When relocating from the Northeast to a small town in Texas, I had to make a significant adjustment, and that was to transition from tactless to tactful. In the southern regions, if something needs to be said to another individual that is not pleasant but truthful, there is an art form of using analogies or comparing one situation to another to relay the truth. Granted, it wasn’t easy for me to learn how to be less direct in expressing myself. But as I began studying the Bible diligently, I realized that God required me to say truthful words but wrapped in kindness. Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul, and health to the body. Proverbs 16:24. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person. Colossians 4:6
Because of God’s grace and long-suffering, He always reveals the character traits, behaviors, and habits that are not in harmony with His will. When we study how Jesus exposed sin, He often used parables. So there would be no misunderstandings; Jesus always thoroughly explained the meaning of the story. Luke 18:9-14 tells us of “The Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican (Tax Collector).
9 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ 13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ 14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
The Bible is our spiritual mirror.
For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
Study the Bible, and look deeply into the spiritual mirror. God reveals our every thought, word, or action that is sinful. Not only does the Word of God expose our sins, but we are also told the cost of sin, For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23. Because sin leads to destruction, God is straight-forward: The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9
Establish a relationship with God that is up-close and personal. Only you and God know the thoughts, words, and actions that result in separation from Him. God loves us so much that although He is plainspoken, as our Father, He patiently waits for us to acknowledge, confess, and repent of our sins. Still, serving God requires a humble heart and a “do-right” mind.
The human heart is the most deceitful of all things and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? Jeremiah 17:9. Because we are naturally drawn to sin, it takes human effort and Divine intervention to overcome sin. No temptation has overtaken you, except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV.
Do not be offended by the Word of God. Humbly, receive correction and discipline. The exposure of our wrongdoings is required for us to experience a spiritual transformation. Sanctification is a life-long journey. Make a personal decision to love and serve God with all of your heart, soul, and mind. God would never ask us to do the impossible. We have a Heavenly Father who readily extends His unconditional love, grace, and mercy. If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14.
Saints of God, we are nearing home!
Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must be clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.…1 Corinthians 15:51-53 BSB
Happy Sabbath! Praise God from Whom all Blessings Flow!
God, we thank you for revealing our faults and allowing us to change. We ask forgiveness for our sins. We pray to be filled with the Holy Spirit and to have a deeper understanding of the scriptures. Thank you for the Sabbath, a day of rest and spiritual renewal. We ask this prayer in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.
If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. My eyes will be open and my ears are attentive to every prayer made in this place. 2 Chronicles 7:14-15
There is a game that we used to play as children, dodge ball. It was usually the same child who had quick reactions and excellent eyesight that remained the unbeatable champion. But just when their overconfidence peaked and they entered the next game smiling with the facial expression of “you already know that I’m the winner,” the ball-thrower changed.
This was a new thrower with unknown skills but demonstrated that he or she could look in one direction and throw the ball in another direction. I remember when the reigning champion was the second person out of the game. We were silent from the shock for a quick minute, and then as children react, we started laughing and teasing the overconfident losing champion. Well, he became angry and walked away, filled with disbelief.
And then, a couple of players were show-offs and would catch the ball and toss it back to the thrower to showcase their skills. We decided to vote to make the rule that catching the ball would be considered an automatic out, which put an immediate stop to ball-catching.
But I would like to focus on the most amazing children in the game. They were the ones who would sacrifice for those of us who lacked the skills to dodge the ball, knowing that we would have been the first ones out. These good-hearted kids would intentionally jump in front of us and get hit with the ball so that we could play a few minutes longer.
Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:4
It makes me wonder, was the ability to put others first an innate characteristic, present at birth, or a learned behavior?
The children who willingly sacrificed have most likely matured into the servants of our societies. They are the ones who rescued the baby birds that had fallen from their nests, shared their school lunches, or helped to clean the house without being asked. Their love and compassion for others flowed like a waterfall that never stops.
Who are they now? They are the volunteers, the missionaries, the ministers, the essential workers, the philanthropists, and that one neighborhood mother and father who have an open-door for all, and most importantly, many are the disciples of Jesus Christ. The list of positions of servitude can go on and on.
We do know that society’s servants and the disciples of Christ share a common trait; they possess the characteristic of abundant love. They have caring and compassionate hearts, which causes them to seek out those who are broken from being hit too many times from the balls of hardships.
If individuals who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, are wholeheartedly committed to helping humanity, how much more as Believers should we be doing to alleviate suffering? But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 1 John 3:17. The answer is simple: we really do not love God.
