Receiving Abundant Blessings

Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the Law of the LORD. Blessed are those who keep His testimonies [laws] and seek Him with all their heart. –Psalm 119:1-2

The truth: We are products of our environment. Learned behaviors have a stronghold on the minds of many people.

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear someone say, God, blessed me? Material wealth and possessions which are valued above all else have permeated our very existence. Money–the loss of or the effort to increase it drives many to feel desperate, depressed, and hopeless. How many have taken their own lives with millions in their bank accounts? Then we have others who have led a life of performing illegal activities in their pursuit of wealth.

When does the pursuit of happiness attached to wealth end? Our definition of abundance is to have excess. But, if we love material things above God, eventually, we will end up in a lose-lose situation. The loss of peace and hope leads to a life of misery.

The Best Blessings are Peace, Joy, Grace, and Mercies

God created us to have a spiritual connection with Him that remains until we breathe our last breath. Not one of us is exempt from a life-changing event that causes immense grief and despair. Yet, in the midst of trials and sorrows, neither people nor money can console us or give us inner joy and peace. Only God can bless humanity with daily peace, joy, and His grace, and mercies.

The abundant blessings that flow from God’s loving heart are freely given to the heart that is open to receive them. Live the life that God created you to enjoy. Jesus promises to give us all that we need.

Bible Study: Matthew 6, verses 19-24.

Prayer: Thank You, God. Amen.

The Deception of Self-Help

Yesterday, I witnessed to an individual whose life is restarting due to the dissolution of her marriage of 17 years. As we spoke about the Journey of Healing, she began by giving me the names of several authors of self-help books that she read. Due to her own admission of falling away from God when her marriage ended, she no longer prayed or studied the Bible.

“Although, I have followed the advice of the well-known authors, I still do not have peace. Tell me what you did.” I told her the story of Elijah who ran from Queen Jezebel and God’s loving and divine intervention of sending an angel to feed the run-away prophet. Yes, God, Himself spoke to Elijah while he was in the cave of a mountain. Because that’s what our Great, Father God does for those that He has created in His image. He consoles us and gives us peace when our lives are in chaos.

Worldviews tell us to self-validate, read self-help books, listen to transcendental meditation apps, wear jewelry that promotes peace of mind and stability, practice secular meditation, and the list is endless. Every methodology that promises to bring peace and serenity to our inner being–our souls is part of Satan’s deception.

Even so, while witnessing, I never addressed the confidence that many people have in self-help authors. She was aware that after reading many of the do-it-yourself books and practicing their recommended interventions she still did not have peace.

“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7)

Whether we believe in creation or evolution, the fact remains that we were not created to function outside of our spiritual connection to God. The One and Only God who breathed the breath of life into Adam is with whom we have a soul connection that only ends at the cessation of an individual’s life. We are forever connected to God with a spiritual umbilical cord.

God Is the Source of Life and Joy—God is the source of life and light and joy to the universe. Like rays of light from the sun, like the streams of water bursting from a living spring, blessings flow out from Him to all His creatures. And wherever the life of God is in the hearts of men, it will flow out to others in love and blessing.—Steps to Christ, 77 (1892). Ellen White

Sharing the story of Jesus on the cross, and Him telling the disciple John, “Behold your Mother” emphasizes that Jesus has a special place in His heart for the widows, the abandoned wives, the single mothers, and women who are alone and struggling to live productive lives. Does Jesus care? Yes, He does! And I am a living testimony of our Savior’s Divine Intervention of lovingly guiding me through a 2-year journey of healing.

Witness in a manner that the person feels a personal connection to Christ.

And yes, God loves and cares for all of us–men, women, boys, and girls. Yet, when witnessing we must present God on a personal level that reaches the hurting heart of the individual. Whisper a silent prayer and ask the Holy Spirit to anoint you. We always require Divine guidance before we speak and represent the love of Christ to others.

I will never know the outcome of witnessing that God is the source of our lives and only through Him can we have peace, joy, healing, and restoration. Yet, her laughter and expression of “Thank you, for taking the time to help me” proves that hurting people need to know that God is not a distant Father who does not care about us. Taking the time to share my personal experience proves that only Christ can give us a life of hope and restoration.

