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Friday, February 27, 2015

Isaiah 44:22

Isaiah 44:22 explains to us God has wiped away the sins of Jerusalem and brought about restoration. If you ever wanted to see the character of God here you go. In order to provide his promises to the people, He must first forgive them and write off their debt in the book of life (Rev 20:12, Isa 43:25). In God's eyes our sins are as thick as a cloud. With our sin in the way everything is distorted. Regardless of the transgressions God seeks to establish his relationship. His words, Return unto me are proof He desires both restoration and forgiveness. The only way to deserve God's forgiveness is because of His grace and His love. Same may say favor as well, so let's put that put that in with grace. In today's world we tend to make a lot of mistakes, bad choices, and several regrets. There are many things we have said, done, seen, or heard that has corrupted our hearts. Some of us have a lot of regrets and baggage. Nonetheless, OUR imperfections do not make US worthless. Regardless of what it is that bumps us in the night, God found a reason to have our souls bought with a price. Regardless of the great difficulties in the way of those in Jerusalem receiving their deliverance, God's divine power removed them. Nothing is too hard for God! Divine favor is beautiful.

Be encouraged today family to learn to move forward. Confess those things to God and ask HIM to show you how to move forward. We do not repent in order that He may redeem us, but because He hath redeemed us. He who believes in his being forgiven cannot but love (Luke 7:43, 47).

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Who has your Yoke?

The word "yoke" is believed to derive from a history of linguistics and reconstructed from a number of languages.There are many types of yokes. There is the neck / bow yoke, used to bind to the necks of a pair of oxen. The head yoke fits onto the head of the oxen -usually behind the horns. Lastly, a withers yoke, which fits just in front of the withers of the oxen. Whichever is used, all three yoke types are effective. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. The yoke has connotations of submission, oppression, or burden. Whether it is God or Satan, reality is there is always a yoke upon us. The bible says we cannot serve two masters (Luke 16:13). I know it is obvious why ... GOOD vs EVIL, LIGHT vs DARK, etc. But lets briefly expound on this. In reference to cattle the yoke is introduced typically at the calf stage until it secures and becomes permanent, just like sin, and it's minimization. "Oh it's just a white lie, it's only white magic, or it's a small sin - it's not like I murdered someone." That is just what Satan desires. Most of the problems we have in our lives are because we opened that door and didn't close it. We kept playing with that thing all while Satan is just tighten up around our necks and pulling you to the clubs, telling you it is ok to cuss, it's ok to drink that beer, its ok to steal from work, its ok to look but not touch, if you do it like this it is not technically a sin. Did you know, there are numerous studies that show pornography can lead to pedofillia? At some point we have to break free of Satan's yoke. But how? The yoke has us bound. Obviously, the yoke is not physical, it is mental. Matthew 11:29-30 says, 29"Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. 30"For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." The difference is Satan is out to lead you to self-destruction, whereas, God wants to lead us to restoration from our brokenness. "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome" (1 John 5:3). When we establish our relationship with Christ, the will of God we will not find being obedient as a task, but as a desire. 

So who has your yoke? Are you letting both God and the Devil control your yoke? If God already has your yoke, what would he rate your level of obedience or commitment?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Wise Surroundings

I discovered that becoming a Christian was rather ego-shattering. Jesus Christ made a direct challenge to my will to trust him. Let me paraphrase him. "Look! I have been standing at the door and I am constantly knocking. If anyone hears me calling him and opens the door, I will come in" (Revelation 3:20). I didn't care if Christ did walk on water or turn water into wine, I didn't want any party-pooper around. I couldn't think of a faster way to ruin a good time. Sure I knew God existed and I knew he was real, but I was trying to live life to the fullest. So my mind was telling me Christianity was true and my will was running away. Eventually, I became more aware that I hate my life. Whenever I was around those enthusiastic Christians, the conflict would begin. If you've ever been around happy people when you're miserable, you understand how they can bug you. They would be so happy and I would be so miserable. It came to the point where I'd go to bed not being able to deal with myself. I am a firm believer that we need those type of believers in we life. we need people that are stronger in the faith than we are that will. They keep us challenged and honest. Proverbs 13:20 says, "He that walks with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed." Multitudes are brought to ruin by bad company. Those are the friends we should converse with frequently and walk the walk in faith. Our faith in Christ will grow wiser and wiser, as we gain a large stock of spiritual knowledge and experience. This is true for both natural and spiritual wisdom. A person of any capacity at all will improve by keeping wise company.  Surround yourself with more Christ followers and watch how your natural and spiritual life changes.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Where is Your Loyalty?

