Monday, December 29, 2008

That Time Of The Year

Praise the Lord! I missed all of you out in "Blog Land". I took a few days off to enjoy my mini-vacation and family. I hope that you enjoyed your holiday, spent some QT with your loved ones and got at least a little bit of rest and relaxation in all of the festivities. I don't know about you all but I need a vacation to recuperate from the vacation.

For many of us, the holiday season is a time to enjoy family and friends. For some of us, the only time of the year that we are able to see some of our loved ones is during the holiday season. But what happens when your holiday and family time doesn't go as smoothly as planned? What happens when you come to the realization that you don't have the "ideal" family? How do you keep "the peace" and your peace of mind if everyone doesn't get along as well as they should? What if you find yourself left holding the bag trying to be the peacemaker? Here's one more question for you: how do you handle such scenarios with the smile that everyone expects you to have?

Unfortunately, it is during the holiday season that we hear more stories about people falling into depressions, abusing substances, over eating and feeling an over all sense of emptiness. People experience these same problems all throughout the year but they seem to be magnified during the time of year when families are supposed to come together. It is during these times of the year that the lonely tend to feel lonelier. This saddens me because I can recall a time when the holiday season spelled out DRAMA for me. All thanks and praise be to God that I had peace this holiday season but my heart cannot help but to go out to so many others that experienced losses, sadness, and loneliness during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. So today, I've decided to dedicate this post to anyone that had a tough time this holiday season whether it be financially, spiritually or emotionally. Know that I am praying for. I love you and Jesus loves you more.

Some wise person once said that we don't get to choose our families. This is true. We don't get to chose who we are genetically related to but we do get to chose who we are spiritually connected with. You see, if you are missing your relatives, don't have many relatives or maybe not getting along so well with your relatives, remember that you are not alone. You have another family - a new family. Once you say yes to Jesus, you become the son or daughter of God. The bible says that we are grafted into the family of God. So regardless of what our DNA says - God says that you are His child. You future is not predicated by your past. If a man, woman, boy or girl be in Christ he or she is a NEW creature and ALL old things are passed away. You can change if you want. You can break the cycle. We do not have to accept generational curses. The buck stops here in Jesus' name!

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.(Ephesians 1:3-6)
Lord, I thank and praise you for the many ways you have made for us. I thank you for getting us through yet another holiday season. Right now I ask that you touch the lonely, wounded, broken hearted and heavy laden. Comfort them in the name of Jesus. You called all the heavy laden and burdened to come to You because you promised that you would give them rest. I ask that you help us to all rest in you. We thank you for this new family you have provided for us. You said that when our father and mother forsake us that YOU would take us up. I ask that you mend every broken heart right now in the name of Jesus. Lord I ask that you have your way in our families and our lives. Send your peace to the north, south, east and west. I thank you in advance for healing, peace and prosperity in the name of Jesus. Give the weeping strength right now to hold out just a little while longer because you promised that Joy is coming in the morning. I bless you, thank you and praise You for I know that you are able to do above and beyond all I can ask for or think of.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Where Do I Go From Here?

Have you ever tried to make your way to church but just didn't feel like it or began to pray but just couldn't find the right words to say? Maybe you've been in a position where you felt as though you were at a "spiritual stand still". You know, the point where you don't see yourself growing and you don't see yourself backsliding but you're just...there? We've all been there before at that "spiritual fork in the road" where we don't know if we should go left or right and we're just standing there waiting for a sign from God.

What do you do when you feel this way? Do you alienate yourself and pretend like everything is everything? Do you call your prayer partner or church family for prayer or encouragement? Do you read your bible, pray, and wait patiently for God to speak to you?

