During my employment with a major health insurance company, a severe issue arose not covered by a company policy. In a clinical environment, a Registered Nurse is the licensed professional that the paraprofessional staff must report to as regulated by the Board of Nursing. Our team consisted of one lead RN and several LPNs responsible for monthly physician statistical reports indicating the level of care met for patients with chronic diseases. The lead RN of one of the teams discovered a deficit in the data submission of one of the nurses and addressed it in a 1:1 meeting with the LPN. Emotions escalated, not because of the error, but focus on the statement, “You are not in charge of me.” It led to a significant conflict and fiasco that eventually was reported to Human Resources.
The outcome From HR’s intervention required the development of a new [immediate] policy: Because we were in a non-clinical environment, the lead RN was not responsible for the deficiencies of the members on the team. All concerns would require a description in writing from the Lead RN or the LPN to the Departmental Manager. Although the policy addressed the hierarchy of command, an unhealthy relationship developed in the majority of the teams, which affected the cohesiveness of the department.
The Apostle Paul Addressing the Conflict in the Early Churches
God designated the Apostle Paul to witness to the Gentiles. From reading the books that he wrote–letters to the churches and to Timothy, we become aware of the confusion in the churches. The dissension was due to the rivalry between the new converts who were former unbelievers with pagan practices–the worship of gods and goddesses. Many were high-ranking priestesses and individuals with significant wealth and influence who assumed they would keep their worldly status in the church. And yes, they were highly offended by Paul’s teachings: All believers are of the body of Christ and equal, regardless of social or financial status. In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels, I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality. 1 Timothy 5:21
2021–The multitude of believers with an Unhealthy Relationship with God
Many modern churches have protocols that give recognition to the wealthiest congregants. The front rows are assigned based on social status, and they are readily elected to the most prominent positions in the church. Recently, I listened to a sermon by Dr. Sonnie Badu, which addressed a most heart-wrenching situation, “members that esteem their Pastors above Jesus Christ.”
At first, one would think that this is a cultural belief. However, worshipping one’s pastor has permeated Christianity on a global level. I was sent a question by a young woman who asked, “Why do certain Christian women dress modestly?” She rejected the scriptural answers by proudly affirming that her pastor stated, “It doesn’t matter how we dress because we are clothed in Christ’s righteousness.” I said a silent prayer for the Holy Spirit to reveal her error. No, I did not send a reply. When individuals desire to disobey God’s truth and follow their desires, it is a matter between them and God.
Sadly, many who know the biblical truth do not possess the desire to obey God. One of the defining characteristics is the refusal to observe the seventh-day Sabbath. For I am the Lord, I change not…Malachi 3:6. This scripture is all-inclusive, not limited to the subject of tithe and offerings. With a sound mind, we can reason that if nine of the ten commandments remain unchanged, and only the fourth commandment has changed, it is false teaching and definitely not of God. [Research Emperor Constantine and his change of Saturday- Sabbath.] “For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws.” James 2:10
God is not a religion or denomination, nor has He changed any of His laws except for Ceremonial laws. When Jesus [the Lamb of God] was crucified and died, the veil ripped from top to bottom. See Matthew 27:51. There was no longer a need for the sacrifice of animals to cover humanity’s sins.
Jesus defines the relationship that he requires of His disciples:
Anyone who loves his father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me, and anyone who does not take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me.… Matthew 10:37-38
It is not easy to follow Jesus. We will be excluded from family, friends, society, and government. Even so, we must have the courage to obey the scriptures.
All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 1 Timothy 3:16-17
Daily Prayer, the study of the Scriptures, Obedience, Faith, and Trust in God are the foundation of a healthy relationship with God. Indeed, our lives must be in alignment with God’s requirements. Pray for the anointing of the Holy Spirit, who is our Teacher. God never withholds the truth from those who diligently seek Him.
We will hear “Well-done” from Jesus Christ if we have given 100% to faithfully following Him. Nothing else is above having a healthy, thriving spiritual relationship with Jesus based on love and obedience.
