all that we need to know, we are already potentially deceived into believing a lie.  Satan I believe wants us to think than we are smarter than we really are.  Whenever this deception occurs we are then not going to make the effort to seek to know the truth of God’s Word. Love and Blessings…

Dan 12:4  But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.

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FAITHFUL FRIDAY

My neighbor, a man of God wrote this prayer. Every morning I start my day with this prayer. There is a spiritual warfare going on my brothers and sisters. If you remember, I wrote about how we are God’s soldiers and we need the full armor of God, how we need to study the Word of God and place it in our hearts, so like Jesus, we can use it when the enemy comes with his lies. I also wrote about the power of the tongue and how words are powerful. We can use words in the fight against the enemy. I suggest starting your day with this powerful prayer. Yes, this prayer is long, but would you go to war with only a few weapons? No, you would want the entire armory. Our words, when they come from the heart and are based on His Word have the power to defeat the enemy! The Holy Spirit tells me to leave this here for a week. Also read Food for the Soul Scriptures pertaining to Spiritual Warfare. Feel free to ask questions, comment and share. Love and Blessings…

A WARFARE PRAYER BEFORE STARTING YOUR DAY

Heavenly Father, I bow in worship and praise before you. I cover myself with the blood of Jesus Christ, and claim the protection of His blood for my family, my finances, my home, my spirit, soul, mind and body. I surrender myself completely in every area of my life to you. I take a stand against all the workings of the devil that would try to hinder me and my family from best serving you. I address myself only to the True and Living God, and refuse any involvement of satan in my prayer. satan, I command you and all of your demon forces of darkness, in the name of Jesus Christ, to leave my presence. I bring the Blood of Jesus Christ between you and my family, my finances, my spirit, soul, mind and body, I declare, therefore, satan, that you and your wicked spirits are subject to me in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 Furthermore, in my own life today, I destroy and tear down all the strongholds of the enemy and smash every plan that has been formed against me and my family. I tear down all the strongholds of the devil against my mind, and I surrender my mind to you. Blessed Holy Spirit, I affirm Heavenly Father, that you have not given me the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). I resist the spirit of fear in the name of Jesus, the Son of the living God, and I refuse no fear, refuse to doubt, refuse to worry, because I have the authority (power) over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt me (Luke 10:19). I claim complete and absolute victory over the forces of darkness in the name of Jesus, and I bind the devil and command him to lose my peace, joy, prosperity and every member of my family for the glory of God, and by faith I call it done!!!

I break and smash the strongholds of satan formed against my emotions today, and I give my emotions to you dear God. I destroy the strongholds of satan formed against my will today. I give my will to you, Heavenly Father, and choose to make the right decisions of faith, I breakdown the strongholds on satan against my body today and I give my body to you, realizing that I am the temple of the Holy Ghost (1 Corinthians 3:16-17, 6:19-20). I cover myself with the Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ and pray the Holy Ghost would bring all the works of the Crucifixion, all the works of the Resurrection, and all the works of the Ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ into my life today. I surrender my life and possessions to you. I refuse to be discouraged in the name of Jesus. I will not hate, envy, or show any type of bitterness towards my brothers, sisters, or my enemies; but will love them with the love of God shed abroad, in my heart by the Holy Ghost (Romans 5:5).

Open my eyes and show me the areas of my life that do not please you and give me strength, grace and wisdom to remove any sin or weight that would prevent our close fellowship, work in me to cleanse me from all ground that would give the devil a foothold against me, I claim in every way, the victory of the cross over all satanic forces in my life, I pray in the name of the lord Jesus Christ with thanksgiving and I welcome all the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Lord, I seal this prayer in the Blood of the Jesus claiming no interference from satan or any contrary spirit, in the name of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen and Amen…

Howard Coates

 

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MOTIVATIONAL MONDAY

Sometimes in life we want to hit the pause button and breathe. Unfortunately that is not an option, life goes on. Life does not stop because we are stuck. So what do we do when we get stuck, unable to go back, too afraid to move forward? We become paralyzed, thinking we don’t have the skills, experience, resources, or time. We start to feel inadequate. I don’t know why as human beings we have the tendency to let negative thoughts overcome the positive. We can have ten positive thoughts, but the one negative is what sticks. When we get hurt or broken, we feel our entire life is broken. A rough patch doesn’t mean a rough life. A bad day doesn’t mean a bad year. The key is to keep moving forward. Because whether we do or not; life will continue on forward into the future.

 Terrible things will happen. In this world, hurting people hurt people. We live in a world full of sin and satan is not a cartoon character. He is real. But because God is with us and He is greater, beautiful things happen too. We have to keep moving to see them. If I had stopped two years ago when I felt paralyzed, not wanting to see the next day, I would have missed this joy I have today. I could not put my life on pause, I could not go back and I did not want to move forward. I thank God every day that He did not let me give up. I allowed God to use the circumstances of life to strengthen me through my weakness, so that He could be glorified. Today I can say I am here, I made it through only because of Him! Life is a journey; there are mountains, hills, storms and rain. But there is also sunshine, laughter, joy and peace. To get to those we have to keep moving. Take baby steps if necessary, crawl if you must. There just might be a miracle waiting for you around the corner. I am a witness! I am a miracle! Let God do what He does; carry us when we are tired. While we may not have all the answers in this life, the Lord does, and we can trust Him more than anyone or anything in this world. He will help us get through everything. He is our strength, our refuge. Give God your hurts and fears. When disaster rages around us, His love will comfort us and our hearts will find healing. Trust Him. Speak life. Dismiss any negative thoughts immediately and do not allow any negative words to come out of your mouth. Keep moving forward in spite of what it looks like. If we do these things, God will give us a renewed courage to face another day. God’s love and beauty makes us brave. Please read Food for the Soul, God’s Word shows us how and why we must keep moving. Love and Blessings…

 

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FAITHFUL FRIDAY

Some of us are familiar with people saying “I keep it real”, “I’m not going to sugar coat anything, and I tell it like it is”or“I’m just being honest”. I am not opposed to people speaking their mind, especially if they have the mind of Christ. Recently God put on my heart to study how we ought to encourage and uplift one another in speech through mercy and grace. The first scripture he took me to was Colossians 4:5-6 (KJV) “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”

 The MSG version reads like this: “Make the most of every opportunity. Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, and not cut them out.”

 I was immediately thinking, how many times have I shared my opinion in a conversation with someone and not been gracious or merciful. Telling myself I was helping the person with constructive criticism. The thing is criticism whether good or bad is not in the scriptures, constructive or not, it is just another way to judge a person. And what does the Bible tell us about judgment?

 Romans 14:10-13 (KJV) “But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. Let us not therefore judge one another anymore: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.”

 What’s important is that we tell people God’s truth, that in any situation or difficult circumstances we express the will of God and not our own understanding. We don’t want to plant bad seeds; negative words that we believe will help them. Instead plant seeds of faith that will grow in maturity and love to build godly character. Sure we can give people advice on marriage, raising children, managing their money and so forth. I mean God allowed us to have those experiences to share with others, but God wants us to share it in grace, mercy and LOVE. Read carefully 1 Corinthians 13. That chapter is our example how we tell people the truth, how we keep it real, how we tell it like it is and how we are honest.

 Galatians 6:1-2 (ERV) “Brothers and sisters, someone in your group might do something wrong. You who are following the Spirit should go to the one who is sinning. Help make that person right again, and do it in a gentle way. But be careful, because you might be tempted to sin too. Help each other with your troubles. When you do this, you are obeying the law of Christ.”

 In closing I’m encouraging each one of us to commit to speech that is full of grace, mercy and love. This does not make us weak; this doesn’t mean we walk on eggshells when talking to people. It means that we must meditate, pray and wait on the Lord to give us an answer on how to properly and righteously speak to our brothers and sisters. Inspired by God, written by vizhun…

 COMMENT: Powerful message from a man of God! Let us master our mouth, words matter! Words can tear down or build up; we want to build up ourselves as well as others. Read today’s scriptures in “Food For the Soul” on how God wants us to live and act in grace. Love and blessings…


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SANCTIFIED SUNDAY

I was blessed this morning with a great message from Pastor Michael Thomas. It corresponded with a song that’s been in my head for months. I sing it every day (well I can’t sing but…), it is “He Promised Me” by BeBe Winans. Pastor Thomas spoke about the great promises of God. His teachings, as usual was on fire! My spirit tells me this message needs to be shared. Now sometimes my memory takes a vacation but thank God it always returns. It’s amazing though, when it comes to His Word, God makes sure I remember what He wants me to remember! This morning’s message will take us through the rough times in life. I am going to go over the main points of the message.

 Our life has already been planned out by God. The problem is we get in the way of God’s plans, because we decide to live as we want instead of how God wants. We get discouraged when God’s promises do not come when or how we expect them to. “I know what you said God but… I’m sick, he or she left me, I can’t pay my bills, etc.” We have to learn to hold to the promises of God regardless of the situation. God’s promises are not based on people or circumstances. God’s promises are not bound by time or eternity. God is not limited by age. Look at Abraham who was 75 years old when the covenant was confirmed at Haran. Twenty-five years later, when Abraham was 100 years old, Isaac was born (Genesis 21:5). Isaac was 60 years old when Jacob was born (Genesis 25:26). Nothing is impossible for God! God made promises to Abraham that required nothing of Abraham. We must have faith in the promises of God. And faith is not base on feelings but on God’s Word. When God is going to do something great in your life, He will make you some promises. When that happens, God will allow you to be tested; the trials and tribulations will prepare you for what God has for you. So we must not faint during those times, but hold on to His promises. The promises should take us through the storms of life.

 As Pastor Thomas said, “We are not saved by making promises to God, but we are saved by believing God’s promises to us. We will reap the promises of God if we don’t faint” I thank God for the Word this morning from His messenger. I pray it blesses you as it did me. Please read “FOOD FOR SOUL” for today’s scriptures on God’s promises. Love and Blessing…

 

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WISDOM WEDNESDAY

Sometimes trying to do the right thing can be exhausting. What do you do when you get angry responses to well-intentioned actions or words? Words that you meant to be encouraging. Or when you smile and say hello, only to be met with silence and a deadly stare. The other day at Wal-Mart, I realized the cashier had not scanned an item and just put it in my bag. I knew this because I always check my receipt, especially when they are moving really fast. I’m not trying to pay for something twice! Anyway, I got back in line and let her know the mistake. She looked at me as if I was crazy. She probably was thinking why did I stand in line again to give it back like a fool, at least that’s what her look said. Sure, it would have been easier to keep it. But easy does not make it right. I’m no saint; I fall short daily, but that day I passed that test. It doesn’t matter that the cashier did not respond the way I thought she should have, what matters is that I did the right thing. When people act that way, it makes you wonder sometimes do your well-intentioned words and actions make any difference at all.

The answer to that question is yes, it makes a difference to Jesus Christ. He desires us to do the right thing at all times, in every circumstance. God’s standard is perfection, make no mistake about that. The reality is that we are sinful. Thank God that our relationship to Him is not based on our perfection, but on Christ’s. His perfect obedience is credited to us so when God looks at us, He sees us as perfect. If we could be perfect on our own strength, Christ’s death would have been unnecessary. (1 John 2:1) We are sinners, who because of our salvation, are saved by grace. Our goal should be to pursue and strive through  the power of God’s Spirit to live up to His standards. And that is what God expect of us.

 So let’s think about that before we react with hurt or anger when people do not respond in the way we expect them too. We must remember that we won’t always see the results we desire when we say or do things in love. We may not get a thank you or any type of appreciation when we do good things. We may not get recognized or any type of award. In Galatians 6:1-10, Paul encourages us to consider our motives and test our actions for what we say and do. If we do things from the heart, then we do not expect anything in return, not even a thank you (though it would be nice), our reward comes from above. As Paul says, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. We must persevere. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people.” Think about that whenever you get weary or feel unappreciated. We will get nowhere when we trust in our own abilities. But when God leads us, we only want to please Him. It is through the power of God’s Spirit that we can truly love and help our brothers and sisters, even those who seem unappreciative. Love and Blessings…

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MOTIVATIONAL MONDAY

As I dig deeper into the Word and seek to know the character of God, my faith in His faithfulness has increased. I believe this peace I have now is connected to my increase in faith. I have always known who God is and believed His Word. I know that He is a God who redeems. I know that He is a God who provides. I know that He is a God who heals. I know that He is a God who restores. I know because He has been my redeemer, provider, healer and restorer. The difference now is, even if He does not do what I or this world expects Him to do in the way we expect Him to; I know He is still God. I still trust Him. And that is where my peace comes from.

 This makes me think of the story of the three Hebrew boys; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They faced death and remained committed to their God. We know that God showed up and we see His undeniable power. They stood up to King Nebuchadnezzar. These boys chose never to serve any other god except the one true God, now get this, even if God did not save them. (Daniel 3:17-18) They knew God could and they believed He would, but even if…They really had a firm foundation in their faith and their commitment to God.

 I’d like to believe I have that even if he doesn’t kind of faith. I do know for sure it’s not like it used to be, my faith was strong when God answered all my prayers. What about you? Can you say, even if He doesn’t save my marriage, even if He doesn’t give me this job, even if He doesn’t heal my child, even if I lose my loved one, whatever your even if He doesn’t might be, can you say you will still trust him and stand strong in faith? I was worried that if it came down to the fire, would I have that even if He doesn’t kind of faith. But in my studies, I have learned that if you don’t have even if He doesn’t kind of faith where you are right now, it’s ok. Daniel and his friends made a decision when they were taken captive in Babylon not to defile themselves with the rich foods of the Babylonians. (Daniel 1:8) They were committed to God, to following His ways, to living the way they had been taught from childhood. They didn’t start building an even if He doesn’t faith when they arrived in Babylon; they had been growing an even if He doesn’t faith from their childhood.

 The more we walk through the fire, the more we see His faithfulness. The more we experience His faithfulness, the more confident we become in His ability to rescue us. The more confident we become in His goodness, the more likely we are to have an even if He doesn’t faith. To have even if He doesn’t kind of faith, we must know God’s character, that He is a good Father who loves His children and does what is best. It’s a process of walking through the painful circumstances and seeing Him bring beauty from the ashes. It’s about allowing God to be God instead of expecting Him to act as we think He should. When we give our life to God; we must learn to leave the results of our lives in God’s capable hands. When we believe God is who He says He is, then we trust Him to accomplish His purposes even when they don’t make sense to us. Someone said common sense does not always work when trying to understand God; we have to use spiritual sense. I believe it means trusting in our Father’s ultimate plan. I believe the more we stay in God’s Word and the closer we get to Him; we will find ourselves learning to say, “even if He doesn’t” more often. Read today’s Scriptures in FOOD FOR THE SOUL. Love and Blessings…

 

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MOTIVATIONAL MONDAY

Our love has limits but God’s love is limitless. God offers His love and forgiveness to everyone, the good, the bad, and the ugly. He offers forgiveness and love to murderers, dope addicts, child molester, rapist, etc. In our minds, we think how can God love people who do evil the same as He loves those who try to do good? After watching the movie, “The Shack”, and discussing it with my son, I prayed for more understanding of how God’s love works. How can God love and expect us to love and forgive someone who has hurt us, when they have hurt someone we love, especially our child as was the case in the movie? God is our Father. That is the answer. It’s like telling a mother whose son has committed murder not to love her child anymore. As parents we love our kids unconditionally. We may hate what they did and punish them for it, but do we love them any less? No, we forgive them and we love them just as much as before. That’s how God feels about us. We all will be held accountable for our actions, but God shows us mercy and grace every day. I for one shudder to think what would happen if He punished us for every wrong thought or action we did. Why is it that we expect God to forgive us and have compassion, but will not extend the same to our brothers and sisters? We tend to look at what others “deserve”, forgetting we need God’s love and compassion just as much as the next person. Sometimes we even go as far to ask God to punish our offenders the way we want them to be punished. What’s’ up with that? We want God to punish them but not us? God doesn’t work that way.

