Thursday, September 20, 2018

Thursday's Thoughts

I continue to rejoice in the presence of God as I remember that He is with me at all times and in all situations that I face. I also continue to rejoice in the presence of God that has been very real and very evident in our corporate worship services in recent months.
I sincerely believe the words that a brother in Christ shared with me on Monday via a text message, “God IS up to something.” But each of us must be willing to answer this question; “Will I respond in obedience or will I just choose to read about the move of God or settle for just observing what God is doing?”
We must become like the man in the New Testament who was told to “take up your bed and walk.”  I believe that God is looking for participants who will identify His presence and then take the appropriate steps of obedience. Let’s be honest with each other; “It is easier to stay in the land of contentment and satisfaction than it is to take the step of faith and step out of our spiritual comfort zone."
Pastor Everrett Holloway shared these words on his FB page on Tuesday. I felt led to share them with you as we move forward through today. TODAY for your morning devotion, don’t just get into the word; let the word get into you! Colossians 3:16, "Let the word Of Christ dwell in you richly!" TODAY don’t allow your worry to overtake your worship! TODAY don’t allow the voices of others and their opinions override the voice and the presence of God! TODAY don’t allow your busyness to help you forget how blessed you are!  TODAY don’t just walk and talk but walk in the power of the spirit and speak life and faith, so that those around you will see the CHRIST within you and desire to be like Him and want to live for Him!  Acts 18:27.” In Him we live and move and have our being. As some poets have said we are his offspring!” Be Blessed TODAY!
We have only one day to follow God and it’s not yesterday because that day is gone. It’s not tomorrow, because we can’t be certain that it will come. All we have is today.” (Unknown)

Friday, September 14, 2018

Friday's Encouragement

I firmly believe that God is calling us to focus on Him as we move forward in this world. The writer in Hebrews 12:2 (NKJV) said it this way; “...Keeping our eyes on Jesus...”; Psalm 57:7 (KJV) declares these words; “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed...”; and the old hymn encourages us to “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.” (Helen Howarth Lemuel)

I also firmly believe that God is calling the present day church to rediscover the importance of prayer which will lead us into the power of prayer. Prayer is being overlooked as an important “spiritual tool” that God has provided for us to use against the attacks of satan. We have time for everything but prayer. We have set aside prayer as being “something” that a select few are called to practice. I encourage you to read out loud the words of 1 Peter 5:7, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.(NKJV)

These challenging reminders as well as the daily call from God to draw nearer to Him and His directions for my life is convincing me of my need to FOCUS ON THE CONTINUING DEVELOPMENT OF MY RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD. I encourage each of us to pay close attention to the Word of God and to the call to the present day church to place Christ as the “center piece” of our lives!! Will we take time to draw near to Him today? God is looking for action and not just our “religious words.” The present day church needs to pay close attention to the words of Jesus in Matthew 15:8, “These people draw near to me with their mouth, And honor me with their lips, But their heart is far from me.” (NKJV)

I received a text from one of the brothers of the New River church body as I was praying this morning. He shared a passage of scripture that God led him to read during his time of prayer and devotion. Psalm 27:7-8, Hear me as I pray, O Lord. Be merciful and answer me! My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.” (NLT) (Emphasis Added) He had spoken these words to the Bible Study on Wednesday night. “Over the past few days I have felt led to say these words to God, I AM COMING TO YOU!!” (Mike G.) He had based his words on the promise of God found in James 4:8a, Draw near to God and He will draw near to you…”

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Remembering 9-11-01

Today is 9-11-18. Many of us can and will remember where we were located when the Terrorist attacks took place in America 17 years ago today. We were glued to our radios or televisions trying to make some sense out of the terrible events that were taking place right before our very eyes. But let me make another observation. Will we also remember the “need to pray” that came upon us. Our minds were full of the “WHAT IF” scenarios. Was our nation under attack? Was WWWIII about to happen? Was the end of the America that we knew happening at this particular moment?

I remember receiving phone calls from people who asked could we gather for prayer at church the evening of 9-11-01. I can still remember the prayer time that evening. There were people who attended that prayer meeting that did not normally attend the prayer meetings. Churches opened their doors for prayer! Our President asked the nation to pray! Political leaders “reached across the isle” in unity and cooperation for the common good of the American people! People prayed in the public view other citizens. We sang “God bless America” time and time again.

