Thursday, August 9, 2018

Calling All Witnesses

When you hear the word witness, you probably will think about a person who has witnessed a crime,
or someone who has witnessed the signing of legal documents. These kinds of witnesses agree to be called on when needed to give statements about the events. If you have been one of these  witnesses, then you know that you were expected to the tell the truth especially if you did not want to be accused of perjury. In these instances, witnesses can provide substantial information that can bring justice to a victim or validate an agreement among legal parties.

A Test of Loyalty

The role of a witness is not always easy. You must commit yourself to being loyal to a person you may or may not know when it’s time to testify. Some witnesses risk their lives if they want justice served despite death threats they may receive. There are plenty of stories about incidents involving the demise of those who were scheduled to testify, and the defendant arranged their death from prison or another way. Some individuals have also gone into witness protection. It’s very sad when these situations occur especially when innocent victims have already been killed or assaulted.

When Jesus was facing trial, he had very few loyal witnesses. Peter was grasped with fear and denied knowing Jesus three times. Jesus however, did not rely on Peter’s loyalty because he had already prophesied that he would deny him before the cock crowed. Peter denied that he would deny Jesus because he loved him. Unfortunately, Peter did not know what he would do in future circumstances which required his loyalty and honesty.

It’s easy to read the Bible and judge Peter because he was one of Jesus’ closest disciple. While the other disciple that is mentioned in John 18:15 stay closed to Jesus during his interrogation, Peter stayed at a distance and preferred to keep himself warm (see Mark 14:54). Since he showed his loyalty by cutting off one of the high priest’s servant’s ear as depicted in John 18:10, witnesses expected him to show the same level of loyalty when Jesus really needed it (see John 18:17).

Have you ever denied or remained silent when one of your friends needed you to speak up for him or her? What held you back? Was it fear that you were going to lose your reputation despite knowing that your friend was innocent?

Peter reflected this reservation because of the uncertainty of his future especially when his spiritual mentor was being tried before Pontus Pilate, the governor of Judea. However, Jesus had already prayed for him that his faith would not fail him, and when he was converted, he would strengthen his brethren (see Luke 22:31-32).  This is an encouraging passage of scripture because it lets us know that despite our failures or weaknesses in the midst of being expected to do right, we have a high priest that can relate to our temptations as stated in Hebrews 4, and he is still willing to accept our requests for help.  As a result, you are eligible to be used as a witness like Peter was after he was converted (see Acts 5:15).

Your Testimony is Valuable

You may not have lived the best life prior to being saved, while being saved, or perhaps you’re not saved yet. Whatever your salvation status is, God needs you as a witness. There may be times when you feel insignificant because of your past especially if others who have also sinned (see Romans 3:23) constantly remind you of your faults and failures. I want to encourage you that your voice is important. Just as a legal witness’ testimony is valuable, your testimony can be used in spiritual court against Satan.

You can testify that God delivered you out of the enemy’s hand as stated in Psalm 107:2. You must not think that being a spiritual witness is reserved only for those who have lived spotless lives and are proficient in memorizing scripture passages. You can testify of his goodness regarding how He healed you mentally, spiritually, financially, emotionally, and physically. You can give accounts of how he has helped your family. You can also be a silent witness by living a better life.

Despite the threats and accusations Satan brings against you in spiritual court (see Revelation 12:10), you can overcome doubtful thoughts about your worth (see Revelation 12:11).

Your testimony does not have to remain limited to church services. You can encourage people at work, the grocery store, your neighborhood, and anywhere you think someone needs help (i.e, distributing food, giving to charities, providing transportation, being a mentor, or fulfilling other supportive roles).

God is expecting a witness status report because the salvation claim deadline is approaching quickly (see Matthew 25:13 and II Corinthians 15:52). Will he find you feeling sorry for yourself, wasting his resources like the steward depicted in Luke 16, or fulfilling the commission he gave to the disciples as urged in Matthew 28:19-20?

What will your report reveal? (see Luke 16:2, Romans 14:12, I Peter 4:5, and Revelation 20:12-13).

Time is running out. Be courageous and start sharing your testimony today. 

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Attention: Sons of God

Recent news reports have revealed the murders of rappers, YouTube
personalities and their associates as well as other young people who were innocent bystanders. This trend is very troubling and reveals a problem that needs to stopped. It’s also disturbing to see that the outcry for justice typically occurs when a deadly shooting has been caused by someone of another race.

Although fatal shootings occurred which involved the deaths of famous rappers and others who are unknown to the public, one of the most heinous crimes that happened recently involved Lesandro Guzman Feliz, a 15 year old who was brutally bludgeoned to death in the Bronx. The young men who were responsible for his death exemplified savage beast behavior as they callously planned and carried out their evil work. The worst thing about this incident is that this young man was mistaken for someone else. There were also those at the crime scene who preferred to record the incident which showed graphic content instead of helping him. There was no hesitation to upload the video on YouTube.

The Bible says in 2 Timothy 3:1, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good.”

These types of incidents do not reveal how powerful culprits are, but rather how weak they are when they cannot face their opponents with courage to see a dual through to the end specifically with both opponents left standing on good terms.

I become intensely grieved when I scroll through news feeds which have revealed another fatality which does not make sense. One incident revealed a video that was captured showing suspects exiting a vehicle after a young man was shot and killed. The young men went over to his vehicle to make sure he was dead. One guy was dancing while his co conspiritars were rowdy and shouting obscene statements. After verifying if their ill-wished desire was complete, they drove off like bandits and left him to die by himself.

