Thursday, April 9, 2020

Easter is ______________________

Holy Week has evaporated very quickly or so it seems to me. These are certainly "odd & unique" days in which we are living. It seems to me that our nation is almost in a state of paralysis which has been brought on by the appearance of Covid-19. This invisible enemy has attacked our land and each decision that we make is dictated and somewhat controlled by the activity of this enemy. We must be on guard and not allow this enemy to attack our soul during this special time in our "spiritual calendar." I want my soul to be "strong in the Lord and in the power of His might." I want my "spiritual immune" system to ward off the attempts of the enemy to thwart my faith and trust in God. I would like to share a portion of a letter that I shared with the New River Worship Center family this week. I pray that you will be encouraged and strengthened by what I felt led to to share. 

Psalm 46:4-5, “There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.” (NKJV)

I have referenced Psalm 46 & Psalm 91 many times in prayer and my personal times of meditation over the past few weeks of this unique journey of life. I have found comfort, strength and hope in the words written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. These are the times in which God is calling us to look to Him to be the Provider of all that we need. We should believe that promise all of the time yet we don’t. It is easy to rely on our own abilities or the abilities of others but it is during challenging times such as these that we lean more heavily on the presence of God! I believe that EACH OF US needs to allow God to teach us the lesson or lessons that He is seeking to reveal to us. We need to become students and look to the Master Teacher for the wisdom and guidance that we need.

This is the first Holy Week in Christian history to be observed primarily online. From live streamed services at the Vatican to video sermons recorded and shared on cell phones, Christians and Christian churches all over the world are meeting virtually these days. Many of us are missing the opportunities of gathering with our “church family” in corporate worship. I am praying that those feelings will still burn in our hearts when the church doors are open once again for corporate worship and fellowship. Sadly, many of us don’t think of the blessing of some things until they are removed from our lives. I was blessed by these words that Phillip Yancey declared; “God goes where he’s wanted.” Our wanting more of God must go deeper than just words; it must become the cry of our hearts.
There is no recorded activity of Jesus on Wednesday during Holy Week. But the Psalmist David reminded us that “God is in the midst” of His people. You cannot quarantine God to a specific location or stop Him for doing His work in our lives. He is in the midst of two or three who gather together in His name. The activities of Easter have been put on hold to a certain extent. The services that churches had scheduled will either be postponed or shared via social media. But I was reminded of something this morning in prayer; “The opportunity of worship and interaction with God does not have to be rescheduled or limited to a time of viewing a service on social media. God can be worshiped any time and in any place if we would just turn our hearts toward Him!” We can take these difficult days and turn them into days of prayer, praise, and worship to the Savior who gave His life on Calvary for the sins of humanity. Holy week was never about new clothes, colored eggs, large meals, etc. Holy week was a time in which Jesus was preparing to offer His life on the cross so that men and women such as you and me would be forgiven, redeemed, restored and adopted into the family of God. “OH WHAT A SAVIOR!!!” Doesn’t He deserve our sincere attention and adoration?

Desmond Tutu: "Easter says to us that despite everything to the contrary, his will for us will prevail, love will prevail over hate, justice over injustice and oppression, peace over exploitation and bitterness." Easter this year will look a bit different, but we will not let that stand in the way of our celebration of Christ’s victory. Let us take this opportunity realize that God is able to reveal “His light in the midst of our darkness.” I encourage each of us to claim the promises of Isaiah 61:3,To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” (NKJV)

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Does God Really Love Me?

I am convinced that many non-believers as well as believers have failed to fully capture the truth concerning the Love of God. I believe that many people’s relationship with God has been hindered by this lack of understanding. The principle of the Love of God sounds “simple” to some of us because we have heard about it all of our lives. We read the words. We hear the words in songs and in sermons. And we actually believe in the Love of God. Yet, we struggle believing that GOD LOVES US!!!

I do not desire to “replay” last week’s message but the Spirit of God continues to stir my heart concerning this powerful truth in the Bible. I firmly believe that God is speaking to me and that I am supposed to speak to you about the Love of God. Each of us must learn to embrace His love and allow His love to transform us into His plan for our lives. The enemy of our soul does not want us to receive the Love of God because he knows that it will make a difference in our lives. But isn’t transformation/change the true purpose of God in our lives? I am thankful that God cares enough for me that He shares His love with me! I believe that we need to celebrate the love of God more than ever.

I would like to share a portion of a devotional with you written by Esther Allen. I encourage you to take a few minutes and read this powerful inspirational message.

Romans 8:37, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (NIV)

I’d been in a spiritual wilderness season for quite some time. Having resigned from my job, I walked by faith, but as the days, weeks and months went on, God felt more and more distant. I wasn’t hearing His voice clearly, and I wondered if I’d mis-stepped or made a mistake.

