It’s All or Nothing

I can recall trying to find a nursing job in Orlando, Florida, when there was an overabundance of Registered Nurses. Finally, I found a position where I was hired on the spot. The irony of being immediately hired is that I had to have security clearance which involved fingerprints, DMV abstract, and nursing license verification. Yes, the red flags were waving from every direction. The following day I received a quick one-day orientation–policies, payday, dress code and was told that I needed to arrive at 6 am in the morning to do rounds with the Wound Care Doctor. Not a problem. The issue was that I never received a job description because the position was recently created.

My day started at 4 am, including travel time. All went well for the first week, which had me thinking that I had overreacted. Monday of the second week revealed the truth. The evening nurse who worked from 2:30 pm to 11:00 pm called out sick. I was notified that I needed to speak with the Assistant Director, who informed me that I would be working until 11 pm that night. The duties of a floor nurse were nonstop. I made it through the night. But decided that my last day would be the following week on payday.

The nurse did not return to work for three days. So, I double-shifted for three days and evenings and was told I would be happy with my check. I found out from the other employees that the facility had a very high turnover of evening nurses, and there was no guarantee the staff nurse would return. I must admit that for the first time in my career, I felt miserable. Being half-committed along with the administration’s dishonesty regarding my job description made me so stressed out that I did not make it until payday.

Our spiritual journey requires 100% commitment to God. Serving God is an All or Nothing covenant promise. We commit to a relationship with Jesus Christ that is high maintenance. Building our spiritual connection with Christ requires surrender, faith, trust, obedience, studying the Bible, praying, helping others, attending church, and allowing God to do a complete character makeover.

I have heard many people say, “It’s just too hard to serve God. The things that I cannot do or the things that I have to do for God it’s overwhelming. The dilemma of placing our desires before God is not a new concept. The Laodiceans possessed material wealth and felt their spiritual knowledge was equal to their social status. They were not interested in doing the practical duties required of the Christian believer in the early church. So, they decided not to stress themselves out. They felt that whatever they did was enough to serve God by continuing their daily routines and just showing up for church.

And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—”Revelation 3:14-17

It is difficult for those who feel secure in their attainments, and who believe themselves to be rich in spiritual knowledge, to receive the message which declares that they are deceived and in need of every spiritual grace. God leads His people on step by step. The Christian life is a constant battle and a march. There is no rest from the warfare. It is by constant, unceasing effort that we maintain the victory over the temptations of Satan. It is not enough to merely profess to believe the truth. All the soldiers of the cross of Christ virtually obligate themselves to enter the crusade against the adversary of souls, to condemn wrong and sustain righteousness. But the message of the True Witness reveals the fact that a terrible deception is upon our people, which makes it necessary to come to them with warnings, to break their spiritual slumber, and arouse them to decided action. Testimonies for the Church, volume 3. 

Serving God is not a laid-back, easy lifestyle that requires little to no human effort. We cannot attend church once a week or sing our way to heaven with uplifted hands. The motivational speeches that have replaced sermons based on scriptures have many deceived into thinking that serving God is based on an  emotional response. 

The Laodicean Church received a strong rebuke from Jesus. You have to be hot [completely committed] or cold [same status as an unbeliever] because lukewarm individuals [who have decided how they will serve God] will be spit out [no chance of receiving the reward of eternal life].

Matthew chapter 28:19-20 is the Great Commission, which is applicable to every believer–witness and make disciples. 

 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

It’s up to each of us to serve God giving our All or Nothing. 

Prayer: God, we confess that we are not giving you our best and for this sin, we ask for forgiveness. Please reveal the work that you have for us to do as we prepare for Jesus’ Coming. We ask this prayer in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen. © 2021 Sonya Johnson, Faithful Fishers Ministry 

The Power, Peace, and Prosperity from Prayer

Has anyone ever said to you, “Don’t be so hard on yourself?” Although it is an attempt to console the individual for making a mistake, we should reflect on why we are in a dilemma. Humility leads us to self-evaluate when we have acted on our desires. The desires that place us in opposition to God’s plans for our lives. Thankfully, we have a Heavenly Father who provides unmerited grace and mercy along with unlimited forgiveness of our sins.