Ever heard  of "Bro Code," or Girl Code? These were terms used to show loyalty to your fellow friend. It showed honor and respect and kept a friendship in tact. Sports fans root for teams that have either never won a title, or a team that has very little success. My point here is to stay loyal to God. This is for OUR own good.
Satan tries to subvert our walk with God by offering shortcuts in life — which are really
dead ends. Consider Jesus' temptations by Satan ... instant food, instant fortune, instant faith (Luke 4:3-13). Revelations 12:9 (ESV) says, "And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him." No matter how many pleasures Satan offers you, his ultimate intention is to ruin you. Your destruction is his highest priority. 1 Timothy 6:10-14 (GWT) talks about the LOVE of Money is a root of all kinds of evil. Another reading says the love of money is the source of all iniquity. Remember, it was the sin of Judas, and the root of all his iniquity. So idolatry is said to be, "the root of all iniquities," see Hebrews 12:15. Staying loyal means we cling closer to God's word and honor our relationship with God. He is a God, who gives life to everything, and in the sight of Christ Jesus, who gave a good testimony in front of Pontius Pilate.

Our response to temptation is an accurate barometer of our love for God. Honor and power belong to him forever! Amen.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Get real.

Living in denial is no way to live at all. If we are in a toxic relationship, have toxic habits, are
heavily in debt, or are engaging in dangerous activities, it's time to get real with ourself and work to fix   these issues head on. Acknowledging we have a problem is the first step towards working to fix it.  Some greats friends said you have to put away the trash. I'm going to reword it a little bit to what really hit me. We have to bury the past and jump to the future. Glory to God! We can dress in Louis Vuitton, or own Fendi handbags, but regardless of what we put on the outside; if our inside is not right ... we can still be a mess. Jeremiah 17:9 says, The human heart is more deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked.  Who really knows how bad it is?  The word heart here is referring to the human mind. It is a thought process that certain behaviors will yield some sort of pleasure. That extra sip promises comfort and ease but in reality it brings us into bondage. Putting extra emphasis on our 'ME' time promises you peace and solidarity, but really is it builds a wall between you, your spouse, and kids.  The key for us is not to try and fix ourselves by ourselves, but identify the problem and understand we cannot do it by ourselves. Our relationship with Jesus will direct us to compare ourselves to Him and his conduct with others. He will remove the profane and dissolute character and form a good character.  A deceitful mind tries to fool God but truly only deceives those around him, especially himself.  The denial happens when we trust own righteousness. If Jesus is not at the center we are thinking we can do without  Him and his justification -which makes us righteous.  If we do not see beyond the denial, we end up bearing no fruit, blaming God for not listening, and other outlandish things. Reality is we are the apple of his eye. 

If we truly desire after God's heart it is going to require us to look in the mirror and really be honest with ourselves. We cannot get free of if we do not identify and offer it up to God. If you cannot ID it, ask God to reveal it to you.  

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Practice gratitude.

Being thankful for what we have in our life is such a powerful way to help love and appreciate everything around us. Even on my worst days I remind myself that there is ALWAYS something to be thankful for. Gratitude can also be considered thankfulness, appreciation, or indebtedness.  Which all means to show favor, grace, or when a debt is owed -forgive.  Our Psalmist David understood gratitude. He said,  Because your loving kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise you. (Psalm 63:3) We have been shown the ultimate gratitude from God, who's gift to us should have been judgement for our crimes.  Instead he has given us atonemen that is efficient to bare all of our sins so he could desire a fellowship with the best heaven has to offer (John 3:16).  When we understand this, we understand true grace.  When we understand true grace, we can understand why we should have gratitude towards God.  If we cannot understand this, we must feel a grace that we think we actually deserve, which makes everything God did for us irrelevant. 

Let's look at Psalm 63:3. "Lovingkindness," means not kind acts merely, but the kindness of love.  It "is better than life," refers to the second death. It is not in the destruction of being, but of well-being because sin destroyed man's eternal well-being, but the "lovingkindness" of God sanctifies life's sorrows.  His "lovingkindness" restores, endears and sweetens life's comforts. Isn't that beautiful? Glory to God. When David says, "my lips shall praise you," he means he will address the LORD GOD in a loud tone, with his words. This return of gratitude by David shows his personal, joyous devotion to a personal God.  So God's gratitude to us, should invoke us to have a gratitude towards HIM, by still finding Him worthy, regardless of what happens in our day-to-day life.  When we are grateful to Him, it shows we are faithful and we know God rewards those who are faithful to Him.  