After year three of unanswered prayers with hope deferred and no job in sight, I asked myself, Would this heart-sick feeling stick with me the rest of my days? Would “Defeated” be my new name?

We will not feel like conquerors every day. In the seasons and years we feel weary, unseen and tired, it’s important to not rename ourselves in the middle of a storm. We’re meant to be more than conquerors, and “Overcomers” will be a part of our new name — if we don’t give up.

I never felt like the phrase “more than conquerors” applied to me. After being abandoned by my biological parents, losing extended family members, facing financial independence as a teenager and being unsure where I would lay my head at night, I certainly didn’t feel like “more than a conqueror.”

And I know I am not alone. To the woman facing an unwanted break-up, a betrayal or the death of a loved one — I’m sure you don’t feel like you’re overcoming, either.

But let’s not miss the questions that precede calling us conquerors. The Apostle Paul asks, Romans 8:35, Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (NKJV)

We’re told we can be more than conquerors in the midst of these hardships and evils — right smack-dab in the middle of a trial.
Being more than a conqueror means whatever the enemy intended to use to take you out — whatever was meant to destroy you — did not in fact destroy you, and it’s now being used for God’s glory.

It means we don’t rename ourselves in the seasons we feel forgotten and forsaken. It means we persevere to the other side of the trial and wait, expectantly, for our new name.

Our stories are important. They’re part of our testimony about what God has done for us. But there’s a second part to our stories. How are we overcoming? How are we being made new? What’s God doing inside of us, not just yesterday or last week or 10 years ago, but today? Do our stories show God’s ongoing faithfulness?

I used to see myself as an orphan, but now I know I am an adopted daughter or son.

I am more than a conqueror.

I trust and pray that this devotional was a blessing to you. Remember that GOD DOES LOVE YOU!!!

Thursday, February 6, 2020

I Want to No More About My Lord

I trust that your week is going well. It seems that life can be somewhat like a roller coaster ride; up and down. But there is one Truth that remains the same whether we are up or down. It is the presence of the unfailing and never disappearing love of God. We can count on the presence of God regardless of the situations that we face on any day of our lives.

You and I must remember that we need to recognize the presence of God. But there is also another step that we need to take. We need to be prepared to align ourselves with His presence. That simply means that I take the time and make the effort to respond to the presence of God. This step of obedience opens our heart to God in such a manner that we begin to prepare our hearts to receive what He desires to share with us. ALL MIRACLES THAT WE NEED ARE BASED ON OUR WILLINGNESS TO RESPOND TO GOD IN FATH BELIEVING. I must believe that He is interested in my life and I must believe that He can meet the need that I am facing at that particular chapter in my life.

I was awakened this morning with a song on my mind that was part of our worship services as a young Christian. The song is “I Want To Know More About My Lord.” Some of you may remember singing that song in church. I would like to share two of the verses that spoke to my heart. Would you take a moment and read these words?

Verse 2: I'M GLAD I KNOW THE BLESSED SAVIOR
FOR THROUGH HIS BLOOD HE SET ME FREE 
THO' ROUGH THE ROAD I SHALL NOT WAIVER
FOR SOME GLAD DAY HIS FACE I'LL SEE

VERSE 3: HE PROMISED WHEN HIS SOUL ASCENDED
I'M COMING BACK THE LORD DID SAY
IF ON HIS PROMISE YOU'VE DEPENDED
ON WINGS OF LOVE YOU'LL SOAR AWAY (Author: Lee Roy Abernathy)

Do you notice the resolve that is presented in this song? Take a moment and look at the words; “I shall not waver; Some glad day His face I’ll see; If on His promise You’ve depended.” These words remind me of my need to focus on my journey and be consistent in my pursuit of more of God. Remember the title, “I Want To More Know About My Lord.” I believe that it is very important to continue our personal development of our relationship with our Lord and Savior. It is a wonderful blessing to have a desire to continue learning about our Savior. This desire opens our hearts to a deeper understanding of God. This desire also strengthens our faith. Our faith must grow stronger as we face the challenges of this day and time.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Spiritual Development

I am thankful that God has given me another day to love and serve Him for which I am very grateful. I find myself thinking about each day of my life and my desire to do what is pleasing to God. I realize that I have more days behind me than I have in front of me according the average length of a man’s life. BUT I am still determined to give my best to our Savior as my life moves forward.

I can reflect on my journey and recognize the growth and maturity that has taken place in my natural life as well as my spiritual life. I am thankful that God has not given up on me even during the days of challenge and difficulty. God’s plan for our lives is greater than we can ever imagine. We will give up on ourselves before God gives up on us. Isn’t the love of God simply amazing? I have a desire to continue my spiritual growth even though I have been on this journey for a good number of years.