You Were Called for a Greater Purpose

If you’re a young man who has veered off from your moral teaching, it’s time to wake up. Seeking validation from those who influence you to do wrong will only lead to your death or the loss of your freedom. You have to start thinking about how your actions will affect the lives of those who have lost a loved one you harmed and your family members. You should also think about how your actions hurt the heart of God when you choose to break laws and wreck havoc within your community.

God loves you and has a purpose for your life. He didn’t make you to be destructive. The time you use to devise evil against someone else can be time you can use to become creative in innovation and business.

If your father was not in your life while you were growing up, read these words as a guide to aid in your healing.

God Needs You

You may have been drawn away by the promises of this world (i.e., money, power, and fame). However, you may find yourself depressed, frustrated, and lonely because your goal of gaining notoriety has not been achieved yet. This may be due to your willingness to compromise your morals and loyalty to others. You must understand that when you use and harm people for selfish gain, your success will be short-lived. I know you may be thinking that what you’ve been doing, you’ve been doing it for a long time and have been successful in getting away with your wrongdoings, but you must realize that one day the wrong you’ve done to others will catch up with you.

The same fervency you implement in your strategy to harm someone else could be used to help someone else. Now is the time to reevaluate your life and change your ways. Stop living like you have a long time to live especially when you’ve done wrong. We see how unexpected death happens to those who strive to go good.

Satan does not want you to see your value or discover your purpose. He’ll often use people who are enticing you to do wrong to hide the truth about what they did to acquire their possessions and status. Don’t allow yourself to be used anymore to promote someone else’s agenda. When these people have acquired their goal, they may also discard you.

If you want to experience the real blessings of God such as peace, love, joy, wealth, and happiness, I urge you to start praying to God and ask Him for forgiveness of your sins. You should also meditate on His Word, see Targeted Bible Verses for assistance.

Reach One 

If you’re saved, it’s easy to become consumed with your life, church activities, family, and associates. Although possessing some level of empathy for others you don’t know who have experienced tragic events particularly those who have been displayed on the news, it’s easy to become desensitized when those events are not personal. However, you must remember those events were unexpected just like any situation that could happen in your life.

If you’ve been in the church for quite some time, you probably have also acquired a considerable amount of Bible knowledge, learned church etiquette, and have formed great relationships with other people at your church. While these achievements are good, your ability to maintain godly relationships should also be shared with those who don’t go to church.

It’s easy to look at incidents on TV and comment negatively while subconsciously thinking that the world, or people will be influenced in a positive way through someone else’s Good Samaritan efforts. However, that is not always the case. Although there are counselors, mentors, and nonprofit organizations that aim to target those who are involved in gang activity, struggle with mental illness, or some other challenges, there’s still a need for individual influence.

Making a difference doesn’t always require a group effort, but it can start with you making an effort to talk with someone who is socially lost and needs guidance as well as love. If you’re influential in your social group whether it’s on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, or your blog, and you have a significant following, start using your platform to admonish others to do right. It’s sad when platforms are used to influence others to kill and do other things that are detrimental to society.

Don’t Wait

If you have an encouraging word you want to spread, share it now. Call someone you’ve been thinking about lately or go to their home to check on them. Sometimes it’s those thoughts that are warning signs from God that something is going wrong in a person's life. When you let time go past too long without reaching out to someone you've been thinking about, it may be too late to tell them that you love them or encourage them to get their life together especially if you’ve heard about their death. If the thought of someone comes to your mind late at night, pray for them. You never know if that person is attempting suicide or harm is being inflicted on them. It can be regretful when you become so consumed with your life and problems that you fail to notice someone else.

Isaiah 58:1 says ... "Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their trangression, and the house of Jacob their sins." Verses 2-7 explains how the Lord wants us to fast and verse 8 explains how our prayers will be answered quickly when we complete our Kingdom assignments.

Speak Up

We live in a society where no one wants to be violated, but few will speak up for those who are violated. If you know something say something. Proverbs 24:11-12 says “ If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? And he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? And shall not he render to every man according to his works?

In other words, you’re going to be held accountable for what you know. You may be able to withhold what you know from the authorities for many years, but God keeps everlasting records and said in Revelation 20:15 ... “Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. Leviticus 5:1 says ... “ If a soul sin, and hear the voice of swearing, and is a witness, whether he hath seen or known of it; if he do not utter it, then he shall bear his iniquity.” Matthew 10:28 says ...  “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

When you see someone hurting deeply because they’re seeking justice for a loved one, help them. Don’t sit idly by and lack compassion because the situation has not affected your family. I find it amazing how some people don’t care until they experience a loss. You have to remember that the seeds you sow today whether good or bad will yield a harvest. If you don’t think silence is a seed,
think again. Proverbs 21:13 says ... “Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard.” This verse can be mean financially, emotionally, legally, mentally, or socially. Ecclesiastes 11:12 also says ... “Give a portion to seven, and also to eight; for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth." This verse can also be thought of in the same manner. If you want justice, fight for justice. If you want a friend, be a friend. If you want love, show love etc.

Your Words are Life

Lastly, remember that the words you speak have life, so be careful what you say. The Bible says in Leviticus 17:11 ... "For the life of the flesh is in blood.:"

Be mindful of the songs you listen to because the words can get into your soul, and you can begin to act out what you’ve taken in spiritually. A lot of what you see going on in society is because of negative words that are being absorbed in the mind through various content.

This post is dedicated to Lesandro Guzman Feliz and other youth who have lost their lives too soon. May your souls rest in the arms of God. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Are You Too Good For The Blessing?

When you hear the word blessing, thoughts of money, prominence, clothes, and other words related
to abundance may come to your mind. Blessings can bring happiness, healing, and alleviate poverty. No matter what your status is, you're probably expecting to receive a blessing soon. There’s nothing wrong with expecting a blessing because God wants you to be blessed. In fact, the Word of God says that … “The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it (Proverbs 10:22). The word blessing also indicates God’s favor on your life.