The importance of studying the Scriptures, praying without ceasing, and sharing our victories does make a difference in someone else’s life. As disciples of Christ, it is our duty to represent Him to those who are unaware that we have a Father who loves us. Someone needs to hear “…I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3), and “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20).

Prayer: God, we pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We ask for a heightened awareness of the opportunities to share Your love with others. You are the only One who can give us peace and inner joy. thank You for Your love, grace, and mercies. We pray this prayer in Jesus’ name, Amen.

The Hands of Jesus

Devotional—The Struggle of Sanctification—The Hands of Jesus

There are two thought processes when one hears or reads about the hands of Jesus. Either we think of our Savior’s nail-scarred hands on the cross or His righteous hands that hold us up, imparting strength to the believer.

Both concepts accurately describe our Savior’s hands. The scars represent Jesus’ love for humanity. Because of His sacrificial offering, we are recipients of the Plan of Redemption. In giving His life, everyone has the opportunity to be transformed into the righteousness of Christ. And there is more to the story, we will receive the reward of eternal life if we choose to faithfully and obediently serve Him. Read John 14:1-3.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

Although we should have courage because the righteous are held in Jesus’ hands, many feel insecure and alone. The young man posted, “I have accepted Jesus as my Savior, but I feel lost.”

Hardships reveal our level of commitment to Christ. We are often surprised by our responses of weakness and disbelief to life’s harsh challenges. And many accuse God of forsaking them. Yet, we failed to do our part in strengthening our relationship with Christ. Accepting accountability for our failure to hold onto Jesus’ hands requires a heartfelt prayer of repentance. Giving 100% of our hearts through faithful obedience and daily worship is the only way to stay connected to the Source–Jesus Christ.

“The eyes of the LORD search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9, first part)

Many have accepted Christ and desire to serve Him, but do not know the Scriptures. Daily Bible study, prayer, and asking for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit are the requisites for building and sustaining our relationship with Jesus. It is a personal decision to build your foundation on the Rock, of Jesus Christ.

Delete time-consuming activities and replace them with diligent searching for the treasures contained in the Scriptures. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105). When needed, the Holy Spirit will reveal the promises that are hidden in our hearts to give us comfort.

Memorizing God’s promises increases our faith. Faith is thinking beyond the impossible and admitting that only God can resolve our challenges. Trust is faith in action—never losing hope although the answer remains unseen. Our hope does not waver. Every day we rely on Jesus to give us the supernatural power to keep moving forward.

When our focus is on Jesus, and we are determined to have relentless faith and trust in Him, we can walk through life with courage. Peace replaces anxiety and worry, and we experience the joy of the Lord, even in times of sorrow.

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)

Holding on to the hands of Jesus takes a concerted spiritual effort. Imagine that you are walking on the troubled sea, feeling as if you will drown, and you cry out, “Lord, save me!” and Jesus extends His hands. Fervent petitions of prayer keep us connected to Jesus. With tearful prayers of faith, we still proclaim Jesus is Lord, and we thank Him for His divine intervention.

We can remain steadfast! Why? Because, in the depths of our souls, we know without a doubt that Jesus’ hands will never let us go. Yes, it is those nail-scarred hands that we hold onto when going through turbulent times.

Whether we are delivered from our tribulations or Jesus gives us the strength to endure the ongoing trials of life, our courage must remain steadfast. Remember the Apostle Paul prayed three times for Jesus to remove the thorn in his flesh–his poor eyesight. Yet, Jesus’ answer of “My strength is made perfect in your weakness” indicated that even if His answer is no, He always provides spiritual strength in our hardships.

Yes, we can remain faithful even when we lack understanding. Our unwavering confidence is built on the solid Rock–Jesus Christ. We believe that Jesus’ nail-scarred hands will always hold us and provide the spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical strength to keep moving forward. We have the reassurance that Jesus will never let go of us!

Prayer: God, we thank You for giving Your Son, Jesus for our redemption. Jesus, we thank You for your loving heart and hands that hold us up whether in the storms or in peaceful times. We give You the honor, glory, and praise for Your loving-kindness. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen. 

