It's a New Year, by God's Grace! I'm glad to be in the land of the living despite everything that's been happening!
I encourage you, as you move forward this year, to be very selective with your relationships. We all need them, but maybe we don't need all of who we've let in.
I liken relationships to vitamins. We all need them, but we must understand which ones are best for our health. There are so many vitamins on the market today claiming all sorts of things. The price is high, some are hard, while some are soft. I see relationships in a similar way. Individuals must weed through all of the hype and narrow it down to the specifics.
It's a New Year, and each day of this year will bring its own challenges, as well as triumphs. You will need the type of friends who will help you to maintain good spiritual health. I will make a few suggestions and it'll be totally up to you as to how you navigate this area of your life.
1. If you've had to let go of relationships in 2020 because they were not healthy for you, I commend you. It's not easy to let go of people, but unfortunately, that won't be good enough. You must now attach yourself to those who are wise, and God fearing, who walk in the Spirit, and who show that they are obedient to God.
2. Be very discerning! Observe how people converse about others. What you hear them say, will be what they will do and say about you given the opportunity. Weigh their words carefully!
3. Always ask God to show you the things you need to see about others so that you will know who He has sent into your life for the friendship that best suits you.
4. Never assess people based on a title they may hold in the church, or the activities they get involved in. Anyone can perform tasks if they're interested, but what you're looking for is a person with Godly character. That should be first and foremost.
5. Ask God for courage! 2021 will be a year that will require Christians to have courage in order to meet the challenges that are coming. Even in the best of relationships, we may have to stand up for certain principles that we believe in, and the friendship may be challenged, but if it is a godly friendship, it will stand the test of time.
Be strong in the Lord and in the Power of His might! He will never leave you nor forsake you!
May this year be a year of growth, peace, and joy in the Lord!
This is the last day of the year, and what a year it has been! Never before in my generation and the one behind, have we heard, seen, or experienced such catastrophic events! Its been heart wrenching and sad, and it's been overwhelming for many.
As we enter phase 2 of this pandemic, there's a stronger strain spreading from state to state. While some are getting the vaccine, there are many who are not candidates to receive it due to health related issues. It almost seems as if there is no hope in sight.
I have lost people I knew to this devastating virus. It has touched my family as well. If I didn't know God, I would not have been able to keep my wits about me. Faith in God and prayers to the One who is the Almighty left us with peace, and calm during a difficult time.
And so, here we are, at the end of another year. If you are reading this, you were given the blessed opportunity to see the last day of 2020.
I am concerned as to how you're making it through. What have you chosen to place your faith in? To whom do you go when you are afraid? I give you Jesus! Perhaps you have heard of Him, perhaps you have had a personal encounter with Him. Never the less, He is the One who has the peace, the comfort, the strength you need during these perilous and difficult times!
If you don't know Jesus Christ as your Lord and personal Savior, maybe this bible verse will help you:
John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." You see, life on this earth isn't all there is. There is an after life that will go on for an eternity. There are two places that eternity will be, heaven is one, and there's another place that is far from the presence of God. A place of judgement for un-repented sins and rejection of this Savior who died at Calvary for your sins and mine.
What I love about God is that He forces no one to come to Him. We all have a free will to choose as we wish. I pray that you will choose wisely where you will spend eternity.
So as this pandemic continues, death will continue to surround us more and more. I really hope that you will not be personally visited by the Covid-19 virus, but because it comes to who it will, you want to be assured that you are covered, spiritually speaking. I will be praying for you.
Have a peaceful and healthy New Year! And May God Bless You and your family!
Groupie - A person (women) who regularly follows a celebrity in the hopes of meeting them or getting to know them. A fan, or an admirer.
Luke 8:1-3 says, "After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod's household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means (finances)."
If you recall, women have faithfully followed the Lord, sticking by him, even in those isolated moments when his own disciples didn't. Some of these women were at the foot of that cross looking upon his anguish, pain and suffering and some showing up at the tomb with spices only to be told he has risen! What love, what an attachment they had to Christ!
What about you and I? Can that be said of us? Is there anything different about these women in comparison to us? The bible tells us that some of these women were delivered from evil spirits, strongholds in their lives that they couldn't break free from. Others had illnesses and diseases that no doctor around could cure, while other women experienced deliverances of other sorts. What is clear is that they all were women with serious needs that were beyond the bounds of human help.