Assessing the Blessing

When you think of a blessing, you might think of something new and shiny. You might also think about your preferences such as the color, shape, price, and size of the item. If it’s intangible, you might think about the level of abundance and frequency of the blessing such as love, peace, or health. You may even go as far as writing down a list of blessings like a child writing a letter to Santa. A timeline may also be added to your blessing list especially if you’ve received a "word" from a prophet, or someone else whom God has spoken through to encourage you.

As humans, we have a tendency to stay committed to our preferences and can become disappointed to settle for anything less than what we ask for. The anticipation of receiving what you want can be exciting. If anyone tries to discourage you from praying, hoping, and believing that you’re going to receive what you want, you’re likely to discourage them with more positivity. Additionally, if something similar to what you’ve been asking for presents itself, you will probably turn it down with the expecation that your "real" blessing will be arriving soon.

But wait a minute …  what if the blessing you turned down was the blessing God had in store for you? If you think back over your life, you can probably recall situations or opportunities that presented themselves, but you turned those unassuming opportunities down because you felt like you deserved better. The blessing may have come in a very obscure package or did not appear to offer what you would consider as something that would be able to take you where you needed to go in your life, and you refused to be receptive to the benefits that it offered. You may also remember how you decided to choose another blessing because of its bright presentation, and you quickly learned that the old saying “all that glitters is not gold” was really true.

This happened when Jesus was born, lived, and after he died. Prophecy in the Bible described his coming (see Isaiah 7:14  and Matthew 1:23). Although a reigning Messiah was needed for God’s people, he was rejected as prophesied in Isaiah 53:3 … “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

The word despise means to feel contempt or a deep repugnance for. Have you ever despised something you thought was beneath you?

Reconsider The Opportunity

The Old Testament describes a situation regarding a man named Naaman who had leprosy. He was the commander of the Syrian army. As a leader with leprosy, I imagine that he was well qualified for his position, but felt ashamed because of his physical condition. He was respected among the people and the King of Syria for his battlefield successes. However, despite his ability to lead and succeed in military conquests, he struggled with a private battle that he could not win. The shame of being unclean and the requirement to cover his shame was a daily chore he had to contend with.

The Bible does not provide details about the length of time Naaman had leprosy, or how he got it. However long or short his distress was, I’m sure every moment of discomfort seemed like a thousand years to him. You understand how it is. You may have enjoyed many years living without physical or emotional pain, then one horrible circumstance occurs that makes you forget what it felt like to be normal.

Naaman was not only strong in his military strategy, but he was also strong in his ability to withstand ridicule. During one of his army’s conquests of Israel, he captured a young girl and brought her back home to serve his wife. The young girl noticed his condition and offered Naaman's wife advice about how a prophet in Samaria could heal Naaman (see 2 Kings 5:3). This good news was what he needed to hear.

Naaman received permission and a letter from the King of Syria to visit the King of Israel. When he arrived in Israel, the king was surprised because the letter suggested that he could heal Naaman. Naaman was presumptuous in his expectation that his healing would come from the king. The King of Syria likely thought the same. Naaman was perhaps too excited to hear the rest of the instructions relayed by one of his messengers, or it’s likely part of the instructions were omitted.

Although successful in his feats, this new healing meant that he could move around more freely without the pain associated with leprosy. Happiness would also come because he wouldn’t have to contend with the mental anguish of dealing with leprosy. Naaman’s gratefulness was shown when he took … “ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment.” (2 Kings 5:5).

Despite his efforts to show his gratitude to the man who could presumably provide his healing, his blissful journey came to a screeching halt when the King of Israel went into a state of bewilderment after reading the letter which requested a miracle he could not perform (see vs.7). When Elisha became aware of the king’s reaction whether by a messenger or from the Holy Spirit, he sent word for the king to send Naaman to him.

Prepared to greet Elisha with gifts he brought to the King of Israel, Naaman went eagerly to claim his blessing. However, before meeting Elisha, Naaman was greeted by Elisha’s messenger who relayed the instructions given by the prophet which was … “Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean " (2 Kings 5:10).

Now you can imagine his response when he was told to go wash in a river that was already dirty. This instruction was absurd. Why would he tell a military captain and respected leader to degrade himself to such filth? Naaman also expected Elisha to come out and greet him. This silence could have been perceived as repugnance. Offended at the instruction, Naaman left because he expected to be treated with dignity after conducting a comparative analysis between the Jordan, Abana, and Pharpar rivers (see 2 Kings 5:12). Since they had worked closely with him, Naaman’s servants felt comfortable enough to reason with him to gain understanding regarding his rejection of the prophet’s instruction and to persuade him to reconsider the instruction. They asked him if Elisha had instructed him to do a great thing, would he have done it? (see vs.13).

When he recognized the truth in their verbal confrontation, he humbled himself and went to the Jordan River and followed the instructions. To his surprise, he was made clean. Afterwards, he went back to Elisha to show him the miracle that occurred. Naaman was now convinced that Elisha’s God was the only God in all the earth (see vs. 15).

This story is an example of how you can misjudge a blessing based on your previous experience or reception of what's worthy. Expensive items can be appealing and impressive especially if those things promise promotion of ourselves and our lifestyles. However, you must be mindful to pay attention to the things that may not receive a lot of attention. Sometimes it’s those unpopular things, love relationships, business partnerships, and friendships that garner the best benefits.

