Sacrificial Love (Valentine’a Day Edition)

Sacrificial Love (Valentine’a Day Edition)

““For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NLT

Love is a popular word and action in our culture and our world. Yet we fail to understand and provide love the way God wants us too. We are truly selfish with our love. It’s not that we intentionally try to be but our sinful nature interrupts and disrupts our ability to love in the way we’re suppose to. We want to be loved but we don’t love others the way they deserve to be loved. We’re all guilty of this in some point of our lives. Especially, in marriages, we see a false depiction of how love should be. If we didn’t, then we wouldn’t have such high divorce rates. Love is a more than a word or feeling or emotion. Love is a choice. Love is sacrificial. It’s never about you but about the next person. And God demonstrated His sacrificial love for us through Jesus Christ.

The infamous scripture that most people know, including believers and unbelievers, is John 3:16. God displayed His love to us through sacrifice. God sacrificed His only Son, Jesus Christ, for us. Why? Because He loves us. God chose to love us even while we were sinners, even while we were His enemies, even while we were disobedient and wicked. God still made a choice to love us and sacrifice for us. Jesus Christ agreed to the plan to reconcile us back to God. We were lost in a fallen world of sin yet God didn’t want our end to be that way. God also knew we couldn’t fulfill the law of Moses so He made it easy for us. We went from having to fulfill hundreds of laws to just believing in the One who can and did fulfill all that we couldn’t do. Jesus became the perfect sacrifice for us.

A lot of times we believe that God is angry at us or even hates us. But if that were true, why would He give up the Person He loved just to have us back in right standing with Him?

In this world, we search for love in the wrong people, places and things. I’m guilty of this as well. We try to fill a void with temporary things that always leaves us empty. Yet God is saying “I love you. Even if the world rejects you or abandons you, I love you. I sacrificed for you because you are special to me. I made you in my image. I crafted you and made you into a masterpiece. I accept you. I approve of you. You don’t have to be perfect by this world’s standards. You’re perfect for me just the way you are.”

On this Valentine’s Day, whether you’re single, dating, in a relationship, married, divorced or widowed, remember that God loves you unconditionally. Even if you’re in the “it’s complicated” category, God loves you. God’s love is never complicated. His love is sacrificial, pure, holy and unfailing. Remember there’s nothing you can do to separate you from God’s love. Jesus didn’t come to judge you, He came to save you. He came to love you. He came to show you the way, the truth and the life. All you have to do is believe in Him. No one can love you the way God loves you. No one can fulfill the desire in your heart to be loved but God. No matter what you think you know, there’s nobody like Jesus. Will you allow God to love you?

Father, today I accept your love for me. I have falsely equated your love to the way of this world’s love. I thought I had to earn your love but I don’t. You freely give your love to me. Thank you for your unfailing love, forgiveness and grace. I repent of my sins. And I forgive those I have sinned against and didn’t love as well. Come into my heart Jesus and be the Lord and Savior of my life. I believe you are the Son of God and you died just for me. Thank you. I love you. Thank you for first loving me. In Jesus name. Amen.

Emergency Preparedness

Emergency Preparedness

“God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.” Psalms 46:1 NLT

Are you prepared? Are you praying?

In today’s era, we are facing spiritual warfare rampantly in our world. There is division, strife, evilness, slander, murder, corruption and more all across our world. Our world is in a crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic is a symptom of the bigger problem at hand. We are in the last days. Our world is groaning in agony because of all the evil that takes place here. People are dying everyday from the virus, from murders, from suicide and more. There is division in the home of families. Fathers and mothers are abandoning their roles and responsibilities as husband and wife towards theirselves and God and as parents towards their children. The local church is divided by religion and denominations which leads to dissension in the body of Christ. Businesses are driven by pride and greed which leaves no remorse for those the consumers. Our political and judicial system is faulty and bias. Our prison system is corrupt and racially bias. And the list goes on. We are in a time of war within our world, our nations, our homes, our communities and within ourselves. Now is the time to prepare for whatever may come next. We are not fully aware of the things to come yet we serve a God who has already made a way no matter the circumstance. We have to seek Him first and take refuge in Him. We have to trust Him and His plan even if we don’t know the details.

In Psalm 91, the Bible speaks of times like these where if the people of God are under attack, then God will protect. According to most theologians, Psalm 91 is written by Moses; a man who spent intimate time with the LORD. Moses knew first hand that the LORD would protect His own if they believed in Him and clinged to Him as their protector. The Israelites experienced hardships, challenges, death, and more. It sounds quite similar to the times we are living in currently. We must remember that there is nothing new under the sun. The things we are currently facing are the same things the Israelites faced. This passage of scripture can be broken down more plainly for you to see the plan and the promise.