 I was told once that if a person stepped on my toe, I would kick them to the curb. (that’s how we said it back in the day). You know what I mean, “Boy Bye” or “By Felicia”. However you want to say it. The bottom line is you are done! It was a true statement at the time. And to think I was proud of it! I felt if you made a mistake, you didn’t deserve a second chance or my forgiveness. I had no compassion at all. That was the old me, thank God I am a new creature in Him. Earlier this year I was convicted by the Holy Spirit. I felt hurt, and I blamed the other person entirely. (although I was partly to blame). The old me kicked in and I dismissed the person, never wanting to see or hear from this person again. Even though I had accepted the apology, there was no forgiving. Wow. I am so thankful that the Holy Spirit now lives in me. Trust me when I say, He will convict you when you are wrong! He had me asking myself some hard questions. I had to look at things from the other person’s perspective. I’m telling y’all, thank God I done changed! I had to look at the person’s heart and not the actions. Isn’t that what God does for us? We all make mistakes. We should not be so quick to dismiss someone from our lives because they make one. With that being said, let me say that forgiveness does not mean letting someone keep stepping on all your toes before you say ouch. Sometimes enough is enough! Forgiveness does not mean forgetting when someone continues to hurt you. Pray about it. Listen to God. He will let you know when to forgive and go on and when to forgive and let go. There really are times when we do have to say “bye boy” or “bye Felicia”. I’m just saying.

Anyway, I passed my forgiveness test and I am so grateful that God loves us where we are, but I am more grateful that He does not leave us there. Scripture says He does not want anyone to perish. That is why He is patient with us. Unfortunately not everyone will be saved, because not everyone wants to be saved. There will be murderers and criminals in Heaven, only because they repented and asked God to forgive them for their crimes. And they accepted Christ into their hearts. There will be those who here on earth went to church every Sunday and did good works, but may not be in Heaven. Why, because it was all a show for this world and they did not in their hearts accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Sadly some feel they do not have to repent for what they call “small sins.” In God’s eyes there are no big and little sins. Big or small, He hates the sin but loves the sinner. In God’s eyes, disobedience is disobedience. What the sin was is irrelevant to God. We as humans get hung up on that. He can love and forgive the serial killer as well as someone who stole a piece of candy, if they truly repent. So Yes, God does love everyone, even murderers. It is the sins and the actions of the person that God does not love. Before Paul became a Christian he was persecuting Christians and doing horrible things to them but God loved him still and forgave him. (Galatians 1:13). God turned this man from a killer of Christians into a lover of Christ and His people. Don’t take my word for it, read the Bible for yourself. Moses was a murderer, Mary Magdalene was a prostitute, Peter betrayed Christ, and David committed adultery. But I believe they’ll all be in Heaven. We may not have done any of those sins, but we sin. Thank God we are not judged according to our own actions (or we ALL would be in trouble). Please read today’s Scriptures. If we try to live by His Word daily, it will help us to love one another, not to be quick to judge, and to forgive as God forgives us. Love and Blessings…

 

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WISDOM WEDNESDAY

 We all play the “what if” game at times. We wonder how things could have been. We sometimes can’t help but imagine what might have been. Only If I had not been there, done that. What if I had not said that or reacted that way? The fact is we can’t rewrite history (although some people try). I try not to dwell on the what if’s but the other day I was thinking, what if my spiritual foundation had been where it is now two years ago. Would I still have ended up in the wilderness? Only God knows for sure. I believe that the storms in life can make us stronger. My mom use to say if it doesn’t kill you, if you survive, you will come out stronger. I also would like to believe if I had the faith I have now, the spiritual foundation, things may have been different. At least as far as how I handled being in the wilderness. I know now God wanted me there so He could work on me. Nothing I could have done about that. However, my “what if” was more about how I handled being in the wilderness. For instance, If I had not fought so hard to keep what God wanted to take away or if I had not been so prideful that I refused to ask for help, even from God. I told you I thought I was superwoman. What if I had not fell apart when the doctors diagnosed me and said I could not go back to work? When my life as I knew it fell apart, so did I. But now I believe my life belongs to God, so nothing or no one on this earth can destroy me. I can honestly say this because I have had trails and storms since the wilderness experience. They come with life. But because I now live for eternity and not for what is temporary, I can look at the enemy and say, is that all you got? You better get behind me satan and I mean it! It’s all because my spiritual roots have deepened, they are not just surface only. If our spiritual roots are surface only, then the storms of life will easily defeat us, but if we grow an extensive root system, complete with a deeply placed foundation, then we will be able to withstand the storms of life without losing our footing. We might bend but we won’t break! In order to have that strong root system, we must continually nourish our lives with prayer, Bible study and meditation. We must give our life to Christ and have faith that He is our Savior. He is greater than any situation or circumstance. Everything good comes from God. Anything else, whether He allows it or places us there for His reasons, we must know God’s plan is going to be fulfilled regardless and it’s for our good. Our job is to take constant steps towards deeper root growth, a solid foundation and a relationship with Christ. Then when we encounter storms we will neither fear nor worry. What if the world lived by this concept? Love and Blessings….

 

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MOTIVATIONAL MONDAY

There have been times in my life I could really stink, wait, let me clarify that, my attitude did not give off the aroma of Christ! I probably could come up with quite a few examples but I’ll give you just one. I am ashamed to say I was egotistical. Back in the day as they say, I was self-centered, proud and arrogant. In other words I had the “it’s all about me” syndrome. Even though I felt like I was a nice person, that mind-set showed up sometimes in my attitude. Your attitude will determine how you relate to those around you. Some people may have seen it and others may not have. But God did! And during my time in the wilderness, God taught me nothing is about me, it’s all about Him! When the attitude we possess places others first and we see people as important, our perspective will reflect their viewpoint as well as ours.

Your attitude determines how you smell to God. Are you self-centered, proud, or arrogant as I was? Are those around you drawn to Him as a result of the love and peace you display? Do your conversations constantly honor God, represent the fruit of the Spirit, and eject the fragrance of life…or are they sometimes laced with bitterness, resentment, anger, complaining, and gossip?  Imagine what message it sends to our families, children, friends, neighbors, and co-workers, when we intentionally misrepresent Christ. And that’s exactly what we are doing when we have nasty smelly attitudes and claim to represent God, our attitude deform the face of Christianity. Anytime negative thoughts or behavior creep into our thoughts, conversations or behavior, we must reject them and pray to God for a clean heart. Does your attitude give off an aroma of Christ? Everyone needs an attitude adjustment now and then. I made a list of attitude adjustments I need to work on. I am a work in progress, as we all are. Right now I am working on taking captive of my thoughts before they come out of my mouth. In doing this I find I am inclined to speak the best, not the worst, to speak of beauty and not the ugly and to praise and not curse. I’m working on my attitude because I want to smell good to God all the time, not just sometimes. I realize I can’t do it alone. We must spend time in prayer asking God to reveal areas in our life that does not smell as they should. Please read today’s scriptures. Love and Blessings…

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FAITHFUL FRIDAY

 

This past Sunday I visited an amazing church in Charlotte, NC. The visitors are given a choice of gifts to choose from. I selected this little book called “Confession BRINGS Possession” by Dr. Norvel Hayes. This book of about 44 pages blessed me tremendously. I read it several times and each time the Lord spoke to me and led me to a Scripture. I believe it was not an accident that I selected this book. It clarified a lot of things for me. It also prompted me to dig deeper into the Word about some things I had been struggling with. Is Isaiah 53:5 a promise that God will heal everyone? Why is it that some people are healed and some are not? Why did God not heal me completely? These are some of the questions I struggled with. I believe in miracles. I look at myself in the mirror everyday and say hey Ms. Miracle. I claim healing everyday no matter how I am feeling or what it looks like. But I still had these questions. This book is about how we as Christians should talk. The author talks about the promises that belong to us. It is our choice to receive them or not. For instance, one of the promises is that we are healed in Jesus name. According to Dr. Hayes the key is learning how to talk. God’s Word says “whosoever shall say unto this mountain, be thou removed.”(Mark 11:23). So this is where my questions come in. We know the adage, name it, claim it, believe it, and then it is yours. I love saying it because it sounds good. It’s positive and I honestly believe it. But how about the times when we name it and claim it and we don’t receive?  I understand why some things we name and claim, God does not give us. We have a tendency to want things that are not good for us and God loves us to much to give those things to us. I get that.  But what about healing? The Word says Jesus suffered and died so that we would live and be healed. Dr. Hayes says, “It is because we want to talk to God about our mountains instead of talking to the mountain as the Scripture states. He states that, “God doesn’t have anything to do with our diseases, anything that comes to bring harm, does not come from God. The devil will always tell you that God just did not want to heal you. You can’t leave any loopholes for the devil to add “if’s” and “but’s” and “maybe’s”. You have to either believe it or don’t, there is no in between.” I believe all of that. Mark 11:23 does state “you say to the mountain, not tell him about the mountain”. However, if God says the promises are ours, why don’t we have all of them? According to Dr. Hayes the key is to continually say these things with your mouth. Continue to speak into existence what you need and have conversations with your afflictions and diseases. I believe this because God has already healed us. Jesus has the stripes on His back to prove He paid the price. Dr Hayes points out it is up to us to accept Jesus as the Healer. Anything that is wrong with us is our mountain. Talk to it! Let it know that it is not welcome! I’m getting excited just typing what was in this little book! But when I told you this book blessed me, it was not because it spoke these things that I already knew and believed. It is because it prompted me to dig deeper into God’s Word. Although I am in agreement with Dr. Hayes, I still had questions. There is nothing like studying the Word of God for yourself! I have learned from my son and the Holy Spirit that unless you understand the context of a Scripture, we risk taking it out of context. Context is sovereign and no single verse should stand alone for a doctrinal belief. The spirit took me back to Isaiah 53:5. If we don’t understand Isaiah 53:5 in its proper context, we can become very disappointed and disillusioned about God. I doubt Isaiah would be pleased if all we use was Isaiah 53:5 and claim this as a promise that God will heal us, but then leave out the entire implications of this chapter! When we do this, we become confused when we are not healed. We feel it was either our lack of faith or that God didn’t hear or has abandoned us. Paul prayed three times for healing, but God told him it was in order to keep him humble and dependent upon God. Timothy had stomach problems and frequent ailments so why didn’t Paul just lay hands on him and pray for him to be healed? When Epaphroditus was ill, near to death, why didn’t Paul just claim “by His stripes, you are healed?  Probably because Paul knew the context of that particular verse. We must take the whole Word to get the whole counsel of God, and that means the entire chapter, and sometimes, the entire book must be read to understand the context of a single verse. We can be healed, but it must be the will of God. We’re told to pray for God’s will on earth as it is done in heaven, and so we must trust God’s will, even if it means we’re not healed in this life or the way we expected the healing. The most important healing is our spiritual healing where we finally have peace with God and because of Jesus, there is no more condemnation. We can be healed, but we will only die again, but whoever believes in Jesus Christ, even if they die, they will live again. Thank you Jesus! So yes, I am going to keep naming and claiming it. I am going to speak to the mountains and curse the roots. I am going to thank God for my healing and I am going to worship Him. I am going to study His Word and learn how I can please Him. Because live or die, healed or not in this life, I will have victory and will live the abundant life that God has promised me! I know this is a long one, but led by the Holy Spirit. Please take time to read today’s scriptures. They will bless you. Love and Blessings…

 

 

 

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MOTIVATIONAL MONDAY

I love hot sauce. I have food with my hot sauce instead of hot sauce with my food. Don’t judge me. When I Googled “is hot sauce good for you”, I came up with a variety of results, some good, some bad. You can do the same with about any food product. And it’s not just Google; we can ask our friends and family for advice and get a different answer from each of them.  Each person has his own point of view and his own different perceptions about things. Even the “experts” tend to disagree or change their position based on their facts. And after my experience with doctors, I am a firm believer in getting second, sometimes third opinions. As a matter of fact, what is good for you depends on who you ask. Google is helpful but sometimes it can be confusing with so many conflicting answers. Google is informative but God knows everything. And God’s Word is one-hundred percent good for us all the time. God knows exactly what and who is good for us. Sometimes we get impatient waiting for an answer from God. But if we wait, He will give us exactly what we need, and who we need, at the time we need it. God knows what we need before we ask, and He has seen fit to make provisions for us before we could even think to ask. If you are seeking to build a relationship with God, His Word can keep you pure. His Word will bless you. God’s Word will protect you and give you wisdom. The Word will give you peace and comfort you. It helps you grow spiritually. God is so good to us. He left us with a guide that helps us see how to develop our relationship with Him. The Word clearly answers our questions on how to live in a world full of choices. God tells us in Scripture what’s good for us. Unlike Google, we don’t have to be confused when we read it, we can pray and ask our Father to help us interpret it correctly, and apply it sincerely in our lives. Please read today’ Scriptures in Food for the Soul and see how good the Word is for you. Love and Blessings…

 

 

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FAITHFUL FRIDAY

We hurt when fake friends disappoint us, talk behind our backs, mistreat us, and are not there for us when we really need them. The way the world is today we kind of expect this behavior. Nevertheless, it still hurts and the hurt is more so when this behavior comes from our brothers and sisters in Christ. When someone in your family does something to hurt you, it is more profound than if it was done by a neighbor or a friend. The same is true with our spiritual brothers and sisters. We are family. We are supposed to love each other as our Father loves us. Are our expectations even realistic? Yes they are because this is what our Father ask of us. However our sinful nature, the human in us  sometimes causes us to  hurt one another, be it intentionally or unintentionally, the hurt is real.  So what do we do? We have to realize that not all who profess to be Christians really belong to Christ. Jesus warned in his parable of the wheat and the tares that there would be false believers in the world, sown by the enemy satan, whose aim is to cripple the testimony of Christians so that our witness would be compromised. I know this to be true especially since I chose to follow Christ. The enemy is always using someone to try to snatch me out of my character. I’m not going to lie, the struggle is real! But I try to remember  that as hurt and mistreated as Jesus was, he never let them snatch Him out of His character. I honestly believe as Joyce Myers likes to say that God sometimes put “sandpaper people” (difficult people) in our lives for a reason. These are the people who are hard to love, they are also people who the enemy uses to hurt others. How we react to these people is what builds our Christlike character. Jesus Christ is a great example of how to respond when we are hurt. The Bible also gives us specific instructions on how to behave when we are hurt. The first response should be prayer. Psalm 50:15 says, “Call upon me in the day of trouble.” That is true for hurt as well as it does any other trouble. If you talk to God, He can give you the very words to say to your offender and He can bring conviction to that person’s heart when you approach them with a spirit of humility. Sometimes the Lord will deal with the offender directly and anything we say or do would just make matters worse. I know “Let go and let God” may seem like a cliché but He can always fix things better than we can. He can also comfort us and heal our hurt. Most important is that we have to forgive. When I think about the suffering and misery I put on myself just because I had been hurt and I did not know how to forgive. I cried many sleepless nights. I was angry and resentful. I wanted the people I loved to hurt as I was hurting. Hurt people hurt people. And then one night the Lord spoke to me during my pity party. He let me know that He had given me an assignment, and when He does that He uses all parties involved so that His purpose will be done. Sometimes, as He did with Pharaoh, He will harden hearts. (Exodus 9:12). It really doesn’t matter how wrong you think your offender is, you have to forgive. The healing process only began when I realized that. Forgiveness is for you, not the other person. Forgiveness and healing is a process and sometimes a slow one. But to be free from hurt, you have to start the process. This is God’s way. We hurt Him when we are disobedient. We hurt Him when we hurt each other. But He forgives us every day, all day. Love and Blessings…

