Think About It First

They say what the world needs is love, sweet love. Although I wholeheartedly agree, I would like to add another character trait that is in short supply and that is patience. Most of us are victims to the “hurry up with it, I have other things to do” mindset. Even so, I came across some profound advice, “Unless it is an emergency, think about it for at least 24 hours and the possible consequences that may follow from you making that decision.”

For the believer in God, every decision that we make is either for God or against God. Within that 24 hours, we must go to God in prayer and ask for His will. There are few absolutes in life. We can know this for sure that we can never hurry God. And there is one more absolute truth, every mistake that we have made in our lives is because we did not ask God or we did not wait for God’s answer.

And for those like myself who lack the virtue of patience, God has no problem letting us make the mistake. He knows that when we are drowning in the Sea of Consequences, we will pray the SMS–Save My Soul prayer. Thankfully, He forgives us with loving grace and mercies. Still, we may suffer the full impact from our disobedience.

Last night during worship, it was the Holy Spirit who taught me this profound fact of life. Every decision that you make is either for God or against God. The imagery was the train crossing with the flashing red lights with the barrier coming down warning of the pending train traveling at an unknown speed. I am thankful that our Heavenly Father’s love is overprotective.

And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourself this day whom you will serve. Joshua 24:15

Prayer: God, we ask for forgiveness for excluding you from our lives. We are suffering the consequences of misguided decisions based on impatience. Please come to our rescue. We ask this prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen. © 2021 Sonya Johnson, Faithful Fishers Ministry

The Internal Battle

“All that glitters is not gold” is a message of awareness to the hidden deceptions that exist behind the beautiful and the glamorous. We receive the warning to be cautious of the people, places, and things that appeal to and delight our five senses. The Apostle Paul tells us, You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial. 1 Corinthians 10:23

Remember to pray and ask for help from the Holy Spirit. We will always have conflict between the desire for carnal–worldly pleasures and the things of God, which are spiritual. Even so, God has a Spiritual Team to provide immediate help and assist us to be Overcomers!

If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. 1 Corinthians 10:12‭-‬13 NLT

Prayer: God, we ask you for strength to overcome the challenges of desiring and choosing the things that are ungodly. In Jesus’ name. Amen. © 2021 Sonya Johnson, Faithful Fishers Ministry

Escaping the Wilderness

We can ask anything in Jesus’ name. As long as our request is in God’s will and plans for us, we can expect wonderful blessings. Who isn’t overjoyed by a new job, home, vehicle, marriage, or the little one that will be born in nine months. Yes, we proclaim that God is good because His plans [and our desires] for us have finally come to fruition. But how do we react when God subtracts–takes away our comfortable lifestyle, the unequally yoked relationship, the marriage that dishonors God, or the job that has provided career growth and financial stability, but prevents us from spending time with God?

As believers, we have the tendency to blame spiritual wickedness for our losses. Still, we must remember that Satan cannot take action or cause any changes in our lives that are not approved by God. The losses are required because God is redirecting our focus and changing our character. Adversities force us to humble ourselves. Eventually, we admit that God is asking more from us than we are presently giving to Him. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Hebrews 11:6. God requires faithful, obedient servants who place their complete trust in Him. Refer to the Book of Job.

People Who Witnessed the Mighty Power of God

God delivered the Israelites from enslavement to bless them with new beginnings. His divine plan was the gift of Canaan, the Promised Land. The Egyptians not only resented the God that Israel served, they were also afraid that eventually the slaves would rebel and overtake them. So, they appointed brutal slave drivers over them, hoping to wear them down with crushing labor. They forced them to build the cities of Pithom and Rameses as supply centers for the king. Exodus 1:11. Even after the Egyptians suffered from the plagues, it was only after Pharaoh’s son died did he agree to free the Israelites.

The Israelites witnessed miracle after miracle, God kept them safe from the plagues, and the population of the Israelite Nation increased despite the severe conditions. The Red Sea miracle caused elation and they sang a Song of Deliverance in Exodus chapter 15. Three days after their song of gratitude, they faced a hardship of not finding water to drink. No one thought to pray and ask God to supply them with water. The emancipated sojourners complained about the struggle through the wilderness they had to endure to reach the Promised Land. 