Eliminating Ungodly Relationships and Conversations

Devotional—The Struggle of Sanctification—Eliminating Ungodly Relationships and Conversations

Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. –2 Timothy 2:16 NIV

A few days ago, I said good afternoon to my neighbor with the intention of not having a lengthy conversation. Yet, the question, “Do you have sugar ants in your apartment?” resulted in listening to mindless chatter [not gossip] which included him saying a few careless words of profanity. When I reached the point of no more, I ended it pleasantly with “Enjoy the rest of your day.”

The comparison of a child’s brain to a sponge within the first six years of life substantiates the reason a young child who hears profanity will repeat it again and again. Unless adults have a cognitive impairment, our brains also process and retain the ungodly conversations we listen to.

Yes, later, my mind kept playing back the conversation. As I reflected on my lifestyle, I asked myself when is the last time I listened to a conversation with profanity. I prayed for forgiveness and began to listen to praise and worship music. Yet, it took a couple of days for my brain to forget the conversation.

The Deception of the Familiar

Satan uses the noise of social media, current news, and familiar people to flood our minds with sinful distractions. Watching the worldly behaviors of high-profile individuals whether in fashion, sports, or entertainment appears to be exciting but is detrimental. Always keeping current with the negativity of daily news will push one into thinking that God is not in control of this earth. Our selection of streaming and Cablevision programs indicates our preferences for the information we feed our souls. 

Feeding our senses with pleasure fulfills our carnal desires. Our thoughts and habits change as we lose the desire to pray, study the Bible, and live righteously.

“Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’” (1 Corinthians 15:33)

Many Christians feel they are in a dilemma when they accept Jesus as their Savior. How do we interact with unbelievers, especially when they are friends or family members? Are we supposed to completely cut them off? Do they respect and honor God? Our spiritual conversion requires us to witness [with courage] that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior. The truth must be combined with love. Our declaration begins with a simple explanation to our friends and family, “I made the decision to serve God and I can no longer talk about or do the things that I used to do.”

Warning: Serving God can lead to a lonely walk in life. As time passes, you may notice a decline in their phone calls and invitations for you to attend get-togethers. It isn’t easy to take up our cross and follow Christ. Still, we must remain steadfast in declining conversations and invites that compromise our relationship with Jesus.

They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. (Jude 1:18-19)

In 2017, I received a call from my uncle who was celebrating his birthday. “Hi niece, some friends are giving me a birthday party Friday night at a place downtown. I know that you are Christian, but there are some tables that are not near the liquor.” I did not get offended. I laughed and responded, Yes, uncle, I am a Christian, thank you for the invite, but I cannot come, have a great time. The irony of the call, a few days before his bar party, my uncle along with most of my cousins, and I met at a restaurant to celebrate his birthday.

Satan will use whoever he has to to make us fall. Our temptations come from those who we are close to and from strangers.  Do not become upset with the person, this is spiritual warfare that the Apostle Paul tells us to be girded up for in Ephesians chapter 6. The struggle is real, but victory is sure when our relationship with Christ is number one in our lives.

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to be My disciple, let him deny himself [disregard, lose sight of, and forget himself and his own interests] and take up his cross and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying, also].’” (Matthew 16:24, Amplified)

There is no middle ground or gray area in serving God. To fulfill our divine purpose, we will have to give up familiar people, places, and things that do not bring honor and glory to God. Stay prayerful and be led by the Holy Spirit.

Prayer: God, we ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the ungodly habits that are keeping us from living righteously. We ask this prayer in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Jesus, the Sin Bearing Messiah

Devotional—The Struggle of Sanctification—Jesus, the Sin Bearing Messiah

Do you remember whistling teapots? When the pressure from the boiling water reached a certain point, the teapot started whistling. But the noise did not stop immediately even though the pot was removed from the burner. As the pressure decreased the sound of the whistle slowly ceased. Yet, the water was still hot.

