This morning I had to pray and ask God for forgiveness. On my way to work, I frequently see the same woman standing on the side of the road asking for money. I have given her the customary dollar or two a couple times in the past but this morning I decided that since I had already helped her before, I wasn’t obligated to help her again today. But immediately as the red light turned to green and I proceeded through the intersection, I was convicted by the Holy Spirit. Who was I to say that this woman had been helped enough? I honestly had the thought cross my mind that if people keep giving her money at this intersection that she will just keep coming back for more. I don’t know anything about this woman or how she ended up in this situation but God told me it’s none of my business. But as a Christian, my business should be helping those that are in need. I believe I was tested today and I did not pass. I had the opportunity and the ability to help this woman, this child of God, but let my flesh get the best of me. There I was so richly blessed by God and I chose not to share those blessings. Giving her a couple of dollars wouldn’t have hardly been a sacrifice for me but what is more sad is that I missed the opportunity to share the love of Jesus Christ with someone who was obviously in need. But I am grateful that God doesn’t think like me, that when I come to Him in need He doesn’t brush me off because He has helped me before. My prayer for myself and for other believers is that when we see someone in need, whether it be for money, guidance, time, or just love that we will be willing to give it however much it is needed just like God does for us.
We all get angry from time to time. As long as we interact with other human beings, or even just with ourselves, the temptation to become angry is inevitable. Knowing this, it is important to realize when you are angry and what to do when you reach your boiling point. Being angry in and of itself is not bad. It’s part of being human. It is how we handle our anger that has the potential to be an issue. The bible says to be angry but sin not (Ephesians 4:26). If you allow your anger to cause you hold grudges, speak ill of others, speak or act violently, or do anything you know is not of good character then you should determine a new way to deal with it.
I’ll share a couple of solutions that I have found work for me. The first is pray. I am very honest with God about my feelings. I tell Him exactly how angry I am and why I am angry. I then ask Him to help me calm down. If I am angry with a specific person, I also pray for them. I have found it is difficult to remain angry at someone while praying for them. How can I talk to God, who is so loving and forgiving when I am wrong and harbor ill feelings for someone else who I feel has wronged me? That seems a bit contradictory to me.
The next thing I do is I listen to worship music. I prefer music that invites the Holy Spirit into my heart. Songs with lyrics like “fill me up” or “have your way” really help me. If I am full of the Holy Spirit, there is no room for angry feelings. I find that listening to this kind of music really calms me down and even allows me to look back on the situation and recognize my part in any disagreement or discord.
God can get glory out of any situation. Especially ones where the devil thinks he may have won by causing you to get angry. But he can easily be defeated if you decide that you will not let your anger control you. It may not always be easy, but it is always possible!
If you have anything that helps you deal with your anger, please feel free to share in the comment section.
Have you ever prayed for something and it seems like God just wasn’t listening? Or, you knew that He’d heard your prayer but you just couldn’t understand why it was taking so long for Him to answer? Well, today I want to encourage you to hold on just a little while longer. Years ago I prayed, along with my family, for another family member to be delivered from alcohol addiction. So much time had passed since we prayed that the prayers had become few and far between and our desire for their deliverance remained more of an afterthought, although it was always in our hearts. Now years later, God answered our prayers. I don’t know why it took so long and that is something only God knows. But we are so grateful to God that He didn’t forget. Even though it doesn’t look like your situation will turn around anytime soon, know that God has not forgotten about you. There are so many scriptures that I can quote but I will just leave you with these two to stand on:
“But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.”
Isaiah 40:31 [NKJV]
“And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. “
John 14:14-15 [NKJV]
Keep trusting in the Lord and in His time, which is the best time, you will get your answer.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything on this blog, but it hasn’t been for a lack of desire to write. There have been so many days that I longed to write an inspiring message from God to share with His people. There have even been days where I started writing, but the words just would not flow. I decided it was best to not to write for the sake of writing but to truly listen to what God is saying to write.
Over the last few days the song “Fill Me Up” has been ringing in my spirit. This song has ministered to me so much and I believe that God wants me to share how I’ve been feeling from listening to it. I realize that I have been running on empty lately. Not that I feel empty, because I actually feel great. Things at home and work are great. We have had many things to celebrate and thank God for over the last few months. But I haven’t felt that close intimacy with God that I so desperately need and want. We have still been going to church every Sunday, praying and reading the bible during the week, but I still haven’t been where I wanted to be.