These are all questions that I've asked myself at one point or another. I have found myself feeling spiritually stagnant a time or two. It was during these times that I learned to do three things: pray, praise and pay attention. Unfortunately, I've learned the hard way (and am still learning at times) that when things are "quiet" that I need to pray just as often and intensely as I do when things are going haywire. That way, if and when the storm does rise, I've already gotten enough vested so if I can't say anything other than "Jesus" I'm alright. I've learned to praise because the word of God tells us that God inhabits (or lives in) the praises of His people. When I find myself in a jam or immobile, I need some Holy Ghost fire to get me started again. And lastly, I've learned to pay attention because I know when I'm down to nothing that's when God is up to something. He loves to do the impossible.

Lately, I've been feeling a little "sluggish" in areas that I used to be excited about. I've been asking God if I'm somehow **missing** what He's been trying to show me. Of course God doesn't always answer when and as clearly as we would like Him to but I believe I got my answer while I was looking through my old notebook of devotions. There was a lame man in Acts 3 who was "stuck" as well. This man was physically cripple.

One day, while on their way to the temple at the hour of prayer, Peter and John saw a lame man begging outside of the entrance of the temple. Peter told the man that he didn't have any silver or gold but he gave him all that he had. All that he had was Jesus which is more than enough. God used Peter to give the man the ability to walk in the name of Jesus (Acts 3:1-6). The man rose with their assistance. Imagine how much progress others could make if we would learn to help them to stand on their own two feet. His feet and ankles were strengthened and the man leaped up and praised his way into the temple.(Acts 3:7-8)

The people saw him praising God. We must give honor where honor is due to the most high God - our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. God gives us strength daily. He gives us strength to rise, strength to resist temptation, strength to live right, strength to love our enemies, etc. He also gives us strength to strengthen others in His name as Peter did. We must never think that we have it all together and forget about that person that is at a stand still like the lame man. They may be able to walk physically but they could be spiritually lame.

Once the man was strengthened, he leaped and praised God. Nobody forced him to. No one had to ask him to shout 'Hallelujah'. The people saw him praising God. People are always watching. When we're blessed (and we always are), we must be ever so careful to bless the Lord not just when things are good but at all times. We have to bless Him when we can see our way and even more when we can't see our way because we know that just as He made a way for us in the past, He will make a way for us again.

The people saw the once lame man praising God. More importantly God saw him praising God. We are receiving strength right now through His word. We should all follow Christ as the lame man did - into the presence of the Lord praising all the way.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Please Don't Cut Me Off

I love the Word of God. It comes alive every time I read it. I can honestly say that the bible is the BESTEST (yes, that's a word here) book I have ever read. I can read the same stories over and over again and get a different revelation every time. This evening, I found an old scrap book of my devotions that I began writing when I first got "really" saved. This particular devotion dealt with idolatry and how innocently it can begin. As I read my own words, they struck a nerve and conviction began to set in so I decided to share this message with you all. Tonight's devotion will come from 2 Kings 17

I've been visiting a lot of blogs and reading about how many of you have become very busy with holidays, your families, jobs and blogs. You are not alone. I've been finding myself extremely busy lately yet I feel like I'm not accomplishing much. When I recap my day before I go to bed (I try to do this every night), I realize that I haven't accomplished half of what I purposed in my heart to do the night before. This discovery caused me to sit and think about my priorities . For the most part, everything listed on my "to do list" NEEDS to be done but at what expense? Could it be possible that I am so busy with life that I am forgetting to live? Can it be that I am too blessed to be stressed so now I don't pray as much as I should? As I read my devotion from the early days I once again began to see myself and how my behavior resembled the actions of the infamous Children of Israel. (They are one of my favorite subjects.).

The Children of Israel were blessed. God delivered them out of bondage from the hands of Pharaoh. He led them through the wilderness and met all of their needs. He fought their battles for them and defeated defeated their enemies. However the Children of Israel continued in their sin and constantly tried to commit secret sins against the Lord.

There is no place we can go that the Lord cannot see us or no thought that we can think that the Lord can not hear.