Two days ago, the United Nations Secretary-General issued this statement, “We are gridlocked in colossal global dysfunction,” Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, adding that “our world is in peril — and paralyzed.” AP News

On September 14th, the headlines read, “The world has never been in a better position to end the COVID-19 pandemic, the head of the World Health Organization said on Wednesday, his most optimistic outlook yet on the years-long health crisis which has killed over six million people.” Reuters.com

On September 20th, Fortune Well published a COVID update, “Just in time for fall, there’s a brand-new COVID variant making headway in the U.S.”

The majority’s reaction to our world predicament is to keep moving forward with their plans. Most people are sick and tired of hearing that things are worsening. Many have joined the movement of relocating to a country dwelling, growing a garden large enough to be self-sustaining, and homeschooling their children. Although there is nothing wrong with improving the quality of one’s life, we cannot stop the rapid progression from living in the last days to reaching the end of time.

We have reached the boiling point and the burner is at a high temperature. According to the Scriptures, our high alert of a critical status will worsen. “For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape” (1 Thessalonians 5:3).

Before God created the earth, He knew that Adam and Eve would disobey and sin. The Plan of Salvation that mandated the death of Jesus was made before God said, “… ‘Let there be light…” (Genesis 1:3). Jesus committed to becoming our sacrificial Lamb so we may have the opportunity for eternal life.

The prophet Isaiah received God’s message that Jesus was our sin-bearing Messiah. “He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him” (Isaiah 53:3). Yes, Jesus was rejected by the majority of those He came to seek, serve, and save. And sadly, many present-day believers have also rejected Christ through the disobedience of self-gratifying pursuits.

Every Christian believer is aware of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Yet, due to the delay of Jesus’ Second Coming, many have grown comfortable living in their temporary earthly home. We have become paralyzed—we do not hear the whistling of this warning “these are the last days of earth’s history, Jesus is coming soon.”

Thankfully, God always has a remnant of people who are diligently seeking and serving Him. In Romans chapter 11, the Apostle Paul tells of the conversation between God and the prophet Elijah when Queen Jezebel threatened to kill him. “Lord, they have killed Your prophets and torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life?’ But what does the divine response say to him? ‘I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal’” (verses 3 and 4).

“So too at the present time, there is a remnant, chosen by grace” (Romans 11:5). Jesus did not die in vain! The Apostle John saw a great multitude, which no man could number who received their reward of eternal life. We must wake up to recognize the warnings that God is sending. Like David, we should pray daily for God to search our hearts for any wickedness and repent. Ask for the anointing of the Holy Spirit and continue to witness to others that Jesus is our Savior, Deliverer, and Heavenly Intercessor.

Prayer: God, we pray that You would search our hearts and reveal the sins that would keep us from receiving our reward of eternal life. We ask this prayer in the Worthy name of Jesus, Amen.

The Gift of His Peace

Devotional—The Struggle of Sanctification—The Gift of His Peace

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27

Although our world is in chaos, Jesus has promised to give the righteous His peace. Jesus’ peace gives us a deep inner calm and confidence that cannot be shaken by life’s changes and challenges.

There is an opposing worldview that spiritual peace only comes from Jesus. Based on success and wealth, they assert, “I have peace.” What is your source of peace? Self-confidence, knowledge, a stable career, financial stability, or a great marriage? Would you still have peace if your circumstances changed and you faced the loss of your career, money, or marriage? The present status of a good life could easily slip away and your conception of peace would be replaced with disbelief, sorrow, and maybe anger.

For every promise of God, Satan attempts to produce a counterfeit. Peace is not a willful state of mind. Nor is peace achieved by moving to a rustic location that provides solitude—that is defined as a peaceful environment. We cannot download peace from an app. Nor do we gain peace from transcendental meditation, or listening to serene music. The temporary state of peace quickly vanishes when the hypnotic words or music are turned off.

Wait! Are you saying Christians who have Jesus’ peace would have peace despite severe loss? Yes! We are not superhumans. By putting God first, we have a dependable relationship with Jesus who sustains us every day. Jesus tells us the importance of staying connected to Him. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

Jesus Christ is the reason we never lose our peace. Faith is the catalyst that allows us to receive and keep our gift of peace under all circumstances. When faced with life-altering situations, we experience sorrow, but we do not despair and lose our faith or hope in Jesus. With diligent prayer and study of the Scriptures, anger, distrust, or hopelessness can never replace our gift of true peace.

