Sunday Sermon

“There will be a shelter to give shade from the heat by day, and refuge and protection from the storm and the rain.” Isaiah 4:6

Today’s sermon was right on time. I have been struggling with maintaining my faith and hope in a few things I am dealing with. Not to mention, there have been a lot of storms weather wise. Puerto Rico, Florida, Texas, and many Caribbean nations have been besieged. Storms, physical and metaphorical, are inevitable. 


As a result we do not know what storms or the magnitude of them that we will face however, be warned that they will come in a myriad of forms. Belief in God’s word can help fortify us against the attacks. 

As my pastor pointed out, storms can help teach us what is important in life. I want to encourage anyone currently facing stormy weather to hold on to your faith. Storms can cause depression. Depression is the result of spiritual dryness. When you don’t read the Bible, attend church, or commune with God, your spirit becomes barren. Hope cannot take root in dry places. Nothing can grow without the Living Water. 

In closing, He gave us five principles to apply during trials: 

1. Laugh in your circumstances-this reminds me of the Proverbs 31 woman who laughed without fear of the future. She was wise knowing that no matter what her future held, God would use it for good. 

2. Decide what is true-remember, the Father of Lies loves to confuse the mind and paint everything black so that life feels hopeless. 

3. Discipline your body-Take care of yourself while enduring the storm. Otherwise you are even more vulnerable in a weakened state. We need all of our energy to fight the good fight of faith. 

4. Fight for your life-you have to do your part alongside God. The Bible says faith without works is dead-so work your faith!

5. Preach your message-this resonated deeply within my core. God allows some storms to pass through our lives to shelter others. This realization is powerful. Your “mess” can be a message for someone else. 

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Confirmation 

“…You, who have shown me great and severe troubles, Shall revive me again, And bring me up again from the depths of the earth.  You shall increase my greatness, And comfort me on every side. ” ~Psalm 71:20-21 

Tonight I was reading the Bible and came across this gem of a scripture. This is spiritually right on time for as I was in dire need of a word.  

This gives me strength to continue. I know that God is well aware of all that ails me. 

Verses 14-17 of the same Psalm tells me just what I need to do: “But I will hope continually, And will praise You yet more and more. My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness And Your salvation all the day, For I do not know their limits. I will go in the strength of the Lord GOD; I will make mention of Your righteousness, of Yours only.” 

Smile

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12

I almost let the devil win. I have been spiritually, mentally and physically bogged down by a trial that I am going through and that it is showing on my face. 

I’ve lost my smile. I felt like if I smiled that I was content with the situation. 

But this morning I practiced smiling. It felt strange at first and then it felt so good! Hallelujah! Trouble doesn’t last always so I’m counting it all joy. 

I Called…

“And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” ~1 John 5:15

…and God answered. Today I feel so triumphant. This morning on the drive to work I prayed specifically that God would use me to help someone. 
 After making some copies during my prep period, I was headed to my room when a student called out to me. I didn’t hesitate when she beckoned me over, but I wasn’t sure she meant me. I did not know the girl. Iheaded her direction and saw that she had a friend with her who was crying. She explained her friend’s dilemma so I invited them to my room. 

I won’t go into detail, but let’s just saw I received the opportunity to serve as well as glorify God. 

Hallelujah! 

I don’t know why I am so in awe that God knows what is going on with me, cares and hears. But I tell you, I was almost in tears. My road has been a tough one. 

As if to confirm that He is indeed listening to me, I received this email today: 


I requested to be prayed for a few months ago. How timely this was for me. I was beyond overjoyed! And thankful that He hears! 

From Saul to Paul

“Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him.” ~Acts 13:9


Saint Paul by Bartolomeo Montagna

God is in the transformation business. Your beginning does not have to be your end. We see this made manifest in the life of Paul. Paul began his life as a persecutor of Christians. He was known as Saul of Tarsus before he was handpicked by God to be His apostle. At this time in his life, he had no regard, reverence or love for Christians. Saul watched the stoning death of the martyr Stephen and held the garments of the ones hurling stones. 