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

Throughout the Bible, prayer is emphasized as the way to receive God’s Divine Intervention. John chapter 17 is a perfect example of Jesus praying to His Heavenly Father. Maybe we do not understand the purpose of prayer. Prayer connects us to the Spiritual Team–the Trinity Godhead, God, the Father, Jesus, His Son, and the Holy Spirit. Through prayer, Jesus, our Heavenly Intercessor acts on our behalf, presenting us as forgiven to God. “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. John 14:14. Yes, our prayers must begin with the request for God’s will to be manifested in our lives. And the Holy Spirit, who is available to all people at all times, still remains a mystery. Yet, it is the Holy Spirit who provides comfort, wisdom, guidance, and discernment from our heartfelt prayers.  

The soul that turns to God for its help, its support, its power, by daily, earnest prayer, will have noble aspirations, clear perceptions of truth and duty, lofty purposes of action, and a continual hungering and thirsting after righteousness. By maintaining a connection with God, we shall be enabled to diffuse to others, through our association with them, the light, the peace, the serenity, that rule in our hearts. The strength acquired in prayer to God, united with persevering effort in training the mind in thoughtfulness and care-taking, prepares one for daily duties and keeps the spirit in peace under all circumstances.—(Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, 85.)

We gain spiritual prosperity–a total transformation from our weaknesses to possessing spiritual strength from daily prayer. Prayer is the only way to maintain the connection between humanity and divinity. Unlimited 24/7 access to the Trinity through prayer is a gift. With gratitude, we acknowledge that God has anticipated our every need. It is time that we receive the abundant life that God has planned for us by praying in humility throughout the day, evening, and night.

 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17. 

Feeling blessed and highly favored? Let’s pray.

Prayer: God, we are thankful that you have given us everything that we need. We are thankful that we can communicate with you through prayer. Thank you for  full access to your Divine resources. We love you. And ask this prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen. © 2021 Sonya Johnson, Faithful Fishers Ministry

You Are Not Your Own

Lord, I know that peoples lives are not their own, it is not for them to direct their steps. Jeremiah 10:23

When we surrender to Jesus Christ and accept the free gift of salvation, we commit to discipleship. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. John 10:27. We are followers–sheep. Jesus Christ is our Shepherd. Like many of us, the original twelve disciples were a rowdy, self-seeking group of men that had their own agendas. Why would Jesus choose men like this? Especially Peter, who was prideful [And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” Matthew 14:28]. Yes, Peter was impulsive and lacked self-control. Then Simon Peter drew a sword and slashed off the right ear of Malchus, the high priest’s slave. So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?” John 18:10-11].

Again, Jesus reprimanded Peter: But Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me. For you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” Then Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.… “Matthew 16:23-25

The Apostle Peter who Jesus prayed for: “But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith will not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”… Luke 22:32, wrote the Books of 1 and 2 Peter giving us instruction in the areas that pose the greatest challenges, “Living for God” and “Suffering for being a Christian.”

The reason that Jesus chose the original twelve disciples is that He knew eleven of them would eventually experience a complete spiritual transformation. And Judas Iscariot would fulfill the act of betrayal that was required for the redemption of the human race. Yes, they were wayward, but each went through a complete spiritual makeover following the crucifixion of Jesus [Judas died before–Matthew 27:5].

Jesus chose every human–past, present, and future to willingly give His life for. If only we could make a definitive choice like Christ did. Can you imagine Jesus wavering in His decision to die for us? No, it is unthinkable. Yet, many individuals never hesitate to satisfy their desires through willful acts of disobedience against God.

For those who made the commitment to serve God, but are in the valley of indecision: “You have had enough in the past of the evil things that godless people enjoy—their immorality and lust, their feasting and drunkenness and wild parties, and their terrible worship of idols.” 1 Peter 4:3. Is this Jesus’ disciple? Yes, but a changed man who allowed God to transform him into a spiritually converted Apostle.

We cannot serve God and seek after our desires. The Apostle Paul clarifies the status of Jesus’ disciples: Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

In accepting God’s gift of His Son, Jesus, we give up our natural inclinations to “Have it our way.” Full surrender and obedience are required, But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added. Matthew 6:33, which we willingly do because we love God with all of our heart, soul, and mind. Matthew 22:37.