 

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WISDOM WEDNESDAY

When we have challenges, sometime it requires more than a personal desire or goal, we have to be driven by the desire to be obedient to God, knowing that He appointed us the assignment and there is no way we can fail. And God blesses us for our obedience. We are thankful for our blessings and everybody is happy for us, right? Wrong. Some people are upset at what God does for you. There are times when God blesses you, relationships are lost. Some people have the spirit of Cain; they hate the fact that you have favor with God. You have to be aware because sometimes the very ones that you think have your back are waiting to stab you in it. It is not your enemies you have to worry about, your enemies cannot harm you because you keep them at a distance. Everybody will not celebrate your successes with you. They can’t be glad for you because somehow they feel your success came at their expense. That should have been their job, their house, their husband. They irrationally believe that you have their blessing. A jealous heart, which is not of God, can be the beginning of betrayal. They don’t get that success is success only because it relates to struggle. How can you have victory without conflict? Success is the reward that God gives to the diligent, who through perseverance and patience obtained the promise.  There is no way to receive what God has for your life without fighting the obstacles and challenges that block your way to victory. One thing I have learned is that there is no way to reach the goal without going through the struggle. I use to look at people and wonder how it felt to be where they were, now I look at people and I wonder what they had to go through to get where they are. What did they have to give up? How many relationships did they lose? Everyone can’t go where God is taking you. Your struggle helps you to appreciate the blessings when they come. But some people don’t want to know your story or what price you have paid to get where you are. They just want what you have. When I speak of successes, I’m not just talking monetarily; sometimes people can’t understand why you have the blessings of peace and joy. These are gifts from God. Unfortunately sometimes those who are closest to you will try to steal them from you. I think about Jesus sitting at the table with Judas. He had no problem discerning who would betray him with a kiss. Don’t beat yourself up if you didn’t see the betrayal coming. Sometimes a good heart does not see the bad. We have to pray for discernment. When God blesses us, we must keep our eyes on the Giver, not the gift. Because the Giver will protect us from those who mean us harm and will sometimes remove them from our lives. And if He does remove them, we must not try to keep them or let them back in! Even people who betray us is a part of God’s plan. Jesus would not have made it to the cross without Judas. God will place people in our life and He will remove them, and there is always a reason for both. We serve an intentional God. What God has for us is for us and no one can take it away unless we let them. Guard your heart. It is easy for us to fall into jealousy in our society and become a Judas. But, it is important for us to realize what is most important in our lives and what matters most. We should encourage one another and rejoice at others blessing. We must pray that the Lord will help us to keep our eyes on Him; people change, things change, but God will forever stay the same. Love and Blessings…

 

 

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MOTIVATIONAL MONDAY

I remember my mother would say always start something the way you want to finish it. She would say you can’t start on shaky ground and expect to end on solid ground and even if it does get shaky, it won’t collapse when you start on solid ground. She was talking about relationships. At the time I didn’t get it, but now it makes sense. And not just relationships, it applies to all areas in our lives. The foundation matters! Especially when it comes to our faith. You don’t build a house and hope when the storm comes it will not fall, you build the house to withstand the storms. The same applies to our faith. Jesus Christ frequently illustrated His teachings with parables. Jesus described two men who each built a house (Matthew 7:24-27). Jesus said one man was wise and the other was foolish. The man who made the better decision about where to build was a wise builder because he chose the rock as his foundation. I’m sure it was a challenge to build on rocky ground. It probably took some time, patience and hard work. But the wise man believed it would be worth the effort. On the other hand, the foolish builder didn’t consider the foundation to be important. He may have thought it would take too long and building on the sandy soil would be easier. When a storm came, the house built into the rock survived the downpour, but the house on the sand was destroyed. Jesus stated, “And great was its fall.” Jesus was illustrating that we can live wisely or foolishly. It all depends on where we lay our foundation. It is important to build our spiritual foundation as well as our physical. Jesus said that if we obey His word and follow Him, we will be like the wise builder. His teachings are sound principles about how to live successfully. We will be unshakable! If our foundation is weak we can’t survive. Our only hope is in our Lord and Savior. We know that the Lord is not only our redeemer, but in Him we have a rock-solid foundation. He is our rock! Our foundation is strong when we know Jesus and stand on His Word. No weapon formed against us will prosper. The world may be sinking, but we won’t sink when we stand on the solid rock, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Following Jesus provides a solid foundation for our lives, our families, our friendships, our associations and our future. When we build a relationship with Jesus; we will come through the storms of life, the trials and difficulties that are part of life. Love and Blessings…

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MOTIVATIONAL MONDAY

I hear many reasons why people do not attend church. Most of them are because of the hypocrites, judgment and negativity. Some say the church talks more about it’s offering, than the sermon. All are valid points no doubt. I don’t judge. I will tell you if you can deal with church folk, it prepares you to deal with the world, which is full of many more types of God’s children. We are all God’s children, the good, the bad, and the ugly. As believers we have to learn to love and get along with everyone. This is not easy! That is why we need Jesus. The church is not just a building, we are the church. A building without believers is just a building. When Jesus said, “I will build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). He was saying the Church, His followers, would not die out. The church should be alive, a warm and caring body of believers striving to serve God, to do His work and to support and encourage each other. That’s how it should be, but like a lot of things in this fallen world, the enemy is trying to take over. I for one refuse to let the enemy block my blessings! We go to work and face some of the same issues, the same attitudes we face in church but that does not stop us from going to work. We go because it is our means of survival. I believe the same of Jesus, He is my means of survival. So I will stay on team Jesus and I will be His number one fan. I look at church this way, not only is it a chance to study and get to know our Savior; it’s a chance to cheerleader and root for our team captain. It is a chance to worship and sing praises to His name, not only because of what He has done or what we want, but just because He is God! Sports fan love to sing their team’s praises. We wear t-shirts and hats supporting our team, and we can talk about our favorite teams all day. A true fan, whether their team is losing or winning, is still loyal. That’s how I feel about my Tarheels and Panthers! How can I not be loyal to Jesus who always wins! His team is always victorious! We know how it feels to win an award, or walk across a stage, or accomplish something major. The joy doubles when we are praised and recognized for our accomplishment. It feels good. I believe God feels the same way when His children, all together are in one place worshipping and praising His name. It pleases Him. Yes, we can do that alone and at home. That pleases Him also. However, look at it this way sports fans, I’m sure our team would appreciate that one fan in the stands, but it would not be same as thousands. Our truest and greatest loyalty must be to the Lord at all times. David said it best, “I will extol the Lord at all times” His praise will always be on my lips.” Think about how many times we praise things of this world more than we praise Jesus. We boast more about our successes more than what Jesus has done for us. When the fact is we would not have had those successes if it had not been for God’s mercy and grace. Yes, I love my teams but my number one loyalty goes to Jesus Christ. I am His number one fan! I can watch my teams play all by myself (especially when they are winning), but it’s nothing like watching them with other fans. I feel the same way about God; it’s nothing like worshipping with other believers. God did say where there is two or more, he will show up. (Matthew 19:20).

 It is not wrong to enjoy our teams, ours interest, and our accomplishments. But our highest praise goes to our Lord. “Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together” (Psalm 34:3). #GOJESUS #TEAMJESUS #NUMBER1FAN Love and Blessings….

 

 

 

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WISDOM WEDNESDAY

My grandson’s middle name is Ezekiel. Ezekiel means “God will strengthen”. I just finished reading the Book of Ezekiel and I pray that God blesses my grandson with the strength that He gave Ezekiel. Ezekiel was preparing to become a priest when the Babylonians attacked Judah and carried him and many others into captivity. He was a young man at the time of his captivity. Although he was a captive, God commissioned him for a great service. The prophet Ezekiel had the thankless job of proclaiming God’s message on the crowded and hostile streets of Babylon. At the same time that Jeremiah was warning the citizens of Jerusalem of the coming destruction of that holy city, Ezekiel was preaching the same message to the exiles in Babylon. They were hundreds of miles away from the Promised Land and the temple, but God would not leave them in the dark. He sent Ezekiel. Even though his exiled audience was cut off from the temple, the priesthood, and the related ceremonies and feasts, the prophet Ezekiel informed the exiles not only of these details, He warned the people of national calamity, including warnings of disease, death, destruction and deportation. But he also warned of the importance of obeying God’s law and seeking after Him.  His purpose was to remind the people of their spiritual unfaithfulness and of God’s faithfulness to His own promises. During Ezekiel’s life and ministry, the northern Kingdom of Israel was corrupt politically and spiritually. (sound familiar) They were in captivity because of their disobedience.

 Our Lord is the God of second chances. God could have wiped them out but instead He sent Ezekiel to be a tower of strength among his people during their captivity. Ezekiel’s message to the nation was that they return to the Lord. God declared that he would restore them to their own land. Sometimes it is easier to give God’s message to other people than your own family or friends. But God is not concerned with difficulty, He is concerned with obedience. Ezekiel probably seemed strange to his neighbors and friends. Ezekiel did whatever God asked him to do, and God asked some extraordinary things of him. He shut himself up in his house, he ate his food by weight, and he sacrificed his personal appearance. It is one thing to prophesy about impending judgment and warn people to repent; it is quite another to lay on your left side for 390 days and then your right side for 40 days. And I can imagine what the people said when he did not mourn his own wife’s death!  But Ezekiel did not worry about how he looked to others, for he owed his obedience to God. So if God told him to do something he did it. God had a purpose in having Ezekiel perform each thing He told him to do. A point was illustrated and a lesson was taught. Some may have laughed at the prophet, and many probably ignored him, and unfortunately they missed the lesson.

 God did not just throw Ezekiel out to the wolves, He prepared him for what He was asking of him. Ezekiel received and reported revelations from the God. He told Ezekiel that “I will make your forehead like the hardest stone, harder than flit” (Ezekiel 3:9). Through his visions Ezekiel was adequately equipped by God for his calling. My favorite is the vision of the “dry bones”, it shows the power of God, how he can raise those who have been scattered, but who are also dead in sins. This was Ezekiel’s message to Israel, a nation that had been scattered and God’s promise to restore. God’s presence being revealed to Ezekiel in captivity demonstrates that holiness has nothing to do with geographical location, but the condition of people’s hearts. God is moved by the faithfulness of men like Ezekiel, who became a prophet not because of status but because of his faith in God in a dark land, no matter the circumstances. God told Ezekiel to speak to the people, whether they listen or fail to listen, was not his concern, his responsibility was to deliver God’s message. No one wants to hear bad news or hear about the consequences of their actions. Ezekiel probably was not very popular and people dreaded seeing him coming. But God strengthened him. God also told him, if he was not obedient, the people’s blood would be on his hands. It is our personal responsibility to spread the Gospel, no matter where we are, or how uncomfortable  we may feel.

 Obedience to the will of God can be difficult. It is a struggle to live the way God wants us to live while the rest of society continues in its sinful ways. Our actions may not be as dramatic as Ezekiel’s but the consequences can be important, both as examples to others, and as indications of our obedience to God. Obedience is better than sacrifice. The Book of Ezekiel stresses the ultimate aim of God’s charity and chastisement, that “they shall know that I am the Lord.” The message is clear, we must obey God and seek after Him! God may ask us to do things that are at odds from our wills and desires. We may be laughed at and talked about. The question is will we still be obedient like Ezekiel? Much Love…

 

 

 

 

 

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MOTIVATIONAL MONDAY

We all have had those times when we are on top of the world one day, then feel like the world is on top of us the next day. The issues of life can weigh heavy on our shoulders. Health issues, financial issues, children issues, job issues, family issues and relationship issues; they can occur one at a time or all of them at once. When they come one after another, my mother would say; when it rains it pours or if it ain’t one thing it’s another. At these times we may question if God’s peace is powerful enough to calm life’s storms? We may ask ourselves is God’s peace always possible, even when we are going through storm after storm? Ok, maybe you haven’t wondered but I have. I now know without a doubt the answer is yes, we can have God’s peace through the storms and His peace is powerful enough to calm any storm. I know this because I am in that place right now. It is amazing! Just a few years ago I would never have imagined I could experience peace in the midst of a storm. I was in the wilderness with storms raging all around me, and there was no peace, at least I thought there was none. All I knew was pain, anxiety, depression, and worry. Who knew that having a relationship with Jesus can change you and the way you perceive things! I know that no storm is beyond God’s sovereignty.

When we are overwhelmed because of the chaos of life, it’s easy to forget that God is standing in the middle of the storm with us. No matter what we are going through, He is there. And if God is there, so is peace. God is peace. He is there in the storms next to us ready and waiting to reach out and rescue us. God is waiting for us to turn to Him for help. As soon as we turn to Him, Jesus reaches out without hesitation. Turning to Him means humbling ourselves, and admitting that we cannot handle this situation in our own strength. Turning to Him means handing over the situation to God and trusting Him to handle it how He sees fit. I use to say I could kick myself, because if I had done that, maybe just maybe, I would not have been in the wilderness so long or maybe it would not have been so bad. But I have stopped kicking myself because the lessons I learned are valuable and the relationship I developed with Christ Jesus is priceless! A relationship with Jesus can provide continuous nourishment in life’s storms. I learned I can thrive in any situation when I am in touch with my Savior. I learned that it is a rainbow after every storm; I learned to lean on Jesus when my strength is gone, and I learned the only way to get through the storm is to go through it and let Jesus lead the way. I learned nothing stays the same, that this too shall pass. Because of those lessons I believe I can take what life throws at me. In order for me to keep this mindset I have  to stay close to my friend, Jesus. I know that I know that I know that He has my back! I don’t ever want the old Curleen back, the one where there was peace only when life was going my way, the way I wanted it to go, when I controlled the outcome and the direction of my life. How sad. How stressful! It is stressful because we know that it is not realistic; we control nothing on this earth but how we choose to think, act, and handle what life throws at us. The storms continue, but during the storms I may cry, I may hurt, and I may even get upset at times; but I keep moving because even if I don’t know what’s coming next, God does. The same Jesus that calmed the raging storms for the frightened disciples is the same Jesus that I am in contact with every day. He loves me the same as he loved the disciples. He loves you the same as He loves me.