He was a devout Jew who had permission from the High Priest to persecute anyone professing that Jesus was the Chosen One. Saul says:

“I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our fathers’ law, and was zealous toward God as you all are today. I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women, as also the high priest bears me witness, and all the council of the elders, from whom I also received letters to the brethren, and went to Damascus to bring in chains even those who were there to Jerusalem to be punished.”Acts 22:3-5

It wasn’t until that faithful day on Damascus Road that Saul encountered the Prince of peace in a personal way. The bright light and the voice of the Savior caused him to fall to his feet, “Saul, Saul why do you persecute me? ~Acts 9:4 

Persecution of His people was persecution of Him. Saul answered humbly and submitted himself and asked what he should do. He was told to rise and go into the city. This act of obedience left him blind. There he met Ananais who was rightfully afraid as Saul’s reputation preceded him. Also instructed by the Lord, he too obeyed and healed Saul of his temporary blindness. 

Although Saul was well versed in the Bible, he did not believe that Jesus was the anointed Messiah. After the fateful encounter, he dedicated his life to the Great Commission and  traveled to synagogues all across the region to deliver the Good News. Because he was a Hebrew who held Roman citizenship, he was able to speak  with confidence to both the Jews and Greeks and therefore was able to reach more people.  

Throughout his life Paul suffered many trials but continued to press on and fight the good fight of faith despite being imprisoned, beaten, shipwrecked, flogged, stoned, faced death a myriad of times, battled his own flesh, was often hungry, thirsty and cold-yet he never allowed any of it to prevent him from serving the Lord. Even when the Lord elected not to remove the thorn from his side, he continued on. He felt it an honor to be weak as it showed the strength of the Lord. “So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” 1 Corinthians 12:9

At the end of his life Paul was content knowing his reward. He spent the remainder of his life working tirelessly for the Kingdom. He had written 14 of the 27 epistles in the New Testsment, lead an innumerable amount of people to Christ, enlisted others to teach about Christ, created the theological framework of justification by faith and lead an exemplary life of faith. He had done all he was called to do and knew his time of death was at hand. “I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”~2 Timothy 4-6 

Through his life we learn that God can use anyone. Each and every one of us matter to God. We are never beyond redemption. We also learn that anyone can be a witness for Christ if they are willing to be transformed and made anew. 

Paul was willing and even counted his sufferings all joy. “I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.” ~Philippians 1:12-14). His transformation was complete. Can you say the same? 

RIP

“And because of his glory and excellence, He has given us great and precious promises. ” ~2 Peter 1:4

This morning I woke up with my mother on my mind and felt heavy hearted. Coincidently,  Mother’s Day is in four days. 

However, before I could become too consumed with gloom, God put the thought RIP in my mind. 

Most of us are aware that RIP stands for “rest in peace” and is an abbreviation for the Latin phrase Requiescat in pace. 

But today God graciously gave me a new meaning and replaced rest in peace with rest in promise. Thus there is no reason to be sad when I can infinitely hope in the Lord. 

The Bible says that “the dead know nothing” Ecclesiates 9:6  which is true. But our omniscient, unchanging, constant God “cannot lie” and is “the same yesterday, today, and forever” Hebrews 13:8. With this knowledge we can be assured that even in death, His promises remain the same for us. Hallelujah! This revelation brought so much joy to my heart I almost shouted! 

Psalm 37:25 says “…Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken” thus death has “no sting” or victory in the face of God and His word which can never return void. 

May my precious mother continue to RIP until “the Lord Himself comes down from heaven!” ~1 Thessalonians 4:16

He Who Finds

“He who findeth a wife, findeth a good thing.” Proverbs 18:22

Many women are frustrated at their single status. But in my humble opinion, most are approaching marriage wrong. The book of Proverbs clearly says “He who FINDETH a wife…” That means that it is not up to the woman to locate a husband. Thus the man must do the searching and procuring. 

And when we do go looking and find, what we do land is usually not worthy of us. We are cautioned not to throw our pearls before swine for a reason. This pattern is repeated over and over-searching and finding with terrible results. 

A godly man who is actively pursuing a wife is guided by the Lord. A woman looking for a husband is often guided by loneliness, fear, a biological time clock, financial stability or all of the above. You can end up with unnecessary heartache when you are unequally yoked-trust me on this one. 

In the meanwhile, ladies, are you worth finding? Are you a Proverbs 31 woman? If the answer is no, it would be wise of you to redeem the time and develop yourself in order to be a worthy wife. Every woman with the title is qualified or deserving. Marriage is a holy institution of God and should be approached with reverence. 

Our Father has a future and a hope for us all. If He put it in your heart to be a wife, it will happen. He already knows whose rib you were fashioned from. He knows whose “helpmate”He designed you to be. 