The Children of Israel had a tendency for worshipping other gods. No matter how much God blessed them, saved them or delivered them - they still wanderd. Now we know better than to bow down before a statue in worship but worship simple means to love unquestioningly, uncritically or in excess.

Hmmm... That's something to think about.

They built idols and offered sacrifices and burnt offerings. They even sacrificed their own children to their gods. They disregarded the fact that God told them that they were His chosen people, a nation of priests and set apart. They often imitated what everyone else was doing. I guess it was always a struggle of the flesh to be in the world and not of the world.

The Lord removed Israel from His presence (Verses 18-20). The Lord rejected all of the people of Israel. He afflicted them and gave them over into the hands of plunder until He finally thrust them from His presence. As Believers we do not and should not want to push God's hand to the point where He removes us from His presence. As I sit and think about all of the things I've been placing such high value on lately, I can't help but to repent as I think about the time I've been trading for God's presence. The Children of Israel had chances. God clearly told them what He required of them. However, they chose to do as they pleased. They did not put other gods and their evil wicked behavior away. They thought their idolatry was hidden from God.

We have to be ever so careful that we do not allow our mates, friends, habits or personal needs become our idols. We must put God first worshipping Him and only Him. God doesn't just cast us out for our first, second, or third offences. Only God knows when His mercy will turn to wrath. I don't want to find out how many chances I have. I want to work while it is still day because when night comes, no man will be able to work. I want to seek the Lord while it is early while He may yet be found.

The bible says that they Children of Israel were affliced and given to the hands of plunder until finally God thrust them from His presence. I don't need to be removed from God to understand that He is a jealous God.

So, Lord, I repent. I want to walk worthy of the vocation to which you have called me. I know that a life without you is nothing at all. Help me to better manage my time. Time belongs to you. My life belongs to you. My soul belongs to you. My praise belongs to you. My worship belongs to you. Lead me, guide me. Help me to be who you want me to be, where you want me to be for as long as you want me to be. Here I am Lord send me. I love you, thank you and praise you. Lord, whatever you do, PLEASE don't cut me off.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Haters Hate - Christians Love

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him." When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him." (Matthew 1:1-4, 7-8)
I am SO glad today that I have a place of refuge I can go to when the storms of life rage. I’m happy to know that the Lord has plans for me that are good and not of evil. Sometimes as I’m going through all that I go through I can’t help but to thank God for being omniscient. There are some enemies and traps that lie ahead of me that I’m unaware of but He knows all about them. I am faced with grins everyday that appear to be smiles but in all actuality are wicked snares laughing at me and not with me. I thank God that I don’t have to worry about who’s for me and who’s against me because if God be for me, He’s greater than the world against me. I don’t know when the enemy is going to learn that no weapon formed against the people of God will ever prosper. Now, God didn’t say that the weapons wouldn’t form or even that they wouldn’t be launched but He did promise that they wouldn’t prosper and I thank God for that today.

As we approach this time of year, many people that normally wouldn’t think twice about the Lord are decking trees, buying gifts and singing Christmas carols and talking about the "true meaning of Christmas", the enemy is growing angrier and angrier by the day. There is just too much attention on Jesus for him. This is nothing new. The enemy has been mad for a very long time at the thought of Jesus. He knows at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. King Herod couldn’t accept that. So what did he do? He pretended to want to know where The Christ was. He pretended that he wanted to go worship Jesus but he really wanted to have him killed.

The enemy is always trying to invade our camp. He loves to set up shop in our congregations, on our jobs and in our homes. The enemy and his agents want to hang out where Christians are so that if we aren’t studied up, prayed up and fasted up he can use us against one another. As we strive to build the Kingdom of God, the enemy works just as hard (and in some cases harder) to do the opposite.