1. The Lord’s Protection (91:1-13)

2. The Confidence (91:1-2)

3. The Dangers (91:3-6)

4. The Examples (91:7-13)

5. The Lord’s Pledge (91:14-16)

We can be sure that the Lord will protect us. We must have confidence in Him to keep us from the dangers that may stalk us. We have some examples of things that may try to come against us but the Lord will prevail. God’s protection isn’t just limited by the examples listed meaning that God cannot be limited by our circumstances. God can and will protect you from everything possible according to His will. Yes, sometimes God does allow things to happen to us yet it is all apart of His divine plan and His ultimate glory. We can rest assured that God will not harm us for we belong to Him. God will do what He says He will do because He cannot lie. We are God’s children and His beloved. The promises of God are always yes and Amen. (“For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.” 2 Corinthians 1:20 NLT)

It is imperative that we operate under the mighty power of God. In order to do so, we must submit ourselves and our lives to Him completely. We can’t fight these battles on our own. As a matter of fact, the battle is not ours but it is the Lord’s (2 Chronicles 20:15). God has and will personally go ahead of us and obtain victory for us. Our responsibility is to take shelter in Him which means to rest in God. How do you rest in God? You trust in God.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT

I personally have struggled with trusting in the Lord. I allowed my pride and selfishness to stand in the way of God doing what He wants to do. God never forces His will on any of us. He gives us a choice. Yet His will always be done. Sometimes we don’t trust God because we don’t see Him or feel Him yet we must know and understand that He is with us. Jesus lives inside of our hearts through the Holy Spirit. We are the holy temples of God where His Spirit indwells. God is much closer than we believe. He isn’t just sitting on His throne in Heaven watching us go through our trials and troubles. No, God is moving in our hearts, minds, situations and lives. God never stops working yet just because we don’t see all the details or know all the next steps, does not mean God is not working everything out for our good. Many people may question where is God is all of our troubles and grief and the answer is: He’s right there with you (Isaiah 43:1-2). God hasn’t left but sometimes we move out of position of protection from Him when we choose not to trust Him and go about our own way. We can’t walk away from God whether in faith, trust or hope and expect things to be rainbows and sunshines. God wants us to be under His care for a reason. It’s never to harm us but to protect us from us and the world.

Preparation takes prayer. We must pray to God and seek counsel on what we should do. We shouldn’t wait until the emergency comes to start praying. We must be proactive and always be praying. God wants to help us but we must ask for help. And when we receive help, we must do what He instructs. It may or may not make sense but either way we are to trust and obey Him. We can’t expect our situations to work out if we ask God for help but fail to do what He provides as a solution. It may not always feel good either yet being comfortable isn’t always going to be an option. Doing things that are uncomfortable, led by God of course, can be the pruning process to strip away fear and doubt to produce the fruit of joy and faithfulness. Take the time to pray and ask God for guidance on what He wants you to do during these times. Find out where He wants to take you and your family. Speak life and protection over yourselves and claim the victory God has already won for us through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Father, thank you for your protection. You are the Most High and we stand in awe of your sovereignty. Thank you for being our shelter in times of trouble and calamity. Thank you for loving us in spite of our shortcomings. We declare and decree Psalm 91 over ourselves and our families, communities and nations. We ask that you impart unto us your divine wisdom to know what we should do in this season of our lives. We pray for guidance and direction. We thank you that you know what is best for us. We choose to rest in you knowing that you will work everything out for our good according to your purpose. We love you. All glory to you. In Jesus name. Amen.

Desperate Faith

Desperate Faith

“On the other side of the lake the crowds welcomed Jesus, because they had been waiting for him. Then a man named Jairus, a leader of the local synagogue, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come home with him. His only daughter, who was about twelve years old, was dying. As Jesus went with him, he was surrounded by the crowds. A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding, and she could find no cure. Coming up behind Jesus, she touched the fringe of his robe. Immediately, the bleeding stopped. “Who touched me?” Jesus asked. Everyone denied it, and Peter said, “Master, this whole crowd is pressing up against you.” But Jesus said, “Someone deliberately touched me, for I felt healing power go out from me.” When the woman realized that she could not stay hidden, she began to tremble and fell to her knees in front of him. The whole crowd heard her explain why she had touched him and that she had been immediately healed. “Daughter,” he said to her, “your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”” Luke 8:40-48 NLT

How Desperate Is Your Faith?

The story of the woman with the issue of blood is preached about countless times. It is a wonderful story of faith, perseverance and courage. Healing is one of those areas of need that we encounter on a daily basis. We desire healing in our physical bodies, minds, hearts, spirits and souls. We’ve all experienced some sort of pain and hurt that cuts deep. A physical wound to the flesh can take time to heal as well as any other wound whether it be to the heart, mind, spirit or soul. Those latter wounds aren’t as visible compared to a physical one however they are just as important and for some more important. In hospitals, doctors and nurses are working to heal people who come in that are sick. In mental facilities, doctors, nurses and social workers are there to provide therapy and treatment to those with invisible wounds and scars that affect their minds. Our wounds can change us and transform us into ways we don’t like about ourselves or even the people we love. Pain can create anger, resentment, bitterness, frustration and many other negative emotions. It can infect our minds and cause doubt, fear and insecurity. Pain can lead to various forms of desperation. Some fill their voids with relationships, shopping, eating, pornography, illegal and harmful substances and even death. However, what if we chose a different path of desperation from within. What if, we looked not at our present situation but to our present solution in times of trouble whom is Jesus Christ.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalms 46:1 KJV

The woman with the issue of blood has a name but however the Bible does not tell us her name. Her pain, her hurt and her problem has become her identity. Sometimes our issues can become who we identify ourselves as. Our problems should never become who we are. People will begin to call us by our sin or our shame or our guilt or our condition. Yet, our condition does not equal our conclusion. In her present moment, she faced something that changed her. She suffered with this condition for 12 years with no relief, no treatment, and presumably no hope. Then, Jesus came on the scene.