The Human Reaction to the Changes Leading to Deliverance

The journey from Egypt to Canaan should have taken 11 days. But Exodus 16:2-3 reads, There, too, the whole community of Israel complained about Moses and Aaron. “If only the Lord had killed us back in Egypt,” they moaned. “There we sat around pots filled with meat and ate all the bread we wanted. But now you have brought us into this wilderness to starve us all to death.” For their complaints against God, they wandered in the desolate wilderness for 40 years. In fact, the freed Israelites, none except for Joshua and Caleb, the two spies who brought back a good report and believed that God would help them succeed were allowed to enter the Promised Land. It was the next generation who entered Canaan. 

Spiritually, we are the Nation of Israel. We have the tendency to look back and create a totally different situation than the one that actually existed. The subtraction of relationships, jobs, or other life events are orchestrated by God. Our Omniscient Father knows the future. If God allowed loss in your life, trust Him. God never makes mistakes. When Job complained, God asked, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know!” Job 38:4-5

Many of us are so caught up in our earthly lifestyles, we quickly forget: “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:1-3.

A word of caution, God, has no problem leaving us in the wilderness. We can complain, cry, or blame others, but God says, For I am the Lord, I change not. Malachi 3:6. The changes in our lives are permitted by God. Obedience, patience, and humility are the character traits that God requires of us. We do not have to repeat history. Let the wilderness mindset go! The hardship, test, or trial that seems to last forever can result from our disobedience. We must not  reminiscence on former things. The Apostle Paul reminds us, Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead… Philippians 3:13. Move forward by praying for revelation and guidance from the Holy Spirit. 

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11. Pray, repent, and ask God to reveal His plans for your life. Our future, if we choose, is eternal life in the New Heaven and New Earth. God desires that we live the best, peaceful, and productive lives until His Son, Jesus Christ, comes again. Stay in His perfect will. In the turbulence of adversity, we must possess a spirit of gratitude. Acknowledge the Love and Omnipotence of God. His promises are always, “Yes, and Amen.” Humility and obedience cause us to accept our human limitations. Remember, we can never give ourselves a more prosperous life than our Heavenly Father. 

Prayer: God, we confess and repent of our sins of self-reliance and disobedience. Please reveal your will and plans for our lives. Thank you for loving and caring for us as only a Heavenly Father can. We pray for the desire to obey and completely trust you. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen. © 2021 Sonya Johnson, Faithful Fishers Ministry

Do Everything in Love

Be alert, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong. Do everything in love. 1 Corinthians 16:13‭-‬14 CSB

Can you imagine if every spoken word and action that a Christian believer would say or do would be from the fruit of LOVE? God is Love! Jesus’ life was completely perfect because He possessed a loving and compassionate heart. Self-evaluate, where do you stand on the loving hearts platform? Do you have a heart bubbling over with agape love for God and others? Our character matters greatly to God. Galatians 5:22-23

Prayer: God, please cleanse us from all unrighteousness and teach us how to love as you love. In Jesus’ name. Amen. © 2021 Sonya Johnson, Faithful Fishers Ministry

Looking for Opportunities?

In reading the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, we are given a glimpse of Jesus through the eyes of four men. Jesus, our role model provided spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical healing along with feeding multitudes throughout His short life of 33 years. His disciple John wrote: “And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which, if every one of them were written down, I suppose not even the world itself could contain the books that would be written.” John 21:25 CSB

Certainly, with the overabundance of financial resources that many present-day disciples possess, we should reflect Jesus’ compassionate care for others. Our responsibility to help those in need far exceeds random acts of kindness or giving to the Benevolent fund at church. Remember, only what we do for Christ will count in the end. Pray and ask God how you can help others. Love and Serve God, Love and Serve Others, and Love Yourself.

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you took care of me; I was in prison and you visited me. Matthew 25:35‭-‬36 CSB

Prayer: God, we ask you to reveal your plan for our lives and how we can help those in need. In Jesus’ Worthy name, we pray. Amen. © 2021 Sonya Johnson, Faithful Fishers Ministry

The Standards Are Very Different

Through human eyes, we measure others by their great accomplishments. But God does not. It is the one who is repentant, humble, meek, and obedient to the will of God that will receive the greatest reward of eternal life. 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

Oh, how different are the standards by which God and men measure character. God sees many temptations resisted of which the world and even near friends never know—temptations in the home, in the heart. He sees the soul’s humility in view of its own weakness; the sincere repentance over even a thought that is evil. He sees the wholehearted devotion to His service. He has noted the hours of hard battle with self—battle that won the victory. All this God and angels know. A book of remembrance is written before Him for them that fear the Lord and that think upon His name. –Christ Object Lessons