I feel that the present day church must see the need to draw closer to God. I am sure that you can sense that in my correspondence as well as any message that I may preach at New River or at any other church! But I am concerned that many of us present day believers do not take enough of our time and apply it to the development of our journey with Christ. Is it possible that we have settled into the routine of just complaining about the demise of our society yet do very little in seeking more of God? Is it possible that we have knowledge about God but fail to continue pursuing more of God in our lives? Am I leaving the right example for my family and friends? Do people see Christ at work in my life? I believe that each of us face these challenges in some shape or form. I (we) must shake off any interference of the enemy and be more determined to listen carefully to the call of God to seek His face. We take time for many things that please or satisfy us but DO WE TAKE TIME FOR GOD?

Let us take a moment and notice the response of the Psalmist David to the call from God. Psalm 27:7-9,Hear, O Lordwhen I cry with my voice! Have mercy also upon me, and answer me. When You said, “Seek My face,” My heart said to You, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.” Do not hide Your face from me; Do not turn Your servant away in anger; You have been my help; Do not leave me nor forsake me, O God of my salvation.(NKJV)

Let us notice that David made a definitive decision. His response was not a maybe or I will get around to it when I have time. Let me remind you of his words; “Your face, Lord, I will seek.” He did not say that I will seek your hand (blessings) but I will seek your face (relationship). We spend much time in seeking His blessings but very little time seeking the continuing development of our relationship with God. Is there any wonder that our faith is so weak and we easily crumble under the attacks of satan? (Note: I am speaking to me as well as to you.)

What will we do with the present day call from Heavenly Father? Will we say yes or will we say no? Our spiritual future depends on our response to God. There are only two destinations for us to consider. We will either enter into the presence of God (Heaven) at death or we will be separated from God for all of eternity (Hell) at death. But we can celebrate the fact that God offers each of us the opportunity to make the right decision.

Friday, January 17, 2020

TODAY

I am sure that you are highly impressed with the title of today's blog. I am convinced that today is important to us as well as important to God! What will I do with today? Will I take some time to spend with God in a moment of reflection and prayer? Will I sense the need to read the Word of God before TODAY ends? I would like to share the letter that I wrote to the New River church family this week. I pray that your heart and life would be challenged and stirred as mine was as I was typing the words! 

Good morning! It is a wonderful blessing to be able to get up this morning and begin a new day in a new year. Do you realize that we are over ½ of the way through the first month of 2020? Have you ever asked yourself this question; “Where does my time go?” Do we realize that the Bible answers that question for us?

James 4:14, “How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.” (NLT)

We often hear these words from people, “Time flys when you are having fun.” We all know that this is a statement that was created to explain how quickly time goes by. But we need to remember that the Apostle James had already felt the inspiration from God to share the truth about life. It is a lesson that each of us needs to learn. Our lives on earth disappear quickly. It is compared to a fog that is present for a period of time and then it is gone. No one of us knows the length of our lives but we do know that our lives vanish or disappear very quickly no matter our age.

We cannot control the length of our lives but we can control what we do with our lives!! We must remember that we CAN NOT MAKE TIME TO SERVE GOD but we CAN TAKE TIME TO SERVE GOD!! Is it possible that we overlook one of the wonderful blessings from God? It is the blessing of time!!

Many human beings have the tendency to become procrastinators. We find ourselves putting off certain things because of time restraints and various other reasons. The devil will encourage us to “put off serving God” (and I am talking about more than just salvation) until it is more convenient for us. Would you take a moment and read a brief statement from a man that had that plan for his life. “Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, “Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.” (Acts 24:25) FYI: We have no Biblical record that this man ever found a “convenient” time to include God in His life.

I believe that we all have good intentions when it comes to following God. But I also believe that satan has many ways of getting us to put off what needs to be done in the present moment when it comes to responding to God. I have heard many reasons for not taking time for God in my life as a Pastor. I also understand that many people can find good reasons to delay their personal response to God. I also understand that many people including me have been guilty of putting off until tomorrow what I needed to do at that very moment concerning my relationship with God. But the convenient time on TOMORROW never came.

I do not want my life to become a list of consistent excuses or legitimate reasons that hinders my journey with Christ. My life and your life is like the morning fog; it is here for a while and then it is gone. These thoughts are not meant to be a cloud of doom or gloom. BUT they are meant to be words that AWAKEN OUR HEART to the desires of our Heavenly Father. How often have I “put off God” until tomorrow so that I can could “take care of my needs” today? I was reminded during prayer that God would help me with my needs if I would only take time for Him TODAY!!!