Can you imagine having pain and suffering from any amount of time and it changing you and leaving you hopeless? It appears as if the world is against you. It feels like your prayers are going unanswered. You feel all alone and in despair. You may even have become isolated from others. You are wondering where is God in the midst of your storm. You hear of countless others receiving miracles and you wonder when will yours manifest. Your thoughts are racing, your emotions are unbalanced and your spirit is crushed. Then suddenly, you hear that the Savior of the world is coming among you. What little hope you had left is starting to emerge again. You see Him walking through crowds of people. You’ve heard of the stories of miracles that took place because of Him. You start to believe “If I could just touch the hem of his garment, I, too, can be healed. I, too, can be restored. I, too, can have a new identity.” You make your way through the crowds of people and you become closer and closer despite everyone around you. Your hope is growing and your faith is stretching. In desperation, you reach out in faith to touch the hem of Jesus. You know this is your last hope. You know there’s no other way but Jesus. In an instant, you are healed. The pain you once felt is no more. The hurt and shame you experienced has left you. You no longer hide and come out of the shadows into the light. Your identity has changed from the person with the issue to son/daughter. You are honored in the presence of the Lord and recognized for your courageous faith then given a command to go in peace.

This isn’t just a biblical story. It is a declaration of true hope and faith. If Jesus healed this woman over two thousand years ago, then He can surely heal you from whatever pain and hurt you are going through. The doctors may say there’s no cure. The medication may seem like it’s not working. The relationship or marriage may be falling apart. Your family may not speaking to you. You may not have all the friends you desire. You may not have the job you envisioned. You may have been violated, abused and taken advantage of. Whatever pain or hurt you feel can and will be healed by Jesus. You just have to believe and wait on Him to do the miracle. God is faithful yet will your faith move the mountain that’s keeping you from experiencing all that God has for you?

In spite of your situation, will you trust God to do the impossible for you?

“Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, ‘Can an old woman like me have a baby?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”” Genesis 18:13-14 NLT

“You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible. ””Matthew 17:20 NLT

“Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me.” Psalms 30:2 NIV

“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5 KJV

Jesus, thank you for your stripes that you took on your body for me to be healed. Thank you for your countless miracles that renew my faith and helps me to believe that you can do all things but fail. I come to you for a miracle in my life. I’ve seen and heard you move mountains for others but I need you to move in my life for my situation. I rest in your promises which are yes and Amen and believe you to do a work in my life. I speak healing over my life and I declare and decree in your healing name that I am freed from every disease, problem and condition whether it is physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, financial or relational. I am no longer bound because your precious blood has healed me and set me free. I believe I am healed. In Jesus name. Amen.

Forever Forgiving

Forever Forgiving

“Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” John 8:1-11 NLT

You Are Not Your Sin

In the passage above, Jesus is out teaching others in the Temple when the religious leaders intentionally disrupt His work with a plot. A woman was caught in the act of adultery. According to the law of Moses, the woman was suppose to be stoned to death for her sin. So, the religious leaders want to test Jesus to see what He was going to say. They were trying to trap Jesus into saying something to criminalize himself. Yet, nothing occurs to God. He knows all. Jesus doesn’t speak yet performs an action. He takes a position of stooping down and drawing in the sand. After some time of impatience, they ask again demanding an answer. Jesus stood up and declared that let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone. And one by one, they left until no one else was there except Jesus and the woman. Jesus asks her two questions: where are your accusers? Did any of them condemn you? She replied No, Lord. And Jesus told her neither does He and gives her a command to go and sin no more.

Sin in our lives robs us of the joy, peace and stability that God wants and has for us. Our sins diminishes us within. It is our sinful nature that desires to please itself and be hostile towards God. Paul tells us in Romans that “For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will.Romans 8:7 NLT. We all struggle with some type of sin yet we don’t have to allow our sin to keep us in bondage. When Jesus died on the cross for us, He defeated the power of sin in our lives.

“So, my dear brothers and sisters, this is the point: You died to the power of the law when you died with Christ. And now you are united with the one who was raised from the dead. As a result, we can produce a harvest of good deeds for God. When we were controlled by our old nature, sinful desires were at work within us, and the law aroused these evil desires that produced a harvest of sinful deeds, resulting in death. But now we have been released from the law, for we died to it and are no longer captive to its power. Now we can serve God, not in the old way of obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way of living in the Spirit.” Romans 7:4-6 NLT

I believe sometimes all of us at some point in our Christian walk have thought that Jesus condemns us for our sins. At times, we co-associate the condemnation from others and project it on our Savior. We tend to believe the lies of the enemy and think that God hates us yet that is so far from the Truth. The Truth is that God loves us but hates our sins. Sin steals our identity because sin equals death and God didn’t call us to live or walk in death. (“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.Romans 6:23 NLT) No, God called us to live in light, life and truth through His Son. His Spirit transforms us and aides us in knowing and understanding our identity in Him.