 I realize it is not easy to find peace in the mist of the storms, especially when they are coming at you like tornadoes. It takes strength that you probably didn’t  realize you had. It takes the courage to keep moving forward even with tears in your eyes. In the wilderness, every time I wanted to give up, God said no and then He would give me strength to make it another minute, another hour and then another day. He gives us what we need when we need it. The good news is each time you make it through; it strengthens you more and builds your resilience. In difficult times, we may not understand life and its unfairness. We have to ask God to help us to trust Him for what we cannot understand. When life’s journey gets wild and scary, we have to trust Him and know He is in control. Once I realized that, and turned my life over to Him totally, I now have peace and joy, instead of anxiety and worry , no matter the circumstance. I challenge you to trust Him. I promise you one of two things will happen; God will speak to that issue and like magic it will disappear, or He will guide you through it, giving you comfort and strength to endure. God will not abandon us! I pray that if you don’t have this joy and peace that goes beyond understanding (people will wonder why you dancing when it seems your world is falling apart) that you receive it. It comes from Jesus and it is free! Those who know me know I love free stuff. All we have to do is trust and believe! Love and Blessings…

 

 

 

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FAITHFUL FRIDAY

In Israel times when people called out to God, they frequently wept, fasted, and put on sack cloth and ashes. These were not casual request for God’s blessings, but serious prayers because they did not have modern medicine, a strong army, police force to maintain law and order, or the money to fight someone who had falsely accused them. Their only hope was to depend on God for mercy and protection. They did not hide their feelings of sorrow or disappointment. They believed God could solve their problems. They expressed themselves because they believed their situation would change when God heard their prayers.

 Even though we are modernized, just like the Israelites our only hope is to depend on God for mercy and grace. In our busy world , people do not spend much time describing their problems or telling God how they feel about these difficulties. We just want a quick fix. Everything is instant and unfortunately, that sometimes include instant prayers. I’m not saying we have to pray long drawn out prayers every time we pray, but we as believers need to be open with God, tell Him exactly how we feel. When we call on God, we admit that we are unable to solve all the problems of life on our own strength. By calling on God and by faith, we can rest in his strength. Once we pray we must turn our attention from the problem to God. That is the key to surviving the storm as we wait on God. When we trust God, we are confident that God’s salvation will bring joy; He will turn our ashes into beauty. As we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the struggles of this earth will grow strongly dim in the light of His glory and grace. Even life’s struggles will become beautiful struggles. You know, the man without shoes see’s the man without feet, the person who has to walk to work, see’s the person in the wheelchair or the one who has no job to walk to, the person who has no money and good health, see’s the rich person who has an illness that money can’t cure. You get my point. Your struggles of life become beautiful struggles  when you look around and you thank Jesus for what you do have!

Transportation was difficult in Israel times. People who lived a long way from Jerusalem were able to come to the temple and worship God only a few times each year. Because of Christ Jesus, we can worship and pray to God anytime! I think this is huge! For me it’s the same concept of not voting when people have died so I can have that privilege. Jesus died so we can come to God through Him. Thank you Jesus!  In times of difficulty we can bring all our burdens to God, we can praise and worship Him even if we can’t move from our bed! He always hears and comforts those who come to Him. The prayer for help should not be centered on the problem or what is needed. It should focus on God’s ability to answer prayer and our commitment to trust God, and to glorify Him and His divine grace. Love and Blessings…

 

 

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WISDOM WEDNESDAY

I’m not sure why David took five smooth stones with him to fight Goliath. Some say it may have been because Goliath had four giant brothers (2 Samuel 21:22). Some say he may have doubted God or maybe he was just being prepared in case one stone didn’t do the job. I believe because God had been faithful in the past and protected him, David trusted God. One stone or five, David knew victory was his. David told Goliath that he came with spear and sword, but his weapon was God the Father. (1 Samuel 17:37). David knew the power was not in his sling but in God.

 I, like David have learned that God has the power! The last years I have faced physical, mental, and financial giants. And by the grace of God I am still standing. Not feeling or looking like what I have been through. I have survived! I know that God allowed situations and challenges to stretch me so that I could be ready to fulfill my purpose. Nothing prepares you more than when you have been stretched! There is no way I could be ready without training. Even athletes train, they have to if they want to be at their A game. I thank God for my time in the wilderness. I am stronger and better because of it. It is the reason I can handle life challenges today. I trust El Shaddai, God Almighty. God gave me strength at a time when I had none left. And because of that, there is no problem or circumstance I feel I cannot handle.  So you would think the enemy would go somewhere and sit down! You would think he knows I have a relationship with God and he can’t touch me. He  knows I am striving to be like David, a woman after God’s heart. Trust me, that don’t stop the enemy. That just makes him mad. The Bible teaches that God allows satan a certain amount of freedom (Job 1:12), but that freedom is always limited. We cannot blame God for what satan does. Our weakness to satanic attack started with Adam’s choice to follow satan’s lies in the Garden of Eden. When satan attacked Job through the loss of his family, wealth, and health, Job didn’t blame God. (Job 1:21-22). Neither do I blame God. I put the blame where it belongs, that lying thieving snake of a devil! I am furious with the enemy! He knows he can’t get to me. Every time he tries, I’m like, that’s all you got, my God is greater! So he has decided to come after my love ones. He thinks he can get me where my heart is. Well satan, my heart belongs to God! My loved ones belong to God! I declare war! And like David, I have faith that I will come out victorious! I know he comes to kill, steal and destroy, but he best believe he will not have my loved ones without a fight! I plead the blood of Jesus over my loved ones. I stand with my six smooth stones; the helmet of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth, the shield of faith, the sandals of peace, and the sword of the Spirit. The full armor of God, my six smooth stones. David only had five! I stand on God’s Word. He said I can do all things through Him that strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13) I am a prayer warrior! When prayer warriors go down on their knees, the battle is not over, it is just beginning! There is power in prayer! Prayer is the way we draw strength from God and rely on Him. Prayer activates the armor. Without God, and dependence on Him through prayer, our efforts in spiritual battle would be useless.

 Sisters and brothers, y’all better take a stand. Don’t let satan afflict your loved ones with sickness, crime, tragedy or persecution, just because he can’t get to you. The enemy is not attacking you because you are weak, he is attacking you because you have a purpose. And if he can’t get to you, he will go through those you love. Declare war! Tell him as David did, “You come to me with a sword(disease), a spear(poverty), and a javelin(confusion), but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted. “This day the LORD will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you.” (1 Samuel 17:45-46). God can turn what the enemy meant for bad into good for his ultimate purpose. The battle is the Lord’s, but we are His soldiers. We must prepare and stand. It is God who goes before us, giving us the victory! (Deuteronomy 1:30-33). And He gets the glory! Ha, you lose again devil! Love and blessings…

 

 

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MOTIVATIONAL MONDAY

Jesus treated women with a level of respect unheard in that era. I believe He had the same level of respect for women as He did men. Women were basically property at the time, but Jesus spoke to women, ate with women, let women sit at his feet and be taught by Him (usually reserved for men). Jesus made it clear that we are not second class. In Jewish culture men did not speak to non family women directly. The woman at the well was shocked that Jesus spoke to her because she was a woman and a Samaritan as well. Yet Jesus did not treat the woman as though she were less important than anyone else. Jesus does not follow the rules of man, but the heart of God. He came to offer new life to all people. Wherever Christ goes, womanhood is lifted. Jesus showed many times how he loved and respected women. He spoke with the widow Nain in a crowd of mourners and called her son back to life. (Luke 7:11-17). He cures a woman who had been crippled for eighteen years, laying hands on her in the Temple and saying, “Woman, you are set free of your infirmity” (Luke 13:12). When the leader of the synagogue becomes indignant that Jesus has healed a woman on the Sabbath, Jesus uses a title of particular dignity for her, “daughter of Abraham” (Luke 13:16). While the expression “son of Abraham” was often used to indicate that a male Jew was recognized as bound by covenant to God, women had never been called “daughters of Abraham.” With this title, Jesus recognizes this woman as having equal worth. Jesus refuses to view women as unclean or especially deserving of punishment. Women who were menstruating or persons who had any flow of blood were considered ritually unclean. In this condition, women were not allowed to participate in most religious rituals. Anything or anyone she touched was deemed unclean. Jesus had compassion for the woman with the issue of blood. He says nothing of her ritual impurity, but instead addresses her as “Daughter,” saying that her faith has saved her and tells her to go in peace (Luke 8:48). Jesus recognizes the dignity of women in situations that seem by ritual law to demand judgment, for example, the sinful woman who anoints Jesus (Luke 7:36-50) and that of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:3-11). In both cases he sees the person as someone deserving compassion. Jesus not only taught women, but some women traveled with him and ministered to him. In Luke 8:1-3, Jesus is described as journeying from village to village, preaching and proclaiming the Kingdom of God. “The Twelve” were with him and several women: “Mary called Magdalene, from whom several demons had gone out, Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their resources.” And let us not forget about Ruth. Ruth abandoned her lifelong home and her pagan gods. She chose to make Naomi’s God her God. And she was blessed with her Boaz. In an age when childbearing was seen as the highest honor for women, Ruth played a key role in the coming of the promised Messiah.

Sisters, Jesus loves us and there is nothing we can do about it. We are the daughters of Abraham. So unshackle those chains, take His Word into your heart and run into your destiny. Set yourself free from limitations, our God is limitless. Let Him who loves you heal you, deliver you, and break the chains that are holding you back.  He can transform you. He can speak life into what you thought was dead. There is no problem or situation he can’t see you through. I feel the chains breaking! The Son has set us free! Love and Blessings…

 

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FAITHFUL FRIDAY

Sometimes when we go through difficult times or trails we feel  no one really cares or understands. It does not matter how close our families are or how many friends we have, we still feel alone. At times you may feel  that God is far away and you don’t feel  His presence. Many people go through this. We have to remember that people may leave us but God does not lie. God is always with us. He said that He will never leave us nor forsake us. God has promised us His constant presence. Because we cannot see Him, does not mean He is not with us. God blesses us with many gifts, but His presence is the best present. I believe we have to practice being conscious of God’s presence. We have to see God in whatever we do and wherever we are. Every morning when we wake,  we have to be conscious of His presence. If you have problems or decisions to make, He is there to listen and if we listen to Him, He will bring clarity and wisdom. I have experienced a peace that gives me joy beyond words no matter the circumstances.  That is because  I am conscious of His presence every single day. I find myself wanting to imitate Him. This is because you cannot be in God’s presence without His beauty, love, peace, power and glory rubbing off on you. The same earthly concept of who you hang with rubbing off on you applies, trust me, you cannot keep better company! When you become conscious of God’s presence in your life, worries and fears will have no grip in your mind. They may appear but just as quickly disappear because worry and fear cannot occupy the same space as God. Negative and destructive things you once said or did without a thought to yourself or anyone else, you will no longer do, not because of your own willpower, but because there is self-control which comes supernaturally when you know that the one who loves you and watches over you is with you. You’re not troubled when the enemy tries to attack your health, finances, or family, because He that is greater is right there with you. If you are conscious of God’s presence, whatever this world throws at you may cause you to bend, but never break.  It is comforting to know our Father will take care of us for the rest of our life. We are never alone and always cared for. Thank you Emmanuel (God with us). One way we can be conscious of God’s presence is to study His Word. Please read today’s scripture in Food for the Soul. Love and Blessings…

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WISDOM WEDNESDAY

In the book, “The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair there is a quote; “There is one kind of prison where a man is behind bars, and everything that he desires is outside; and there is another kind where the things are behind the bars, and the man is outside.” This quote can be interpreted different ways but if you read the book, the context is clear. The main character had been released from jail (should not have been there in the first place I might add), and while there he lost his job, his wife, and for a while ended up homeless and hungry. Even though he was no longer behind bars and he was free, everything he desired, everything he needed to survive might as well have been behind bars, because they were out of his reach. I have never been locked up, thank God! But I have been in a season where it seemed every way I turned, no matter what I did, I was getting no results. I have been in a season when I didn’t know where my next meal was coming from. I have been broke and I have been homeless. So I understand how one can be free physically but everything you need is out of reach or behind bars as the author puts it.

Whatever God inspires me to write, that is what I write. Usually I write and then I use my God-given creativity to find a picture image to go with Emmanuel’s post on Facebook. God has never shown me an image, until now. I saw the image and then I heard God say, open the door, I have set you free. Wow! So I’m thinking, yes Jesus, you died so that we could live. We are free because of your sacrifice. In Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit that brings life made us free. Lord, you could have called ten thousand to destroy this world, but you chose to die so we could live. This has to be the Word you want me to write about! Or so I thought. It is true that Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice. However, His sacrifice was not so we can be physically free, but so we can be spiritually free. Whether we are awake with the living or asleep with the dead, if Christ is in us, we are alive with Him! We are spiritually free! The image God gave me of someone behind bars is not the physical being looking out, but the spiritual person looking in! So what exactly is a spiritual person? Spirituality is persistently seeking to know God and doing God’s will. Our knowledge of who God is, His character, love for us, and His mercy extended to us, should change us, it should cause us to want to live for Him and do things that pleases Him. The more I learn and know about Him, the more I want a genuine relationship with God. This is the image, the spiritual person looking in that God showed me. So why is a child of God looking in at all these things that seem out of reach; the job, the house, the spouse, peace, love, joy and contentment. Why would Jesus free us and keep these things from us? This is the message! These things that seem out of reach, Jesus died so that we can have these things, and have them in abundance. He did not die for us to live a life of sickness, injustice, suffering and pain. These things exist because of this sinful world, but He is greater than all these things! In all our troubles, we have complete victory through God who has shown His love for us. And if He does allow us to suffer as His son suffered, count it joy, remember that Jesus died but He also raised from death and is our advocate at God’s right side. Remember that it is but for a season and God promises us that there will be joy in the morning, trust Him enough to know He is in control and everything will work out for the good for those who love Him! Whatever these dangerous times bring, God is able to handle the situation. Our job is to seek God. His job is to care for His children. He has set us free! Thank you Jesus! Now open the door and receive what God has promised you! He has opened doors that no man can shut! Go get your blessings! Don’t take my word for it, read today’s Word in Food for the Soul. Love and Blessings…

 

 

 

 

 

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FAITHFUL FRIDAY

Before I surrendered my life to Christ, I could come up with some good excuses for not doing what God wanted me to do. Now that I know God, I have no excuse and yet, I admit I still sometimes make excuses for not being obedient to the will of God. I don’t want to be disobedient. My desire is that everything I do is pleasing in God’s eyes. It’s just at times I have felt out of my comfort zone or sometimes I have just felt not qualified. You know what I mean, “I need to straighten myself out first,” or “I’m not ready yet”. As Christians we sometimes use the excuses of the lack of skill and qualifications. Now I know I can’t sing and God must know it too cause He has not called me to sing (the people thank you God). However, I do know people who can sing and God has put in their heart to sing, but because they feel they are not as good as someone else or they have not had professional training, they hold back. We all  feel  hints of insecurity and self-doubt ay times. But when God looks at us, he doesn’t focus on what we can’t do; he sees what he can do through us. In fact, sometimes the individual whom God chooses not only surprise us but also surprise the one chosen! All through the scriptures we find that it is God who does the empowering, and qualifying of His people. I could start with Moses who we know had many excuses on why he could not fulfill his calling. And what about David who represents himself as weakness itself in his Psalms which is the text-book for all human weaknesses, sorrow, struggles, and aspirations. But I rather talk about the four women mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus. Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba, all women who had morally questionable backgrounds. Tamar resorted to deception and prostitution to produce children through her father-in-law. Yet, it was from her line, the tribe of Judah, that the Messiah came. Rahab was a Gentile and a prostitute in Jericho. She became a believer in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. She also became the mother of Boaz, who married Ruth. Ruth was morally upright. But as a Moabitess, she was a Gentile and therefore considered unclean. Yet, she became the grandmother of David whom the Jews regard as their greatest king. Bathsheba committed adultery with David. Later, she gave birth to King Solomon from whose royal line Jesus descended. I’m not judging but these women were far from what I would call qualified to be in the genealogy of Jesus. What does this tell us? God is saying that He is greater than our sins. His grace is greater than our sins, so that even when the world disqualifies us, He can qualify us to receive His blessings! God is saying that he is a God of second, third, and many chances. These women’s stories show us that even when our troubles are of our own making, they are neither final nor fatal. Even when all our earthly connections are gone, and we may think it is the end, God can instantly turn things around. Then end becomes the beginning. The pain becomes joy. The lost is restored. I am a witness! Yes, if we look at our natural circumstances we can become discouraged. But if we look at our God and trust in Him, He can make the impossible possible. He qualifies the unqualified. Exercising our faith allows God to do great things in each of us. Faith is the victory that overcomes the world and our weaknesses. Step out in faith, for it is God who qualifies us. Love and Blessings…