When you have experienced true freedom from emotional, physical and mental bondage, you know that you are free indeed! Now you are able to live out your life to the fullest without anything holding you down. You can be all that you were created to be.
We also learn from scripture, that there were those who only followed Christ for the miracles and the food (John 6:26; 6:2). Yes, there were 'Groupies' back in the bible times. You could say that Jesus was pretty popular then, for some he was infamous, while for others he was a celebrity. There were people who were intrigued by the wondrous, out of this world, acts of power that blew them away. While others, stuck around for the refreshments afterwards. You see, everybody ain't warming a church bench for all the right reasons.
There are parts of the religious society (Christendom) that have a 'What have you done for me lately' mentality. This is self seeking and void of anything substantial. If certain individuals feel that they will get something personally out of following a certain thing or person, they will pull out all stops to do so. This sounds like a 'Groupie' mentality to me.
The women in the above passage were sincere in their act of following the Lord. They had such a personal encounter with him that solidified their faith and definitely proved to them that he was who he said he was and that he truly came from God. There was no doubt in their minds! These women were found wherever Jesus was, as often as they could be around him, and the words he spoke. They ministered to his needs, they supported his ministry work from their own pockets, and they wept for him at the foot of that cross, as their hearts remembered all that he had done for them, and all that he had given them. No groupies here!
May we seek to follow Christ with all sincerity of heart, giving him the best that we've got, while in these last and closing days!
Don't Be A Groupie!
"Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom." Psalm 51:6
It is so easy to convince ourselves of whatever we feel comfortable with. The human heart can justify its position on just about anything especially if it feels threatened in any way.
In life we are challenged often as far as our integrity is concerned. There's always the temptation, and opportunity to fall short in the area of 'honesty'. We can either lie to ourselves by telling ourselves that we are in the right or not guilty of what we are being confronted with. It's much easier to do that than to take a cold hard look at whatever it is and face it.
God takes pleasure in the integrity of His people. He wants truth to always characterize us, deep on the inside. This requires constant self-judgement. If we can't be open and honest with ourselves, then we won't be able to be honest with God or anyone else.
Being honest with oneself could reveal or expose a problem that we may not realize is even there. Sometimes it may take a certain situation to occur to flush a problem to the surface that God wants us to deal with. At times, pride steps in and gets us to quickly justify and continued to hide what God is trying to get us to face. It takes courage to look within ourselves and be honest about what is in the deep recesses of the heart. It takes courage to say, "I did lie, I did refuse to deal with that situation, or I did mistreat that person."
God gives each of us plenty of time to handle our business with integrity. He gave Ananias and Saphirra that same chance, but they chose to lie, and as a result, instant judgement took their lives because they lied to the Holy Spirit within them. They thought they were only lying to Peter, but they lied to God, and paid with their lives. That tells you how much God detests dishonesty!
It's always better to sit in judgement of our own actions, words, and behaviors and to stay on top of our character. If we fail to do that, eventually others will be privy to the lack of integrity within us, and lose respect for not only the ministry God gave us, but for anything we say.
"Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." 2 Corinthians 6:2
Never before in my lifetime have I experienced a pandemic that made the entire world come to a screeching halt! That alone should tell us something! That in itself should send off an alarm within each person's heart!
The entertainment world has shut down from Broadway productions, stage technicians, and ticket offices. Their musicians and singers are out of jobs, and without paychecks. Many have been fired and now must apply for unemployment. A large number of employees in our nation are out of work until further notice. The Cruise Boat industry has been stagnant and those who relied on jobs with them are presently not working. There are no concerts, or tours, available. Jazz festivals have stopped, the Ballet has ceased, and Opera right along with it. All of our theatres are closed. There are thousands of more jobs attached to all of these organizations that help them to operate and to accommodate us. Have you ever seen anything like this?
This certainly is a time to stop, and reflect on life, and the future. It's a time to examine lifestyle, and the very meaning of life. It is a time to hear what God, your creator, and my creator, is saying and have been saying to us. Long before the pandemic, God has been trying to get the attention of man. He has used all sorts of situations to get mankind to stop for a moment and hear His voice. Some have stopped and gave God an ear and have been granted eternal life and a love like none other.