Prayer: God, please help us not to focus on our earthly accomplishments, but to focus on serving you in humility and obedience. We ask this prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Fruitless Trees

Born and raised in the concrete jungle of the Northeast, I was clueless about the nature of fruit-bearing trees. One day, my BFF visited and informed me that the large shade tree was a pecan tree in our yard. I started laughing as I relayed that the tree was well past her reproductive stage in life. She stepped off of the porch, walked around the yard for a couple of minutes, returning with a shelled pecan nut in her hands. “Who’s laughing now?” I had a mature tree that produced pecans, my favorite nut, and was totally unaware for five years. The squirrels who were always on the branches enjoyed the tree’s fruit of which I knew nothing about.

Many of us accept Jesus as our personal Savior, understanding that He is the only way to God. Yet, we fail to embrace our Helper, the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity Godhead. We have access to the power of the Holy Spirit that would make our spiritual journey bearable even through severe trials. If God sent the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove [Matthew 3:16-17] to Jesus following His baptism, then as humans without Divinity status, we desperately need the Holy Spirit.

And I will pray for the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. John 14:16-18 NKJV

Jesus defines the line of separation–the world cannot receive the Spirit of Truth. If we reject the Holy Spirit through unbelief, then we are part of the world. There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death. Proverbs 14:12

The Work of the Holy Spirit

“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment because the ruler of this world is judged.” John 16:7-11

“However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.” John 16:13-15

“Why do believer’s reject the Holy Spirit?”

John 3:8-9 tells us of the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus regarding the Holy Spirit. To which. “Nicodemus answered and said to Him, How can these things be?” The nature of the Holy Spirit is a mystery to humanity. Jesus told His disciples, I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” John 16:12. We can thank Jesus for recognizing our limitations.

Truthfully, we struggle every day just to maintain our faith in God. We are often plagued with discouragement and disbelief in the power of the Almighty when facing lengthy trials and sorrows. “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NLT. Our loving Jesus is full of compassion. He knows that we are easily overwhelmed with our daily struggle to love God with all of our hearts, souls, and minds. Still, the human effort of confession, repentance, praying, studying the Bible, and living faithful, and purpose-driven lives, while trusting and serving God with obedience is a requisite to receive eternal life. Help! Holy Spirit to the rescue!

We cannot afford to reject the Spirit of Truth. Without the Holy Spirit, we cannot discern truth from false teachings. Nor can we fully understand the scriptures when studying the Bible. Believe it or not, false teachers read the Bible and may have more biblical knowledge than we possess. Their problem–a corrupt heart. They begin to analyze the scriptures and search for logical, rational explanations. When none can be found, they begin to develop their own theories.

The victims are the spiritually malnourished who feel they are fully capable of taking care of themselves without embracing and accepting The Trinity-God, the Father, Jesus, His Son, and the Holy Spirit. Living as the redeemed requires spiritual reinforcement only available through our willingness to obey God with a spirit of humility. To bear fruit, we have no other choice than to feed ourselves with the scriptures, which are the Voice of God. Communication with God–through prayer invites the Holy Spirit in to strengthen us, to correct us, and to guide us through our life-long journey of sanctification. Without the Holy Spirit, we are fruitless trees.

Without the Holy Spirit, we will never have the faith that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego possessed when facing the fiery furnace [Daniel 3:16-28]. Nor can we fight spiritual warfare [Ephesians 6:12] alone. Christian believers, we watched our brothers and sisters suffering in Afghanistan, but our time of persecution will come. We cannot afford to be like the five foolish virgins who were not spiritually prepared [Matthew 25:1-13]. The oil that they lacked represents the Holy Spirit. Jesus is on the way. We have but a short time on this present earth. The Holy Spirit is available for all who just ask and believe. Thank you, Jesus.

Without the Holy Spirit, we will not have the fruit that is described in Galatians 5:22-23, But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Our character must align with God’s requirements to receive the reward of eternal life.

And not only that but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:3-5

Prayer: God, we thank you for your love and for giving us access to the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit. We pray for an outpouring and anointing, wisdom, and discernment from the Holy Spirit. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask in Jesus’ Name. Amen. © 2021 Sonya Johnson, Faithful Fishers Ministry