Our peace remains consistent because we have a relationship with the Giver of all good gifts. Jesus’ peace prevents our hearts from becoming overwhelmed with the circumstances we face. Even in suffering our faith is steadfast because we believe in God’s promises. “…I will never leave you or forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

Through trials and sorrows, Jesus promised to provide us with spiritual strength and give us peace. The same promise that the apostle Paul received also applies to us, “Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses so that the power of Christ can work through me.’” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Our love for Jesus makes the difference. We surrender our hearts fully to Him. Yes, Jesus is our Father and Friend. Trusting in the supernatural power of God keeps us connected to Jesus, the Source of peace.

Jesus has promised to heal, deliver, and give us restoration. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (John 15:5). And we know that our Savior will never fail us!

Prayer: Jesus, we admit that we are not in a relationship with You. Today, we surrender our hearts and lives because we love You. We pray for the gift of your peace and ask for strength in our daily lives. Thank You for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask in Your name. Amen.

Remaining a Faithful Servant

Devotional—The Struggle of Sanctification—Remaining a Faithful Servant

“And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave, just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:27-28

The topic of Post-modern Christianity has gained a lot of focus among pastors, theologians, and older Christians. Many new issues have arisen in today’s churches, emotional insecurities, depression, anxiety, the failure to study the Bible, embracing prosperity messages, and not giving tithe and offerings. Yet, the problems among today’s believers are much deeper than the obvious.

Imagine speaking with a couple of new believers who tell you that they feel alone and confused since becoming Christians. You listen attentively, repeat a couple of encouraging scriptures [God’s promises] and they give you a blank stare. “Do you study the Bible?” They hesitate and answer, “Not really.”

I watched a testimonial of a woman, in her mid-forties who heard about Christ on social media. She decided to give her heart to Jesus, purchased a Bible, and began looking for a church home. As she began researching the various denominations, she narrowed her focus to three. The church she chose was not Bible-based, but it fit her lifestyle.

Trending among Christians is a sense of entitlement. We desire convenience and fast service which has led to the post-modern term–the microwave society. Family dinners are eaten at restaurants or ordered online for delivery. The preference to stay home and watch virtual services has caused a downward spiral in family bonding and in-person church attendance. After all, it fits into our schedule.

Pastors have shortened their regular church services to one hour to resolve the complaint of “The church service is just too long.” Sacrificial giving of our time and effort is an inconvenience, even for God.

Another individual shared proof of satisfying one’s desires over serving God. “In the past ten years, all of my friends have gone astray. They no longer serve God. They chased success, and relationships, or chose other worldly options that provided happiness.”

Current studies by Reach Right Focus reveal that in-person attendance is only 36-60% of what it was pre-COVID. Church attendance has decreased because individuals have lost their interest in serving God.

Spiritual Warfare: The strategist’s solution is to use engagement techniques to bring new members into the churches. Too much emphasis is placed on making one feel good. One strategy is not to overwhelm the members with too many Scriptures. Believe it or not, church leaders have responded by changing their regular service to one or two hours of singing, which is designed to produce happiness.

Sadly, these are the members who become despondent when faced with trials. Without spiritual food from the Word of God and fervent prayer, we cannot have a steadfast relationship with Jesus Christ. Knowledge of God’s promises along with receiving the power of the Holy Spirit gives us the strength to overcome our hardships.

When we love God with all of our hearts, souls, and minds, no one has to convince us to serve Him. True worship is an outward reflection of a steadfast relationship with Jesus Christ. Serving God is probably the most challenging thing a Christian will ever do. Discipleship is a life of humility, surrender, and obedience. Through prayer and studying the Bible, we allow the Holy Spirit to transform our hearts from satisfying our desires to becoming humble servants.

Jesus’ disciples also had many issues, including hearts overcome by pride. Their antagonism toward one another was fueled by the desire to be the greatest. At the Last Supper, it was Jesus [the Son of God] who washed His disciple’s feet. Humility is not a character trait we are born with. Our carnal nature opposes the meek and lowly traits of servitude. Yet, becoming a servant is discipleship.

“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them” (John 13:14-17).