When opportunities present themselves, take more time to assess the long term value not just the temporary satisfaction that can be provided. Let go of your preconceived notions of what’s worthy or not worthy of your time or your possession. Holding onto a superior mindset may cause you to suffer longer than you have to.

Stay blessed and receptive to what God has for you!

Friday, May 4, 2018

Are You a Victim or The Cause of Terror?

There have been numerous stories about bullying discussed on the news whether victims have been
tortured in school, on social media, in neighborhoods, or at work. The effects of these incidents torture victims a long time after the devastating bullying has occurred.  If you’ve experienced any type of abuse, you’re probably still recovering from emotional pain you wish others could see so they can help you. Despite your frustration, your existence is indicative of your ability to push through mental and emotional pain.

You may be thinking that I don’t know how much pain you’re in, or how bad the memories hurt. Well, I may not know exactly your level of pain, but I have experienced situations that have caused mental anguish and emotional distress because of betrayal or misuse of my kindness. I have often wondered if being kind is the right thing to do especially when those you have been kind and loyal to take advantage of you. Sometimes it seems sowing good seeds requires more of your supply than reaping the good especially when opportunists infiltrate so many segments of society. However, the positive side about sowing good deeds is the peace of mind you have knowing you have done your best regardless of the results you experience.

On the other hand, I would like to ask if you have not experienced the wounds inflicted by a terrorist, are you a terrorist? I don’t mean in terms of destroying property and killing people physically, but I’m referring to emotional, spiritual, and mental terrorism. If you’re not sure, ask yourself these questions, and if you answer yes to at least one question, I want to challenge your thinking in terms of understanding and caring about the pain you have caused others:

  • Do you talk to people in a condescending tone, answer people abruptly, or yell at others while demanding respect without caring how they feel?

  • Do you scheme and undermine the efforts of others to obtain higher positions so that people can esteem you?

  • Do you cheat others in business matters such as in landlord/tenant, lawyer/client, employer/employee, realtor/seller, salesman/customer, or personal relationships?

  • Do you withhold viable information from others that can help them excel in various areas of ther lives?

  • Are you aware that others may despise you because of your taunting, tyrant, arrogant, and negligent behavior, but you don’t care as long as you’re able to get what you want? 

  • Do you intimidate others into agreeing with you to the point they don’t feel comfortable expressing their thoughts or opinions? 

  • Do you coerce people into making decisions they may not feel comfortable with particularly by not telling them your ulterior motive such as capitalizing off their misfortune?

  • Do you take advantage of others because you know they will fulfill their end of an agreement despite your refusal to produce your part of the agreement in an excellent way?

  • Do you demand praise from others when you have finally done something that required immediate attention despite previous warnings about your obligation to fix the situation?

  • Do you distort the truth by telling half a story to make someone look bad in order to keep others thinking good about you without telling them what you did to cause a person to go through what they’re experiencing?

  • Have you done something to someone that has caused significant financial, emotional, spiritual, mental, or reputation damage and watched the person struggle to regain their previous status, and you don’t care how they survive?

  • Do you spread rumors and lies about people regardless of the pain it causes?

  • Do you quickly seize opportunities to bring up someone’s past to them and others in a self-righteous way while forgetting your own sin particularly if your sin, mistakes, or failures are not visible?

  • Do you build your wealth by swindling others, boast about your wealth, and flaunt expensive possessions as if you acquired the assets legitimately while making others feel insecure about not being able to afford what you‘ve bought?

  • Do you become angry when others end relationships with you, refuse to acknowledge what you’ve done to destroy the relationship, and tarnish their reputation by spreading rumors and lies?

  • Have you stolen something from someone whether it’s money, an asset, or a relationship and kept it without failing to apologize or give back what you have taken because your desire to possess it is more important to you than the pain you’ve caused someone?

  • Are people afraid to ask you to do something for them because they know you don’t want to, or you refuse to make time for them because you feel that your plans are more important?

  • Do you perform good deeds to gain accolades and hope to acquire financial or position rewards without caring that others know your actions are fake?

  • When someone tries to stand up for their self against you, do you quickly bring up minor things to them and others you want to impress about what you have done for them without discussing the major trouble you have caused them?

  • Do you command attention when you walk into a room?

  • Does the atmosphere, topic of discussion, and session activities have to go the way you desire because you want to occupy the seat of attention?

  • Do you use your position of authority to get want you want through manipulation, coercion, or threats?

  • Do you feel that you are the only person entitled to blessings while others suffer because they weren’t born into a family like yours or haven’t achieved the level of success you have according to societal ideals?

  • Do you require and expect others to go out of the way to show up to your events, lend a comforting ear when you’re down or sick, or meet some other need, but you’re missing in action or slow to respond when they call to tell you they're sick, need someone to talk to, or have an event they would like you to attend?

  • Are you so consumed with highlighting the failures of others that you refuse to acknowledge that your self righteous attitude appears worse than the sin that you point out in others?

  • Do you obstruct justice when you know something that can help someone legally because you don't want them to be blessed or acquire the closure they need to move forward in their life?

  • Do people talk to you in confidence, but you tell everyone you know about their personal business without their permission because you want to feel good about yourself?

  • Do you run with every bit of information you hear about someone without finding out the facts so you can feel better about yourself particularly if their challenges seem worse than yours?

  • Do you embarrass others in public hoping they will be condemned while you are praised?

  • Do you always have something negative to say about others, and what they’re doing while wanting others to praise everything you say and do?

  • Do you do good deeds for others with strings attached and keep a list of those deeds so that you can constantly remind them about how much they owe you, or how good of a person you are for doing those deeds?

  • Do you discredit others and try to make it seem like they’re lying when they become courageous to tell the truth about you?