The enemy is subtle. He won’t out right tell you that he only wants to kill, steal and destroy your life. No, that’s too easy. Instead, he’ll use cunning and crafty ways. He or she (because he can take the form of a woman) will flatter you with words and pretend like they love the Lord just like you do so that after you let your guard down and take your attention off of Jesus he can go in for the kill. I pray that God will open our eyes so that we may see the traps the enemy has set for us. I pray that we, the Body of Christ will stay focused on Jesus in this season and every season thereafter so that we may not be caught up in the temporary joys and pleasures of the world but that we may set our affections on the eternal things of God.

As Matthew’s account of the Magi’s visit continues, God warned the Magi not to return to Herod. Herod had a plan but God’s was greater. So if you find yourself behind enemy lines and up against all odds know that God’s got your back. No weapon formed against you shall ever proper and every tongue that rises up against you in judgment- you shall condemn. This is our heritage as servants of the Lord. (Isaiah 54:17)

Are they “hating” on you? Do you have a "Herod" in your life that talks like he means you will but he really wants to take your life? If so, let “them” hate. Remember they hated Jesus first and as servants we are no greater than the master. For His sake we face death every day. We are considered as sheep to be slaughtered. The Word tells us so. Let’s not trade evil for evil and hate for hate but let’s bless those that curse us. That’s where the blessing is!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Speak Up Or Shut Up

11Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13But the angel said to him: "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. 14He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth.[b] 16Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. 17And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." 18Zechariah asked the angel, "How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years."19The angel answered, "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time."2Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. 63He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone's astonishment he wrote, "His name is John." 64Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue was loosed, and he began to speak, praising God. (Luke 1:18-19, 62-64 NIV)
Zechariah was a holy man. He was a priest of the Lord. He studied the scriptures. He knew of all the marvelous works God had performed in the past yet he had difficulty believing that the same God that gave his father Abraham a child in his old age could do the same for Him. Does this sound familiar? God sent word to Zechariah that his wife, Elizabeth would bare a child but because Zachariah couldn’t conceive in His mind how God could perform what Gabriel spoke of, he questioned the ways of God. Now, God has already told us that His ways and thoughts are higher than ours. Great are the mysteries of God. If we knew everything, we would have no need for God. Only God is all knowing. Zachariah didn’t say “God can’t do that” but he asked how he could be sure that what the angel spoke of would come to be. Zachariah took it a step further and began to reason with the angel, explaining that both he and his wife were old. We can’t make sense of everything God reveals to us immediately but rather it has to unfold before our eyes. As a result of Zachariah’s disbelief, God shut Zachariah’s mouth until the things that were spoken to him came to be. Elizabeth conceive that evening and John the Baptist was born to bare witness to the soon and coming Messiah, Jesus Christ.

I’ve read the story of the birth of Christ countless times. I’ve read it so many times that I often fail to pause and meditate on the “small details” as deeply as I should. (Lord, forgive me.) Each time I read the story, I get a fresh revelation. This time the Lord showed me how important it is to learn when to be silent. We can’t share everything with everyone – especially when we are battling doubt over things God has personally spoken to us. We have to go through the TEST before we can give the TESTimony. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t thank God in advance but I am saying that God isn’t the only one that hears what we say. Perhaps God silenced Zachariah because He couldn’t have the man of God walking around believing God to perform miracles in everyone else’s lives except for His own. If we, the Children of God are the first to offer encouragement to everyone else when all odds appear to be against them and then begin to doubt God when we need Him to do the impossible on our behalf, what kind of message does this send ? We have to practice ALL that we preach including faith.

The first words to leave Zachariah’s mouth were praises to God. We must be certain that once God does bring us out, bless us, deliver us and save us that we give Him all of the glory, honor and praise. Yes, there are people that God sends to help us long the way and in some cases prophesy to us but they can do nothing without the Spirit of the Lord leading to do so. Zachariah could have exclaimed “Wow… This happened just like Gabriel told me it would” but he didn’t. He understood Gabriel was a messenger and not the Author. Zachariah understood that God shut his mouth because words are powerful. God didn’t need anyone speaking and spreading doubt throughout the land.