Prayer: God, we pray for the many individuals who have given up and lost their way that they will return to their first love, Jesus Christ. We ask this prayer in Jesus’ worthy name, Amen.

Walking with Courage and Determination

Devotional—The Struggle of Sanctification—Walking with Courage and Determination

So Jesus said to them, Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, Move from here to there, and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you. Matthew 17:20

The speaker relayed that her life was in chaos and her marriage was at an endpoint. She could not figure out what the problem was until her best friend took a trip to Israel and gave her a gift. She looked at the small glass globe with a tiny seed inside. “Thank you, but what is it?” “It is a mustard seed.” As soon as she heard it was a mustard seed, the Holy Spirit spoke to her and said this is the amount of faith you must have to believe in God.

For the rest of the story, God caused a whirlwind of change when she ceased focusing on her inability to change their life. Over time, her marriage was restored and she is now a copastor with her husband in a bible-based church.

What is the spiritual meaning of mountains? Mountains represent the obstacles and tests that cause disruption and sorrow in our lives—trials, hardships, sudden illnesses, rejection from others, loss of relationships, marriages, jobs, and repossession of homes, and vehicles. To withstand the life journey of trials and sorrows, as disciples of Jesus Christ, we must have faith, courage, and determination.

“But without faith, it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

Without faith, the impossible remains impossible! Our spiritual journey reflects our relationship with Jesus Christ. Where does faith come from? God has given us a measure [a seed] of faith that requires wholehearted belief in Him. Truthfully, we dread the mountains, but hardships produce continuous spiritual growth.

Faith is believing in God’s ability to deliver us in His timing and move our mountains. Jesus says if our faith is as little as a mustard seed, our mountains will be removed.

Our faith is the catalyst that loosens the stronghold! Yet, it is God’s power that removes the obstacle and brings victory. “And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward. But lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it. And the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea'” (Exodus 14:15-16).

Whether from lack of knowledge or impatience, many believers give up [lose faith] when their obstacles are not removed immediately. God’s thoughts and ways are higher [read Isaiah 55:8-9], therefore, we cannot determine when we will receive Divine intervention. Yet, we can remain confident that God has heard our cry for help.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

It takes courage to have blind faith! God designed us to have the limited ability to see what is beyond today. In our weaknesses, Jesus gives us the strength to move forward in an unknown future. “Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). Unwavering faith and trust in God give us the determination to keep going. Every day, tell yourself, I don’t know how God’s going to do it, but His promises are “Yes” to which I say Amen!

How will we get to the other side of victory? Do not attempt to figure out how God will provide and resolve your tribulations. Pray and believe! “The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears, And delivers them out of all their troubles” (Psalm 34:17). Put God first! To hear God’s voice, we must reduce the world’s noise. Every day, separate yourself, go into your secret closet and pray for strength and ask for the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

“And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to everyone according to his work.” (Revelation 22:12)

God is preparing us for a time of great tribulation. Our faith cannot stay the size of a mustard seed. God requires steadfast faith that grows to the point that nothing shakes our faith and confidence in Him. Reflect on your past victories. It was God who brought you through the impossible. Despite the size and number of mountains, we are victorious overcomers when we walk with the courage and determination to trust in God.

Prayer: God, we pray for the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Give us the strength as we move forward with the determination to live faithful and courageously, In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen. 

Jesus’ Benevolent Heart

Devotional—The Struggle of Sanctification—Jesus’ Benevolent Heart 

The word benevolence is rarely used in modern society. If you are under the age of 50 then you may have never heard the word. Although there are various definitions for benevolence, we are referring to the biblical definition of having the disposition to do good. The disposition [natural tendency] to do good is not based on acts of kindness. Benevolence is one of the character traits of the Fruit of the Spirit. The individual has a good heart regardless of the circumstances. The benevolent heart seeks to please God and do good for others.

Our role model is Jesus Christ. His divine nature is to please God as evidenced by never-ceasing goodness. Throughout the Bible, Jesus’ nature is revealed to humanity. It was Jesus who created the world and human beings. “In the beginning was the Word [Jesus], and the Word [Jesus] was with God, and the Word [Jesus] was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:1-3).