 

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WISDOM WEDNESDAY

Our character is the sum of all the qualities that make us who we are: our values, our thoughts, our words, and our actions. Our character is much more than just our reputation.  Our reputation is only what others see and think about us.  Our character is who we really are, even when no one is watching. Growing up, my parents expected us to act sensibly and responsible. My mother was strict and used physical discipline(which now would be considered child abuse). My mother demanded obedience. Neither of my parents drank or smoked. Although my mother could curse like a sailor, she insisted we went to church every Sunday. I was raised to know the difference between right and wrong, and that there were consequence when you chose to do wrong. I believe our childhood and how we are raised has a lot to do with the building of our character. I also believe God puts a moral knowledge within us. The Holy Spirit is our voice of conscience, the voice of reason, wisdom, good sense, and good judgment. When we activate it (by accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior) and we make it a habit of listening to and obeying the Holy Spirit within, it builds our character. We each have to make personal decisions that will decide our character. We have to decide whether we will lie or tell the truth, do the job right or fake it through, take the easy road or the right road, etc. Life is filled with temptations, obstacles, frustrations, inner struggles and dilemmas that we all have to cope with, things which test our character. To be a witness for Christ, we have to sometimes walk a separate road than the popular road. The popular road belongs to the world. God’s way is not the way of the world. We can’t have both, God and the world.

 What characteristics should describe a true Christian? How is the true follower of Christ to live? We can find the answer to these questions in our instruction book on life, the Bible. We know that we are Christian because we profess Christ to be God and hold Him in the highest esteem. We know that we are Christians because we walk in the light. Our style of life is gradually conformed to what God has revealed to us about His nature and will. (John 1: 4-7). We know that we are Christian because we keep Gods commandments. (1 John 2:3-4). We know that we are Christian because we love other Christians and we love those who do not know the Lord. To be a Christian means to follow Christ, to strive to be like Christ. We fall short most times, but we have the desire to know God’s will, strive to obey it, and we repent when we are disobedience. As Christians there should be a change that happens in our character. One of the changes in me is that my focus has changed. I recognize the importance of the eternal. I value the character of Christ that makes all things new. Instead of comparing ourselves with other people and judging ourselves better, we should keep our comparisons between ourselves and Christ and have the desire to change into someone more like Jesus. The struggle is real. It takes practice. It takes prayer, but it takes more than prayer. It takes God’s Spirit living inside of us, and it takes knowledge and the study of God’s Word. It takes practice! As the saying goes practice makes perfect. It is a process! Because of the Holy Spirit and God’s grace we have the power to make that change. It is a process. Our Character should match our witness for Christ. Love and Blessings…

 

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MOTIVATIONAL MONDAY

When I was a child, I thought if I had perfect grades, did everything my parents told me to do, and was a good little girl I would be loved by everybody. When that didn’t happen, I think I became obsessed with everything I did having to be perfect. Not for other people but for myself. Throughout most of my adult life I strived to be this perfect person.Not physically, but in everything I set out to do.  It worked well for my career and my  job performance. I excelled. And I decided not to worry so much about what other people thought about me as long as I felt like I was perfect. I was half right; we should not worry about what others think of us. We will never be able to please everybody all the time. The best we can do is accept people for who they are, and hope they do the same.  However, how wrong was I when I decided not to accept less than perfect from myself. I set myself up for stress and heartbreak. Someone said, “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. Striving for perfect performance can prevent the risk necessary for growth.” How right they were. I use to say if I can’t do it right (which meant perfect to me then) I rather not do it at all. I can see now how that could prevent growth and stop you from trying new things. Not to mention the stress and pressure you put on yourself. Example; Emmanuel was inspired by God. What I write comes from what the Holy Spirit puts in my heart. Sometimes I think it’s meant for me and sometimes it may be for someone else. Initially I was concerned about if anyone would read or share it, but God said who needed to see it, would see it. So I let him handle that. But here is the thing, I was writing every day, no matter how I felt. The pressure was on! And I let God know I was feeling a bit pressured, And God said to me, “I told you to write, I didn’t tell you to write every day.” I made that call because I felt it would be “perfect” to write every day since God is always putting something in my spirit. Ok God, I get it. Sometimes we put pressure on our own self even when we think we are doing what God wants us to do. We need to really listen when God speaks. So for now I will be blogging on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays unless God tells me different!

In this life we will always be works in progress. Apostle Paul explained how when we try to perfect ourselves, it can blind us in our need for Christ. I should know better, because I learned this during my time in the wilderness. When I let go of my efforts to be strong and my need to be self-sufficient, that is when I experienced Jesus living within me. Only in our imperfection can we experience God’s perfect power. If we were perfect then why did Jesus die for us? It’s not about us being perfect or strong. If we humbly accept our constant need for the only perfect One, we will be strong and perfect in Him. Because if we are rooted in Him, then we can do all things through Him.

Of course we should strive to do the best in everything we do, while at the same time realizing that our best may not and does not have to be perfect. We should strive to do what is good and what is right in God’s eyes. And everything we do should be for His glory. Relying on the Father gives us the opportunity to live in a relationship with Him. Every moment we draw breath is a gift from God! We can thank him by glorifying him and doing what is pleasing in His sight. I still struggle a little with trying to do things perfect and I believe it comes from my childhood. We all come from families that are broken in one way or another. I thank God for loving us in that brokenness and for showing us what real unconditional love looks like. It is good to know God; the “Perfect” Father will never let us down, leave us, or stop loving us. I am not perfect but I am loved by the Perfect One. The more I rely on Jesus, the more peaceful and less stressful my life is.  Love and Blessings…

 

 

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FAITHFUL FRIDAY

Cell phones give us almost unlimited contact with others. Some people never leave home without them because they feel disconnected somehow. I’m not one of those people. I’m like leave a message or wait until I get home. I’m learning to live in the moment and enjoy what I’m doing while I’m doing it. Anyway, I’m still stuck in the days of the answering machine! Don’t judge me. I think cell phones are great but there are restrictions. Some people talk on the phone or text even while driving, which is not cool and illegal in some places. If it’s that important, please pull off the road, then talk and text to your heart’s delight!

 There is another kind of communication that has no restrictions: prayer. We can pray whether we are coming, going, or sitting still. We can even pray while driving. My best prayer and worship time is while I walk in the early mornings. I love talking to God while driving. God invites us to call on him anytime, all the time. There is never a busy signal. It does not matter how early or how late. He is available for our quick cry or for a lengthy conversation. If you feel the need to pray quickly and in a less than ideal situation, go right ahead. You do not need to be anywhere special for God to hear you. He will understand your distress and cares only that you love him in your heart and try to follow him. He welcomes us into a relationship with Him, a constant and endless sharing of our joys, gratitude, needs, questions, and concerns. Access to God is always open, no restrictions. In the New Testament, Paul’s words advice each person who want to communicate with God to “pray continual” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Prayer is not just about asking God for something. Thank God for all of his blessings. Thank him for the things that make you happy, that make your life better, or that make the world a better place. Understand that these blessings are God showing his love for his people and should be celebrated and appreciated. Ask God’s forgiveness for the mistakes that you make. Keep your heart open and remember that we all make mistakes: nobody is perfect. Though you may have trouble admitting it or thinking of a mistake you have made, you will find some way that you can be better. Be sincere and you will know in your heart that God forgives you. Ask God’s guidance. He isn’t a genie or some magical grantor of wishes…He is merely there to guide you on the path you are meant to follow. Ask him to lead you and show you the right decisions and the ways to better yourself as a person, as well as the world and people around you. Pray for those who you feel need prayers. You can pray for your family, for your friends, or for strangers. Ask God to show them His love and to also help them find their way when they are lost. Do not cast judgment on them or their problems: God is the only Judge and He will do what is right. You do not have to use big words or long repetitive prayers. God is our friend. Talk to Him as if he is your best friend, because He is. Unlike my cell phone, I never have to worry about leaving home without the Holy Spirit, He lives in me. He lives in you. He is our direct communication to God. Love and Blessings…

 

 

 

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WISDOM WEDNESDAY

Some readers may have heard of Matthew Henry. He is one of the most respected biblical scholars of the past three hundred years; his work is extensive. I started last year using his commentaries in my Bible studies after hearing Kellie Lane, spiritual leader of Warrior Nation Ministries read some of his commentaries. Today while studying and reading one of his commentaries my Spirit led me in a totally different direction. I had a strong desire to know about this man who was a preacher, scholar and was well-known for his “Commentary” on the Bible. His work has gained a reputation as the best and most widely used work of its kind. I had no idea why God was leading me to pull up this man’s biography. The following is what I found out:

Matthew Henry was brought up with all the advantages of a Christian home and family and he showed such an aptitude for learning that he was able to read the Bible by the age of three. Each day his parents gathered the children for morning and evening devotions, and after prayers and scripture readings, it was customary for his father to give a brief exposition of a passage from the Bible on which the children were encouraged to write their own accounts. After surviving a serious attack of fever at the age of ten, his thoughts were drawn to his own spiritual condition and he was deeply moved by a sermon on the subject of judgment. He wrote, “I was under great fear of hell, till the Lord comforted me. I, having engaged in serious examination, what hopes I have that when I die and leave this earthly tabernacle I shall be received into heaven ,I have found several marks that I am a Child of God.” As a young man, he went to study law in London. However, he found no satisfaction in this pursuit and soon he wrote a letter to his father stating, “The more I see of the world and the various affairs of the children of men in it, the more I see of the vanity of it, and the more I would fain have my heart taken off from it, and fixed upon the invisible realities of the other world.” After barely a year he abandoned his legal studies and began preaching at local meetings. His zeal for the work of the Gospel was so evident that he quickly began to receive invitations to preach. Henry knew without a doubt that this was the work God had been preparing him for and he become the pastor of a congregation. For twenty-five years He devoted himself to proclaiming the gospel at every possible opportunity. In addition to two services on Sunday and two meetings during the week, he frequently preached in the neighboring villages and in the prisons. When Henry was forty-two years old, he began to collect together the vast amount of notes and writings which he had made on the Bible during his ministry. He had learned Latin, Greek and Hebrew as a child, and he also had a good knowledge of French, so that his reading had covered a wide field over many years. To this was added a keen spirit of inquiry, a profound knowledge and an ability to convey doctrinal matters in a simple yet clear form. From this emerged his “Commentary” as he gradually completed the books of the Old and New Testament over the following ten years. After twenty-five years in the ministry at Chester, Henry accepted a call to a dissenting Chapel at Hackney in London. His preaching was blessed with much fruit and he made preparations to complete his “Commentary,” having reached Acts by 1714. This same year while returning to Chester to conduct services amongst his former congregation and while honoring a promise to preach at Chester and Nantwich, he was taken ill. As he rode back to London the next day, he fell from his horse and was taken to the house of a neighboring minister where he died the following day. He died at age 52. The importance and value of Henry’s “Commentary” was so evident to his fellow ministers that steps were soon taken to collect the notes he had prepared on the remaining books from Romans to Revelation, so that the whole of the Bible might be included in the final work. Henry’s “Commentary” quickly became an indispensable work of reference for Christians. It is as relevant for us today as it was in his own day. Someone said his work is perhaps the only commentator, so large, that deserves to be entirely an attentively read through. (www.truthfulwords.org).

 Most people do not know the trials and sufferings of Mr. Henry’s personal life. He was born 1662 in England and his infancy was marred with sickness and frailty.  His brother had died of similar circumstances, as an infant.  In those days, as would become evident to Matthew himself later on, many newborns and young children did not make it. In some ways, that was a part of life for so many parents in those days before penicillin and other basic treatments. Over the course of his adult life, Mr. Henry would experience six different premature deaths that undoubtedly haunted him as he struggled to believe and trust in the Almighty God, and His ultimate plan.  These unfortunate deaths included: His first wife, A young daughter, A second young daughter (just 1 year after the first had passed), His two middle-aged sisters (during the same year) A third daughter, and, his own life was not spared certain physical suffering.  Matthew Henry died at the relatively young age of 52 (not so uncommon in those days though) after a terrible disease and sickness took him during the last two to three years of his life. (Taber’s Truths by our Church History Contributing Author Ken Lambert.)

 Once I finished reading, just as clearly as I am typing this, the Holy Spirit said to me, “If you don’t know what to do, follow someone who does”. It was at this point that I realized why God lead me to this man’s life; he was an example of faith and hope through suffering. I have read how this man was obedient to God and to his purpose in this life. How he maintained this intensive preaching and pastoral ministry, while his personal life was afflicted by tragedy. The storms were raging in his life! In spite of life’s tragedies and storms, he persevered on and continued to do the Lord’s work. I cannot image losing one child. He lost three. The pain must have been unbearable. But did he leave the ministry? Did he become spiteful? Did he accuse the Lord? From what I read, Matthew Henry did none of those things. It is human nature to become angry when tragedies such as he experienced hit us, and he may have been at times angry at God.  I don’t know. But anger is an emotion that passes. It is not a way of life or a way of thinking.  He did not give up or lose faith in God. The enemy tried to take him out at an early age. But God turned it around and he choose to become a child of God. Mr. Henry marched on with his ministry and his Bible study.  He was obedient and faithful until his death. It is easy to be a Christian when everything is going well, and when your life here on Earth is truly blessed. It is a different story to be a true and faithful Christian servant when this life has brought major setbacks and sorrows. I understand now why God led me to Matthew Henry’s biography. He is an example of a Christian. In spite of life’s storms, I will stay faithful to the One who loves me, the One who lived to give me an example and the One who died to save me. And when life tries to get the best of me, and I don’t know what to do, I will follow the  example of Jesus. And yes God, I will follow the examples of those who follow you, like Matthew Henry. The same strength you gave them, you will also give to me. I thank God for this gift today, it blessed me. Maybe this was not just meant for me. If it blessed you, say so. Love and Blessings…

 

 

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MOTIVATIONAL MONDAY

I am a patient person. So not true! And those who know me know it is not true. However, I am going to keep speaking it until I become one.  Patience is one if the fruits of the spirit. I am striving to have them all! It is one of the things God is doing a work in me. He is a miracle worker and I am definitely better at the waiting game. There has been countless times in my life that I prayed for something and nothing happened. Then I would fast, still nothing. So I begged and cried. Nothing! None of that hurried God’s plan for my life. So I would get tired of waiting and do something, anything to fix it or help myself. And looking back I can tell you, every time it was a disaster! Sometimes it would seem like I worked it out in the beginning, but later in the long-term I would live to regret it. That is what happens when we try the “quick, easy” fix. The easy way or the simple solution is not always God’s plan. No one likes waiting. We ask God for a soul mate, good health, a job, and financial stability. I mean that’s not much to ask for. Why have God not answered, why am I still waiting? Waiting is hard. We fret inwardly with worry and frustration. I think about Abraham, Joseph, Moses and even Jesus. They waited for 13, 25, 30 and even 40 years! How did they do it? I wonder did they get tired of waiting. Some of us get tired if God has not answered our prayers in one day! Scripture says ask and it will be given, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be open (Mathew 7:7). Nowhere in there does it give us a time frame or deadline!