Many will fall away from God because they want to belong to themselves. Even so, for those of us who are weary from suffering the negative consequences of disobedience, and believe that we fully belong to God [as evidenced by our faithful obedience] Jesus is waiting to give us the reward of Eternal life:

But as it is written:

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

Bible Readings: 1 Corinthians 2 and 1 Peter 4

Prayer: God, we ask forgiveness for seeking after our desires. We pray for the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Thank you for your love, grace, and mercies. In Jesus’ name. Amen. © 2021 Sonya Johnson, Faithful Fishers Ministry

Love in Action

“Teacher, which commandment is the greatest in the Law?” Jesus declared, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.…And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. Matthew 22:36-40

Our various backgrounds produce different views and definitions of what love is. A child raised in a hands-on affectionate home possesses an inner warmth, easily connecting with others. For the child who learned that love was associated with receiving tangible items, their defining characteristics for loving others consists of giving gifts or doing tasks for their loved ones. And then, the emotionally neglected child who received food, clothing, and shelter, the basic physiological needs, but grew up in an environment where love was [somehow] understood. A home full of provisions, but they never heard “I love you” or “you did a great job,” or received the joy of a parental hug. These are the quick handshake or “don’t touch me” individuals.” Unfortunately, they usually develop into people who do not possess the knowledge or the experience to give and receive the most powerful need, Love.

Even so, the child who has past emotional scars are the most dangerous to try to love. Abusive homes were corrosive eating away all of their intrinsic abilities to learn and embrace love. They are hurt, bitter, angry, and feeling dejected from past relationships gone wrong. Their capacity to love again is overshadowed by the darkness of unforgiveness, hatred, and revenge. Yes, they appear to be in a lose-lose predicament. But it is the battered ones to whom God reaches out and wraps them in His blanket of love that pierces the soul and erases the darkness while healing their broken, fragile hearts. It is then that they learn love does not hurt.

Love, is the emotion that caused God to create humanity despite knowing that we would mess up His perfect plans. Love was the foundation for the sacrificial gift of Jesus’ life. The covenant between the matchless Lamb of God and His Father provided redemption for the sins of the human race. Every person can receive the unmerited gifts of forgiveness, grace, and mercy from a loving God. We have the love and benefits from our Spiritual Team. Messenger and guardian angels keep us safe every day from evil and physical danger. Yet, we repay God with open defiance–disobedience by refusing to love Him with obedience, faith, and trust. Nor do we love one another unconditionally.

“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35, RSV)

As a child, I witnessed the National Guard and the war of humans against humans in the 1967 Riots of Newark, New Jersey. I never thought I would relive this terror again on earth, but in 2020, America established a new diabolical standard of hatred. And on January 6, 2021, the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., was violently attacked by a mob of supporters of President Donald Trump. Our disregard for established government, hatred for one another as evidenced by our prejudices, lack of compassion for those in need, the pursuit of selfish desires, and abolishing godly morals and values has a deadly proliferative root. We do not love God!

Still, God lovingly reaches out to each person giving us the opportunity to embrace salvation. God knew that we would not understand how to love, so, He gave us the Bible whose central theme is love. Like the Pharisee’s, our spiritual insight would not understand the miracles throughout the Old and New Testaments were based on agape love. But God sacrificing His only Son, Jesus Christ should have opened our eyes and hearts to recognize that agape love–an unfamiliar level of love to most was the only reason for the suffering, shame, and spilling of Jesus’ precious blood on Calvary’s cross. God and His Son created an invincible team to save us.

Jesus died and was resurrected because we were born into spiritual bankruptcy. From the depths of our soul, we should acknowledge that Redemption is for humanity [we are the only living beings created in the image of God] who required mercy. Jesus did not die for the angels. It is you and me who are the recipients of the redemptive Plan of Salvation. Thank you, Lord and Savior, for giving us the opportunity for Eternal life. 

Reflection of our lives complete with God’s grace, mercies, and miracles should prompt us to desire immediate change. God specializes in New Beginnings. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. Isaiah 43:19. We must empty ourselves of past dysfunctions and previous experiences by praying and fasting. Our thoughts are redirected toward God when we diligently study the scriptures. When we put forth human effort then Divine intervention provides completion. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3

Loving others is a requisite to receiving eternal life. There will be no heavenly neighborhoods based on economic or social standing. Debating, anger, holding grudges will not be part of our character [Read Galatians 5:22-23]. We will have nothing to apologize for in the New Heaven and New Earth. If you do not enjoy the spectrum of colors now, you will not have the opportunity to see Jesus. If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 1 John 4:20

Learning God’s definition of love requires unlearning and acquiring new knowledge and wisdom. Loving God means putting Him first. Surrender to God equates to seeking His will in every aspect of our lives. It is then that we experience a complete spiritual, mental, and emotional transformation. Not one plan is developed or strategy executed without bringing it to God in prayer for His Divine approval. 1 Corinthians chapter 13 provides us with a complete definition of how to love others. The core emotion of unconditional love must permeate our hearts, souls, and minds. Love is not a word or a fleeting feeling. Love is an action that manifests itself in the manner in which we love others and bow in humility to serve a Most Loving, Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent God.