So the next time God gives us a message to carry for Him or allows us to see a glimpse of our future, remember that we have a choice. We can believe what God said, “Speak Up” to Him in thanksgiving and praise or we can choose to doubt and “Shut up” our blessing. It’s our choice: Speak Up or Shut Up.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What If It Were You?

Today is December 10th. May people both Christians and non are preparing to celebrate Christmas. While I don't celebrate the "Christmas holiday" like many other Christians do with trees, decorations and gifts, I do acknowledge, accept and appreciate the birth of Christ. Had He not been born He couldn't have dwelt among us giving us an example of how we ought to live and more importantly He couldn't have died on Calvary's cross for the remission of our sins and rose again on the 3rd day with ALL power. I do believe every word in the bible to be true including the story of the birth of Christ. Having said this, I decided to revisit the story of the birth of Christ and take a closer look at it and all of the many lessons that can be learned from it.

In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee,to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."
"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?" (Luke 1:26-34)
First of all, let me begin by saying "Thank God for Mary". Had an angel came to me while I was yet still a virgin and told me I was going to give birth, I probably would have asked him if he had the right Mary. Has God every told you anything or called you to do a work that you couldn't envision yourself doing? Imagine how Mary must have felt. Many people mistakenly attribute undue credit and praise to Mary. They pray to her and worship her when in all actuality Mary was nothing more than a vessel. Had Mary not carried Jesus, God would have found someone else to do the job. This post is by no mean written to praise Mary. Mary heard the voice of the Lord and obeyed as we all should.

Brothers, if you were engaged to marry a woman and you knew that you hadn't slept with her, do you think you would be able to go through with your wedding plans if you learned that she was pregnant? Let's take it a step further and consider what you would think if she told you she immaculately conceived the Son of God. If you are anything like me you probably would have called the wedding off being certain that she was unfaithful.

Both Joesph and Mary faced extremely difficult tasks. Mary conceived a child during a time where people were stoned for committing sexual transgressions. Everyone knew that she wasn't married yet she was pregnant. I imagine that Mary got dirty looks and heard whispers as she walked through the town. I could also imagine Joesph's friends and other townspeople telling him not to marry Mary and that she was "defiled". But the two of them carried on with their assignments anyway. Do you think you would be able to continue with what God gave you to do if everyone around you were whispering in doubt that what you were doing was really of God?

As I think about Joesph - the step-father of Jesus, I imagine that it was very difficult for him. He knew that God was the father of Christ and that he was just filling in. Do you think that maybe just maybe Joesph doubted his ability or worried that he wouldn't measure up. It would only be human for Joesph to think that way.

Mary and Joesph had their hands full. To be frank, I don't think that I could have done as well in either of their positions. I thank God that He has called us all to a distinct and different purpose. Sure, there may be many ministers but not all serve the same purpose for the Kingdom of God. There are deliverance ministries, outreach ministries, substance abuse ministries, etc. Mary and Joesph were created for the ministry of raising Jesus.

Mary asked Gabriel "How can this be". Has God ever showed you a glimpse of your future or used someone to speak a prophetic word into your life and all you could manage to ask was "how can this be"? I've been there before. But it's not up to us to ask or know how everything can be. It is up to us to obey the voice of the Lord and follow His Spirit.

So as I close, I ask you to examine yourself and ask yourself "What if it were you". Do you think you would have been able to live up to the assignment? Are you able to stand alone on the Word of God no matter what the situation looks like, regardless of what all sense and reason tells you? If so, God bless you. Please pray for me and the rest of us that cannot confess to always being this steadfast. If you (like myself) are not always able to walk blindly or if you do not think that you would have done as well as Mary and Joesph did in their assignments, join me in prayer that we may all be who called called us to be and that we are able to trust Him with all of our hearts, minds and souls because one day it will be us called upon to do that which appears to be "undoable". Remember, that which is impossible with man is possible with God and we can do ALL things through Jesus Christ who strengthens us.