Remember, there is beauty in every stage of life, even singlehood. You can be used by God like no other time before. Embrace the gift. And before you know it, you will be found by your God ordained mate. 

Testimony Tuesday

“Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.” ~Isaiah 58:8

Today’s testimony is two part. I posted a prayer for myself on the  virtual “Prayer Wall” at my boss’s church.  I was so delighted and humbled to receive several responses to my request: 

  
 

After leaving the grocery store earlier, I remembered I had a coupon for Family Christian and today was the last day I could use it. No titles immediately caught my eye but I was determined to buy something. I halfheartedly picked up a few books and continued browsing the same shelf for the second time when I came across this one: 

  
Instantly intrigued, I flipped through the contents. I hadn’t planned on buying two titles but I just couldn’t put it down. I looked on the shelf but that was the only one. I felt like God put it there just for me. I certainly had not seen it the first time. 

I started reading it shortly after getting home and felt so electrified and Spirit filled! I truly believe God will be speaking to me through its pages-Hallelujah at the goodness of the Lord! 

He Loves Me

“The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and sincere” ~James 3:17, NIV

God spoke to me today via one of my church members. He knows that I have a heavy burden pressing on my heart and sent this message to comfort me. 

I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned around and received this note: 

 It reads ” For you this week “Peace Be Still.” Well, God Himself might as well have penned it! I felt so grateful and emotional. If I may be candid for a moment, I still struggle with the notion of how much God loves me. I don’t deserve it yet He is still crazy faithful and loves me with an everlasting love. 

My God. 

Father, how grateful I am that you have found me worthy of your favor, mercy, and lovingkindness.  You know everything about me-even down to the amount of hairs that I have on my head, and yet you love me anyway. I thank you Father for seeing my pain and wanting to provide comfort. I thank You for Your compassion. I thank You for this message that I know was from You. Thank you for using such a sweet lady to send it. Thank You for Your reassuring Word Abba. In the healing blood of the Lamb, Amen. 

 

In Spirit and Truth

“But the hour is coming, and now is when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:23-24

Today’s church service was different than anything I’ve ever experienced before. I came expecting to receive a word from our Father, and I suppose I did in an unusual way. 

We had a guest today, Vicki Yohe. She sang three beautiful praise songs.

  But after she finished, it wasn’t followed by preaching as I expected. Vicki stated she felt God wanted her to tell us that the spirit of true worship wasn’t found at our church. I can’t really explain what took place next but we spent more than 90 minutes in worship. No sermon, just worship. 

I am not good at worshipping God as I’ve never really known exactly what it entails. When I think of worshipping God, I think of believing in Him and declaring Him as King of my life. But worship is a verb, it’s something that you do. 

I am a “quiet” parishioner. Even though I cry often, the tears are usually silent. When I lift my hands, I lift them low. I’ve never spoken in tongues, danced, or ran around the sanctuary. I don’t know why but I suppose it’s because I don’t want to draw attention to myself.

Today I didn’t care.

Like many in the congregation I had to be guided.   Without prompting I took the broken vessel that I am straight to the Master Potter. I am believing God for one of His promises and I am willing to wrestle with Him to receive it! I felt so stripped bare of my facade of strength, so vulnerable, so transparent. Exhausted. Humbled. I seriously think I had a spiritual nervous nervous breakdown today. Life has been severely testing me with one trial after another. All of the years I’ve spent running from God, all the rejection, pain, and low self worth I’ve  ever felt, the good and bad I’ve done in my life came racing to mind. Today I couldn’t deny the fact that I can’t do a SINGLE thing outside of Jehovah God. It was frightening and liberating at the same time.  One of Dr. Charles Stanley’s life principles is to “fight all your battles on your knees” because we “stand tallest and strongest on our knees.”

So I fell down on my knees at the feet of the Lord. I took all of my woes with me and cried unto Him until I could cry no more. I thanked Him. I praised Him. I gave Him the glory He so rightly deserves. “Nobody greater…” 

Thankfully I had my good friend right next to me because she literally had to help me get up, lol. Our pastor acknowledged that the church has not done a good job teaching the Body of Christ how to worship. I know I have a lot to learn as I know we are supposed to worship Him in spirit and truth. I am looking forward to worshipping Him the way I am supposed to! Hallelujah! Amen!