  • Do you instigate trouble and hide your hand or steer clear of the chaos while watching others fight or argue while acting innocent?

  • Do you play the victim role when someone confronts you about what you’ve done to them?
These questions have been asked to bring to light the issues that are quickly dismissed because of the demands to enable those who torture others with their character. These issues may not warrant an arrest because no violations have been committed legally, but the long term effects that the apathy of mental and emotional terrorism is nothing to be proud of.  Your material assets may suggest success, but your character should speak louder particularly with a high level of authenticity and integrity.

An Unexpected Awakening

The Apostle Paul experienced an unexpected awakening on his way to Damascus. He was a Pharisee who prided himself in knowing the law, and he executed his authority in a malicious way to persecute Christians based on his ignorance about Jesus and the Kingdom of God. Paul was a highly educated man. He studied at one of the prominent Sanhedrin schools and was a fluent multilingual speaker. As a result, he was able to use his influence to accomplish his goals of persecuting Christians.

Fervant and zealous in his mission to defend his religious sect beliefs, Saul had to give an account about his tormenting ways to the Lord. A bright light altered his vision and prevented him from traveling further (Acts 9). After hearing his name called, Saul immediately responded by acknowledging the Lord. Left blind for several days, Saul had time to think about the pain he had caused others specifically the influence he had in the death of Stephen (Acts 7:58-60). After the Lord had mercy on him and restored his sight, he became converted to Christianity, became Paul, worked more zealously, and become sacrificial even unto death. This may have been due to the guilt he felt about his previous journey in life. Whether his motivation was based on guilt or his overwhelming love for the Lord, he strived to make the remaining part of his life a spiritually productive one.

Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late

You may have spent many years terrorizing your family, friends, co-workers, and others with a bad attitude, ungrateful demeanor, or entitled behavior because you let pride consume your mind, but it’s not too late. Perhaps some relationships or people have died that you terrorized. On the other hand, you may have retaliated because you’ve been hurt by others, and  you vowed that no one would hurt you again. As a result, you’ve become someone hated instead of someone who is sincerely admired.

Whichever path you have traveled, you have the opportunity to change your terrorist ways before you die, experience a physical tragedy, or cause others to hate they met you. You also don’t want to find yourself in a helpless state when you’re sick or old, and you don’t have anyone to depend on because everyone remembers how you treated them when you were strong and mighty. Then they may refuse to assist you because you refused to help them or be a loyal friend when they were experiencing challenges.

Romans 3:23 says ... "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God." This means you don’t have to fell overly condemned because everyone struggles with behavioral issues. As long as you acknowledge how your behavior has affected others in a negative way and remain committed to making changes, you have the opportunity to please God as well as regain respect from others.

Stay Blessed and keep striving to become better so that you can meet the Lord in peace, and hear him say, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of the Lord (Matthew 25:23).

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Dumb Down for What?

You may be familiar with the song “Turn Down for What?”, and its connotation related to sexual
activity. However, I want to ask you what and who are you dumbing down for? One of the important assets of our society is knowledge. Before the emergence of the Internet, I didn’t know I would want to access new information everyday on a wide range of topics. It seems that new thoughts about researching the benefits of different foods, the effects of medicine or herbs, product reviews, and other viable information prompts me to its discovery. However, during my escapades of numerous data inquiries, I have managed to complete several online college courses and certification training.

What Do You Know?

During our acquisition of knowledge from kindergarten to college, the abundance of information that is presented to us can be overwhelming particularly when deadlines are attached to our requirement of education possession. Whether interested or not, we must prove that we have gained a significant amount of understanding of concepts when taking exams in order to progress to the next level. Throughout the process, many variables influence our quest to attain knowledge. Examples of these variables are parents, teachers, and peers. Additionally, a competitive spirit can also play an intricate role in our educational development. Without these prompters, the need to gain knowledge would only be optional, therefore leaving the majority of humans to intellectual chance.

After acquiring a considerable amount of knowledge, we have choices regarding economic, spiritual, and other pursuits in life. We also have the option to become an influencer in various aspects. If the knowledge you like to share is attractive to others, the probability of gaining a loyal following can be very high. However, everyone who may follow you may not be as loyal as you desire. Their level of interest may not be as sincere as those who want to grasp what you’re sharing in order to improve their lives. Your non-loyal followers’ intent may be based on their curiosity about your topic choices, ability to attract a crowd, or to evaluate your level of knowledge to discover areas of deficiency they can use as evidence for their malicious reports. Whatever their mission is, you don’t have to dumb down to accommodate their intellectual inadequacies.

Grow and Wax Strong

From the time Jesus was born, threats were made to discontinue his life. King Herod felt threatened because he presumed that Jesus would take his position. Contrary to his behalf,  King Herod’s life ended before Jesus reached the age of five. When guided by the angel to move Mary and Jesus to Israel, Joseph decided that it was safer to move to Nazareth because King Herod’s son Herod Archelaus was his successor in Judaea. This safety provision allowed Jesus to develop intellectually, physically, and spiritually as intended by God his Father. Luke 2:40 (KJV) says … “And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him."

This provision suggests that Jesus’ living situation may not have been ideal as it relates to him being a royal king with access to all of the amenities and services that one of such status is entitled to. However, the situation allowed the child to be nurtured in an environment where God could equip him for future resilience against his enemy’s strategies.

One situation in particular that Jesus had to be resilient in both mentally and emotionally was when the Jews sought to kill him. John 7 describes how Jesus avoided walking in Jewry because of the threat against his life. Advised by his brethren to go to Judaea so that Jesus’ disciples could see his works although they did not believe in his works, Jesus told them that his time had not yet come to show himself to the world which indicates his level of humility. On the contrary, most people who have a special gift or talent typically rush to take advantage of every opportunity to show the world what they’re made of. This type of motivation is usually driven by money attached to the opportunity.