So as you continue in whatever situation this pandemic has you in, please, take this word of advice and set things right with God. Tomorrow is not promised to you, even if you don't get Covid-19; you are living on borrowed time. God's word is so very true. Is He speaking to you? Don't ignore Him for your life depends on listening to His voice. You won't have very long to respond to God's call of salvation for it is available 'TODAY'!
That word, 'ALONE', is a word we do not like! We will do everything in our power to steer clear of what that word implies.
From the time we're young, we learn to gravitate towards people. After all, we have been created to be social beings. We choose a social circle of friends and from there we build our sense of community. As we become young adults, friendships become even more important to us. The bonds we forge with others often help to support and carry us through life's challenges and triumphs. As we embark upon middle-age, we learn that all we really need are a couple of reliable, faithful and true friends to take with us along the rest of the journey.
God gives friendships and it is truly a blessing to us to have them; even the Lord had friends. He had 12 friends who were around Him often, and three were in His inner circle. With this being said, there are times when the Lord God will take some of us and separate us unto Himself. Overall, as believers we are all separated unto Him, Psalm 4:3 says, "But know that the Lord has set apart for Himself him who is Godly." He also takes some of us and carves out a different life and lifestyle.
God takes some of His children and secludes them away from the constant socializing, and general activities because He has a particular mission for them. His desire is to use them in a way that doesn't include the social life they would normally gravitate to. He allows the connections they had with others to diminish for what ever reasons. This is sometimes God's way of preparing them for a particular ministry work that requires little to no distractions.
Often, the ministries that blest us the most come from individuals who have closed themselves in with God. You'd be surprised to know what a day in their life is like. There is no going to the mall as a leisure thing to do, they aren't hanging with friends, they don't engage in entertainment much and they are usually 'ALONE' at times when the rest of the world isn't.
In order to be successful in ministry work, or to be effective in ministry, one must know when to come away from the business of life. When the Lord walked this earth, His 12 friends experienced Him leaving them alone. The Lord could be found up in a mountain praying and communing with God. There were times when Jesus wanted to be 'ALONE' with God. He knew when those times were.
We can accomplish so much more, as Christians, if we only understood the blessedness in being 'ALONE'. Some of us want to make a big impact for God, but we don't want to separate ourselves from friendships and frequent socializing.
God has called you and I for a particular mission. We must answer that call. We cannot give God excuses for why we haven't accomplished what He gave us to do.
Let's be mindful of this and while there is still time, socialize less, engage in entertainment less, and come aside and enjoy Christ more! Let Him make you the power source He intended you to be!
BE AN ESTHER, bold and courageous enough to stand for the truth, to voice your opinion and fight for the good of others, even when it means to sacrifice yourself. If God has put you in a position, it is for a purpose. Never be afraid to heed to that inner voice.
BE A RUTH, loyal in all your relationships, walk the extra mile and don't quit when things get tough. Someday, you'll see why it was all worth the effort.
BE A LYDIA, let your homes be open, let your hands be generous, let your hearts be big enough to help anyone in need. Joy is greatest when shared.
BE A HANNAH, never cease to pray. It will never be in vain.
BE A MARY, humble and submissive. You don't have to be great for God to use you, you just need to obey.
BE A DORCAS, use your talents, however small it may seem to bring a smile on someone's face. You'll never know how much it can mean to someone.
BE AN ABIGAIL, remember how each decision can turn your life around for good or bad. Be wise.
BE AN ELIZABETH, never doubt what God can do. He is the God of many miracles.
BE A MARY MAGDALENE, never let your mistakes and judgments of other people stop you from experiencing the joy of Jehovah.
BE A REBEKAH, never forget that true beauty lies within. Draw all your loveliness closer to God through your Christ-like character.
BE A SARAH, age doesn't matter, Trust and Believe that all things are possible with God according to His time.
Church Picnics and Bus Trips
SO WHAT HAPPENED?
We woulda done more but... we got caught up in the activities and the social aspect of it all. We woulda accomplished more if we weren't so selfish, while showing respect of persons.
We coulda reached out more, cared more about others beyond our social circle. We coulda buried pride, and the flesh.