Bible Reading 1 Corinthians 13

Prayer: God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit, we just want to say thank you, and that we love you. In Jesus’ name. Amen. © 2021 Sonya Johnson, Faithful Fishers Ministry

“I Will Answer Them”

And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer, and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. Isaiah 65:24

God knows that we are tired. Since 2020, we have been through tough times. And now, we watch as our Christian sisters and brothers endure persecution. The strain of continuously adjusting to change has many thinking, “Are better days ever coming?”

God asks, “Don’t you know who I am?”

Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the Everlasting God, the Creator of all the Earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depth of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:28- 31.

Praying is our only option! Begin this Sabbath with fervent and honest prayers for yourself and others. We don’t have to pretend that all is well. CALL on the name of Jesus! He has always been and will remain our only solution. © 2021 Sonya Johnson, Faithful Fishers Ministry

Peaceful Waters

Where Do I Begin?

A new believer shared that he accepted Christ from studying the Bible out of curiosity. No one witnessed to him that Jesus died for humanity, nor had he ever attended church. His question to other believers, “I gave my heart to Jesus. Now what?” Most people understand that a relationship with God requires total surrender and giving up our sinful desires and habits. But there seems to be a missing link: Daily prayer and diligent study of the Bible. God is delighted when he hears our prayers. Even before they call, I will answer, and while they are still speaking, I will hear. Isaiah 65:24. The human effort of searching the scriptures enables us to enjoy an up-close and personal relationship with our Heavenly Father. To love God is to know Him.

God made certain that we never feel isolated in our struggle. The biblical stories of real people who had little faith and were disobedient, yet God forgave, intervened, and provided victory allows us to appreciate His grace and mercies. The Holy Spirit, our Teacher is always available to help us gain understanding [always pray for the anointing of the Holy Spirit] of our Creator God through the scriptures. As with all relationships, it takes time, effort, and dedication to establish a solid spiritual foundation. We have a Spiritual team who is always available to help us. God’s unconditional love and our commitment to Christ provide the strength and perseverance to build a deeper relationship with God.

Trials, hardships, and sorrow will always exist. Still, never give in, and don’t give up. God specializes in New Beginnings. See, I am doing a new thing. Now it springs up. Do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19. Yes, God still provides new beginnings for those who love Him. Where do I begin?

Prayer: God, we pray for the new believers who have made the commitment to serve you. Please protect them from the enemy and give them strength in their weaknesses. We ask you to anoint them with the Holy Spirit. Heavenly Father, grant wisdom and discernment as they travel through their spiritual journey. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen. © 2021 Sonya Johnson, Faithful Fishers Ministry

Preparing For Persecution

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted…. 2 Timothy 3:12

The persecution and martyrdom of Christian believers was Saul’s main focus before his encounter with Jesus and transformation to the Apostle Paul. And who would know about persecution better than Paul? He was a prisoner while writing five of the books [letters] of the Bible. From studying, we know that Paul did not fear death because of his belief and hope in the resurrection of the dead in Christ, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

Despite witnessing Paul’s strength, his protégé, young Timothy, was fearful of imprisonment and persecution. Timothy’s fear prompted Paul to write the letter of 2nd Timothy. Although the Apostle was a nurturing spiritual mentor, he reprimanded Timothy’s lack of faith in God during times of persecution.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, love, and self-control. So do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, or of me, His prisoner. Instead, join me in suffering for the gospel by the power of God.…2 Timothy 1:7-8

Of all the emotions God has given humanity, God never gave us the spirit of fear, especially the fear of death. Having a spirit of fear differs from the “Fear of Reverence for God, the “Fight or Flight” response of the Autonomic Nervous system, or from the “Stranger Danger” that babies experience. Living in fear of trials, tribulations, persecution, and death cancels out our proclamation of being a disciple of Jesus Christ.