In this story, Jesus did not react yet responded. Jesus demonstrated the unfailing power of God’s love, forgiveness and grace. A lot of times, we feel like Jesus does not understand what we struggle with but we forget that He was sent down from Heaven to experience life as a human and to live a perfect life to become the perfect sacrifice for our sins. He represents who He is in the passage: The Light of the World. He shone His Light into this darkness situation. It looked bleak for her for a moment yet His light produced new life for her.

When I look at this story, I see Jesus stooping down meaning He came down to our human level as He gave up His divine privileges for us to understand our hardships, challenges and struggles. When Jesus stood up, I believe He was operating in His divine authority for us to command those who attempt to condemn us to flee from among us. Jesus also foreshadows what He is currently doing in Heaven for us on the right hand of the Father. Jesus is always defending us, forgiving us and sending us forward. God does not want us to remain in a place of sin, guilt or shame. He wants us to receive His love, forgiveness and grace. This does not mean we continue to sin because we are forgiven. We should not abuse the grace of God. Yes, we all fall short but we have to allow God to help us with our sin and be willing to accept His ways of helping us. It may be unpopular and uncomfortable yet we are not to live for ourselves. We are to live for Christ.

“Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.” Romans 8:34 NLT

“Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.” Hebrews 7:25 NLT

I encourage you to do not allow the sin of your past or even present moment to hinder you from receiving all God has for you nor the life He has called you to live. You are not walking in this journey alone. God sent His Spirit to live in you once you professed Jesus as your Lord and Savior. God has given you a Helper, an Advocate and a Friend who will transform you and lead you into victory every time. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit has freed you from the power of sin. All of this is truth yet you must believe in the Truth that has already set you free from this bondage and that Truth is Jesus Christ. In knowing this truth, be forgiven and go and sin no more.

God, I thank you for sending your Son, Jesus Christ, on your behalf to reconcile me back to you. Thank you for Jesus being the visible image of you. Thank you for your love, forgiveness and grace. I confess that I am a sinner and have strayed away. Yet in Your Word, you say you leave the 99 sheep for the 1. I am that 1 sheep that needs you. I repent of my sins and ask for your forgiveness. I invite you into my heart to be Lord and Savior of my life. I welcome your Holy Spirit to rest, rule and abide in me. I want your will to be my will and for it to be done here in me and my life. Help me to receive your love, forgiveness and grace and to not take for granted your limitless love. Help me to sin no more in those areas where I fall short. I surrender my life to you. I love you. Thank you for loving me first. In Jesus name. Amen.

Clean Hands or Pure Hearts

Clean Hands or Pure Hearts

““Don’t you understand yet?” Jesus asked. “Anything you eat passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer. But the words you speak come from the heart—that’s what defiles you. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. These are what defile you. Eating with unwashed hands will never defile you.””Matthew 15:16-20 NLT

I believe it’s pretty clear that none of us are perfect and we have all fallen short of the glory of God. We are saved and given our lives to Christ. In Him, we are made new. We have His Spirit living in us and we sealed until the day Christ returns, Yet sometimes, there are moments where we allow our self-righteousness to take over. We still have battles that place within us that at times, we are unaware of or deny. We begin to wonder why we continue to have certain thoughts, feel certain feelings or even speak certain words that we shouldn’t but we identify ourselves as Christians or Believers. We may have Christ in our hearts, but what else is within our hearts that we have yet to yield to the Holy Spirit completely.

In the text above, Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees who are attempting to challenge Him once again. They are trying to condemn the disciples for not washing their hands before eating as which is custom to their tradition. Jesus challenges them back with another question about honoring the mother and father as God’s law instructs yet how they don’t follow that command to meet their own man made standard. Jesus makes it clear that it’s not about what goes into your mouth that defiles you but it’s what comes out of your mouth that does.

Why is that?

Defile means to desecrate or violate. Often times when something is desecrated or violated its towards something that is sacred or special. Your heart doesn’t belong to you, it belongs to God. Your heart is holy ground to the Lord where you worship Him. It is in your heart where you believe and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Salvation takes place in the heart. God speaks to our hearts. Your heart is sacred to God so why would He want it to be defiled?

Out of your mouth comes the things of your heart. Sometimes we try to suppress those things but eventually it comes out in words or even in actions. Jesus tells us that what’s within our heart is evil. Our heart have evil in them because of sin. When Adam and Eve sinned, sin entered the world and in our hearts, spirits and minds. In our heart, as Jesus tells us, are evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immortality, theft, lying and slander. These things do not belong in your heart nor do they belong to God. Now I’m not saying we ALL the things in us at once yet these are different sins within our heart that we may be carrying within and don’t recognize. Or if we do recognize it, are we acknowledging it to God and asking for forgiveness and help?

I believe a lot of times we want to seem perfect to ourselves, others and God. And in actuality, we can’t hide nothing from God. He sees all, knows all and is all. God know what’s there because of our sinful nature after the fall of man. Yet we don’t have to allow our sinful nature to control us. When Jesus Christ died on the cross for us, He defeated sin for us. It doesn’t mean it’s gone away but it means sin no longer has power over us unless we give it power. When we believed and gave our lives to Christ, the Spirit of Christ which is the Holy Spirit, came and lived inside of us. We have an Advocate, a Helper, a Friend to assist every moment to combat against the war between flesh and spirit.

“Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God. But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you. Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.” Romans 8:5-14 NLT

So I challenge you to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you what’s in your heart. Allow Him to show you where you fall short and ask Him for help to remove that evil thing from out of you. Once you become aware of it, call it by its name and cast it out in the name of Jesus to go where Jesus tells it to go. There is nothing that God can’t remove, heal or restore. The Lord is Jehovah Rophe. He is the Lord who heals. God wants to heal the brokenness of your heart and restore you to where He wants you to be. God didn’t send Jesus to the world to judge us but that we might be saved through Him. God loves you but hates the sin within you because it defiles you. Yet the blood of Jesus can and will and does cleanse you from all sin, unrighteousness and iniquity. There are no bounds to the power of God in your life.

Father, I confess that that are things in my heart that do not align to your will nor your original design for me because I am made in your image and likeness. I ask for forgiveness of my sins and I forgive others who have sinned against me. I invite you into my heart Holy Spirit to search my heart and test my anxieties. Reveal to me what defiles me and remove it from within me. I know that whatever it may be, that you can and will heal and restore me from it. I declare and decree in the name of Jesus that my heart is cleansed and my spirit is renewed. By your stripes Jesus, I am already healed. I thank you for my being my Healer and Restorer. All glory, honor and praise to you. In Jesus name. Amen.

The Voice of Faith

The Voice of Faith

“Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.” Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!”” John 11:40-44 NLT

Do you believe?

Our minds are so fragile that they can be and are subjected to many different things. When we are faced with trials and challenges, our minds begin to wander and many potential outcomes start to form. These thoughts begin to affect our belief system and we start to believe either what we see or don’t see. A lot of times, we fear things that never come to past and cause ourselves to be worried over nothing. Our fear is created from whispers of lies instead of the voice of Truth. Our fears expose our human nature which has a lack of trust in God. We have to align ourselves in the Spirit of Truth, The Holy Spirit, to know and understand that God is in control of all things and He can never fail. Yet in those moments, when we allow our situations to become greater than our God, then we start to experience fear, doubt and the weight of the potential outcomes that may or may not arise. If we claim we are believers of Christ, then why do we allow problems to become bigger than the Problem Solver? If Jesus is our Savior of the world, don’t we believe He can save us from any and all things? We aren’t the first to question the abilities of God and we won’t be the last yet we need to begin to truly trust Him for who He is because our lives depend on it.

In the book of John Chapter 11, the story of Lazarus is illustrated. Lazarus is the brother of Martha and Mary and also a friend of Jesus. Lazarus has become sick and the message of his illness was sent to Jesus. Once Jesus heard of Lazarus’s sickness, Jesus spoke and said in verse 4 “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death.” Then Jesus waited for two days before making his journey back to Judea where Lazarus was. Jesus told His disciples plainly that Lazarus had died when they started to question going back to Judea after Jesus was recently almost stoned. When Jesus arrived, Lazarus had been in the grave for 4 days. Martha was the first to question Jesus stating that if He had just been there then this wouldn’t have happened. Jesus identifies Himself declaring that He is the Resurrection and the Life. Now we know, when Jesus identifies Himself, we can trust that He can be and will be that for us. We just have to believe that He can be which is why He asked Martha in verse 26, “Do you believe this, Martha?

Jesus then is met by Mary who had been weeping over the death of Lazarus. Mary is the second person who begins to question Jesus and His power by saying “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died”. When Jesus saw her weeping and the other people from Bethany wailing, He began to become angry. The people were third to question Jesus saying that if He could heal a blind man couldn’t He have kept Lazarus from dying. Jesus is still angry when He arrived at the tomb. Jesus tells them to roll the stone aside.

At this moment, Jesus reminds them that they will see the glory of God if they believed. Jesus spoke to the Father first then with His command, Jesus shouted “Lazarus come out!” Suddenly, Lazarus came out of the tomb. Jesus instructed the people to wrap him and let him go.

Jesus wanted them to have faith in Him yet all they did was question His power, authority and presence. Each time He was angry was because of their lack of faith in Him. People believe that Jesus wept because of the death of Lazarus but what if Jesus wept because of their lack of faith. Jesus had been traveling all over performing miracles, signs and wonders to show them the peace of God, the love of God and the sovereignty of God. They saw with their own eyes, the countless miracles that He performed. Yet when Lazarus became sick and died, they questioned Him again. Why do we continue to limit our limitless God? Why do we doubt His power even within us? Had Martha and Mary used their faith in Jesus, they could have brought Lazarus back to life through the name of Jesus, but where was their faith? Yet for their sake and the glory of God, God allowed this to happen for them to truly see and believe that there is nothing that God cannot do.

This real life story must be broken down for you to understand.

Why is faith so important? Faith is our weapon in every present moment believing that the impossible is possible for our God.

Why did Jesus command Lazarus to come out? The voice of Jesus is the voice of God. When God created the world and man, He spoke. There is so much power in speaking. The Bible tells us in Proverbs 18:21 that the power of life and death are in the tongue. That’s why we must be careful and intentional about what we allow out of our mouths. Jesus spoke life into Lazarus just like God spoke life into us when He first created us.

Why was Lazarus hands and feet bound, face covered and had to be unwrapped? Lazarus was in bondage to death but Jesus defeated sin, death and the grave for us. In Christ, we are set free. There is no more bondage for us. Our hands must be free to be lifted up to praise God. Our feet must be unshackled to walk around and spread the Gospel which is the Good News of Jesus Christ. Our eyes have to become opened; the veil removed in order for us to see and understand the goodness of God and our identity in Him.