It reminds me of back in the day when I didn’t always have a lot of money, so whenever I needed gas in my car, I would only put about $10-$15 dollars in the tank. It didn’t fill it up, but it got me where I needed to go. Well, the same can’t be said for my relationship with God. I feel like I’ve been putting a little gas in my spiritual tank, but definitely not enough to be filled up. And with God, I’m just not satisfied until I’m full of His spirit. I want to be full to overflowing. Have you ever felt this way? Have you ever just wanted more and more of God? I truly believe this is where He wants us. We cannot only be satisfied when life is good to us. We can only be satisfied when we are truly filled with God’s love and His Holy Spirit.
My prayer for you today is that no matter how great or not so great your situation is right now, that you would have a renewed thirst and hunger for God and that He will fill you up, permeate and saturate your being, and overflow into every aspect of your life and those around you.
We went to a concert over the weekend and during a brief intermission a young guy came up to give the crowd a little information about the organization he was representing. Unfortunately, while he was talking, there were many side conversations going on. You could hear the rumbling from the crowd more than you could hear the young man on the stage. I had to really focus on him to hear what he was saying. This illustrates how life can sometimes get when God is trying to talk to us. There is so much going on in the world around us that tries to drown out His voice but we have to make an effort to hear Him. We have to tune out the things that distract us and tune in to God.
In John chapter 10, Jesus said “My sheep hear my voice; I know them and they follow me.” He then said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me.” I think He made the two distinct statements intentionally. He first said His sheep “hear” His voice. Hear simply means to perceive a sound. I believe Jesus was saying that we must first recognize that He is speaking. He then said His sheep “listen” to His voice. Listen means to pay attention and heed and requires effort. You can hear something without trying but in order to listen it requires action on our part.
In life, there will always be distractions. There will always be people, places, and things competing for our attention. But if you want peace, joy, happiness, direction and understanding you have to make the effort to listen to what God is saying. Take just a moment to tune out the world so that you can tune in to the wonderful, loving, correcting, and uplifting message that God has for you.
Today, I had a dentist appointment to fill in a couple of cavities. It was a very routine procedure. However, today it opened my eyes to even more of God’s awesomeness. If you have ever had dental work done before, you know that before they begin working on your teeth, they numb the area. Since my cavities were in teeth on both sides at the top of my mouth, they had to numb the top of my mouth which included my top lip. I didn’t think it was a big a deal. Sure I looked funny for a while and couldn’t really say words beginning with B, D, M, or P, but I didn’t feel any pain and the procedure went great. Fast forward about an hour. I think the numbing gel should be wearing off by now, but it hasn’t and I’m getting hungry and thirsty. Despite the fact that I can’t move my top lip, I decide to grab a Danish and a cup of water because I am starving.
This is when I realize how awesome God is. I go to take a sip of water through the straw but can’t manage to get my mouth closed around the straw to actually take in any water. Totally didn’t expect that to happen. Next I go to take a bite of my Danish but once again, I can’t close my mouth enough to keep it in there. You are probably wondering, “How in the world is she thinking that God is awesome when she can’t drink or eat anything right now? Why is that even relevant?” Well, believe me it is.
This little incident showed me that something I have taken for granted is actually quite important. I never ever thought about the purpose of my top lip. It’s always been there, it’s small, and doesn’t seem to do a whole lot. Well today, I saw that it is much more than what I thought was an insignificant facial feature. It has a huge purpose. I eat and drink several times a day. If I had to go without my top lip for longer than the few hours I’ve experienced today, I know my life would be drastically changed.
The reason that I say God is awesome is because out of all of the thousands of body parts we have, each and every single one of them has a purpose. We may overlook some of them. We may not realize that some of them even exist, yet they are all important. God took the time out to create and mold each and every one of us into a unique intricate and complex being. Who wouldn’t be in awe of that?
I’ve said all this to say that you are important. You may feel small and blend in with the background. You may even go unnoticed at times. But know that you have a purpose. You are important and you are necessary. Out of all of the billions of people who have walked the face of this earth, God took the time out to create you. Not only did He create you in His image, but He has a great plan for your life.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
Know that you are here for a reason. I love you and most of all God loves you! You are important!
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes…” Romans 1:16
I am a Christian. This is not something that I’ve ever tried to hide or cover up. In fact, when I was younger, I know I didn’t get invited to participate in a lot of activities with my friends and sorority sisters because I was “the Christian”. I was never ashamed of who I was and I think people actually respected the fact that I stood firm on my beliefs. But somehow, I think I still missed the mark. I was being selfish with the Jesus that I loved and served so dearly. Meaning, I didn’t really share him with anybody. I was good at inviting people to church but always struggled with telling them about Jesus. But I have come to learn that the world doesn’t need “church”. The world needs Jesus. He is the source of all hope, the answer to our problems, the lover of our soul, the One we can turn to for help in any situation. I have learned that it is not religion that saves us, but our relationship with Jesus Christ. I can even speak on that personally.