We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. 1 John 4:16-18

Were you aware that the only disciple that died from a natural death was the apostle John? They boiled him in oil, but Jesus had grand plans for John. John did not die! When the persecutors witnessed the power of God, they exiled John to the Isle of Patmos where he wrote Revelation. Revelation is filled with spiritual symbolism so deep that many individuals ignore the book or only read a few verses. It takes the anointing of the Holy Spirit to understand the Revelation prophecies. The books of John were written by the apostle John who also wrote the gospel of John and the book of Revelation.

John’s separation reveals that we need to stop wasting time on people, places, and things that cannot help us grow spiritually. We have to step back and fully assess our priorities. 2 Timothy 3 tells us of the Perilous Times and Perilous People of the last days. Refer to Genesis chapters 5-10 for an account of the flood and the destruction of all living things. The reason: Now, the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. Genesis 6:11. If God gave John a vision of the New Heaven and New Earth, imagine the anointing and the spiritual gifts you can receive with total commitment to Christ.

Lack of knowledge of the scriptures, intermittent prayers, and trust in our own abilities leaves us with hidden fear. We can live a life of pretense, but God knows our fears safely tucked away, that are unknown to others. Half-committed to follow Jesus places us in a valley of indecision. Not fully prepared to give up our willful desires or put our complete faith and trust in God, we only acknowledge a higher power by word of mouth. The human effort of daily studying, praying, faith, trust, and obedience must be a priority on our every day agendas.

Without God, humanity is powerless against the agents of evil. Yes, Satan is the father of fear. I watched a video of a Christian woman in Afghanistan who proclaimed, “We will not throw away our Bibles! We will die for Jesus Christ!” For citizens of the United States of America, persecution is not political, it is biblical prophecy. Search the scriptures. Our time is coming. Get out of the valley of indecision! Strengthen your relationship with God while you have time. Jesus is coming!

“But if it doesn’t please you to worship the LORD, choose for yourselves today: Which will you worship—the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living? As for me and my family, we will worship the LORD.” Joshua 24:15
Bible Readings: 2 Timothy 3

Prayer: God, we ask you to forgive our sins. We realize that our fear exists because our relationship with you is based on words. As we seek knowledge through the study of the scriptures, we ask for the anointing of the Holy Spirit for wisdom and discernment. Thank you for your grace and mercies. We ask this prayer in the Worthy name of Jesus. Amen. © 2021 Sonya Johnson, Faithful Fishers Ministry

Are You Reaching Your Fullest Potential?

Have you considered the number of individuals living outside the established laws, breaching ethical boundaries, and defying existing morals? In fact, a growing majority of people have mentally developed their own standards of behavior or beliefs concerning what is and is not acceptable for them to do. It is not only the rebels who refuse to adhere to societal laws. Many have a hidden agenda–based on a skillfully and strategic plan to do as they please. They belong to the army of those who possess a secret resistance to rules and regulations–who consider themselves above the law.

Employers have policies and procedures to which the employee agrees to adhere to the rules. However, a growing number are fired due to misconduct or violation of company policy. Every country has existing civil and criminal laws with penalties. Yet, prisons are overflowing. In the United States, over 4,000 juvenile facilities range from detention centers and farms to secure, military-style boot camps to group homes where youth are incarcerated. prisonpolicy.org.

Surprisingly, the area of most significant civil disobedience is traffic violations, which are a big business. “Not including parking tickets, we can estimate that somewhere between 25 and 50 million traffic tickets are issued each year. Assuming an average ticket cost of $150.00, the total up front profit from tickets ranges from 3.75 to 7.5 billion dollars.” motorist.org

How did we get into this predicament? It is inherent [human nature] to possess the desire to overstep boundaries. Disobedience is delightful! The opportunity to go astray just once may produce anxiety but also causes a thrill of excitement. We can never say that all individuals act on their inclinations. Even so, it takes the right situation to reveal our real character. When the law-abiding person reaches the point of no return and commits a crime, we ask, “What happened?” Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. Proverbs 4:23. They finally acted on the desire of their hearts that appeared totally out of character for them. Most would never participate in extreme activities but readily create and live in a gray area of compromise, or seek loopholes to continue their pattern of secret counterproductive behaviors.