Each night before we go to sleep, we should think of three things that we are grateful for. Drift off to sleep with that spirit of gratitude in your heart.

Living A Renewed Life: Stop being so hard on yourself.

Living A Renewed Life: Stop being so hard on yourself.: No one is perfect -- NO ONE! Stop being so hard on yourself. Maybe you aren't as thin as you'd like to be, your house isn't ....

Stop being so hard on yourself.

No one is perfect -- NO ONE! Stop being so hard on yourself. Maybe you aren't as thin as you'd like to be, your house isn't "perfect," your money is short, or you don't have your dream job yet. A true sense of personal worth and dignity, as scripture points to the need for believers to ground their self-respect in God himself, rather than trusting in the opinion and validation of other individuals or society as a whole.  The basis of self-respect is a relationship with God. Let's begin with Psalms 139:13, You alone created my inner being. You knitted me together inside my mother. In other words, the PERFECT creator, the Maker of all things, who stretches out the heavens (Isaiah 44:24) designed you.  So WE are God's masterpiece. If for some reason we need something additional we are to ask our generous God (James 1:5).
We should live a life where we are not shaken. The problem is we have lost sight of God's perspective of us and are now focused on societal and cultural  perspective.  The end result... we've spent so much time being hard on our self.  Let's remove the Demotivators and see what happens when we start cheering ourselves on.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Stretch yourself.

Let's say this is both literally and figuratively. It is highly recommended to spend a few minutes every morning stretching our body and getting ourselves ready for the day. We should also take time daily at the minimum read a bible verse. Psalm 119:11 says, "I have treasured your promise in my heart so that I may not sin against you." Another version says, "I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you." Looking into this text, word can be translated as commandment, or speech. The word heart here means inner man, mind, will, heart. So this verse could be translated ... I have rooted your commandments so deeply in my soul, when trials come, I will not fail and miss the mark. This is your ONLY security against being surprised into sin. The psalmist not only heard and read the word, but received it with in his mind and memory for future use.

I most earnestly press upon us to take time to read and store scripture. To fight a battle you need powerful equipment.  Yes we already have victory, but if we do not know what equipment to use or if our equipment is not geared up, we set ourselves up for the enemy to deceive us and win the battle. See if to renew your mind requires one truth at a time, then deceiving your mind can happen with a lie at a time.  If we are not building up our artillery and sharpening our tools, then when the battle comes, we cannot properly defend ourselves. The Holy Spirit will use the power of God's Word like a sword to defeat Satan and his imps. This will allow you to always have scripture with you, give you comfort, and help you in temptation. Challenge yourself and see how far you can go! Be encouraged to utter scripture.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Victory Comes From Me

Isaiah 54:17 - "No weapon that has been made to be used against you will succeed." We often neglect to read the rest of the verse. "You will have and answer for anyone who accuses you. This is the inheritance of the Lord's servants. Their victory comes from me,"  declares the Lord. Regardless of the attack the result remains the same. We will have security and victory over our enemies. Only in the Lord do we have righteousness and strength. We are granted glory and justification.

The next time you feel challenged, don't doubt God - that's a display of a mere lack of faith. Proverbs 30:5 say EVERY Word of God is true. Don't attack God's sovereign character.  Instead, TRUST him, EVEN in the grey areas.  Will a father deny his child? Then, why would God abandon his child who has an inheritance in heaven?

Cut out the Junk

Junk food, junk people, junk attitude, and a junk habit, will no doubt weigh you down. At some point in our occupied and tattered life we need to release those contributors that weigh us down, occupy our time with God, and become kryptonite to our spiritual growth. Sometimes we fall under the impression God wants these contributors in our lives because of their long occupancy. In reality, they are like leeches. These contributors adhere during growth, and as we press forward we cannot make leaps, just steps. A little bit of progression, but minor results. More pressing, but slow development. A very large leech can extract as much as 15ml (size of a visine bottle) of blood in the affected area. Be that as it may, the bite oozes for days with the possibility of a blood transfusion. We need to realize those contributors occupying God's space in our life seem mentally satisfying but in reality our spiritual surge is being impeded.