Have you considered that if we were fulfilling our Divine purpose of spreading the message of Jesus Christ (The Great Commission, Matthew 28) and sharing our time and money that our societal problems would not have escalated to epidemic proportions? Not only would the hopeless have hope through the salvation of Jesus, the conditions of poverty, homelessness, and disease transmission would be under control. And just maybe, by now, we would be living in the perfect and sinless New Heaven and New Earth.
There is a song that has the lyrics, “If I can help somebody along the way then my living will not be in vain.”
And Jesus tells us in Matthew 25:35-40 NIV,
35 ‘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 invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'” 40 The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'”
Saints of God, we have been commissioned to make disciples and help those in need. But, first and foremost, we must obey the greatest commandment: 36 “Teacher, which commandment is the greatest in the Law?” 37, Jesus declared, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:36-39
Oh, friend, do you love Jesus? Because when we love God, and Jesus Christ, His Son, we possess the abundant love and compassion that flows like the great Niagara Falls.
In this season of lockdowns, shelter-in-place, social distancing, and facemasks, renew your relationship with God and return to your first love. Commit to helping some one in need, use social media for witnessing by posting encouraging scriptures, and use your financial resources to support the many community churches that need money because they are alleviating others’ suffering. Do not give to prosperity seeking non-profit organizations or because you seek a taxable deduction to offset projected tax liabilities owed to the government. Give to those who are fulfilling the scriptures to love God, and to love others.
Pray and ask God to reveal your Divine purpose as you prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord.’ Matthew 25:23
Bible Reading: Matthew 25
God, we ask for forgiveness for not caring about the suffering of those in need. Please reveal to us your divine purpose for our lives. We ask this prayer in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.
Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 1 Timothy 6:12
The Christian is not permitted to float leisurely down the stream of the world, and so reach “the haven where his soul would be.” He must swim against the current, and for his very life. The faith, which he professes with his lips, he must adorn with his life. Benjamin Bradney Beckett
The Christian life is a battle against principalities and powers of darkness. Your faith will be tried and tested. You will face stiff opposition from your fallen nature (the flesh) and the world (troubles, trials, tribulations, and temptations). thedeepthingsofgod.com
Faith is knowing and believing that God will work everything out according to His plans for you. Have you ever traveled at night and even though you had the directions from the GPS, you begin to doubt if the directions are accurate because it is taking much longer than you anticipated? When we are suffering the harsh trials and sorrows of life, many times we begin to feel defeated, and we are ready to give up. Do not give up! Redirect your focus on God. You are closer to victory than you think. God never fails!
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
God, please help us to never give up on you. Amen.
Long before the pandemic, I have traveled throughout the world, even to the most remote places. And all of my travels were possible because of technology. Yes, I am an enthusiastic virtual traveler. The authentic and pure beauty of nature never ceases to amaze me. But there is something else that places me in awe of God, our Creator: the uniqueness and diversity of human beings.
Because we only have a close estimate of the world’s population, I would venture to say we are closer to 8 billion people. Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image…Genesis 1:26 BSB. The thought of almost 8 billion people with a unique set of fingerprints and outward appearances that differ as the flowers speak of the phenomenal love of God. Have you considered that every human being possesses DNA or deoxyribonucleic acid: a long molecule that contains our unique genetic code, which is God-created and God-designed? And it is DNA, the cord that connects all human beings as one family.
When we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we immediately become part of the family of God, which is all-inclusive. There are character traits that Believers must possess:
And love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God remains in us, and His love is perfected in us. 1 John 4:10-12 BSB
Love is patient; love is kind. It does not envy; it does not boast; it is not proud. 1 Corinthians 13:4
Be kind and tender-hearted to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Galatians 5: 22-23
If you forgive others for the wrongs they do to you, your Father in heaven will forgive you. But if you don’t forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15
We are required to embrace the concept of all humanity as one family: “Teacher, which commandment is the greatest in the Law?” 37, Jesus declared, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ “Matthew 22:36-39.
Have you ever been excited about buying something, and then you found out there was a catch to it? Cable companies are notorious for using the hook of an offered price, maybe $99 a month, but with the list of taxes, and fees the monthly rate actually turns out to be $129 a month. Gimmicks are certainly one of the easiest ways to convince a potential customer to spend more money than planned or if you immediately recognize what is going on, you can say no thank you. Still, the deceit is a deal-breaker!
Anger, holding grudges, and disliking others for any reason excludes us from being a Believer and part of the Family of God. When we embrace and practice unforgiveness, prejudices, biases, racism, and the principle of exclusion based on cultural and family traditions, social and economic status, religious differences, negative experiences, or personal choice, we are not obeying the commandments of God. Sadly, many who say they love God will miss out on the reward of Eternal life in the New Heaven and New Earth because of their “dislike” for others.