 So this is what I have learned; when we ask God for something, we must trust God to deliver. We must believe whatever we are waiting for; God will not be late for. We must also know that if what we are asking for is not good for us, God knows this and He is not going to give it to us just because we asked for it. Would you give your children or loved one something bad simply because they wanted it? I think not, because you love them. That is how God feels about us. Another thing, when we ask God for something, the enemy will step in and have us doubt that we are getting what we asked for or have us to believe we don’t deserve it. Of course he is a liar! He does this by using the things of this world to distract us. Every day it will seem the problem is getting worse. Our mind, which is our worse enemy will tell us , it’s taking too long, I will be to old, I’m feeling worse, I can’t handle this job. That’s how the enemy works, he wants us to give up, and not wait on the Lord. If we really want to be strong warriors, we must keep our gaze on God, and glance at the things of this world. Victory comes when we realize that greater is coming, if not in the form of what we asked for, then something better! While we wait, we must choose to be better, not bitter, to praise God even when we don’t feel like it, to trust that even if He doesn’t fix it right away, the pain is for our good and it will not last forever. God is more interested in our character than our comfort. God is about restoration. Sometimes we can only learn lessons in a struggle or storm. It is through the storm, hurt, and pain that I found out how strong I really am. You go into survivor mode. And then you realize the only way you can survive is with the help of God. It is there we find God, no, I mean really find God. And we realize He is enough! It was through all that pain that my life was forever changed. I learned to let God work and not block my blessings by trying to fix it myself. God always has a plan. It is important that when we ask God for something, it is aligned with his plan. That our heart has the right motive. We can pray for direction to follow his plan, patience to wait on it, and knowledge to know when it comes. No one likes to wait, but there are many critical lessons that can only be learned from waiting on the bench. Love and blessings….

 

 

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FAITHFUL FRIDAY

We can feel depressed or sad or angry or lonely. We can feel happy and hopeful. We can be cheerful one moment then suddenly get road rage. We can feel like we love someone one moment, then frustrated at them a moment later. We can feel optimistic or hopeless. Some of us wear our feelings on our sleeve. Some of us, like me, are good at hiding their feelings. I was asked did I ever feel sad or depressed. Of course the person asking did not know me before and during my storm. I spent almost two years sad and depressed. And even before that, unknown to many, those feelings were constant visitors in my life. Glory be to God they don’t visit like they use to, and when they do, trust me, it’s a short visit. Possibly because I’m not very hospitality. I rather entertain Jesus. Their cousins; anger, frustration, disappointment, doubt, and fear also like to visit. They too are not welcome. However, I love when peace, calm, happy and contentment stopover. They can never overstay their welcome! They bring me joy! We all get these visitors and I know they are true in the sense that they are real. We really do feel things. Feelings are not necessarily right or wrong. For example you may feel like a total failure. But are you a TOTAL failure? I may feel that no one loves me, but does that mean NO ONE really loves me? These feelings are true feelings, but are they necessarily the truth? I may say,  “I need to go somewhere. I feel like I’m going crazy in this house”. True feeling. But not necessarily the truth (at least I hope not). Because feelings are not necessarily the truth, and not necessarily right or wrong, we have to be careful about jumping to conclusions too quickly about them and judging others.

We must learn to express our feelings in the right setting to the right people who will listen. Of course we can’t tell everybody everything! And some people you can’t tell anything! But it is releasing to have the other person know how you feel and to think they understand you. Even after forgiving someone, we may still need to express our feelings. Some of us must learn to verbalize our feelings. This has not been easy for me, I’m working on it. I don’t like sharing my feelings of discouragement or sadness because I feel weak when I do. See what I mean, I feel weak, but I know I am not weak, I am strong in the Lord!  When people are going through and they are discouraged or depressed, let’s not be so quick to quote scripture or tell them they need to have faith. Feeling some type of way does not mean you don’t have faith, let me say that again, feeling some type of way does not mean you do not have faith! We must realize that we cannot possibly grasp the pain that others go through in every situation. I can’t understand the challenges others go through if I haven’t been through them. And even if I have, everybody react to things differently. Often the best thing to do is as the scripture says, first weep with those who weep before attempting to help someone overcome their feelings. I’m grateful that in recent years the Lord has been helping me empathize with others.

We may feel like we have no choice but to follow the dictates of our feelings. The first place to look when dealing with our feelings is the Word of God. We who believe in Jesus are no longer slaves to our feelings. As new creations, Christ is our Lord and Master, not our feelings. And he gives us his Spirit to empower us to obey him and keep his commandments. So when we know what he commands in any situation, we should ask our Lord for help and strength to obey him, whether we feel like it or not. We can pray for help to love a person and to do good to him even though he is unkind. We can pray for help to be patient and gracious. Lord, please help me to respond to this angry person with gentleness, help me to give with cheerfulness. Lord, you know I don’t feel like Bible study today, but help me worship you with all my heart. And Jesus, when I feel like giving up, help me persevere and keep going. Scripture tells us we are often tempted to anger when we want something and don’t get it. Scripture addresses our feelings of envy, discontentment, and discouragement. As we meditate on God’s word day after day, and as we ask Jesus to help us and to give us joy, peace and contentment, we will find ourselves no longer led by our feelings, but led by the Spirit. To the person who asked me the question about feelings of sadness and depression, I hope this explains it better. The Holy Spirit lives in me, so I am working on only letting the fruits of the spirit visit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness).  Love and Blessings…

 

 

 

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WISDOM WEDNESDAY

Putting someone up on a pedestal and admiring them is two different things. When we put people on a pedestal and think they are perfect, we expect the impossible from them, we expect them to be more than human. Sooner or later they let us down, they show their human weakness and flaws, then we tend to blame them for letting us down. When we only have ourselves to blame! Think of it like this, when you put them up on that pedestal, they are looking down at you. The only one that sits high and looks low is God. We humans are all equal, no matter the status, fame or fortune. We all are sinners saved by grace. The only reason anyone is ever superior to you is if you believe they are. Don’t fall into that, “they can do this better or they look better than I do” trap. There are things you will be better at than other people, and there are things other people will be better at. No matter how smart a doctor, lawyer, or professor is, when they have trouble with their plumbing, they have to call a plumber! God gave each of us gifts. As far as looks, look at yourself through God’s eyes, we all are beautiful! Earlier in my life, I used to be shy. I would rarely speak my mind. And somewhere around the age of seventeen, I had a transformation.  I was able to overcome my timidness and I was rewarded with an enormous boost in self-esteem and self-confidence. I thank God for that. I respect people for who they are but I never, ever put anyone on a pedestal! My mama always said no one is better than you and you are no better than anyone else. I live by that. Sometimes people put themselves up on a pedestal by looking down at and being critical of others. It makes them feel superior. How sad is that? I believe that pedestals are lonely places that separate us rather than connect us. God intended for us to love one another and connect to others, not stand out and away from them. God’s desire is for us to love people as they are, flaws and all. That is what Jesus does.  I’m thinking it must be a lot pressure up there on that pedestal. What if I make a mistake? What if my looks fade? What if I’m no longer famous or rich? I would not want to live like that, too stressful. Oh, and beware of the pastoral pedestal. We’ve seen the headlines, high-profile pastors falling off the pedestal he has been put on. Think of the fallout and consequences under those circumstances. He and his family are hurting; the church now left wondering what happened. Was his doctrine sound that he preached from the pulpit? Was he being a hypocrite, preaching one thing and living another? How does that reflect on our church? On our faith? On God? Mature believers realize that just because a leader sinned, doesn’t necessarily mean his doctrine or preaching wasn’t sound, especially if they know the Word and know Jesus on a personal level. Our culture puts leaders on pedestals they can’t sustain. We expect our spiritual leaders to be perfect. The Bible lays out high expectations for church leaders, but it also reveals the struggles early church leaders faced. In 1 Timothy 3:1 the scripture says, “This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work.” And the next twelve verses list the qualifications required for someone who desires that position of leadership in the church. Yes, as our leaders, they should set an example. But they too are human so I’m sure the struggle is real. When they sin, they need to repent just like we would in that situation. And, just as we would want, they need our prayers, compassion and forgiveness. That doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be consequences to their actions. God will hold them accountable. I don’t claim to have all the answers,  however I believe we have to stop worshiping the messenger and worship the One who sends the message. The Sender is perfect, the deliver is human. Believers, please don’t put your faith in your leaders. Put your faith in God. Yes, honor the leaders He puts in your life. However, don’t expect them to be perfect and don’t put unnecessary burdens on them with that expectation. Let’s not put them, ourselves, or anyone on a pedestal. If putting someone on a pedestal means they are perfect,  God is the only one that can hold that position. Let’s look up to the one who deserves it, our Lord and Savior. Much Love…

 

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THANKFUL THURSDAY

There was a time when I wrestled with anxiety constantly. I worried about big things, small things and everything in between. When something terrible or distressing happened to me, I cried until there were no more tears left. I did a good job of hiding my anxiety. I would find a private place; because I dared not let anyone see me cry. It didn’t fit my “strong woman” image. Many of us cry in secret and rarely let others witness our tears. My heart simply broke into pieces, and I felt trapped, depressed and defeated. There are times we all may feel desperate and powerless. It is even worse when we are afraid to let anyone know we feel this way. Because we believe we will be judged or looked upon as weak. I would question God, wondering why and how He allowed a circumstance to exist. I questioned His favor and allowed my fear and doubt to question His plan. No wonder I felt alone. It doesn’t matter know how many people I would have confided in, I still would have felt alone without Jesus. We cannot hide our tears from God. He sees them and He wants us to trust Him so He can comfort us. Surrendering my life completely to Jesus was the best thing I ever done! I know people say that all the time, I really mean it. Now when life happens to me, I may still cry, but I feel comforted inside. And I’m no longer afraid to let anyone see me cry, because I am not afraid to admit that I am weak, I found Jesus in my weakness, I am nothing without Him. He makes me strong in spite of my weakness. So judge me if you want. All I know is that now even when I am sad outwardly, my heart isn’t heavy. I don’t understand why, but deep down inside me, there is something that lifts me up in the mist of whatever is going on. I believe that something is peace, which rises from the Holy Spirit living within me. It is beyond description; at least right now I can’t totally explain it. But I can tell you what the scripture says. We cannot be completely distressed because Christ in us is the Prince of Peace. And Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). It may be a bad situation and you might feel hopeless, but if Christ lives in you, He is the way. God says He will always provide a way out for us. We are not defeated because Christ in us is our victory. (1 Corinthians 15:57) Scripture repeatedly tells us not to be afraid. Because of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, our fears do not have to rule our lives. We will face hard times in this life. But God promised to be with us through it all. Our Heavenly Father never takes His eyes off His children. We can’t avoid some situations and heartaches, but we can live with confident faith relying on our Helper and Protector who watches over our lives. As I look over my life I can see He has most definitely comforted and stretched me through every trial and storm. I am thankful. Sometimes the struggles we face in this life are big, but God is bigger. I’m not saying fear does not try to creep into my being, but now I immediately lift my eyes from my fears, and in faith and dependence, look to the One who promised to comfort us. Because the Holy Spirit lives in us, no bad circumstance can or will ever cause us to be destroyed or forsaken by God! I can now look back and I am thankful He said “no” to so many of the prayers I desperately wanted Him to answer with “yes.” All that worrying for nothing. He is God! He is able and He is more than enough! I still shed tears but at the same time you can bet I  am surrendering all of my pain to Him. And unlike before, I leave it there. He comforts me through my tears. I trust Him. And what God has done for me in return is rained down blessings, restoration and healing. God’s comforting presence is more powerful than anything we may face! He promised never to leave us. We can trust Him fully. Love and blessings…

 

 

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WISDOM WEDNESDAY

Anything meant in this world for evil, God can use for good, He is able to take our mess and turn it into a message. Today’s trail is tomorrow’s testimony. It doesn’t matter if we created the mess ourselves or not. Although God is not the author of sin, He can use our sinful nature to achieve  His purpose. When God said all things work for those who love God, All things includes both good and bad things. God can use our struggles, heartbreak, and tragedies in ways to bring about His glory and our good. God does not sin and He performs no evil. But our wise and perfect God can and sometimes does use the sin already existing in our world to fulfill His purpose. Most of the time we don’t understand the mess and how God is going to fix it. That is none of our business, how God chooses to operate is up to Him. At times, He intervenes miraculously. Other times, He works behind the scenes. And, yes, God may even allow a certain measure of freedom to evil forces in our world to bring about His will.

Look at God! So now you are out of the mess! What you gone do? When God brings us out of a mess, we are now his messengers. We now have a message to bless someone who is either going through the same mess or something similar. God did not bring us through to keep it to ourselves. I know I’m not thrilled about telling my mess, or business as some put it. I’m a private kind of person. Well we have to get over ourselves! It’s not about us. We must be obedient. We are God’s vessels. As His messengers we need to pray for Him to bring us in touch with those who need to hear and that He will open their hearts to receive.

God is the true Messenger and we are His vessels. I encourage you to stay faithful through the mess. I encourage you to keep praising His name through the mess. I encourage you to look through the mess to the One who has already overcome evil on our behalf. His name is Jesus. Keep your eyes on Him. And when he blesses you out of the mess, bless someone else with the message. Much Love…..