Think about it.

Is your faith in Christ or in man and the world? Do you truly believe that God can bring that dead situation back to life? Or maybe your spiritual life is dead and you need to be resurrected with Christ by the Holy Spirit. Whatever that is concerning you, you must believe that God can and will deliver you from it. When you are in Christ, you have been given the power and authority to do His work here on earth. You are a child of God. You are united with Christ and seated in heavenly places. You must know your identity in Christ to walk in the authority He has freely given you. Don’t believe the lies of the enemy or anyone else. Allow the Holy Spirit to remove the veil from your eyes so you can see and know the Truth. And the Truth will set you free. Jesus is our Truth. Jesus is calling you out from the dead. He has given you new life. He has given you the authority to speak over your situation and walk in victory. You must have faith, speak it and declare it. Remember that the power of Christ lives in you. And most importantly, whom the Son sets free is free indeed. You Are No Longer Bound!

Jesus, thank you for setting us free and defeating sin, death and the grave for us. Thank you God for the measure of faith You have given to us. Help be to be better stewards of the faith you have entrusted to us and increase our faith in You. Forgive us of our doubt and fear. Help us to know our position in Christ and to walk in the authority He has given us. We declare in the name of Jesus that we are no longer bound nor held captive to our situations. There is no more condemnation for us. Holy Spirit remove the veil from our eyes and lead us into all truth. We thank you Lord for the victory we have in Jesus. In Jesus name. Amen.

God’s Not Done With You

God’s Not Done With You

““Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.”” Luke 22:31-32 NLT

Failure is not something any of us enjoys experiencing. It can lead to disappointment, discouragement and discontentment. Failure has been magnified by society to plague people to believe they will never rise again from the ashes of defeat. This in turn begins a cycle of false belief and creates a negative narrative in a person’s mind. Many times in life, we will fail at one thing or another. Even constant failure does not define who we are especially as children of God. Truly, failure is a part of life and can be looked at in a positive light. Failure in essence is one step away from success. Many of us believe the lies of the enemy, others or even ourselves that cause us to associate our lives with failure constantly. Those whispers get into our head and we begin to believe them. These are the times we must combat against those lies with the Word of God. Even the most widely known people of God in ancient times experienced failure. Today, we will explore one of the disciples of Jesus: Simon Peter.

Peter was one of those disciples that were more like a ride or die type person. He was quick at the mouth, short tempered and faithful. However, the things we believe are our strengths can become our weaknesses if left unguarded. You see, Peter, did not guard himself properly. Whenever he was informed that Jesus was going to die, he was quick to say that he would go to prison for Jesus and even die for Jesus yet when the opportunity came, Peter folded under pressure. Jesus knew what would happen and tried to prepare him for it but Peter did not take heed to our Savior’s warning. Even in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus told Peter to pray so that he would not fall into temptation but Peter fell asleep.

In the text above, Luke 22:31-32, Jesus foretells Peter what will happen to him. If we look closely, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. In verse 34, Jesus told Peter he was going to deny him 3 times. Yet, prior to telling Peter how he will fail, Jesus gives Peter an assignment. Jesus stated that He has prayed for Peter not to fail yet also in the same sentence, Jesus tells Peter after he has repented and turned to Jesus again, to strengthen his brothers. Now that went over Peter’s head. And for many of us, it would have too. Jesus knowingly states that Peter might fail him yet still chooses to give Peter another chance. But not only another chance, but an assignment.

An assignment from God is an opportunity to be used by Him for His glory. The assignments in our lives are no different from the ones given to God’s chosen throughout the Bible. Many of us believe that these individuals were extraordinary people called by God but truly, they were ordinary men and women like us today. They were sinners just like me and you. Yet, God still chose to use them for His work here on earth. God does not call the qualified, He qualifies the called. It is the power of God in us that enables us to do His mighty deeds. That’s why we cannot and should not take any glory for the work that it is done through us. It all belongs to God. In our own strength, we will fail but in His strength, we can do all things. It is not us who lives but it is Christ who lives in us that makes it all possible.

How many of us feel like we’ve failed too much for God to use us? Have we accounted the weight of our sin and mistakes to be greater the love of God? Do we believe that God cannot forgive us? Have we allowed the weight of shame and guilt to keep us from experiencing His forgiveness? If any of these are true for you, then all of them are a lie from hell. The Bible tells us in Romans 8 that nothing can ever separate us from the love of God. Also, in Romans 8, the Bible tells us that there is no condemnation for those who in Christ Jesus. When Jesus died for our sins, we became forgiven of all our sins: past, present and future. God does not remind us of our sin. When God looks at you, He does not see sin. He sees His Son, Jesus, because He stepped in your place and became a curse for you. God sees you as redeemed and justified. You are washed in the blood of Jesus and cleansed from all sin and unrighteousness. Stop listening to those lying whispers and negative thoughts. Don’t allow yourself to be consumed with your past. You do not live there anymore. You’re in the present now and you shouldn’t be concerned about your future either. Once God has forgiven you of your sins, He forgets them. He doesn’t hold that against you anymore so why do you?