Jesus understood that the type of work or talent his brothers would show to others would not generate a negative response like his work would. (See John 7:7). He knew that he would be hated because he would call out evil works and disapprove self righteous attitudes. Not wanting to make a scene at the annual feast, Jesus made his entrance quietly. It is noted that some who believed in Jesus spoke kind of him among themselves fearing the Jews would disagree with their opinion, while others doubted his motive although questioning his whereabouts as if they were sincerely concerned. (See John 7:11).

An Obscure Debut

Jesus had an opportunity to teach in the temple intriguing some and catching others by surprise. John 7:15 says … “And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?" Verse 16 says … “Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.” Again, taking the lowly position, he accredited his knowledge to God.

The interesting part about this story is how the scribes and Pharisees were in constant pursuit to find anything they could to discredit Jesus. They spent a lot of time watching him and following him, but they could not find out how he acquired the level of knowledge his possessed. They prided themselves in knowing the law, but why did he know things they didn’t know? Who taught him secretly? They were amazed because they discounted him as being anyone who was thought to be notable in their society especially a king.

Has this happened to you especially among those who know you? Mark 6:1 gives an account of how Jesus went to his own country. Verse 2 says … “And when the Sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? And what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands? Is this not the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him. But Jesus, said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his house. And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching."

Is anyone offended because of what you know?

They Don’t Understand Because They Don’t Know

If anyone has shown discontent because you’ve shared what you know, and it’s not the average level of thinking, don’t dumb down. Your critics don't know what you’ve been through. No one wants to  go through trials, however, it’s through trials that you become mature and wise. James 1:2-4 says … “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire wanting nothing."

Be Proud of What You Know and Give God the Glory

When you’re going through challenges, your critics don’t see the pain and suffering you deal with silently neither do they care. On the other hand, some people may know about your circumstances, but they may be too busy predicting your demise or bleak future. They may also identify you as your circumstance instead of seeing you as an individual who has experienced a challenge. What they fail to see is God’s work in you regarding character development, emotional and mental healing as well as the spiritual education you've acquired through His School of Wisdom.

If you’re blessed with an opportunity to share with others your testimony, knowledge of the Word, or revelation about something else, represent God to the best of your ability. Some people want you to dumb down because they know that they haven’t studied to show themselves approved (See II Timothy 2:15), or they want you to remain in the status they enjoy talking about regarding your inability to move beyond what you’ve been through. If God has brought you through a myriad of challenges, or you’re coming out of a devastating situation with your sanity intact, don’t dumb down to appease those who only want you to cater to their ego or insecurities.

Now I’m not saying you should be loud, boisterous, and overbearing with your knowledge because there is a time and place for everything. You must use wisdom as the Holy Spirit reveals to you how people perceive you and your knowledge because you don’t want to turn people off particularly those who are genuinely interested in what you have to say.  Eccelesiates 3:7 says … “A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;"

If you’re going to school to obtain a degree, studying the Bible on your own, or have acquired a significant amount of knowledge, keep seeking that which can help you become a better person intellectually and spiritually so that you can be as Paul admonished the people of Colasse to do.

Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man (Colossians 4:5-6).

Stay Blessed and Keep Learning!

Saturday, March 3, 2018

A Challenge to Serve the Least of These

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We live in a busy world and each of us has our share of responsibility. The ability to move around freely with limited interruption is a blessing that many people cannot enjoy. This group of people consist of those of various ages, ethnic groups, educational levels, and financial statuses. While one segment of this group may look at others and envy them for some aspect of their lives, they have one thing in common and that’s dependence on others for some type of assistance.

Those who have visible limitations obviously need help and probably have honed their humbleness in relying on ADA services. However, there are those who struggle to ask for help because of the fear of rejection. The stigma of being labeled handicapped in some way can hold you back mentally and spiritually. Those who fear being stigmatized may have some degree of success that can be seen externally, but they suffer silently with issues they can’t manage.

Plain View Oversight

John 5 tells a story about a man who was afflicted with a sickness for 38 years. The Bible doesn’t indicate what type of sickness he had, but one thing is certain, the sickness was a personal battle he contended with too long. The place where the man laid was in Jerusalem at the Bethesda pool. Many people would gather around this pool to wait for an angel that would come … “down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water:” Those who were fortunate to have some type of mobility were able to go into the pool and receive their healing. However, the man who was afflicted for 38 years couldn't seize this opportunity. Healing wasn’t as easy to obtain as it was for others who stepped in front of him.

One day Jesus was visiting Jerusalem for the feast of the Jews and saw the man lying down, he asked him if he wanted to be made whole. The man explained to Jesus that no man was willing to help him get into the pool. I’m not sure what Jesus thought about the man’s situation, but I doubt if he judged him harshly as many people do about others they assume can do more for themselves. Since John stated in chapter one that … “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, all Jesus had to do was speak a Word. Genesis 1 says … In the beginning God created the heaven and earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light:

In the same manner, Jesus spoke to the sick man and said, … “Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. (vs. 8). And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: “(vs. 9). This happened on the Sabbath day and caused controversy among the Jews because certain acts were not to be performed on this day. They were more concerned about the man carrying his bed on the Sabbath day than they were about his healing. I’m sure these were the same people that walked by him to go into the temple to pray for many years, and they likely did not offer financial assistance or prayer. While they were in the temple praying and performing religious rituals, they negated their Kingdom assignment when they ignored the sick man.