Even for those who serve God, we are influenced by our environment. Sarai created the diabolical plan to give Hagar, her maid, to become Abram’s second wife to fulfill God’s promise of a male heir. Abram, a devout man of God, agreed to the plot. How did this happen? Sarai planted the seed of doubt that God had forgotten His promise. Although Abram knew that God made a covenant with him, they were surrounded by people who practiced many pagan customs, including polygamy. Compromising God’s spiritual boundaries is much easier than we think. But pushing the limits has its consequences. “You can do what you like but not for as long as you like.” 

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. Galatians 6:7-9

Reaching Our Fullest Potential

Who doesn’t desire to live their best life? The issue with pursuing human-made strategies is that they have a breaking point, a weak link, and the possibility of failure. Innovative ideas constantly replace existing business operations and the current way of doing things. Advancements in Technology are a super-power within itself. Still, we are powerless over the many events that happen on the planet Earth. Climate change, the ability of pathogenic organisms to mutate and gain invincible strength, feats of nature [earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.], and death reveal that humanity is powerless where Divine intervention is required. 

How did we arrive to the conclusion that we can live according to our whims and desires? We have lost our Reverence and Respect for God. Secretly, and maybe unintentionally, we perceive ourselves as equal to God. No, we would never verbalize those words. But our actions indicate that we do not require a Heavenly Father. We pursue our visions and dreams as if we are fully capable of reaching our fullest potential. Take a moment to reflect on this promise:  

But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. Isaiah 43:1-3

As heinous as Sarai’s plot sounds, many of us are living outside of God’s commandments, spiritual laws and boundaries. Sadly, we are not concerned or interested in God’s promises. 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. We honor our achievements over God’s promises. If someone credible approached us with a doable plan to improve our quality of life and our finances, we would readily agree to participate. History reveals that angels nor humans can compete with God. His promises are “Yes, and Amen!”

Jesus paid a great price for humanity that we may achieve our fullest potential through Him! I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hell and of Death. Revelation 1:8.

It is with humility that we acknowledge the Omnipotence of a great and powerful God who lovingly extends unmerited grace and new mercies to us each day. Lest we forget, David reminds us: What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor. Psalm 8:4-5

Ask yourself:

    1. Am I where God would have me to be?
    2. Am I fully serving my Lord, Jesus Christ?
    3. Am I pleasing myself, and failing to please God?
    4. Am I concerned about bringing honor to His holy name?

We serve a merciful God who always accepts our prayers of repentance. Even before they call, I will answer, and while they are still speaking, I will hear. Isaiah 65:24. God is waiting to perform a great work in us. We must acquiesce to His supernatural ability to bring His perfect plans into fruition. Only God can set in motion the miracles we need to reach our fullest potential in this life on earth. And if that wasn’t enough, our Creator has promised us a reward of immortality in a perfect and sinless New Heaven and New Earth. Amen.

Bible Readings: Isaiah 43 and Revelation 1

Prayer: God, we confess that we have excluded you from our lives. We pray for forgiveness and ask that you reveal your plans to establish us according to your will. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen. © 2021 Sonya Johnson, Faithful Fishers Ministry

The Character of Christ

The willingness to accept Jesus Christ as our Redeemer and Savior is from a responsive heart, which embraces Jesus’ sacrifice to give humanity salvation. As a result, we receive a spiritual transformation with a transformed heart that leads to a life of loving and caring. And yes, Jesus gives us a life complete with joy and peace, but also one of trials and sorrows as we travel down the Path of Righteousness. 

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled; do not be afraid.” John 14:27

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

If accepting Jesus and serving God provides us with peace and joy, then why are we in the predicament that even caused David to question himself: Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God! Psalm 43:5

The ongoing hardships of the 21st century have produced believers plagued with discouragement, depression, and a mindset surrounded by darkness. Something isn’t right! I asked a couple of individuals to give me their opinion of why we have so little faith and trust in God. They were not sure of how or why the mental and emotional conditions have increased throughout the years. Still, I do not wish to present only my viewpoint of this terrible dilemma. 

I deferred the question to my mother, who is 88 years young. “Mom, why do you think that modern believers do not possess the faith, trust, joy, and peace that serving God offers?

Her response, “They do not know God. Prayer and Bible study are not their priorities. How can you have faith and trust in someone that you don’t know? Life is tough, but God has promised to never leave us or forsake us.” 