God can and will use anyone He desire for His assignments in life. Yet, we must position ourselves to be used by God. Mind you, this isn’t a formula or anything. These are practical things we must do.

1. Repentance – We need to repent of our sins. Repent means to turn away from. We need to make a 180 degree turn in life. Our backs need to be toward the world and we need to be facing God. We need to turn our backs to our sin (don’t keep doing the habitual sin over and over again) and face the God of hope and love.

2. Availability – We need to be available for God. We position our hearts to hear from God on what He wants us do here in the earth. A lot of times we’re so busy asking God to do things for us yet we neglect His plans. We’re called to serve God through various ministries.

3. Willingness – There may be times where we are available to God, but we aren’t willing to do what He asks of us. We may feel like whatever He has asked of us is beneath us yet God calls us to do unlikely things in unlikely places for unlikely people. It’s never about being seen or being recognized. It’s only about the glory of the Lord. We are His hands and feet here in the earth.

4. Obedience – We must obey the Lord. Whenever He instructs us to do something, we must obey to His Word. No matter how silly or uncomfortable it may be, we must comply. God will never ask you to do anything that will cause harm to yourself or others. It may not feel good because you’re doing something outside of your comfort zone yet the miraculous works of God don’t always occur in places of comfort.

Growing up, I had a desire to be used by God and I still do. My vision of being used by God was from a pulpit or some sort. I wanted God to place me in a position for all to see His work in my life. If I were to be honest with myself and you, I believe I just wanted to be noticed. I wanted attention. The work of God is to never be idolized. I also struggled with believing God could or would use me because of all my past sin and mistakes. I chose to hold onto guilt and shame instead of releasing it to God and knowing that He had forgiven me and still wanted to use me for His glory. It doesn’t matter what ministry God places you in, it only matters that we obey His call. Even though, I’m not a pastor or minister nor do I have a degree in divinity, I have an open and willing heart to be available to be used by God. And that’s all that He wants. He does the rest. He provides the provision for the vision. He gives the strength to the powerless. He bends and mends the hearts of those we minister to in our families, in our jobs and in the streets. It does not matter if you failed a million times, God can and will use you if you let Him. Like Peter, Jesus knew he was going to fail and still gave Him an assignment. An assignment that began the early church and spread the Gospel of Christ to the multitudes. God knew you were going to make the mistake you made, and in His grace, He still calls out your name to come to Him. Will you answer Him?

Lord, we just want to take the time to say thank you. Thank you for loving us past our sin and mistakes. Thank you for your grace and brand new mercies each day. Your faithfulness has no bounds. We are grateful that you are our God and our Savior. We repent of our sins today and turn towards you. We open our hearts to be available to you this day and every day that your Spirit breathes on us. We deny ourselves and become willing participants in the body of Christ to do your will here on earth. Give us a new heart that is obedient to you and help us to follow your instructions. Thank you for choosing us even after we failed and having a place for us at the table. We yearn to have your presence fill our lives completely. Take away all shame, guilt, fear and doubt. Replace our past with power of your glory. In Christ, we are made new. Thank you Jesus. In Jesus name. Amen.

Reflections of 20/20

Reflections of 20/20

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 NLT

Some say 20/20 is hindsight. Hindsight is the understanding of a situation after it happened. In this year, we’ve endured a lot of grief, hardship, struggles and challenges. Who knew 2020 would be like this? No one but God. You see nothing occurs to God. He is eternal and all-knowing. His knows the very number of hairs on our head. Many of us weren’t prepared for this year but God is an ever-present help in your time of need. And this year, we needed God more than ever.

From the beginning of the year of first losing a well-known NBA player to facing a pandemic to racial injustice and the list goes on. Yet, through all of this grief and turmoil, God remained faithful. Every day God woke us up and His mercies were brand new. Every day the Spirit of God breathed on us and gave us life. Every day, Jesus strengthen us and covered us in His blood. Every day angels were encamped around us and protecting us and our loved ones from all harm and evil. And every day God was on the Throne and He reigned. Each day was another battle and grace carried us through that day. There were so many uncertainties yet our guaranteed hope in Jesus never wavered.

For those who lost loved ones during this year, nothing can be said to replace that life. It is a loss on this earth but a gain for Heaven. For those who lost jobs during this year, it was difficult but God still provided for He is faithful to do so. For those whose relationships and marriages were challenged, the struggles tested your faith and hopefully produced a greater endurance.

As we reflect on the good, bad and ugly of 2020, we are confident that God never left us. He was still there with us throughout it all. It was His grace and mercy that sustained us. It was His power and glory that shone through the darkness. It was His will that was done here on earth that was declared in Heaven. It was His plan and purpose that caused all things to work together for our good. In spite of it all, God was with us, God is our God, God strengthen us, helped us and He held us in His hand. God was more faithful than we were and can ever be. God is good.

Though 2020 leaves various thoughts and feelings, we should look forward to 2021 and take all the lessons learned from this year and apply it to the upcoming year. For many of us, this year was a year of preparation, testing and sowing of seeds. In 2021, get ready to be positioned, get ready to pass that test and get ready to reap a great harvest. Don’t limit God. Don’t doubt God. Don’t even limit or doubt yourself. Remember greater is He who lives in you than He who lives in this world. You have power over the enemy and your every circumstance because it is not you who lives but it is Christ who lives in you. And God can do exceedingly, abundantly and above all you can ask or imagine according to the power that works in you.