Hate is a strong word that most do not embrace. We use the phrase, “I just dislike her, him, or them” to minimize and support our bitter fruit of hate. What does God say about love and hate for others?
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; Matthew 5:44
Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 1 John 4:20
“But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” Revelation 21:8
God has no-compromise guidelines for our relationship with Him and with others. The first four, 1-4, commandments of the Ten Commandments describe what our relationship with God looks like, and the second set of commandments, 5-10, describe the way to live right with other people. Accepting that God created all human beings, regardless of the human-made labels of race, ethnicity, and nationality, requires that we abide by all of His commandments, which are based on unconditional love for God and one other.
In many homes, unconditional love and forgiveness are not present, which provides the foundation for disunity, friction, and unhealthy relationships among biological family members. The causes may be unstable marriages, parental favoritism, privileges given to male children over female children, sibling rivalry, and physical, mental, and emotional abuse, along with many other reasons.
Even so, we do not have to end up where we started. When we decide to become a Believer, the Holy Spirit helps us discard our previous ungodly behaviors. And to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. 2 Corinthians 5:17. To become a part of God’s family requires for us to possess the qualities that are pleasing to God. Our life-long journey is to strive toward spiritual perfection, which means that we live holy and acceptable lives.
Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14
Human Effort + Divine Intervention = Victory
If you are in a dysfunctional family relationship, then pray and take action. First, pray and ask God if you are the problem. It takes more than one person to argue and to be involved in verbal sparring. A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back. Proverbs 29:11
A joyful heart is a good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22. Do you smile, laugh, and say positive words? Believers should not have negative thoughts, verbalize harsh words, or be constant complainers. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. God has exceptionally high expectations of our character, Galatians 5:22-23, and how we treat others. Unconditional love empowers us to always treat each other with kindness and gentleness. We are to possess and represent the Character of Christ, so the world can see that being part of the family of God includes having a loving disposition, even under the most severe circumstances.
If you refer to the introductory paragraph, you will recall that I spoke about being a virtual traveler. However, it is my nursing career that provided the opportunity to interact and befriend individuals from diverse backgrounds. Yes, I am fully aware that cultural restrictions exist, and many individuals do not enjoy the freedom of making decisions to place themselves into the best situation. And this is the confidence that we have before Him: If we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 1 John 5:14. Even so, this is when we exercise our faith and watch for the powerful Divine Intervention of our Heavenly Father.
There are always benefits to serving God. He is forever faithful! Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” Matthew 19:26. Never feel that you do not have the option to leave an unhealthy relationship. God loves you. He is your Jehovah-Jireh, always providing. “I am the LORD, the God of all the peoples of the world. Is anything too hard for me? Jeremiah 32:27
Human Effort + Divine Intervention = Victory
When we accept Jesus Christ, we willingly place ourselves in the care of God, our Heavenly Father. First, affirm that you are part of the family of believers in the Most-High God. If you are in an unhealthy family environment, then take action. Pray as never before! God does not require us to stay in abusive situations. I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers! Isaiah 65:24
Think about this concept; there are close to 8 billion people in this world. Not only are there countless believers present in every continent and country, but God also has legions of messenger angels that can represent themselves in human form. Pray, believe, and wait for God to demonstrate His mighty power to deliver you. Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD. Psalm 27:14
Daniel was delivered from the lion’s den: Daniel Saved from the Lions
18 Now the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting, and no musicians were brought before him. Also, his sleep went from him. 19 Then the king arose very early in the morning and went in haste to the den of lions. 20 And when he came to the den, he cried out with a lamenting voice to Daniel. The king spoke, saying to Daniel, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” 21 Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! 22 My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths, so that they have not hurt me, because I was found innocent before Him; and also, O king, I have done no wrong before you.” 23 Now, the king was exceedingly glad for him and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no injury was found on him because he believed in his God.
Do not look at your circumstances!
And without faith, it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6.
Human Effort: Submission to God requires humility and obedience, which are absolute requirements to be a part of God’s Family. We must take an active role in eliminating all unrighteousness from our lives. Make sure that no one repays evil for evil. Always pursue what is good for one another and for all people. 1 Thessalonians 5:15
Human Effort: Serving God always means that we have to relinquish the things that prevent us from having an up-close and personal relationship with our Heavenly Father. Giving up the obstacles of people, places, and things allows us to enjoy God’s perfect peace. Living righteously, and loving others with unconditional love, prepares us for the perfect life in the New Heaven and the New Earth where only perfect love will abide.
Divine Intervention: For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11
“Oh, how He loves you and me. He gave His life on Calvary, oh how He loves you, oh how He loves me. Oh, how He loves you and me.”