“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:34 NLT
Have you ever had worries about your future? If yes, then most likely you have not memorized Matthew 6:19-34. Jesus provides the reassurance and guarantees that He will provide for every necessity in our lives. Beyond knowing the due dates for monthly bills or pending appointments, we should have no concerns regarding the future–not even tomorrow. We are not even guaranteed the next day, so we should be extremely grateful for the mercies of life for today.
“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.” Matthew 6:31-32 NLT
Recently, I listened to the testimony of a young man who said that the Holy Spirit spoke to him during church service to give all of the money he had in his pocket, which wasn’t enough to last until payday [the next week]. He obeyed. The next day at work, he realized that he previously promised to meet a couple of coworkers for lunch. As he drove to McDonald’s, without a penny, he would tell his coworkers that he wasn’t hungry. But on the way, he stopped to help an older man who had car trouble. From that act of kindness, God blessed him with enough money to last until payday.
This is a story of obedience and a giant leap of faith and trust in God. In verse 32, Jesus reveals our status as faithless and compares us to unbelievers who constantly worry when we think about tomorrow. We have an immediate decision to make–to live with or without faith. It’s up to us. Be aware of the consequences of choosing to rely on yourself. Without faith, we live miserable lives. It is not possible to have unspeakable joy and peace without total belief in God, our Provider.
The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly. John 10:10. “Abundant life” refers to life in its abounding fullness of joy and strength for mind, soul, and body. Jesus promised that if we live day by day and fully trust in Him that our joy would be complete. Go ahead, thank our Jehovah Jireh for His loving care of always giving us needful provisions. Living a faith-based life guarantees us the fulfillment of God’s promises.
Surrender to God requires faith and obedience along with diligent study and correct knowledge of the scriptures. Without a firm grasp of biblically-based sound doctrine, we become desensitized to the increasing corrupt changes in these perilous times. Still, we cannot ignore the laws that are in full opposition to God’s law. The level of compromise has risen and impacts every system from government to many churches. The decline is evident in our societies on a global level. The swift collapse of the moral fiber and value systems is a result of rebellion. Many individuals proudly proclaim, “My truth is what I believe in.” We are coerced into acceptance of the lies from gender neutrality to the belief that good people always go to heaven. Yet, the most blasphemous trend is now boldly proclaimed on social media: Believers have been given the authority to call upon and command the Holy Spirit to activate as if He is a magical genie–a figment of demonic imaginings.
But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 2 Timothy 3:1-5 NKJV
God has fully disclosed the events that show rapid progression toward Jesus’ Second Coming. Reflect on this, centuries ago the Apostle Paul gives us the exact condition of the last days. The people in Noah’s time had 120 years to get it together. Our lifespan is not even close. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 2 Timothy 3:13 NKJV. We do not fear the prophecies that are being fulfilled. God is still in control of His world.
The Human Effort of praying for the discernment and guidance from the Holy Spirit is vital to our spiritual growth, perseverance, and endurance. It is a conscious decision to faithfully obey God by asking that His will be done in our lives. Turning our eyes upon Jesus requires wholehearted commitment. Through Christ, we can live holy and righteous lives. We have a Spirtual Team that is ready 24/7 to assist us in our journey on the Path of Righteousness.
Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. James 1:21-22
Most of us rely on the prediction of weather forecasts. Many outdoor activities, weddings, and events are planned on suppositions of future projections. Still, we are surprised by the unforeseen thunderstorms and rain showers that threaten or cancel the events that we have put time and effort into or eagerly look forward to attending. It is a grim disappointment when our plans and anticipated joy come to a screeching halt. Even so, with sadness in our hearts, we realize that the weather is above and beyond our control. And either we use plan B, or the event is rescheduled.
The life of a disciple–follower of Christ is a life full of storms and seasons of fiery trials. Yet, many live their daily lives as if they were unaware that following Christ means suffering. Two reasons exist: 1. Lack of knowledge. 2. The internal conflict between surrender and self-reliance, which prevents us from bonding with Christ. We eagerly make plans without presenting them first to God in prayer for His approval and blessing. The prayer of “Not my will, but thy will be done” is replaced with a mindset of presumption. Sadly, our desires supersede God’s plans for our lives.