Is Jesus also God? Bible theologians agree that Hebrews chapter 1 describes the coronation of Jesus in heaven and gives us evidence that God the Father called Jesus, God, and that Jesus is the Creator.

But to the Son, He says, Your throne, O God is forever and ever, A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness, Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness more than Your companions [the angels]. You, LORD, in the beginning, laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands… (Hebrews 1:8-10)

Jesus’ benevolent heart is evidenced by His heavenly role of Intercessor [High Priest] for humanity. The splendor of this earth and the cosmic beauty of the universe proclaim His goodness! Yet, Jesus’ most incredible creation is human beings who are made in His image. In Psalm 139, verse 14, King David says, “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.” 

Jesus performed countless miracles from heaven [documented in the Old Testament] before He was born on earth and grew into manhood. We are also privileged to study His earthly life in the New Testament. Jesus’ benevolent heart is demonstrated by the numerous, compassionate miracles of healing and feeding the hungry].

Yet, John, the disciple that Jesus loved [because John desired to have the character of Christ] records in John chapter 21, verse 25, “And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen” (John 21:25).

And we delight in reading the release of Paul and Silas who sang and their chains fell off. An angel was sent to release Peter from jail and the Apostle John [who Jesus loved] was boiled in oil but suffered no burns and was saved from death.

From Jesus’ benevolent heart love, grace, and mercy flow abundantly for us–His sons and daughters who He died for. What about us? Do we have benevolent hearts?

There are three things that we will be judged on:

1. Did we have a relationship with Christ? “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). 
2. Did we strive to have the character of Christ? “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). “Because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16).
3. Did we love God and others as evidenced by our benevolent heart? “If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?” (1 John 3:17)

Although Merriam-Webster dictionary defines benevolence as “acts of kindness” the biblical meaning of benevolence is having the spiritual character trait of goodness. As Christians, God expects us to be Christ-like in our character, thoughts, behaviors, and actions. Our Heavenly Father is aware that we cannot change without Divine Intervention.

Sanctification is continuous spiritual growth that can only be achieved by the daily anointing of the Holy Spirit. The human effort of prayer, studying of the Scriptures, faith, trust, and obedience to God places us in the posture of humility to receive the Divine power required for spiritual transformation. To possess the Fruit of the Spirit is to possess a benevolent heart.

Prayer: God, we commit ourselves to You and ask for the anointing of the Holy Spirit to empower us to have a benevolent heart. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

The Journey Includes Detours

Devotional—The Struggle of Sanctification—The Journey Includes Detours

I can recall traveling a familiar route to make a weekly patient visit. The main road went through a residential area that was always busy, but this morning was unusual, traffic was at a standstill. Was there an accident? Only a couple of miles remained from my point of reference to the patient’s home. And then I saw the huge sign with bright orange letters, DETOUR, with an arrow pointing to the left.

When I turned left into the residential area, it was like a maze. My emotions tried to surface, but I focused on the cars ahead of me. They were not driving slowly from panic. No, with confidence, they kept driving and I followed, hoping they would lead me to the main road. After a 10-minute journey with countless twists and turns, I saw the familiar road. Breathing a sigh of relief, I looked and realized that I was only one turn from my final destination.

Our journey is filled with many unexpected detours. When facing the sudden onset of illness, financial disaster, family issues, failed relationships, dissolution of marriage, and even death, the normal processes that we depend on fail to bring resolution. Even with careful planning and the use of proven strategies that keep our lives stable, the vicissitudes of life arise which cause us to stop and seek outside help.

Our success depends on whom we call for help. Yes, we can ask family and friends, but only after we have taken our challenges to God first. Only Divine Intervention can provide Divine Resolution.

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation [trials, sorrows, and hardships], but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

As long as we travel this earthly journey, the detours will continue. Yet, when we call on the name of Jesus in times of distress, God promises us that He will answer and provide hope, healing, and a victorious outcome.

Prayer: God, we desperately need Your help to continue on the Path of Righteousness. Jesus, the detours are overwhelming. We cast our cares and burdens on You. Lord and Savior, we love You. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayer. In Your Worthy name, we pray. Amen.