Monday, December 8, 2008

I'm A Church Burglar!

Happy Monday everyone! Mondays usually get off to a pretty slow start for most people that work Monday through Friday but not for me. First of all, I’m happy to have a job to go back to after the weekend. Secondly, my favorite show, Prison Break comes on tonight and last but far from least I attended a church service at International City Community Church in Philadelphia, PA that gave me a “charge” to start my week off right. Pastor Gary O. Grier, Sr. is an awesome preacher and teacher. I enjoyed yesterday’s message so much that I’ve decided to share what I took away from it. The title was “Church Burglars”.
A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. So many gathered that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven." (Luke 2:1-5)
Jesus had returned to Capernaum. Whenever He was in the area it was impossible to keep the people away. People knew that whatever their problem was that all they had to do was get close enough to Jesus and they would be alright. Do we realize that instead of seeking our help and/or advice from everyone else that all we need to do is go to Jesus? The assembled themselves and stood all day and all night in the crowds just to get close to Him. We should be likeminded. We should make it our business to do whatever we need to do to get into the presence of the Lord. It’s important that we attend the House of the Lord but it’s even more important that enter into His presence. Do we let not finding the right outfit, a little rain, or a busy schedule or some other minuscule excuse keep us from getting into the presence of the Lord?
The next thing Pastor Grier pointed out was that there were five men willing to risk punishment for breaking and entering just to get close to God? How much are we willing to go through to be close to the Lord? What kind of radical risks are we willing to take to be in a position where we can hear Him clearly? According to the Law, the penalty for breaking, entering, stealing and damaging another person’s house or its contents was that they would have to repay double what they took or damaged. But none of this mattered to them. They knew that the risk they took to get close to Jesus was worth it. They were willing to risk having to replace the roof and anything else they damaged while they broke into the house to be close to God. How many of us today would be willing to do this?

The paraplegic man had his four friends tear the roof off of someone else’s house so that he could be lowered into the building. This man knew that the doctors didn’t have the answers. He knew that his condition was beyond man’s capabilities but just an opportunity for Jesus to heal him. If only we would learn to stop allowing things to keep us from obeying the Spirit of the Lord, reading our Word, praying or going to church we too could get what we need from the Lord. Perhaps we should follow the example of this man and become “Church Burglars”.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

I've Got The Power!

I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." (Luke 10:19-21)
I got the power! Do you guys remember that old song from the 90's? It was a really fast-paced dance tune. I don't remember the lyrics but I do remember the title of the song, "I've Got The Power". It's repeated constantly throughout the song. I was reminded of that song today as I continued my study of Luke chapter 10. After Jesus sent out the seventy two to spread the gospel, He gave them a Word of wisdom which was not to rejoice in their gifts but rather in the fact that they belonged to the Giver of the gifts and we know that all good and perfect gifts come from above.

I don't know about you all but it breaks my heart to watch someone misuse their power or position in the name of the Lord. It's one thing to have an authoritative position and execute your authority when necessary and it's another thing to "call shots" just because you can. It's another thing all together to see our sisters and brothers flaunt their spiritual gifts and abilities. In Luke chapter, Jesus explained to the disciples that He had given them all power and invincibility from the attacks of the enemy. Notice that just as Jesus told them how powerful they were, He cautioned them that the power they now had was not as important as the fact was that they would someday reside in Heaven. You see, the Lord knew that there would be people that would be distracted by the manifestation of the blessings and forget that they gained their positions as a result of their being blessed and not the other way around.
But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. (Matthew 23:11-12)
Many times we get caught up with the temporal blessings and get stuck in the here and now. Although we should be grateful and appreciate all that God has given us and is allowing us to do, we must never forget that this is not the end. There is so much more for us ahead. Perhaps you posses the ability to lead, teach, preach, prophesy, sing, discern spirits, speak in tongues, write or exhort. If we must boast, let us boast in the Lord.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

How Blessed Are You Really?