Christ wants to root and ground us in love so He can dwell in our heart (Eph 3: 17). If we allow everything else to occupy our time, we cannot expect a relationship to be built. 2 John 1:9 warns us, "No one who is a violator and does not continue in the teaching of The Messiah has God in him. He who continues in his teaching, this one has The Father and The Son."

I want to encourage us today, to identify what junk is in our life. What habit is occupying time that could be used to nourish our relationship with the Father. Don't ever succomb to the thought that you cannot quit a habit. The name of Jesus has the power to heal any wounds. whether it be emotional, mental, physical, or spiritual. He heals it all. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Disciplining and Training

1 Corinthians 9
24Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. 25 Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; 27 but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.

This illustration by Apostle Paul is to help us understand the 'Christian Life' takes hard work, a lot of pressing, and most of all, self denial. We are required to take an honest look at our strengths and weaknesses. It means strengthening our weaknesses in our relationship with God, which leads to a stronger will to abstain from a sinful life. When we have our eye on the prize, it builds up our will to say no when there is a powerful appetite inside us screaming yes. Glory to God. We never persevere without the promise of a prize. You can bank on God holding his promise. Our commitment requires us to put on the mind of Christ. The fight with the flesh is tough, but self discipline is a must otherwise we can lose our privilege to spread the word of God. This walk requires a solid effort. When I used to run track in high school after each practice I wanted to quit. Training was gruesome. There were temptations to slack off and cheat, but without discipline, I would have failed before the meet. An athlete’s strength comes from discipline. Through disciplining and training our body we will earn a crown that will last FOREVER. (2 Tim. 4:8)

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Spreading Your Light!

You are the light of the world (Matt. 5:14). This is one of those verses that should cause us to lift up our head and be honored of being a Christian. Ephesians 5:8 For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light!  We have not only received light, but we have been made light. Christ in us, has made us light emitters. Jesus did not say the light of the church, but the light of the world. This world suffers from a "Me" mentality complex -ulterior motives and conniving initiatives. We are charged to do good deeds to draw awareness to God. A couple from AZ lives across the street. Three winter seasons have gone by and still have no idea about shoveling. Yet, I make it a point to snow blow their driveway and in return they bake cupcakes. I don't snow blow for their tasty sweets, but because the love of God does not prevent me from lending a hand to someone regardless of their belief. The key here is they experience the love of God.
Our good deeds are to reflect upon God's glory. A city on a hill can be seen, whether valley low or high. It is impossible to miss it. Likewise, the sun and the lamp cannot be unnoticed either. See, the sun must be seen by all; the city, by the whole neighborhood; the lamp, by the family. Our Lord God paints this beautiful picture. The influence we are to have - if it is to be for the whole world, as indeed it is, must be felt in the neighborhood in which we live, and in the immediate circle of our own home.
Be encouraged to be the light of Jesus Christ. Do not let anyone put you out. Don't be afraid to shine. Shine with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

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Friday, February 6, 2015

Decision: Rejection or Reception

One of the best gifts God has given us is free will or freedom of choice. This key is making good decisions. When we think about the 3 on the cross, we learn of 2 decisions: rejection, and reception.

The 1st thief made a conscious decision to reject Christ with insults. The greek bible says, "began to use injurious and insulting language" - a much stronger term. The 2nd thief made a conscious decision to receive Christ by asking to be remembered when Christ ascends to His kingdom. He admonishes the other thief for his dishonor and explains Jesus is being wrongfully charged when they actually belong on the cross. Jesus was in the depth of disgrace, suffering as a deceiver, and not delivered by his Father. The thief made this profession before all that were present. His display of honor put honor on Christ's suffering. Observe his humility in his prayer. All his request is, Lord, remember me; quite referring it to Jesus in what way to remember him. Thus he was humbled in true repentance,
See the 1st thief had no idea he was talking to the Jesus Christ, the Son of God, soon to be resurrected.  The decisions we make matter.  Christ choose redemption. He chooses to forgive both of them. What?!? Yes, Christ died and rose again for EVERYONE'S sins - Jews and Gentiles. The problem is, the 1st thief chose rejection and the second chose to be the redeemed of the Lord.  The truth is, you never know when you are going to go. It is important now to make the correct decisions.  What in your life is causing you to reject Christ?  Is it TV, pleasure, insecurity, slothfulness? You have two choices Reject or Receive Christ. It is time to fine tune our walk. If we say we love Jesus, then our decision to follow Christ should reflect this. WE should be careful how we treat each other. The world is watching.  If no one can see Jesus in you, then we need to reevaluate our decision.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

1 Corinthians 10:12-13

Today's pressures make it way too easy to ignore or forget the lessons of the past. Apostle Paul cautions us to not forget the Israelite's struggles with God. The ruler of this world wants you join in on the culture of moral depravity and sin induced pressures. Why do you think it is glorified in just about every song on the radio, movies / TV, etc. It is the exploitation of sin which makes it hard for us to navigate to the truth. 1 John 3:7 says to not let anyone lead you astray. We know the devil is out to seek, kill, and destroy. Look at the beginning of time with the tree of life. Just because it seems good, does not mean it is good for you. Titus 3:3 says we are enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. This is our struggle.