I grew up in church. My family went to church Every. Single. Sunday. I sang in the choir, served on the usher board, taught Sunday School, was part of the youth mission, yes, I did it all. I knew all the bible stories and could even recite the books of the bible. I had all of the religion, but lacked the relationship. Now don’t get me wrong, I am so thankful for the foundation that I had because it helped me tremendously when I went through those crazy college years. Like a lot of people, I was out doing things I had no business doing with people I had no business doing them with. But eventually, the lifestyle I was living left me in a sad and lonely place. But it was Jesus that saved me. I mean He literally saved me. One time, I was in a very scary situation and I called on the name of Jesus and instantly things turned around (I will share that situation at another time). Jesus has not only physically saved me, but also emotionally and spiritually. Knowing that I have a purpose, knowing that I am loved, knowing that I can do all things through Him gives me such a powerful outlook on life. Things may not always go according to my plan, but I know that He has the master plan and it will all work out for my good. The best part of having a relationship with Jesus is knowing that when I leave this earth, I’ll get to live with Him in paradise. I do believe that hell is real, and I don’t want to take any chances when it comes to spending eternity there.
I am so glad that someone took the time to tell me about Jesus. If I never heard about Him and then took the time to get to know Him, I shudder to think about where I would be in my life right now (and if I would even be alive). I wrote all of this to say, if you know Jesus please tell somebody about Him. You could help save a life. If you don’t know Jesus but want to, just ask me how to meet Him. He’s one of my best friends!
2010 was not my year. I struggled financially, physically, mentally, and emotionally. So much to the point that I hated my life. Not so much that I wanted to harm myself, but I actually had thoughts that if I did die, it really wouldn’t be that bad because it would be an escape from a life that I really had no desire to live any longer. I honestly didn’t care whether or not I lived to see another day. But I thank God that he cared enough for me to pull me out of that frame of my mind. In the midst of my despair I felt him trying to pull me closer to himself and the closer I got to back to him, the more hope I gained back each day. Though what I was going through was difficult, God allowed me to see that it was not in vain.
For most of my life, I never had to struggle with anything. I never really studied hard but I always made good grades. I never really worked hard, but I always had money. I was always well liked and had friends. I grew up with both parents in the home and I was surrounded by a great big loving extended family. Yes, my life was great and it was easy. But it wasn’t because of anything I did and it certainly wasn’t because I was living upright and holy because I wasn’t. It was only because of God’s grace, mercy, and favor. Because I had never really been through anything in life, I really didn’t understand other people and why they let their problems get them down. But today, I see with new eyes why we shouldn’t judge others.
You never really know what a person is going through until you’ve walked in their shoes. We can’t condemn the alcoholic because we haven’t experienced the pain they are trying to soothe with every drink. We can’t condemn the promiscuous young man or woman because we haven’t faced the rejection and loneliness they are trying to protect themselves from. We can’t judge the person who buys a $300 designer handbag or a $200 pair of sneakers before they pay the light bill because we can’t feel the reality of poverty they are trying to escape. I’m not saying that any of these things is the right thing to do, but having experienced each of these scenarios, I can no longer judge the person who does these things because I’ve felt the sting of the pain and understand why they do what they do.
Our Christian response should not be condemnation but instead putting on the love of Christ to help them through it. Instead of cutting people down for their sins, we have to minister to that broken place. Sin is used as a band-aid fix but band-aids can only hold for so long before they fall off. Another problem with band-aids is that they don’t heal wounds, they merely cover them up. And when some wounds, both physical and spiritual, are left untreated they only get worse. But I’m thankful that God gives us more than a box of band-aids to fix our problems. He gives us the cure for every sin-sick disease we have. And that cure is Jesus Christ.
This poem was written in response to the shooting death of Mike Brown and the subsequent rioting and protests in St. Louis
If I never prayed before, today would be the day
That I would fall on my knees and cry out to the Lord and say
Oh how we need you now, more than we ever have before
I’d ask the Lord to show His face, for His mercy I’d implore
We are all God’s children, we are sisters and brothers
But we don’t even respect ourselves, let alone respect others
We don’t value love, we don’t value life
We glorify hatred and zealously stir up strife
If I never prayed before, certainly the time would be now
That I’d pray for peace and healing, and love to abound somehow
I’d pray for that thing called bitterness; that it would be pulled out from the root
I’d pray that people could forgive instead of riot, steal, and loot
I’d pray that anger would turn to action, not to tear down but uplift
I’d pray that in the atmosphere, there would be a shift
That the reaction to injustice would not be violence
That the response to inequality would not be silence
Oh if I never prayed before, I’d pray with a fervent heart
That God I know you’re working, but tell me what’s my part?