Oh! How my soul loves Jesus! I remember hearing that old hymn and others like it when I was a little girl. I didn't really understand what they meant but I "felt" the Spirit of God as the tunes were sang. I woke up this morning singing "My Soul Loves Jesus". I don't know all of the words to the song and frankly I don't want to. Sometimes, I like to just sing out to the Lord in songs of praise and worship for who He is to me and all that He has done and is doing for me. I'll add my own little spin on the tune and then jump back in where the chours goes keeping in with the melody. Most of you that will grace my blog with your presence have never heard my singing. you guys are so blessed. (**Smiles**) I can recall several congregations laying hands on me and praying that God would anoint my voice or endow me with the gift of singing. It hasn't come to pass yet but I KNOW that it sounds good to my Lord and that's all that matters to me.

I felt good when I woke up this morning. This morning when I rose I didn't have any doubt that God was with me. I began to count my blessings one by one. I was well in the teens by the way I made it to my bathroom. I'm not even talking about the "big" blessings but it was the little things that we so often take for granted that I began to focus on. My husband was already off to work. I wasn't able to get him on the phone but I realized it was because God wanted to show me just how blessed I really am. That's three blessings right there. I woke up. I have a husband and he has a job. The fact that God blocked my plans just to have me focus on Him was just icing on the cake. There are many days that I wake up complaining because I have to go to work but there are many people loosing their jobs left and right. My family is fortunate enough to not only have an income but to have a two income household. Hey, there's a fourth blessing right there.

As I tiptoed past the children's bedrooms, I could hear them snoring. Hey, that's blessings five, six, and seven. I have children, they're safe and they're healthy. I felt a chill as I approached the bathroom so I decided to raise heat before getting ready for work. Without thinking, I headed straight for the thermostat. That's blessings eight, nine and ten already. We have a home. Many people are being forced out of their houses. I have heat and I am able to raise the temperature during a time when economists are urging that we should cut back. I don't have to worry about tomorrow because I know that God's got it. He promised to supply ALL of my needs according to His riches in glory. Before I headed back upstairs to get ready I decided to make a hot cup of coca and read my WORD to continue what had already began to be a blessed day. That's eleven, twelve and thirteen. I know that the Lord is my Shepard and I shall not want. I have time to sit back and relax before beginning my day and most of all I have His WORD. His Word is enough to be thankful for alone.

What are you thankful for? I challenge you to count your blessings and name them one by one (literally) throughout the course of your day. The enemy is quick to highlight what we don't have, should have and sometimes what we used to have. But God told us to give thanks in ALL things. The Apostle Paul encouraged us to be content in WHATSOEVER state we find ourselves in. As we are blessed, let's also remember to bless others. It's a blessing to be a blessing.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Shake It Off!

But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, Even the dust of your town that sticks to our feet we wipe off against you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God is near.' I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town. (Luke 10:10-12)

Shake it off! There was a popular secular song entitled “Shake It Off” recorded by Mirarah Carey a few years back. The song was basically about a relationship that went wrong and the singer was trying to “shake off” the effects and memories of the relationship. As I continued my study of Luke 10 today, I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself visualizing the early disciples shaking of dust as they left the towns of people that refused to receive them and the Savior who sent them. If you weren’t a believer and saw the Men of God behaving like this, I suppose you would find it comical and maybe even question their sanity. Let’s use our spiritual imagination and visualize watching one shake and wipe dust from their feet. Many times we cannot see dust unless we are close up on it. So as an onlooker watching, you would most likely see men wiping their shoes or sandals in attempts to remove invisible mites that attached itself to them. The disciples were commissioned to spread the gospel. They couldn’t afford to contract negativity, disbelief and wicked spirits.