Paul's objective was to actually encourage us. We need to stop feeling sorry for ourselves and know everyone struggles. Stop feeling singled out. Paul also commented others have resisted temptation, therefore so can we.

THE GOOD NEWS is The Son of God appeared for this purpose - to destroy the works of the devil. Your relationship with God will prevent you from walking in defeat. Don't let anyone deceive you, especially yourself because it is only supporting your appetite for destruction. God's word does not leave you condemned. Some of the heartache we are having is God wanting to interrupt the sin we are holding on to.

God will help you resist sin. How? Glad you asked:
  • Recognize those people and situations that have sinned and fallen and learn from their mistakes
  • Run from anything you see wrong
  • Choose what is right
  • Pray for God's help
  • Seek friends who love God and offer help

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Romans 4:18-20

Abraham Receives the Promise Romans 4:18-20
18In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, "SO SHALL YOUR DESCENDANTS BE." 19Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah's womb;20yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God,…

What does this scripture tells us? 1) Be patient and consistent & 2) Rest in the will of God.  
The nature and power of Abraham's faith are shown. Abraham believed God's testimony, and looked for the performance of his promise, firmly hoping when the case seemed hopeless. It is weakness of faith, that makes a man lie scrutinizing over the difficulties in the way of a promise. Abraham would not allow for an opportunity to present an argument or debate. Unbelief is at the bottom of all our staggerings at God's promises. Abraham's strength of faith was victorious over his fears. God honors faith and great faith honors God. Faith is a grace that of all others gives glory to God. Faith clearly is the instrument by which we receive the righteousness of God, the redemption which is by Christ.

When you feel as though your faith is weakening remember Abraham and remember Psalms 84:11, "For the LORD God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The LORD will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Undoubting Faith

In 2 Kings 4:8-37, we learn of the Shunammite’s Son that is restored to life by God through Elisha. But, what about the mother? Here is the sudden death of her beloved child and admirably does this prudent, pious mother, guard her lips under this sudden affliction! Not one peevish word escapes from her. Such INCREDIBLE FAITH! Emotional and in distress she sends her husband to reach out to Elisha. She had so much confidence in God's goodness, that she was ready to believe that Elisha would restore what was now taken away. We can learn something from her. It is not what you go through it is how you go through it. At the end of the day it will all come out for the greater good for those that love God (Romans 8:28). The Almighty Lord God will work out your storms. Even though you cannot see it or know how it is going to be worked out, know God is working. Don't doubt in your heart, but be encouraged. The promises of God say, "But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children;" - Psalms 103:17.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Your Faith Heals

In 2 Kings 4:8-37, we learn of the Shunammite’s Son that is restored to life. However, this did not happen as Elisha had planned. We know Elisha performed numerous miracles, but let's talk about the Shunammite son. In short, Elisha told the mother she would be blessed with a son - which happens and years later he dies. She sends her husband to reach out to Elisha. However, Elisha's initial attempts fail. It is not until Elisha "returned and walked in the house once back and forth, and went up and stretched himself on him; and the lad sneezed seven times and the lad opened his eyes.…"
The fact Elisha’s efforts to resurrect the son were not successful the first time, would typically cause a person to be in doubt.

How many times have you found yourself in Elisha’s position? How often have you asked God to do something whether major or minor for you, knowing He is God Almighty ... God of all things? Yet for you it does not happen. It leaves a little bit a doubt and questioning. Elisha was out on front street and the expectations were high. We've heard it before, "God is an on time God." Well it is true. Though, it may take days, months, or even years. Don’t give up ... Don't EVER give up! Just because you aren't successful the first time, don't lose heart and stop praying. I challenge you, to find that thing you gave up asking God for and resume praying! Keep pressing! Keep seeking God! Elisha had strong Faith and though the restoration wasn't going as planned, he did not stagger.