Jesus’ disciples also had their own agenda–for Jesus to be proclaimed King and exalt Himself to the throne [along with themselves]. After feeding the five thousand, the disciples were confident that Jesus would announce himself as King. It was evident. If someone could feed thousands of people from five loaves of bread and two fish, and have food left over, certainly they would proclaim Jesus as their earthly king. Finally their life of poverty and suffering would be over. But Jesus knowing their desires gave a command that left them astonished. Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. Matthew 14:22.
Because of their worldly desire of self-elevation, the disciples were always outside of the will of God. Yes, they were deeply disappointed when Jesus sent them away. And because of their selfish and disobedient character traits, they waited for Jesus [John 6:16-17] until dark. Finally they got into the boat not realizing that the calm sea would become a raging storm that would make them acknowledge the deity of Jesus : “Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.” Matthew 14:33
“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we knew when our spiritual storms were coming?” “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. Jesus forewarned us of the stormy trials, sorrows, and hardships that would come upon us. The life of a disciple–follower of Christ is a life full of storms and seasons of fiery trials. Yet, many say they are Christians but seem unaware that following Christ includes a journey of suffering. Like the disciples, we have our agendas for success, acquiring tangible possessions, and living comfortable, peaceful lifestyles.
And then we face the storm that rages with such force, we realize our helplessness. When the storm hits, we are devastated. The preparation of building rock-solid faith requires diligently studying the scriptures and becoming a powerful prayer warrior. We must cultivate prayer and study as daily habits. God’s promises include the condition of putting forth “Human Effort!”
When we are armored up–Ephesians 6:10-18, we are strong in the Lord. Our faith and trust in God is unwavering. We are connected to the source of power–Jesus Christ. We gain strength because of the power of prayer, knowledge of the scriptures, and possessing a faithful, obedient, and deep spiritual bond [relationship] with Jesus Christ.
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:2-5
Yes, the storms are raging. But Jesus tells us to come, “Go Ahead! Walk on the Water.” Jesus is always here to help us through our storms. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27
Most of us can agree that since January 2020, we have faced adversities as never before. Even if we did not sustain a direct impact, we have family members and friends who are in an ongoing recovery phase of their lives. Still, God is in control of His world. “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?” Jeremiah 32:27
The adversities that we face are known to God before they impact our lives. Many have made a commitment to serve God. Yet, they continue to serve God according to their own thought processes. Serving God is a lifetime covenant vow and requires total surrender. How does surrender apply to our lives? We include God in every aspect of our lives. We pray, give our challenges, worries, and anxieties to God, and wait for His answers. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7.
Humility is the key to approaching God. And that is when the battle begins to rage within our minds. The wheels begin to turn. Yes, we can solve this challenge! Using prior life experience, educational achievements, critical thinking skills, and astute judgment, we develop fail-proof strategies [from our perspective]. But self-reliance is a bitter fruit of pride. When our feeble attempts continue to fail, leaving us discouraged, we may feel that God has failed or forgotten about our circumstances. God knows! God cares!
Yes, God knows that we need His divine intervention. And He patiently waits for us to exhaust all of our options. God waits for us to realize that we cannot live without Him. We do not have to wait and approach God in desperation. There is a better way to serve God. Admitting that He is our only option is a result of our faith and trust. When our challenges arise, all we need to do is immediately pray a prayer of faith [having the mindset of total belief in God] and ask God for help. When he calls out to Me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble. I will deliver him and honor him. Psalm 91:15
Even Jesus was humble and obedient until death. He went a little farther and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” Matthew 26:39
Often God will use trials and hardships to reveal the character traits that expose our lack of faith and trust in Him. Throughout the Bible, we read accounts of individuals who disobeyed God because they did not seek His will first. Serving God requires us to put Him first. How do we know that we are putting God first? The utilization of our time is an indication of whether or not God is first and foremost. We have 24 hours. How much time do we worship, study, and pray?
Remember that our covenant vow with God is life-long. We are disciples–followers who must possess the mindset of “Not my will, But your will be done in my life.” Will you trust God to bring complete restoration to your life? Only God can give us the best options. “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
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
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.