Now let’s think about this a little more critically. Have you ever been in the presence of someone that is in a really bad mood or someone that is really down and sulking in a personal pity party? Many times, when you leave the individual you find yourself feeling drained, down or distracted. Now, not only are you dealing with the individual’s baggage but now you have to get your mind right so that you can carry out the rest of your day. If you aren’t able to get back into the right spirit, you will walk into your next assignment or meeting place carrying the same contaminate and the cycle will continue. This is what Jesus was trying to keep from happening to his disciples. Jesus wanted them to physically shake the dust from their feet as an illustration to us that we must not allow the negativity or disbelief of others to cling to us. The enemy is a great deceiver. If we allow him to, he will use our emotions against. We can’t afford to carry around extra baggage. We have to cast all of our cares at the Lord’s feet and “shake it off”.

Notice that Jesus did not tell them to “set the people straight” or attempt to help them “see the light”. Instead, he told them to rid themselves of anything connecting them to the nonbelievers and keep it moving. Too often we spend time trying to save the World. Everyone is not going to receive us or He who sent us. That does not mean that we should stop witnessing or praying for the unsaved but it does mean that we should continue to proceed with the assignment that the Lord has placed on our lives and stop allowing the enemy and his negativity to travel with us from place to place.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Can I Get Some Help?

Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest. (Luke 10:2)

Do you ever find yourself feeling overwhelmed like there’s just so much to do in so little time and more importantly – so little help? I know I feel this way myself from time to time. Isn’t it irritating when you look around and coworkers appear to be relaxing while you are struggling to do your best, meet deadlines and no one even offers to give you a hand? It’s even more likely that you may find yourself feeling this way during the holiday season with shorter weeks and the same amount of work to be done. Whether you are a ministry leader, CEO, or a homemaker there will come times when you feel like you are the only one working. I can recall there being plenty of times that I worked hard silently until I couldn’t take it any more and finally blurted out “Can I get Some Help”.

In fact, I found myself feeling a little over worked and under appreciated last week and the Lord led me to the 10th chapter of the book of Luke. I was originally thinking about Martha as she busied herself around the house while Mary sat at the Lord’s feet. Martha finally got upset and nearly demanded that Jesus make Martha help her. Jesus told Martha (in so many words) to mind her own business because Mary was doing what she was supposed to be doing (story). I was convicted as I looked at my coworkers. I realized that I was behaving like Martha. I wanted them to work a little harder because I was at my wits end. Instead of asking them for help or praying that God would send me help. I caught an attitude. Yes, I did.

Just because we aren’t always able to monitor the progress of others doesn’t mean that they aren’t being productive. Just because we don’t feel rewarded or appreciated by others doesn’t mean that we should stop doing what we know needs to be done. As long as we do what we are supposed to do it will pay off in the long run.
And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. (Galatians 6:9)

I realized that Martha was actually doing good deeds but her attitude and the spirit in which she was working made her efforts worthless. In her attempts to lift herself up, Martha put Mary down. Martha was discontent because Mary wasn’t working as hard as she was. Martha wanted Jesus to see how hard she was working. She wanted Mary to realize that she was working (physically) harder than she was in hopes that she would join her. I don’t think that Martha wanted to take Mary away from the Savior. I think she wanted her to give her a hand so that she too could rest in His presence.
Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. (Matthew 6:1)

I had to remind myself that I’m living this life so that I can live again. If I please the people: praise the Lord. If not, praise the Lord anyhow. All that matters is that Jesus is pleased. I came to the conclusion that I’d far rather my reward in heaven than here on earth by the compliments, accolades and even appreciation of people.

After I settled down and went back to read the rest of Luke 10, I realized that that I had no help because I didn’t ask God for help. Jesus said that if we ask the Father for anything in His name that it would be given to us. Why did I think it was any different with help? It’s amazing how we can go to God with some things and dismiss other things as things that we can handle.

It’s not just “help” that I needed but I needed the right kind of help and the right people to help me. Had just anyone helped me and we weren’t on the same page, their help could have actually been counter productive. I bless God for His word and showing me more and more about me in it everyday.

What do you do when you find yourself over worked and under appreciated?