So we leave this year behind and move into a new year of life, blessings, favor, peace, joy and love we should continue to reflect and remember it was only God that carried us through this year. And it shall be God who will continue to carry us in and through the next year to come.

Footprints In The Sand

One night a man had a dream. He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the LORD.

Across the sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand: one belonging to him, and the other to the LORD.

When the last scene of his life flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand.

He noticed that many times along the path of his life there was only one set of footprints.

He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in his life.

This really bothered him and he questioned the LORD about it:

“LORD, you said that once I decided to follow you, you’d walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why when I needed you most you would leave me.”

The LORD replied:

“My son, my precious child, I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”

Assurance Policy

Assurance Policy

“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”Ephesians 2:8-9 NLT

In our society today, we have an inheritance set up for when a person passes away from this world and into their future destination. This inheritance is called a life insurance policy. Normally, whatever policy a person has tied to a certain amount of money to be distributed to the appointed individual(s) (beneficiary) that was assigned to receive once the person passes away. This is guaranteed money to the beneficiary to ensure they will able to receive monetary funds to assist with any and all future needs without any worries. Some of these policies extend into millions of dollars. No matter the dollar amount of a life insurance policy, the life of a person is priceless.

Therefore, since your life is priceless, God has created a policy for you as well. It’s called Salvation. Salvation isn’t a life insurance policy but rather an assurance policy. You can rest assured in Christ that your life is sealed by the Spirit of God until you are called home. Normally, with insurance policies, you have to sign paperwork and pay monthly premiums. But with God, none of those things matter. All you have to do to receive your assurance policy is believe.

Romans 10:9-10 tells us that if we openly declare that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead, then we will be saved. It is in our professing that Jesus is Lord that makes us right with God and it is our faith that leads us to be saved.

A lot of times we get so caught up in doing “works”, trying to earn or buy salvation but it doesn’t work that way. God is telling us that we don’t have to work for His love or His salvation. All we have to do is believe in His Son. Once you profess and believe, you are immediately saved. The Spirit of Jesus Christ, which is the Holy Spirit comes and lives inside of you. You are filled with the Holy Spirit who seals you meaning you are covered and going to Heaven when you pass away. You are sanctified or set apart in Heaven. Your eternity is secured. No gimmicks. No fine print. No monthly premiums. Why? Because Jesus paid the price with His precious blood on the cross. Jesus became a curse for us and took on all of our sins: past, present and future, so that we can be reconciled with the Father. Jesus did what we couldn’t do. He fulfilled the law and now we are set free.

In salvation, you have given your life to Christ completely. Now with that, you are to follow the commands of God because you no longer belong to yourself. You belong to God. He bought you with the blood of His own Son for you to spend eternity with Him. God chose to adopt you into His family and His Spirit is joined with your Spirit now you can call Him “Abba Father”.

Grace saved you. God’s undeserved favor saved you. We were once enemies of God because of sin and now we are friends of God, children of God and co-heirs with Christ to God’s glory. God didn’t have to do anything. Jesus didn’t have to humble Himself and give up His divine privileges. The Holy Spirit didn’t have to agree to come live inside of us after we are saved and born again. Yet, God did it because He loves us. We don’t deserve it but we should freely accept and receive it. It is a truly a gift from God.

I encourage you to accept the gift of salvation from God and live in His grace. Life after salvation is a continuous process of change, renewal and transformation. In this journey, the Holy Spirit will help you, guide you, teach you and make you more into the image of Christ. This assurance policy that we have from God is the most sacrificial thing God has done because He loves us. We are secured in Christ Jesus. He is our confident hope.

If you haven’t received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I encourage you to repeat the prayer below and believe in your heart. May God bless you abundantly.

Jesus, I confess that I am a sinner. I forgive those who sinned against me and I ask for your forgiveness. I choose to repent and turn from my sinful ways and choose to follow you. I believe you are Lord and I believe that God raised you from the dead. I invite you to be Lord over my entire life and come make your home in my heart. I thank you for your precious blood and I receive salvation today. Thank you. In Jesus name. Amen.

Welcome to the Kingdom of God. You are home.

Sparks of Faith

Sparks of Faith

From a chemistry perspective, “Miracles are the product of God, so our faith is the catalyst.

Catalyst – a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction without itself undergoing any permanent chemical change.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1 KJV

Faith being a substance should increase. We’re all given a measure of faith but tests and trials come to stretch our faith (James 1:3). Our faith may be wavy at times or maybe at times but it shouldn’t stay there(no permanent doubt). Your faith is a catalyst that should undergo constant growth for you to believe God for exceeding, abundantly and above anything you can ask or think. When you’re tested, are you going to allow your faith to fold or are you going to allow your faith to grow? Our faith determines everything. All things are possible if you believe. There’s nothing God can’t do but is your faith in Him to do what He says He will do? The more faith you have, the more miracles God can do for you and through you. All you have to do is believe. God will do rest. Rest in Him and He will work in you and your situation.

If faith is the catalyst for the production or reception of salvation, miracles and promises, then how much more will the enemy fight you in your mind knowing that all is takes is for you to believe?