BUT IT DID NOT TAKE LONG BEFORE WE RETURNED TO THE WAY THINGS WERE AND WE SOON FORGOT ABOUT WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN IF WE HAD RETAINED THE ATTITUDE OF PRAYERFUL SURRENDER TO GOD!!

Today is about remembering the victims of 9-11 as well as the families of the victims. I will also remember the first responders who made the greatest sacrifice of all as well as their families. I am choosing to remember each of these individuals through my commitment to pray for our nation. Our nation is under another type of attack on 9-11-18. It is a “spiritual attack” upon the soul of America!! 

Will you take some time and pray for the Spirit of God to awaken EACH OF US to a deeper, stronger relationship with God?

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Thursday's Thoughts

I trust that we are walking in the promises of the presence of God in our daily lives. It is a wonderful blessing as well as privilege to know that God is TRULY INTERESTED in our spiritual well-being. As a matter of fact I believe that God is more interested in our spiritual journey of life than we are at various junctures of life. I believe this because God sees the complete picture of Heaven and Hell. He knows the joy of Heaven and the sadness of eternal separation from God. We only see the end result through our eyes that are often “blinded” through the distractions as well as attractions of satan.

I truly believe that these are the days in which God is calling us to recognize His voice. I also truly believe that God is at work in His Kingdom and that He is AWAITING MY (YOUR) RESPONSE TO THE PRESENCE OF THE SPIRIT!!
James 4:7-8, Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” (NKJV)
These words of a song somewhat describe the church service that I attended this past Sunday. “The presence of the Lord is here, the presence of the Lord is here, we can feel Him in the atmosphere...” This song prompted this thought in my mind. What or whom am I looking for when I attend a church service? Am I just looking for social interaction or fellowship? Am I just checking my “religious box” of attending church? Am I looking for everything to be what I want or what I like so that my “carnal (fleshly) needs will be met? Am I looking for something or someone to criticize, judge or even condemn? OR AM I LOOKING FOR AN ENCOUNTER WITH THE TRUE AND LIVING GOD? I do not want to offend anyone but I will make this bold statement. I AM LOOKING FOR AN ENCOUNTER WITH GOD!! 
The enemy wants to trap us in the bondage of “resistance, rejection and rebellion.” He may choose to set these negative responses toward God in motion over a small amount of time until we are slowly drawn into an arena of full blown rebellion. I truly believe that the Spirit is revealing this to me to enlighten us and not to condemn us. I am commissioned to share what I see in my role as a “spiritual watchman on the wall.” (Ezekiel 3, Ezekiel 33) YET, in the midst of these challenging days I see the Hand of God at work in marvelous ways. THAT IS ONE OF THE REASONS THAT I AM DETERMINED TO PURSUE MORE OF GOD REGARDLESS OF THE PRICE THAT I MAY HAVE TO PAY!!

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Wednesday's Reminder

I trust that your journey with God continues to grow stronger and stronger as we purpose in our hearts to draw closer to God. The Spirit has been reminding me of the various "voices" that each of us hear on a daily basis. Many of these voices come from the darkness of Hell and they seek to lead us away from our relationship with Jesus Christ, the Chief Shepherd of our soul. I would like to share a familiar passage with us that comes from John 10.

John 10:4-5, And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. (NKJV)

The voices of darkness or the "voices of strangers" have one purpose and one purpose alone. They seek to bring confusion, doubt, fear, anxiety, discouragement, disillusionment, etc. These spirits then seek to work against the development of our spiritual relationship with Christ. The Bible reveals this Truth throughout the Old Testament as well as the New Testament; "God will speak to His people." I am faced with the decision of making sure that I listen to the correct voice of the Shepherd, Jesus Christ. Listening to the Voice of Christ means that I must choose to resist the other voices that are constantly desiring to distract me from serving God or attracting me to pursue my old life. Satan is also cunning enough to know that he may not initially lead me completely away from God but he will use any means that he can to "cool off" or "slow down" my walk with Christ. These become the moments in each of our lives in which we must choose to follow Christ with all of our heart and not just a portion of our heart.