The New Year is still a fresh year. The New Year is a time of new and fresh beginnings. I encourage you to join with your church family and seek the “freshness and newness of God in 2020!! I encourage you take some personal time to seek the freshness and newness of God TODAY!! I also encourage you to join your church family on SUNDAY as we seek the freshness and newness of God through prayer, praise and worship!!

Blessings on your journey with Christ TODAY!!!

Thursday, January 9, 2020

2020 Thoughts

I would like to share some thoughts with you that I shared with our church family. I believe that it is truly the time to trust God as we have never trusted Him before. It is time to look forward and not be content with living in our past. 
The apostle Paul recognized the importance of putting the past behind him as well. He said, “I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead” (Philippians 3:13 NLT).
2019 is coming to a close. Now it is time to look into the future and trust God even more as we enter 2020. I believe that it’s very vital that we take time to both reflect on what God has done and allow him to prepare us for what’s to come. A new year marks a fresh opportunity to center our lives around the goodness of God. I pray that as you begin looking toward what is to come you will make space to gain God’s perspective, establish your hopes and pursuits on his grace, and celebrate all that God has done and is doing. 

There is no greater source of hope than God’s resounding declaration of his nearness. Jesus paid the ultimate price that you and I might no longer be separated from God. His presence now dwells within us through the Holy Spirit. And that fact brings a Bible based hope that has the ability to profoundly impact every aspect of our lives.

As we look forward, know that the God who dwells within you knows every moment of every day that lies in front of us. He dwells within all of eternity. Time for him is not as it is for us. And he promises to be with us in the midst of any trial, pain, victory, or defeat. He longs for each of us to know his presence moment by moment in everything we will face and confront in 2020.

During prayer this morning I was offering God praise for His presence this past year. I also expressed my thanks to Him for the promise of being with me in the future. But the Spirit seemed to interrupt my words to remind me that GOD IS PRESENT NOW!!! Each of us needs to hold on to the NOWNESS OF GOD!!

I am praying and believing that God will guide and direct our steps as we close the book on 2019 as well as guide our steps as we walk the road of life in 2020.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Pre-Christmas Thoughts

It has been several weeks since I have posted on the blog. It has been one of those months in which one situation after another seemed to take over my schedule and my time. It seemed that "tomorrow" never arrived although I was faithfully waiting day after day for tomorrow. Have you ever endured days like that? I am sure that each of us have encountered those moments in which we kept waiting for tomorrow to arrive. Tomorrow seems to hide in our yesterdays and we become so busy that today vanishes before we know what has happened. I would like to share a portion of a recent letter that I shared with our church family.

The Spirit has been challenging my heart as we move toward the celebration of Christmas. These following thoughts are not meant to dampen our excitement, enthusiasm or joy concerning Christmas. BUT I do believe that each of us face the daily challenge to keep the “main thing” the “main thing.” What is the main statement that the celebration of Christmas makes to us? It is the birth of Christ, the Savior of the world. The crush of the present culture causes us to fight for the moments in which we rest in the hope of the events that took place in and around Bethlehem.

This following scripture is taken from the message of Jesus concerning the parable of the farmer sowing seeds. He uses this parable to remind believers of their various responses. You can find the full story in Luke 8. This passage today is taken from the NLT. Luke 8:14,The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity.”

Each of us understands the fact that we face a battle with the cares, riches and pleasures of life. Most of us remove the challenge of riches from our conversation because we think that we are not rich when compared to some of the “wealthy” people of our nation and world. YET, we are considered rich when compared to the majority of people who live in our world in poverty. We have to be careful that the cares of life do not overwhelm us in such a manner that we lose sight of the message that God is sharing with us through the revelation of Christmas.

I just want to remind us to not let the busyness of life and the weight of this world to move us away from the life changing message of Christmas. The source of our hope, joy, peace, Salvation as well all of the other needs that we will encounter was born in the manger in Bethlehem. It is no wonder that the Heavens were full of angels offering praise to God. Luke 2:13-14,Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
WOW!!! We cannot afford to forget the awesome as well as life-changing message of Christmas. We must remember that the birth of Christ was the beginning of the “open door” of fellowship with our Heavenly Father. The birth of Christ provided the entry point of the Savior who would ultimately offer His life on Calvary as a SACRIFICE FOR OUR SINS! We cannot afford to forget that message or allow that message to grow stale or grow unproductive in our lives. The Truth of Christmas would bring change to the world of that day and it is still bringing change to our present day world. The message of Christmas will still bring change to us today IF WE WILL TAKE THE TIME TO LISTEN!!