 

 

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TESTIMONIAL TUESDAY

Perspective is a point of view. It is how we look at things. We each have our own perspective to things. Perception is the interpretation one gives through his ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses. It is a way of understanding and gaining insight. The key difference between the two terms is that it is the different perspectives that help us to create our perception. Life is based on perceptions. Do not confuse them with God’s truth! Perception is based on thought. Thought comes from the mind. Change your mind, change your life! Life is all about perception. Positive verses negative. Whichever you choose will affect and most likely change your outcomes. Miracles happen every day. Blessings are all around us. Change your perception of what a miracle is and you will see them everywhere. Actually go look in the mirror right now; you are looking at a miracle! We feel hurt when someone no longer wants us in their life, have you thought that God wanted them out of your future? The problem is not the situation, but our perception of the situation. Looking back at my time in the wilderness, the problems were nowhere near the many blessings I had, I just could not see them because I was so caught up in the problems. Of course I see that now because I try to look at things through the eyes of the Spirit. We are blinded by our feelings, other people’s opinions, and society. We can’t see, so we struggle, and we breakdown in the mist of affliction. We forget God can open any door. We may have the affliction, but the affiliation does not have to own us. It can’t keep us down, because the power belongs to God, not the affiliation. David said it was good that he was afflicted. Because he wasn’t looking at the difficulty. He realized God could bring him out. That is how we must believe. Just because your season hasn’t come yet, you have to get your perspective together and realize that God can change things in an instant. Praise your way out of that season into the next season! And another thing we have to remember, if the Lord allows us to fall into the valley or go through the wilderness, don’t do as I did, beat yourself up and have a pity party wondering what you did to deserve this! Get a grip and change your perception. Next is coming! God is stretching you, building you, preparing you for greater! Don’t look at the circumstances; take another look through the eyes of the Spirit. If it seems like this thing is going to last forever, remember the last time God brought you out. Although the exact words this too shall pass are not in the Bible, the verse in 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 talks about troubles being temporary. We either believe His Word or we don’t. There is no door closed that God cannot open. And if He shuts one He is looking out for us. Let it stay shut! To change our perception, we need to change what we think of, and if we set our minds on things that are below, here on earth, we’ll not see the things that God is doing through us and in us by what we are going through here on earth. In other words, let our heavenly thinking overshadow those things on earth; let the eternal things of God dominate our thinking over the present, evil world we live in today. One great way to change your perception is to be in the Word of God on a daily basis. My life is certainly different now, not because storms no longer come or the devil does not raise his ugly head, but because thank God my perception of life has changed. When things look overwhelming, ASAP (always stop and pray), then take another look through the eyes of the Spirit. Love and Blessings…

 

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MOTIVATIONAL MONDAY

All my life I had to fight (in my color purple Sophia voice) but seriously true. Unfortunately we are born into this world with the enemy ready to rage war. Like it or not, we have all been born into a war zone as result of what happened with Adam and Eve. For some of us, the hardest battles are fought within ourselves. Sure we understand the circumstances and situations that the enemy uses to destroy us. We can accept the truth of how the world lures and tempts us. We can understand to some degree that the battle in the spiritual realm is ongoing and real, even though we cannot see it. But, to get a grasp on what is going on within our own hearts and minds can be the hardest, most exhausting, battle of them all. Many Christians rather not deal with spiritual warfare; it is too scary and frightening so they prefer to ignore it. As a result, the enemy is winning; just look around at all the school shootings, missing kids, drug and alcohol abuse, divorce, and so much more! It makes me want to cry. But crying is not going to change the fact that we are in a war, we know the battle belongs to God, but we are his soldiers. We have to put on the whole armor of God and we must be “vigilant and sober” as scripture says. (1 Peter 5:8)

The enemy will come after any Christian where there is an opening, he will fit in where he can get in. If God the Father allowed His Son Jesus Christ to be tempted by Satan while He was in the desert for 40 days, then you can bet the chances may be very good that you may have to deal with the possibility of having to directly engage with the enemy sometime in your life. When the enemy tries to attack you from an outside position, he will try to hinder you from being able to progress from point A to point B in your walk and call for God. He also will start playing mind-games with you in an effort to try to throw you into some kind of mental torment and separate you from your spiritual connection with the Lord. The enemy will try to tell you that you are not saved, that you have committed the unpardonable sin and try to dissuade you from reading your Bible and continuing to grow in the knowledge and ways of God. Ok now devil , you are a liar, God said you would come to seek, kill, and destroy! (John 10:10). The battle, the struggle, the war, the fight goes on in our thinking. Our emotions and feelings are involved. There is a struggle, a wrestling match being fought inside you. It is between satan’s deceptions and God’s truth (the Bible). It is a battle of victory to those who read and obey the Bible, and of defeat to those who do not. This battle rages in your mind, your flesh, and your feelings. I am telling you, satan is a master at deceiving people. Beware when feelings and thoughts are not in harmony with the Scriptures. It is God’s Word that will tell you if your thoughts and feelings are from Him or satan. You may ask yourselves ,why do I even want to fight? In the spiritual realm, there is a battle going on whether we fight or not. We are either victors or victims. Jesus has come and conquered. The war is already won in the heavens. (Mathew 28:18).  We now have the privilege of having an eternal relationship with God. Many of us enter into that covenant of salvation by grace.  Salvation is the best and most important gift God has given us, but it is also about our every day victory, which adds up to victorious living in Christ. Every day victory is achieved by knowing, believing and understanding the battles that we are enduring daily, regardless if we are passive or active in the battles. I choose to take my sword up and put on my armor of God. I choose to fight! Although sometimes I feel as Paul describes in the Book of Romans, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.”Ladies and gentleman, that is our dilemma, that is why we must fight.

Yet despite all we will go through, the seemingly endless struggle in our minds, we must strive to bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5) Our defense is to know, understand, and obey God’s Word. We have to study God’s Word, so He can discern what is right and wrong. Examine everything by God’s Word! As Christians, we all have the power of God operating on the inside of us through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. The enemy is no match for any Christian who knows who they really are in their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and who knows how to use the Word of God as their spiritual weapon! We are in a war here on the earth. We are God’s soldiers. Do not be afraid because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world! (John 4:4). I’m not scared to fight, I have read the ending of ‘The Book” and I know who the winner is! Love and Blessings…

 

 

 

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FAITHFUL FRIDAY

Helping is doing something for someone who is not capable of doing for himself. Enabling is doing for someone things that he could and should be doing himself. We have to know the difference or we will find ourselves participating in someone else’s bad behavior. It is easier to enable those we love. We want to do everything in our power to help them. At what point do we realize we are doing more harm than good? I’ve seen it many times, parents and children, friends, relationships and marriages. It is hard to give up on those we love. I believe the key is to love them enough to let go. My mother would say “when push comes to shove (have no idea what that means) you will drown or swim.” It sounds harsh but some call it tough love. My mother, bless her heart, was not an enabler. She was way on the other end of the spectrum. I think it was her way of teaching us independence. And it worked; all her kids are independent to a fault (another story). I tried to have a balance with my son, helping but also teaching him responsibility at the same time. Between his father, his heavenly Father, and myself, we did a good job; he’s an exceptional young man (I am a proud mama, ok, I’m getting off track:).

Reaching out to help a loved one in need is definitely not a bad thing, but there’s a fine line between helping and enabling. I’m not just talking alcohol or drugs here; I’m talking about anything that affects your well-being, for instance, an abusive relationship, whether mentally, financially, or physically. Stop making excuses for them. You have to know when to let go! How do you know you are an enabler? Ask yourself these questions; do you consistently put your own needs and desires aside to help someone else? Do you fear that not doing something will cause a blowup, make the person leave you, or result in violence? Do you lie and make excuses for them? Do you continue to offer help when it is never appreciated or acknowledged? We have to set clear boundaries and remain firm. It’s possible to be supportive without neglecting your own needs. If it is substance abuse, insist they get help! If it’s a relationship get out or get professional help. If it’s your child, you may have to show tough love. But whatever you do, don’t help people dig their own graves and most certainly do not let them dig yours! Helping someone should never be a threat to your own well-being, so make sure you’re taking care of yourself first.

The Bible says we are to confront people we love and let them know that bad behavior is not okay. Refuse to participate. (Matthew 18: 15-20) God does not enable irresponsible behavior. We can set limits on our own exposure to people who are behaving poorly; we can’t change them or make them behave right. Our model is God. He doesn’t set limits on people to make them behave. He sets standards, but He lets people be who they are and then separates Himself from them when they misbehave. Don’t be afraid to say “You can be that way if you choose, but you cannot come into my life.” God limits His exposure to evil, unrepentant people, and so should we. The Bible says to separate ourselves from people who act in destructive ways. We are not being unloving. Separating ourselves protects love, because we are taking a stand against things that destroy love. I said earlier, it’s not easy letting go of someone you love. But guess what, when you have done all you can, there is someone else who can do more than you ever could. Yes, our Father God is in the business of restoration and miracles. Give your love one to Him and rest and know that they are in good hands. Love and Blessings…

 

TODAY’S INSPIRATION: FAIL FORWARD!

Do not let what the world calls failure be the end of your story. Most successful people did not become that way without failing at least once. The key is to not give up and to keep moving forward. Pick yourself up and try again! We believers of Christ should know this better than anyone. The Word shows us that sometimes success only comes after major failure. Moses, Elijah, Paul, Peter, David, and Rehab all failed forward.
The truth is we can’t lose as long as we are walking with Jesus. Thanks to our God, we have the victory through Jesus Christ. When we walk with God, His power lives within us. Whatever circumstances, trials or tribulations we are facing, they are just names which are all under one greater name, Jesus Christ! When it’s your season, no giant can defeat you! No fire can burn you! No battle can turn you! No mountain can stop you! Keep moving forward!

“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

TODAY’S INSPIRATION: HOW IS YOUR HEART?

How is your heart? I mean really, is it well? We know our heart is the organ in our chest that pumps the blood around our bodies. We know we need it to live physically. But do you know we need it to be well in order to live spiritually? The heart is a beautiful thing, it can be compassionate, understanding, life-giving and complex. It can be hurt, abused, and broken. God is love and the heart should be a symbol for love. But because it is subject to the flesh and a sinful world, it can be cold, calculating, and unfeeling. It can hurt others simply because it is hurting or broken. Scripture says for us to guard our hearts, but it also tells us that the heart can be deceitful. Hmmmm, deceitful is not good!

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)  

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23).  

The only way to guard our hearts and keep it from being deceitful is to surrender it to Jesus. When we give our hearts to God, we stop worrying about all that we can’t control. We slow down, we begin to trust, we let the small stuff roll off our backs. And it is ALL small stuff if you are focusing on the big picture, which is Jesus, the gift of Salvation, and our permanent home with Him. We know that our heart is in a safe place with Jesus, and we can find comfort knowing God will never break or leave it. God is love and the heart is where love begins. When our heart breaks for the things that breaks God’s heart, we do not reciprocate by breaking someone else’s heart. Instead, we still love them as God loves us when we break His heart.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deuteronomy 6:5)

So, if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, have in the same love, being in full accord and of one mind, Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant that yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 2:1-30)

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (Samuel 16:7)  

“And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their King, of whom he testified and said, “I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.” (Acts 13:22)

I am thankful that God looks at the heart of man and not the flesh, because if the heart is right, God can help us change the flesh. If we make a genuine effort to strive for a “good” heart in all our interactions, even with our enemies, the Lord will hear our prayers. And when our hearts are troubled, Jesus will soothe our troubled heart. Love and Blessings…

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)


TODAY’S INSPIRATION: ENCOURAGE YOURSELF!

Donald Lawrence sings a song called “Encourage Yourself.” The song says sometimes you have to encourage yourself. I’m feeling that today. I’m feeling a lot of things today which is why I have to encourage myself. I am so thankful that I no longer allow how I feel to determine my praise, worship, and thankfulness to God. Early this morning as I communed with God, I was reminded that we must stay humble, submitting our will to God’s will. We should ask for our specific needs according to His Word and keep praying persistently even when we don’t see the results right away. We must have hopeful expectations that God is going to show up, no matter how long it takes.  

The thing is when you don’t act or look like you feel, no one realizes that you are in need or hurting. I remember a song called, “The Tears of a Clown”. The lyrics say outside I’m smiling but inside I’m crying. No one sees silent tears, so they don’t know your pain. They say you are strong. The truth is you are human and just like any other human, you are weak in yourself. The strength they see comes from God. (2 Corinthians 12:9-12). So why would you need anyone else you may ask. Because the Word of God encourages us to encourage others. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul said ” what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29). Galatians 6:2 reads, “Carry each other’s burdens and so you will fulfill the law of Christ.” The first thing a strong person will say when asked how they are doing is I’m all right. I have learned to respond by saying ok and how are you really doing? How is your heart? What do you need? Because no matter how much we encourage our own self, the Bible reads, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17). Please check on your strong friends.

The good news is thank God for Jesus! He knows. He sees silent tears. He sees our heart and knows when it is hurting. Even when we don’t have the words to cry out, he hears our silent cries for help. And we can be confident that help is on the way. We may not know how, when, or where, but He will show up! And while we are waiting on Him, sometimes we have to encourage ourselves because the waiting can be hard. The pain is real, the hurt is real, whatever the situation or circumstances you may be going through is real. But God is realer. I don’t think realer is a word, but you get my point, God is bigger than anything we may be going through. And we that love the Lord know that He has proven time and time again that the wait is always worth it! I know He hears our prayers. I encourage you as I encourage myself to trust God. Love and Blessings…  

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-8)  

“Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.” (Psalm 27:14)

TODAY’S INSPIRATION: FOCUS ON CHRIST…

When my relationship with Jesus was new, I was very sin conscious. I had to be this perfect Christian. I spent more time worrying about trying not to sin than I did focusing on Jesus. If I had any type of negative thoughts or actions, I beat myself up about it, even after asking God for forgiveness. The struggle was real! The struggle was real because we face temptation in some way every day. We need to focus on Christ and our power through Him to resist the temptations of life. As my relationship with Jesus grew, I began to be more Christ conscious. Satan loves it when we are sin conscious, it keeps our mind on him and sin. What I finally understood is that there is no trial, difficulty, challenge, or temptation that we face, Jesus cannot identify with. Jesus who was sinless was also tempted by satan. Jesus resisted sin with God’s Word, and He chose to do His Father’s will, as should we. The Good News is when we fall short (and we will) because of His love, Jesus paid the ultimate price for our sins; past, present and future. When we focus on His sacrifice and the price He paid, we are Christ-conscious, sinful thoughts and actions cannot be at the center of our mind, because our mind is so full of God.  

It’s like being on a diet, once we say the word diet, the struggle gets worst! All we think about is not eating, and then food becomes our main thought which makes us want to eat more! It works the same with sin. Developing our relationship with Christ and focusing on him is the key. When we focus on His goodness and His faithfulness, sin becomes less of an option. We just want to please Him! God is faithful. He will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear. Our Father will always provide a way out! We can rejoice in the fact that Jesus is our advocate. He is the reason that we can draw near to Father God and be in His presence. We can spend time with Him and meditate on His Word. Spending time with God helps align our desires with God’s desires for us. Do you want that family member saved? Do you want God to provide for you? Are you having trouble on the job? Do you want God to open a door to advance His kingdom? Do you want God to provide you with a spouse? Do you want to start your own business? Then get into position and spend time with Christ. As we draw near to Him, we experience His love, grace, and mercy, not judgment! Love and Blessings…

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:29)

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)  

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” (Philippians 2: 5-7)

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)

“There hath no temptation taken you, but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

TODAY’S INSPIRATION: FRUITS OF SUCCESS…

How do you define success? Everybody’s perception of success is not the same. Some look at how much money you have or how big your house may be. What type of car you drive or how many degrees are behind your name. Are you famous? Are you educated? How many followers do you have on social media? I could go on but I’m sure you get the point. This is how the world defines success. I’m so glad that Jesus does not define us by quantity but by quality! Jesus’s standard of success is not what we have but the quality of the fruit we bear.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

We are all the same, like trees, blowing in the wind. Everything we think we own can be blown away instantly like leaves in a strong storm. This may sound cliche, but I have never seen anyone take what they have here on earth with them, we all leave here as we came, with nothing. But if we live for Jesus, then we will leave with eternal life. Our life here is nothing compared to our permanent home with God. God will furnish a new heaven and a new earth for his saints, which are meant to exist permanently.  

“Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:1-4)

God wants us to live this temporary life abundantly. He will give us our hearts desires if they are aligned with His Word and His will. We can enjoy life here on earth by following the example of Jesus and showing love to others. We must be willing to seek God first and submit to His plan for our lives. We must produce good fruit. The fruit that pleases the heart of God is the fruit that reflects the character and work of Christ. For this to happen, we must deny ourselves in the same way that Jesus denied Himself. Instead of pursuing earthly status and comfort, we seek first the Kingdom of God. When you are producing good fruit, you are successful in God’s eyes. This is how our Father is glorified!

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Mathew 6:33)

“So as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;” (Colossians 1:10)

The worlds standards of success can hinder the producing of fruit. Sometimes, God will intentionally prune away things and people from our lives, so that we can put Him first and no longer pursue material things or the acknowledgement of others. We are incapable of producing spiritual fruit in and of ourselves. We must constantly abide in Christ and draw our strength from Him.  

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.” (John 15:16)

“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:17)

We are to continually live a fruitful life to bring glory to God. The benefits are much more than materialistic or superficial things of this world can give us, we will receive an abundance of peace and joy! Love and Blessings…

TODAY’S INSPIRATION: GROWING THROUGH…

When I reflect back to my time in the wilderness, I don’t think about how challenging it was, I think on the lessons I learned. I learned every time we go through something, we grow through something. If we pay attention, the lessons we learn are valuable and the relationship we can develop with Christ Jesus while growing through is priceless! A relationship with Jesus can provide continuous nourishment in life’s storms. I am not talking about going to church every week or if your parents told you about God. I am talking about “knowing God” in a up close and personal way. I learned that I can be content in any situation when I am in touch with my Savior. I learned how to lean on Jesus when my strength is gone. I learned the only way to get through the storm is to go through it and to let Jesus lead the way. Sometimes it’s not about God stopping the storm, it’s about God changing you during the storm.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24)

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:11-13)

There may be days when you are on top of the world, and some days you may feel like the world is on top of you. God is not like people, with you in the good times and nowhere to be seen when things get rough. God is with us at all times, good days, and the not so good days. The issues of life can weigh heavy on our shoulders. Health issues, financial issues, children issues, job issues, family issues and relationship issues; they can occur one at a time or all of them at once. I remember during times like that my mother would say, “when it rains it pours or if it ain’t one thang it’s another.”  Sometimes the storm is so bad the enemy will have you doubting that God is powerful enough to calm it. He will have you thinking that it is impossible to have peace at a time like this. Oh. but. you. can. God’s peace is always possible, even when we are going through storm after storm. We can have God’s peace through any situation or circumstances. Jesus left peace with us. The Holy Spirit is alive and living within us. We just have to tap into it. I know when we get overwhelmed because of the chaos of life, it’s easy to forget that Jesus is standing in the middle of the storm with us. No matter what we are going through, He is there. And if He is there, so is peace. God is peace. He is there in the storms next to us ready and waiting for us to reach out to Him. The same Jesus that calmed the raging storms for the frightened disciples is the same Jesus today. That same Jesus reaches out to us in our storms to come to Him as He did Peter. He lives within us through the Holy Spirit. The question is will you be like Peter and step out the boat even if you are afraid?  

“Peace, I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)

“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever, the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” (John 14:15-31)

“Lord, if it’s you,”Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water, and came toward Jesus. (Matthew 14;28-29)

Turning to God means humbling ourselves and admitting that we cannot handle the situation in our own strength. This can be hard if you are the type of person who has to be in control. (I was) It means trusting God to handle it how He sees fit, knowing that He knows what is best for us. We have to put our faith in only Him and know He is with us in the valleys as well as the mountain tops. Oh yes sometimes we may cry, I shed many tears. But Jesus was always there to comfort me. Sometimes we may get upset, but the Holy Spirit will calm us. It is not easy to find peace in the mist of the storms, especially when they are coming at you like tornadoes. It takes the courage to keep moving forward even with tears in your eyes. God will give you the strength to make it another minute, another hour and then another day. He gives us what we need when we need it. The good news is each time you make it through; it strengthens you more and builds your resilience and faith. Someone said that faith is not faith until it has been tested. In difficult times, we may not understand life and its unfairness. When feeling overwhelmed for what we cannot understand, we must trust God as we grow through. Then we will have peace instead of anxiety and worry, no matter the circumstance. In Genesis 9, God sealed His promise with a rainbow in the sky. In the midst of the devastation from the flood of judgment, there was a beautiful rainbow in the sky symbolizing God’s gracious promise! God did not promise we will never experience storms, but He has promised He will be with us during them. P.S. (I also learned that the brightest rainbows appear after the darkest storm. Love and Blessings…

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” (1 Peter 5:6)

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:33-34)

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

“But those who trust in the Lord for help will find their strength renewed. They will rise on wings like eagles; they will run and not get weary; they will walk and not grow weak.” (Isaiah 40:31)

“To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.” (Isaiah 61:3)

TODAY’S INSPIRATION: UNSHAKABLE!

I remember my mother would say, “always start something the way you want to finish it. She would say you can’t start on shaky ground and expect it to hold up. At the time she was referring to relationships. I didn’t get it then, but now it makes sense. And not just relationships, it applies to all areas in our lives. The foundation matters! Especially when it comes to our faith. You don’t build a house and hope when the storm comes it will not fall, you build the house to withstand the storms. The same applies to our faith. You don’t wait until a crisis to call on Jesus, we must pray and stay close to Him before the crisis. It is better to stay ready than to have to get ready!  

“Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24)

Jesus Christ frequently illustrated His teachings with parables. Jesus described two men who each built a house (Matthew 7:24-27). Jesus said one man was wise and the other was foolish. The man who made the better decision about where to build was a wise builder because he chose the rock as his foundation. I’m sure it was a challenge to build on rocky ground. It probably took some time, patience, and hard work. But the wise man believed it would be worth the effort. On the other hand, the foolish builder didn’t consider the foundation to be important. He may have thought it would take too long and building on the sandy soil would be easier. When a storm came, the house built into the rock survived the downpour, but the house on the sand was destroyed. Jesus stated, “And great was its fall.” Jesus was illustrating that we can live wisely or foolishly. It all depends on where we lay our foundation. How do we become unshakable in a world that’s shaking? It is important to build our spiritual foundation by having a relationship with Jesus. Jesus said that if we obey His word and follow Him, we will be like the wise builder. His teachings are sound principles about how to live successfully. Our only hope is in our Lord and Savior. We will be unshakable!

“I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house right on the ground, without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.” (Luke 6:47-49) NLT

We know that the Lord is not only our redeemer, but in Him we have a rock-solid foundation. He is our rock! Our foundation is strong when we have a relationship with Jesus and stand on His Word. Scripture tells us that no weapon formed against us will prosper. The world may be sinking, but we won’t sink with it when we are standing on solid ground. As followers of Christ, our spiritual foundation is vital to our life, both here on earth and in eternity. Jesus offers a solid foundation for our lives, our families, our friendships, our associates, and our future. In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus tells us that those who hear His words AND do them are wise builders. He states that they have built their homes on rock-solid foundations. We are the house Jesus is referring to. The winds howl, the rains come, even floods come, but we will still stands firm. Jesus says that those who hear His words but fail to live by them are foolish builders. With a strong spiritual foundation, we can focus on what is really important, our relationship with Christ. This strong foundation can support us in creating a new vision to see what opportunities are ahead, rather than hanging on to our fears and anxieties about change and what the future may hold, because we know Who holds our future! Love and Blessings…

“The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.” (Psalm 18:2)

TODAY’S INSPIRATION: PRAISE IS WHAT WE DO…

WHEN WE GOING THROUGH!

Perhaps you are feeling discouraged and overwhelmed right now. Perhaps You think everything is going wrong and your life is a mess. You may be grieving for the loss of a loved one. Someone may have broken your heart. Your body may be in pain, and you are mentally drained. Finances are tight, and you are struggling from day to day. Someone somewhere is going through something. In Psalms 150:6, King David said, “Let everything that have breathe praise the Lord.” But praising God is the last thing you feel like doing. I encourage you do not let how you are feeling keep you from praising God who can change all of that and give you peace in the middle of whatever you may be going through.  

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12)

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

In the mist of our trials and tribulations we must make a conscious decision to praise God. Yes, even though the tears are flowing, praise Him anyhow! It is easy to praise and thank God when we are joyful, and we can see His blessings flowing. It is easy to praise Him when we see Him working in our lives. Faith is praising Him even when we don’t see or understand what God is doing. Faith is praising Him no matter how we feel, because we know God is always working on our behalf. Don’t allow the devil to make you think otherwise.

“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial, which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.” (1 Peter 4:12-19)

“With my mouth I will give great thanks to the lord; I will praise him in the midst of the throng.” (Psalm 109-30)

“But He answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.” (John 5:17)

Every day we go head to toe against the schemes of satan, he tries to manipulate our emotions and feelings so we can feel defeated. But we must remember that although we still battle, our victory has been accomplished. We are fighting from victory not for victory. When Jesus endured the cross and conquered the grave, we became soldiers whose ultimate conquest is assured! The battle looks different when you know you already won! It’s like the war Joshua was asked to fight, to claim the occupied Promised Land that God had already given, “The land is yours” God told him, “You own it, and My Word is the title deed. I promised it to Abraham; I will give it to you. But you must fight.” (Joshua 1). Joshua led the nation of Israel in some fierce battles, but Joshua owned the dirt everywhere he put his foot down. He had the deed. He was fighting not for victory; he was fighting from victory already made certain by God Himself. That is where we stand. Our battles are not against flesh and blood, but they are very real just the same. And just like Joshua we already won!

“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; (Ephesians 6:12-18)

“For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” (1 John 5:4)

We should praise God while going through and in the middle of any situation or circumstance. Jesus said there will be trials and tribulations in this world. He also said He had defeated them. We must focus on God and not the problems. During times of troubles, we must trust God’s hidden workings and exercise our faith. He promised that he would never leave or forsake us. We can thank Him for His unfailing love, and His faithfulness to deliver, protect and provide for us even if we don’t see it yet. We can praise Him for who He is. We can praise Him because we have the breath to do it! Let us praise the Lord, for He is good, and His mercy endures forever! Love and Blessings…

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:28-31)

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

“My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all the day.” (Psalm 71:8)

TODAY’S INSPIRATION:SILENT SCREAMS…

Joni Hursey-Wingate

Have you ever experienced a nightmare and tried to scream and couldn’t? Well imagine living a daily horror where no one hears your cries. Situations may cause you to be wounded while the surface area remains intact. The body seems whole, but the heart is broken. There may be alarms signaling your distress, but you feel you are unable to be rescued. If you are tormented by grief, illness, betrayal, exasperation, or confusion then most likely you can identify with the concept of silent screams. Job 19:7 states, “Behold, I cry out of wrong, but I am not heard: I cry aloud, but there is no judgment.” The Lord is aware of the voice that is mute, and he hears the languishing while those in the midst are undeniably deaf. As the sad clown prepares for his awaiting audience, you too smear on the “happy face.” You seem functional while the screams are relentlessly shrilling yet soundly silent. Man is looking on the outward appearance while God sees your heart. Although the heart is sustaining a massive attack it continues to beat in systematic rhythm pumping the pain.

Issues of the heart often evoke erratic emotions. The mind, body and spirit are plagued with frantic feelings of despair. Now, one is more susceptible to sickness and disease. The brain is avidly anticipating a psychotic break while your spirit yearns for relief. This form of stress is quite serious and requires immediate attention. Visibly you are living while something so vital inside is dying. What will you do? Yes, professional help is indicated but only God is the sure cure. Remember as Christians we are to endure hardship as good soldiers (2 Timothy 2:3). Do you wonder why afflictions, mourning and weeping bring you closer to God? It may be challenging to comprehend why the Bible states a house of mourning is better than a house of mirth. Know when you are being poked with the pitchfork your character is being comprised. Think of a steak, the more it’s pierced it’s proven to be more tender and palatable. Likewise, we become pliable and prepared to fulfill God’s plan (Jeremiah 29:11). Broken Ones, realize the tougher the trial the greater the testimony. To whom much is given, much is required; so, are you really ready for the abundant blessings? Fun and laughter have its place; but the solemn are actually in position to receive God’s resonating promises.  

“Weeping may endure for a night but joy cometh in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5). Understand your plight is seasonal. Although your “life crops” may seem drowned and flooded with rain; stay diligent in prepping the field. God is in control of your harvest. Beloved, cease from worrying; now rest and sleep as the nightmares of your silent screams are transformed into shouts of praise that cannot be internally contained.

Author: Joni Hursey-Wingate

I would like to thank my sister in Christ for allowing me to share. This is the month of Mental Health Awareness. Millions of people face the reality of living with depression. Studies have shown that people with depression are often judged and has some type of stigma attached to them. Which is why many suffer in silence. If you or anyone you know is silently screaming because of grief, abuse, pain, or whatever is killing you on the inside, I want you to know you can take your power back. God is our source for whatever we need or are going through, but He also provides resources for us to get the help we need. Don’t be afraid to talk with someone. You may say it’s just a little depression, but the enemy wants to keep us enslaved so he will take that “little depression” and keep you in a place of despair. You will be so focused on your pain that you cannot receive the promises that God has for you. If you cannot talk with a loved one for fear of hurting or worrying them, talk with a professional. Take. Your. Power. Back! Be encouraged. Love and Blessings…

Joni Hursey-Wingate

Beyond the Burden Counseling Services

4310 Indian River Rd., Suite 4 Chesapeake, VA 23325

(757) 773-9511

issuessolver@aol.com

TODAY’S INSPIRATION: THE ARTIST

THE ARTIST

There are not enough words to describe all that God is. If we take a moment to look around at His creations, we have to say He is a magnificent artist! It can be breathtaking to watch the sunsets, sunrises, rainbows, and beautiful flowers. You can even see all kinds of images in the clouds!However, we are God’s greatest creations. We are His masterpieces! A masterpiece is often a culmination of an artist’s skill and hard work. When God created us in His own image, He out did Himself!

“So, God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”(Ephesians 2:10)

Has someone told you that you are inadequate or not enough? Have you ever looked in the mirror and told yourself that you are average or that your life is worthless? The world defines us by what we look like, where we come from, our education and titles, and it may cause us to lose our identity sometimes. We forget who we are and whose we are. But we must remember to see ourselves as a result of God’s divine creation. We must see ourselves as God sees us. God says each one of us are fearfully and wonderfully made. We were created with great reverence, love, and respect to be unique and set apart! To state this truth does not make us vain, because to say anything different is criticizing God’s work. God does not make mistakes! When we believe we are worthless, not enough, or insignificant, we are not only criticizing ourselves, but we are also criticizing the God who made us! Diamonds are expensive because they are rare, but we are not rare, we are the only one that exists. Or will ever exist! That makes us priceless! We are each a priceless work of art.

“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)

For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works wonderful; I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:13-14)

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. “(Psalms 139:14)

The amazing thing is He continues to work on and within us through the Holy Spirit. We are still a work in progress. The Bible says that God is the Potter, and we are the clay. When we are open to God’s will in our lives, He molds, transforms, and sanctifies us as we walk with Him. We are a masterpiece created by an amazing God, and in the process of being perfected by Jesus Christ! He will complete what He started! I choose not to believe what or who the world says I am, but who and what God’s Word says I am. Love and Blessings…  

“Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay; you are the potter;
   we are all the work of your hand.” (Isaiah 64:8)

“being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)