History reveals that most individuals decided to walk into a church to turn their lives around by accepting Jesus. They were aware that their habits and behaviors had to change. Attending church, praying, and studying the Bible were the building blocks to forming a solid relationship with Jesus Christ. New believers were told that suffering through trials was necessary to change their character and to be a disciple. They understood that hardships would show up as changes in their lives, job loss, sickness, etc. We sang songs with lyrics that told us to faithfully hold on because Jesus will work it out.

Our conversations consisted of trusting in God because faith believes that God does the impossible. We kept hope alive by telling each other to expect deliverance and never give up while waiting for God’s answer. Oh, and the songs we learned and sang, “Trouble in my way, Jesus will fix it, after awhile,” “Victory is Mine,” “We are Marching to Zion,” and “Trust and Obey,” provided the additional strength to make it through those tough times. We prayed all day and night for stronger faith and trust in God. And we demonstrated our love for each other by calling, praying with them, and home visitation, always asking, “What do you need?”

Fast forward to 2021, and we now have a body of believers who have accepted Christ and do not attend church. They may find out through social media that believers must study the Bible and pray without ceasing. The “babes in Christ” require nurturing to help them through their spiritual journey. Sadly, many fall prey to the loneliness of being a Christian and succumb to discouragement and temptation.

Then we have the seasoned Christians who are mature, but are more concerned about self. They are the believers with spiritual strength, Yet, they have no desire to help the new believers or anyone overcome by the tribulations of life. In fact, the trending behaviors of performing random acts of kindness, pass it forward, giving tax-deductible charitable donations, and paying for the person’s groceries standing behind you while filming it for TikTok, they have consoled themselves with the thought that good deeds are acceptable to God. 

Still, these actions are not the same as having the “Character of Christ” and the “Fruit of the Spirit. “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you? And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.'” Matthew 25:44-45

In the Four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, God has given us a record of the many events that reveal Jesus’ character. The life of Christ is given by four different men who followed Jesus. The Gospels agree that the Son of Man ministered to others without discrimination. Yes, Jesus was stern when He pointed out the pride and hypocrisy of the rulers who were teaching the law but oppressing the people with man-made rules that they did not keep. The central theme of the Bible is based on the Love of God. Jesus was loving, fair, tender, and full of compassion.

Remember the woman caught in adultery? Have you ever wondered why Jesus bent down? And what was He writing on the ground? What caused the people to turn and walk away?

4 they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” 6 This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear. 7 So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” 8 And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.

Adultery for the woman was punishable by stoning to death. A theologian gives this answer, “Two scriptures point out that Jesus was writing on the ground. Many ask, “Why was Jesus writing on the ground?” He was writing the secret sins of her accusers. Once exposed, all they could do is turn and walk away in shame.”

One would think that Jesus’ disciples would possess His character. No, they had the same mindset that many possess right now:

That evening the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.” But Jesus said, “That isn’t necessary—you feed them.” “But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish!” they answered. Matthew 14:15-17

When we accepted Jesus’ invitation, He accepted us just as we were, no questions asked. However, by studying the scriptures, we learn that our surrender to God involves a complete spiritual makeover. 1 Corinthians 13, The Love Chapter, gives us God’s definition of love, Galatians 5:22-23 tells the importance of being anointed with the Holy Spirit and the characteristics we are expected to possess. The Apostle Paul commands us, “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32.

The believer’s financial responsibility: But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? 1 John 3:17

There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death. Proverbs 14:12. 

We have the free will of choice to serve God. Even so, with our commitment [to surrender], we agree to the transformation of our hearts and mind. Submission to the will of God is no longer an option. Giving ourselves wholeheartedly–without reservation allows us to conform obediently to our Heavenly Father.
We become transformed into the likeness of Christ. The person that we used to be, no longer exists. God uses trials to purge undesirable behaviors and negative traits from our character.

We must die daily to the fleshly desires of self [Romans 8:13]. Sanctification is a life-long journey on the Path of Righteousness. Preparation to receive the reward of eternal life in the New Heaven and New Earth requires Divine intervention. We cannot save ourselves. Allowing God to do a great work within gives us the perseverance to move forward in Jesus’ name.

The struggle is real. As a disciple of Jesus Christ, suffering is part of our servitude. Still, we have a loving, compassionate, and powerful Heavenly Intercessor, Jesus Christ that promises to see us through. 

“being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; Philippians 1:6

Prayer: Thank you, God. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Holy Spirit. Amen. © 2021 Sonya Johnson, Faithful Fishers Ministry