The Apostle Peter referred to our spiritual enemy as a "roaring lion" who is "walking about seeking whom he may devour." (I Peter 5:8) We must learn to resist this "noise maker" and turn our ears to hear the Voice of our Savior. I know that this is challenging to each of us in this day of spiritual warfare BUT I FULLY BELIEVE that the Spirit will give us enough power and strength to accomplish this spiritual goal of following the Voice of our Savior. We must ask the Spirit to strengthen our resolve, our courage, our desire and our personal walk with Christ. It can be accomplished if we believe the fact that God has called us to be OVERCOMERS!!

Let us remind ourselves of the words of the Apostle Paul in Hebrews 2:1Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.” But sometimes we drift. Pleasure entices us. Troubles mount. Sin calls. The world beckons. We wonder why our hearts seem empty and cold. What happened to the zeal we had? What happened to our desire to live an extraordinary life? What happened to the desire to gather with fellow believers and offer our praise and worship to the One who had forgiven us of our sins? Why are we sliding back into old habits and patterns? These may be questions the Holy Spirit is urging us to consider. Perhaps He is right now shaking us awake from our spiritual sleepiness, reminding us that without holiness no one will see the Lord (see Hebrews 12:14). Today let us ask God to help us live out our faith with passionate commitment, fueled by a hunger for holiness that reflects our love of God and his greater love for us. Let us pray earnestly and eagerly for the grace to be fully awake to God's life within us.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Wednesday's Encouragement

Psalm 119:33-36, Teach me your decrees, O Lord; I will keep them to the end. 34 Give me understanding and I will obey your instructions; I will put them into practice with all my heart.35 Make me walk along the path of your commands, for that is where my happiness is found. 36 Give me an eagerness for your laws rather than a love for money!” (NLT)

I am sure that many of you can attest to my belief as well as your belief that the Word of God MUST PLAY an important role in our lives. It does seem that some people are intimidated by the Bible rather than being encouraged and strengthened by the Bible. I believe these different attitudes may come from our approach as to how we read the Bible. I have read various writers describe the need to read the Bible as a "love letter" from God rather than just reading it as a "rule book" of laws and regulations. Let me state the obvious; I do believe that the Bible is the Word of God and it does provide direction, guidance, correction, and discipline, etc. for the children of God. But the Word of God is written for the spiritual development of our soul and not for the destruction of our soul.

Is it possible that we have taken the Word of God and developed our "checklist" of things that we need to do and things that we don't need to do? Yes, I believe that the Bible does reveal and teach us what is right and wrong. But the Word of God also reveals the love, mercy, grace, compassion, kindness, etc. as well as the daily interest that God has in our lives. Yes, God is a God of judgment but He is also a God of forgiveness, a God of reconciliation, a God of restoration, and a God that desires to draw near to us as well as draw us near to Him. The Bible should not be intimidating to us but the Bible should be viewed as a "love letter" that reveals God's desire to bring humanity into the fullness of fellowship and communion with Him as well as with each other. The Bible is more than a novel that was written through human insight and through the concepts of humanity. No, The Bible was written through the inspiration and anointing of the Holy God who loved this world enough to prepare a plan of salvation for the redemption of mankind (Read: 2 Timothy 3:16-17, 2 Peter 1:21).

The Bible is not meant to be a book that we simply display or quote from time time as  a "witness" to people that we believe in God. No, the Bible was meant to be "lived out or put into practice" in our lives on a daily basis. I believe that the joy of the Lord will fully come alive in OUR LIVES when we realize the Bible is not meant to be a "burden" but the Word is meant to be a "tool" of the revelation of God's love. care and concern for our individual journey of faith. 


Thursday, August 16, 2018

Sitting or Standing?

The Apostle Paul shared a powerful challenge with the church at Ephesus as well as with each of us in Ephesians 6:10 & 13; "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in in the evil day, and having done all, to stand." (NKJV) (Emphasis Added)

I am COMPLETELY AND THOROUGHLY CONVINCED THAT GOD is calling each of us to draw closer to Him so that we can become the "spiritual warriors" that are needed in this day and time. This is no time to be "asleep" at the wheel of our lives. We need to be alert, awake and aware of the condition of our soul and the spiritual condition of those family and friends that are near and dear to us. We cannot afford for our soul to be living in a spiritual famine while the needs and desires of the flesh are being fed and fed very well. These are the days in which we need to be seeking God with passion, desire and longing for more of Him in our lives. I want God to know that I need Him and want Him more today than I did yesterday.