Passport into the Kingdom of Heaven

Matthew 25:35-46 informs us that those who feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick, and those in prison will receive eternal life. These verses were an eye-opener to me one day because I hadn’t read through to the last verse of this chapter. I heard sermons about verses 35-40 which indicated that when you do these things unto the least of these, it is as if you’re doing it unto the Lord. So when I read through the end of the chapter and gained full understanding that these types of works are important enough that God counts it as qualifications to enter the Kingdom of heaven, I began to reevaluate the things I was taught regarding church work.

A lot of people tend to overlook these types of Kingdom work because it’s not prestigious unless recognized by an important government or religious official especially during times when opportunities for promotion are available. However, God keeps a record of our deeds; good and bad. As a result, He will require us to answer for our works according to Romans 14:12 and II Corinthians 5:10. Now, I’m not encouraging you to change your ways or start doing these works just so you can get into heaven because although God sees our works, he also knows the intention of our hearts. If you desire people to be good to you, do good acts for others without any strings attached. No one wants to feel like a burden to the one who is providing help and any work done grudgingly can be sensed by the person who is receiving help. The Lord also doesn’t want us to be prejudice in our helpful service.

Work While It is Day (John 9:4)

If you haven’t been serving others you know need assistance, try to make time to lend a helping hand. Your schedule may not permit you to spend many hours with someone, but you can help someone by offering to:

• Grocery shop for the elderly, disabled, or those who don’t have transportation.
• Tutor children whose parents may be very busy or don’t have the academic skills regarding a particular subject.
• Clean someone’s home.
• Visit those who can’t attend church, read the Bible to them, and offer prayer.
• Provide financial assistance (pay someone’s utility bill, prescription expenses, tuition, or purchase infant or children’s personal items).
• Provide personal care assistance to the elderly, disabled or sick (i.e, grooming hair, dressing, or feeding services).
• Take someone to lunch who needs someone to talk to during a difficult time in their life, and let your conversation with him or her remain confidential unless it’s life threatening.
• Make welfare check phone calls to the elderly, single mothers, married couples, children, and anyone who wishes someone would notice their situation.
• Provide foster care for children if you’re financially able to do so.

These are just a few ideas to help you get started doing some of the things outlined in Matthew 25:35-46. You may not be able to do all of the good works, but making an effort to show compassion aids in your healing process as well. James 5:16 says … “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.  Ecclesiates 11:1-2 says … “Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days. Give a portion to seven, and also to eight; for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth.” In other words, sow good deeds while you have the money and strength to do so. If you don’t have money, your strength will be valuable to the person who has no strength.

Form a Team of Servers

These service opportunities don’t have to fall solely on your shoulders. If you’re interested in making a significant impact in your community, recruit others you think may also be interested in making a difference. If your schedule permits, meet once a month to brainstorm how you can expand your service initiatives. Your group can do the following services once a month:

• Host a food distribution day.
• Host a clothing drive and giveaway.
• Host a free luncheon or dinner for those with low income.
• Host an education, health, career, and community resource fair at a church or community center.
• Make and distribute grocery bags to residents who live in your church community and offer a prayer hotline on a piece of paper or card just in case they need someone to talk to, but they’re not comfortable attending church.

Reference Isaiah 58 for more ideas. This passage of scripture provides a broader understanding of Kingdom work, and how to avoid living a self-centered life.

And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ (Colossians 3:23-24,KJV).

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

What's on Your Mind?

The influx of information is in abundance. Whether it’s accessible through your smart phone, TV, 
radio, computer, newspaper, or through friends, you definitely won’t miss anything. Information is generated and distributed at a faster rate now than it was decades ago. Depending on what you’re searching for, you can typically find data on any topic within a second.

If you’re interested in the latest celebrity gossip, you can just type in the name of the person or subscribe to one of your favorite YouTube commentary channels to stay abreast of what’s happening in their lives. On the other hand, if you’re interested in inspirational, economic, health, or other attention-grabbing topics, you can subscribe to blogs, join Facebook groups, or follow an expert on Twitter to find out what’s trending.

The Effects of Negative Information

When browsing through information to get to targeted subject matter, you’re likely to be bombarded with ads, articles, videos, and other content that's unrelated to what you’re looking for. Despite the opposite relativity, the creators of the content have strategically developed messages that will attract your attention. If the message appeals to your interest, you have the option of clicking on the link to find out more information about the topic.

If you choose to follow the path the link leads you through, you can either engage with the information by reading more data or resort back to the path you originally set out on. When this routine is done on a regular basis, your subconscious will capture information that has positive and negative connotation. The same can be said about conversations we have with people. Over the course of time, our speech, choice of media content, and behavior will reflect our mindset as well as our outlook on life.

Move Beyond Distractions

Unfortunately, sometimes our natural instinct for gathering information gravitates towards negative content. This may be due to early mental conditioning influenced by our parents, teachers, peers, TV, and other sources. These messages most likely were related to relationships, money, careers, and people. The temptation to gravitate toward negative things about others can also stem from our need to feel better about ourselves when others are doing bad.

Subconsciously it may soothe our conscience particularly if it’s someone who has treated us or others badly. We tend to feel self-righteous and judgmental to know that we haven’t done what they have done, and therefore we point fingers without considering ourselves. Galatians 6:1 (KJV) says Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

Although some good messages were mixed in the teaching process, negative messages will tend to outrank the positive messages if repeated more frequently. As a result, you have to make more of a conscious effort to research, read, listen to, and study content that will motivate you to change your mindset. If you’re a goal-oriented person, you know what it takes to achieve a goal. One of the primary steps is brainstorming strategies to begin the process.