God, we thank you for creating the institution of family. We also thank you for the privilege of being your children and part of the family of Believers. We ask you to forgive us of the sins of hatred and all prejudice. Please help us realize that we share a common bond regardless of the world’s labels based on race, religion, creed, or color. We ask you to teach us how to love unconditionally and to get rid of bitterness, strife, and malice. It is our desire to have eternal life. Thank you for the Sabbath and the opportunity to deepen our relationship with you by putting all secular activities aside for 24 hours. Thank you for hearing and answering our prayer that we ask in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.
Are you aware that each of us who has joined the Army of God has a Divine purpose? Without exception, yes, we do.
When God called Jeremiah, he was young and fearful. Yet, as only our Heavenly Father can, God not only reassured him that He would be with him at all times, God also promised young Jeremiah that He would tell him what to say.
The Lord first gave messages to Jeremiah during the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah, son of Amon, king of Judah. Jeremiah’s Call and First Visions. Jeremiah 1:2
4 The Lord gave me this message: 5 “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.” 6 “O Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!” 7 The Lord replied, “Don’t say, ‘I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you.” 8 “And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, the Lord, have spoken!” 9 Then the Lord reached out and touched my mouth and said, “Look, I have put my words in your mouth!” Jeremiah 1:4-9
In 2015, I injured my left knee, which left me in an immobilizer and on crutches. I was on vacation in another state and limited to very few activities. When the Emergency Room physician came in to speak to me about the extent of the injury, he inquired as to why I was visiting Upstate, New York. I explained that I used to live there and was on vacation to see friends. He stated, “Have a great time, but I need you do me a favor, as soon as you return to Texas please make an urgent appointment with an Orthopedic Dr.”
Little did I realize, the Ortho consult would reveal information that would significantly impact my life. After looking at numerous knee x-rays, the Orthopedic surgeon began to inquire if I had previous problems with my knees. I gave him the history of experiencing bilateral knee pain while standing for long periods. His next words were like a hammer striking a nail that would not go down into the wood, “Compared to your age, I have never seen damage like this, what do you do for a living?” To which I replied, “This is my 37th year as a Nurse.” And then He delivered the final blow, “Well, Sonya, your career as a nurse is over!”
As I struggled to comprehend the seriousness of his statement, my voice quivered when I asked, “What do you mean?” As we reviewed my x-rays, the Doctor explained that my knees were bone-on-bone. The cartilage that cushions the knee joint was worn away from the many years of delivering patient care, and I needed total replacements in both knees. I left the Doctors office with a customized knee brace and for three months focused on the healing process as I endured the rigors of aquatic physical therapy.
After seeking a second and third opinion, which confirmed my diagnosis, I gradually accepted that walking on sand, grass, uneven surfaces, riding a bike, and climbing up and down steps was over. My love of roller-coaster rides came to a halt due to the jerking motions that could cause further damage to my knees. Still, I worked for two more years in a non-clinical setting that did not involve patient care. But in 2017, my knee gave way, and I sustained a fall with injuries, causing retirement from active nursing in 2017.
I remained on an emotional roller-coaster. I had devoted my life to caring for those in need, using every opportunity to share the love of Jesus. My heart was heavy. Every day I thought about the fact that I could not function as a nurse. In my sorrow, I prayed and asked God what He wanted me to do? It was then that God revealed His miraculous plans for my life. While cleaning out a file drawer, I found a sermon that I delivered in 2007, titled, Feed My Sheep. Little did I realize that 10 years later, I would begin sharing the good news that Jesus loves us, Jesus will never leave us or forsake us, and that Jesus is coming again to online readers on a global level. Mainly due to my limited tech skills.
God paved the way to facilitate my recovery by improving by health. I attended a seminar on using a plant-based diet to reverse Diabetes. Not only did I lose weight, I no longer required anti-diabetic medication. My lifestyle has completely changed allowing me to achieve an optimal level of health. Although my physical activity is restricted, I can walk one-mile and I rejoice that I have been delivered from the chronic pain that I suffered from. I eagerly await God’s promises of a physical transformation in which I will receive new knees that will never grow old.
I am sharing my testimony to encourage others. God revealed His Divine purpose for my life when I was suffering from the agony of defeat. Praise God! Hallelujah! When God ordains your purpose, nothing can prevent it from coming to fruition. Pray and ask God to reveal His Divine purpose for your life. Just as He told Jeremiah, I am with you, and I will tell you what to say, God is with us.
The Great Commission
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Matthew 28:19-20
Bible Reading: Jeremiah 1
God, thank you for the Sabbath. We ask you to reveal your Divine purpose for our lives. Please give us the courage to overcome our fears as we fulfill your plans for our lives. We ask this prayer in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.