We shoulda spent more time getting to know who people were in the fellowship and outside of the fellowship. We shoulda appreciated what everyone brought to the table. We shoulda stopped gossiping and maligning others. We shoulda been pure with our intentions. We shoulda made a lot more phone calls to those who had no family in the church. We shoulda used our skills to strengthen rather than put ourselves on display. We shoulda walked into church in a better spiritual condition. We shoulda loved one another and accepted the differences. We shoulda helped where the help was needed. We shoulda held each other in high esteem. We shoulda recognized that God was watching. We shoulda checked our prejudices at the door while confessing its sin. There is so much that we shoulda done and now that we are not gathering together as in the past, what will we do differently if given another opportunity?
As Mary sat at Jesus' feet and listened to His Word, So would we in these latter days, hear and obey our Lord. There would we hear His blessed voice and gaze upon His face, would learn in meekness at His feet what is the woman's place.
Not to usurp authority or take the place of men, yet she can serve in other ways, as did the women then. With ready mind to do His will, like those of long ago, with willing heart to serve Him well, true loyalty to show.
Like Hannah, Miriam, Deborah, she may His praises speak; she may lead other women on; she may support the weak; she may train children for the Lord; uphold the fainting heart, inspiring with a steadfast faith the men to do their part.
Like Sarah, and like others, too, her husband to obey, with willing hands prepare a feast when strangers come that way, and thus, like Sarah, entertain an angel unaware; "Ye did it unto Me," He'll say, whose eyes are everywhere.
Like her who did at Shunem dwell, God's servants to receive; like Abigail in David's day the hungry to relieve; and so we might pursue the tale of women long ago, who served the Lord in simple faith while yet they dwelt below.
Who wait upon the Lord their God shall mount on eagle wings, and elder women, taught of Him, are teachers of good things: to teach young women to be wise, discreet, and good, and kind, to serve the Lord with gladsome heart, and with a quiet mind.
The elder may the younger teach, the young, those younger still; thus shall they help each other on to do His blessed will, to follow Him, the lowly One, and walk in His blest ways, and thus in all they have to do to live unto His praise.
The care of immaturity, of childhood and of youth, to lead the young and wayward feet along the paths of truth, to train them in right ways to go from e'en their earliest days, so they shall still, when older grown, be found in wisdom's ways.
To care for all her household well, and bring up worthy sons, to help the poor with kindly deeds, relieve afflicted ones; to comfort those in sore distress, and succor bring to all who need her help, as Phoebe helped the great apostle Paul.
Like Persis, Lydia, Tabitha, to labor for the Lord, spend time and substance for the poor and earn a rich reward; to practice hospitality, and oft resort to prayer, to follow on with stedfast mind in all good works to share.
Such is the woman's worthy place of service to her Lord; so shall she do His blessed will according to His Word. Who would not gladly serve Him thus? Who would not count it good to hear the Master say at last, "She hath done what she could"?
We are certainly in times of great distractions! During this pandemic of sickness and death, there has been nothing but turmoil on the earth.
There are some very important issues on the table that need addressing as far as this world is concerned. Racism has increased and so have the deaths it has caused. There are marches, rallies, and protest all around the world. Yes, the issues need to be addressed and dealt with.
Social media has been bombarded with many distractions. If we, as believers, are not careful, we will find ourselves carried away with social issues, political issues, and the like.
It is so easy for us to be distracted. Entertainment is a huge distraction for some, as well as some good things, like, our hobbies, or personal interests. We are reminded in Hebrews 12:1 "Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin that so easily ensnares us and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith NKJV)." In other words, "we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially the sin that won't let us go. And we must be determined to run the race that is ahead of us (CEV)". Weights are not sin, a weight in our lives can be things that are hobbies, or your job can become a weight. Anything that takes up a lot of our time and attention is a weight.
We have to fight off distractions. They don't go away on their own. A key part of the above verse is the line, 'Looking unto Jesus'. We can't keep our own minds focused on what we should focus on unless our eyes are on the Lord daily.
Many of us are not able to physically gather together in our local churches as before, and this provides a greater danger for distractions to over take us.
It is Satan's pleasure and joy to keep us preoccupied with everything that is going on in the world, good and bad. No matter what is going on, don't allow yourself to become consumed with it all. Ask God to show you what role you should play for such a time as this, but do not become distracted from the overall purpose God has for you!