If you want to obtain a degree, you must first research colleges and universities to find out if the schools offer degrees in the field you’re interested in. The next step will be to complete an application at a college or university to request acceptance. The next step will be to secure the money you need to pay the tuition. Once you’ve managed these steps, you will need to register and attend classes.

However, these steps are not enough to obtain the degree you desire. You must follow the instructions given to you by your professors such as completing assignments, researching data, and studying in order to be prepared for tests. When these steps are adhered to diligently through the course of your assigned degree program, and you pass satisfactorily, you will be presented with the reward you anticipate.

Proverbs 18:1 (KJV) says ... "Through desire a man, having separated himself, seeketh and intermeddleth with all wisdom." This means that when you desire something, you must make a commitment to achieve it. You won’t get it hanging out with people who don’t have the same vision as yourself or by absorbing content that influences you in negative ways.

Signs It’s Time to Make a Change

If you’re involved in relationships with people who talk condescending to you or about others in a condescending manner, you should consider changing your friendship network. If you have new ideas, and the people you’re telling don’t say anything about your insight or laugh at the mere thought of something different, then you should ponder it in your heart like Mary did when the angel told her she would be the mother of Jesus until you achieve the goal. (Luke 2:19,51). You also have to find and link up with people of the same mindset in order to maintain positive thinking. If you find it hard to do this within your local community, search online for communities that are focused on business networking, spiritual inspiration, or personal development.

Finally, Think On These Things

Staying focused in a society that’s inundated with so much information is challenging. It’s easy to be drawn away with good and bad content. Depending on your intention, the results generated can be either uplifting or detrimental to your future’s forecast. If you don’t know how to change your mindset, you can read this verse aloud everyday to help train your mind; Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of a good report; if there by any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things (Philippians 4:8, KJV).

If you want to change your future, you must change your mind.

Stay focused and blessed!

Friday, January 19, 2018

Prepare the Way for Your Blessing

2018 has embarked upon us quickly. What will happen this year? It’s hard to tell, but with faith
we’ll make it through. 2017 presented numerous surprises; some good and some catastrophic. If you experienced situations that threatened to change your perception about God and the outcome of your life, you were also most likely surprised that you made it through those obstacles. If some of those challenges came with you into 2018, you still have the opportunity to improve your life. If you’ve accomplish a portion of your goals or changed your behavior in some positive way during 2017, that’s great, but don’t stop there, keep aiming higher.

You may have received a word of prophecy from someone regarding the blessings God has in store for your future. Excitement may have filled your mind throughout that day and the days that followed. However, as time passed, you may have forgotten what was spoken to you because of challenges that were sent to distract you. You might have also thought that your blessing would instantly appear, and you got discouraged when it did not happen as you imagined. Now there are times when miracles may happen when we desperately need it. On the other hand, when a word of prophecy is spoken, work is required on our part in order to manifest that which is promised to you. I know you may be thinking that it’s too much work to believe, pray, declare, and work toward receiving your blessing, but I would like to ask you a question. If you are informed that you will receive a paycheck after a week or two of working on your job, what do you do? You work. It’s the same thing way with your blessings.

Draw a Blueprint

Psalm 37:4 says “He will give you the desires of your heart.” Have you identified your desires and what is involved in the process of obtaining your desires? If not, schedule time to write down the steps you will need to take to bring your vision to pass. I remember watching several videos of a woman who was complaining about how a prophet had told her that the Lord was going to bless her with several things, but she had not seen it come to pass yet. So her summation of the prophecy was that the man was a false prophet. However, my summation of her complaint was that she was just waiting for something magical to happen based on her lack of action. James 2:26 says For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

Habbukuk 2:2 says And the Lord answered me, and said,  Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.

Take a notebook and write down the things you would like to see manifested in your life plainly. For example, include in your list:

• Things you want to discard or relationships you want to start or end.
• Personal development tools you want to utilize to improve your health, spiritual life, or education status.
• Amount of money you need to accumulate to purchase items or save toward your future.
• Action areas you need to increase discipline in order to meet your goals by a specific deadline.

Making preparation for your blessings also means you will have to work on yourself interpersonally in terms of your character. This means becoming more appreciative for the blessing you already have, choosing better responses to situations and people who may not always agree with you in addition to admitting when you’re wrong and making a concerted effort to change bad habits. Sometimes a delay of blessings means that a personal change needs to happen so that we can fully value what is waiting for our possession.

John the Baptist is known as the forerunner for Christ in terms of spreading the word that a Messiah would be coming in Matthew 3. While spending time in the wilderness, he consecrated himself, and prepared to be worthy enough to baptize Jesus. Although obscure in his living conditions and viewed as awkward, he allowed God to use him as a conduit by which others would listen to what he had to say about Jesus.

Don’t Proscratinate

If you’ve been waiting for a blessing for a long time, think about how fast or slow you’ve been regarding doing small things God has wanted you to do. Sometimes God is waiting for us to answer someone else’s prayers. You may have what someone needs in your possession and someone else may have what you need in their possession.

Isaiah 58 talks about the fast that the Lord has chosen, one that is (vs.6) “ to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke.” (Vs. 7), to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? When thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Verses 8-14 goes on to tell about what blessings will come upon you when you make these sacrifices for others despite your own challenges.

Preparing the way does not have to be a complicated process. It just means making small changes here and there as well as making room to receive the blessing. So if you have an abundance of assets that’s taking up space in your home or somewhere else, consider sharing those blessings with others. Luke 6:38 says Give and it shall be given unto you, pressed down, shaken together, and running over shall men give unto your bosom.

In the midst of preparing the way to receive your blessings, stay focused on the end result regardless of the obstacles in between, treat others kindly along the way, and expect to be rewarded abundantly.

Stay blessed and expect the best!

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