What can I do to help end this madness?
What’s my assignment in erasing fear and sadness?
No matter how big or small, there’s got to be a way.
If I never prayed before, I’m gonna have to start today!
Romans 3:23 tells us that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. But some of us at some time in our lives, or maybe even now, have been to a point where sin had seemingly overtaken us, making the phrase “fall short” an extreme understatement. We got so deep into our sin that not only could we not experience God’s glory, we couldn’t feel his presence or hear his voice. Our sin separated us from God so much so that we were in another world. Isolated from the Father, we couldn’t hear him calling us back to hum. We couldn’t hear the outcry against us. That’s what happened in this passage in Genesis. The people were so wicked and entrenched in their sin that God was trying to save them. We love God because he is so merciful, but he is also faithful and just. When we have accepted God’s call to salvation those attributes are beneficial to us, however that is not the case when we choose to live outside of God’s grace. Romans 6:23 says that the wages of sin is death and the people of Sodom were soon approaching their payday.
God is a gracious and merciful God, but we cannot live our lives in sin thinking he will tolerate our disobedience forever. We love to rest on the promises of God when we hear that he will supply all our needs according to his riches in glory or when we hear he’s going to pour us out a blessing we won’t have room enough to receive but there is a flip side. The bible clearly tells us in Galatians 5 that we cannot live any way we want to on earth and expect to live with God forever in heaven. “Now the works of the flesh are clearly revealed, which are adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lustfulness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, fightings, jealousies, angers, rivalries, divisions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings, and things like these; they who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”
But I am so thankful to God that when we find ourselves stuck in the center of a sin situation, he doesn’t slam heaven’s doors in our faces. He provides us a way out of our sin. Lot was a righteous man surrounded by sin, but he wasn’t a slave to it. Because we are human, we are bound to sin. This doesn’t give us a free pass to sin and nor is that an excuse to stay in sin. In Genesis 19, God sent his angels to deliver Lot and his family from the destruction that was facing Sodom as a consequence of their sin. Before the angels came, Lot didn’t know what was about to happen. Someone reading this today, may not realize that God us faithful to his word in every respect. The wages of sin is death and if you let sin reign over your life, the end you face will be death. But in the same way God sent his angels to save Lot and his family, God sent Jesus Christ to save us. We don’t have to stay in our sin because Jesus died on the cross taking our sin with him. Meaning that we no longer have to accept the death we deserve, but we cab accept the gift of God which is eternal life.
The bible tells us that through Jesus’ death and resurrection we are free from sin which means we don’t have to live in sin any longer. But like many things in life, that is much easier said than done. When you are ready to leave your sin situation, everyone around you may not be ready or willing to leave with you. Some may even ridicule you for choosing to change. They may even question your ability to change believing that you really can’t. But you can’t let others hold you back. Leaving a life of sin may be a journey you have to take without the company of friends, family, or loved ones, but it certainly isn’t a journey you have to take alone. Just as the angels took Lot’s hands, Jesus will take our hands and guide us every step of the way. And when we feel like we can’t make it any further, he will even carry us. All we have to do is stay close to him, follow him, and trust him.
When the angels were leading Lot and his family out of Sodom, they gave them a vital piece of instruction and that was, “Don’t look back.” The path to righteousness isn’t one filled with roses and daisies and everyday of the journey the sky won’t always be blue and clear. In our own strength, attaining righteousness isn’t an easy task. It takes time and effort. It is not impossible to live a godly life on this earth but the only way to do it is to keep moving forward.
When we face hardships in our Christian walk we are tempted to think about how easy we had it or how much fun we had in our old sinful lives. I’m reminded of how the Israelites complained about the food they had while in the desert because they thought about how well they ate when they were back in Egypt. But it seems they forgot one major part about their past lives in Egypt, they were slaves. We only tend to remember the fun of sin but never seem to remember the pain, the hurt, or the emptiness we felt at the same time. The message for today is that although it may be hard, don’t look back.
When Lot’s wife looked back, she turned into a pillar of salt. She was frozen where she was. She was worse off than she was in Sodom and she never reached the freedom from destruction that her family would soon enjoy. We have to take on the mind of Paul who said in Philippians 3:12-13, “I do not count myself to have taken possession, but one thing I do, forgetting the things behind and reaching forward to the things before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” No runner has ever won a race by focusing on what’s going on behind them. The victory is always ahead of us. Let us claim our prize of eternal life by pressing forward and remembering not to look back.