Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Are You A Friend or A Companion?

Proverbs 18:24
Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family. MSG

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin but a friend sticks closer than a brother. NIV

The man of many friends (a friend of all the world) will prove himself a bad friend, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.AMP

I was watching an episode of Chloe and Lamar where Lamar’s friend, Jamie, was being kind of trifling. They had been friends since high school in Queens, played basketball together, and won a championship. They are more like brothers than friends. Jamie almost died of a colon disease but Lamar was right there for him giving him a job and keys to his house. Jamie started slacking on his responsibilities because of his friendship and eventually messed up a big business deal. Lamar relieved his friend of his duties. Jamie was devastated and didn’t answer his phone for three days. Lamar went to look for his friend and found him dirty, depressed, and drunk. He called his wife to tell her he was spending the night until Jamie sobered up so he could have a real talk with him. Chloe told Lamar, “You’re a good friend.” Lamar said, “You’re a better wife.”

Lamar showed me something about friendship. There is a difference between a companion and a friend. Whodini asked us a very important question back in the 80’s, “Friends, how many of us have them…the one’s we can depend on?" What we learn in our maturity is that some of the people we called friends were really just companions.

1. Companions are friends who come and go but real friends stick by you like family. Lamar kept saying that Jamie was his brother. He stuck by him even when he was at his lowest. He didn’t just let Jamie slide on being trifling and messing up the business deal but he didn’t kick while he was down either.

2. Companions are unreliable friends who if we continue to allow in our lives will cause us to come to ruin. Is it possible that Lamar was a friend to Jamie but Jamie was a companion to Lamar? If Jamie really values Lamar as a brother then he has to step up and be a brother not just a companion. A man who has friends must first show himself or herself reliable.

3. Companions try to be friends with everybody and never really established any real depth or transparency but everyone should have at least one friend who knows you like a brother. Sometimes, blood brothers are more like companions and friends more like relatives. You can’t choose your relatives but you can choose your friends. Choose wisely!

Dear God,

Help me to be a better friend to a select few. Increase the quality of my friendships. Give me discernment to know who to pour into and who to withdraw from. My success depends upon my lifeline connection to real friends. Help me to stay connected to real brothers and not unreliable companions.

In Jesus Name,


Monday, May 30, 2011

You're Only As Strong As Your OX!

Proverbs 14:4

Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of an ox comes an abundant harvest.

Babe the Blue Ox was a great help around Paul Bunyan’s logging camp. He could pull anything that had two ends.—Babe the Blue Ox, Minnesota Tall Tales.

Having a strong Ox in order to get some work done is no tall tale. Oxen have been important to both eastern and western worlds for a long time especially in agricultural areas. All throughout the Old Testament you read about oxen used for ploughing fields. Oxen were the only animals strong enough to break up the hard earth so that the seeds could be planted to yield a bountiful harvest. Even in the New Testament, Paul uses the analogy of Pastors/Elders of the church being Oxen to help church members experience a spiritual harvest through teaching and preaching. Your Pastor has to go before you to break up hard spiritual ground to plant God’s word to produce a harvest in your heart. In I Timothy 5:18 he says, “Do not muzzle an Ox(Pastor) while it is treading grain(teaching/preaching), the worker deserves his wages(tithes/offerings). Every person needs a Pastor so you can have a Spiritual Ox to help you experience a Spirutal harvest.

Not just in the spirutal world but also in the business world you need to make sure you have an ox to produce a harvest in your life and you need to take care of them, because you are only as strong as your ox. If there is no ox on your team your barns will always be empty but if you have at least one ox, you will experience a harvest.

Whenever you hire anybody to be on your team or you try to build a team through relationship you need to find somebody who has gifts as strong as or stronger than yours. That’s why the bible says; do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. You don’t want to be connected with someone who is not pulling in the same direction as you. Deuteronomy 22:10 states, “Do not plow with an ox and an ass yoked together. KJV You need someone as strong as an ox not as stubborn as a donkey.

What does it mean to be as strong as an ox?

They are physically powerful and healthy. When you add people to your life or your team make sure they can carry their own weight because you don’t need any dead weight.

They are producers and they produce with a lot of power and force. They need to be impact players.

They are not easily broken or damaged. If they are going to be on your staff or team they must have strong self esteem. At the pace you are pulling you don’t have time to stop and baby somebody with low self esteem.

They must be good at doing something. What skills are they bringing to the table?
They are firm in their faith. Their faith has to agree with your faith. How can two walk together unless they agree?

As you are looking for an Ox to be on your team you must first be an ox yourself. You draw who you are. If you want a harvest you will only be as successful as your strongest Ox. No OX, No Harvest.

Dear God,

Help me to have the strength of an ox, the heart of a lion, the wisdom of an owl. Surround me with good people who will help me to produce the harvest you have purposed for my life. Strengthen the work of my hands so that I may be as strong as an ox.

In Jesus Name,

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Get Me Outta Here!

Romans 7:22-23

For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.

T-Mobil has a commercial featuring Dewayne Wade who is in a hotel room getting dressed in the bathroom. When he tries to exit the doors get jammed and he starts yelling, “Get me out of here!” His phone somehow records his desperate plea and goes out over the 4g network. Everybody gets a hold of the message and begins to interpret that Dewayne wants out of Miami via a trade when in actuality he just wants out of the bathroom. The maid opens the door and says, “You made the news.”

How many times have you felt like D-Wade, trapped inside a situation wanting to get out, but your actions being misinterpreted from people on the outside? It’s amazing how people don’t really know what you struggle with on the inside but take “sound bites” out of your life to hear what they want to hear. Bad news travels around the world before good news can get out of the door good. We all want the best of who we are to come out but sometimes the perception of who we are gets communicated first.

Akon was right, “I’m locked up and I can’t get out.” The best of who I am, the part of me that most resembles God sometimes gets locked in the changing room. I’m getting ready to come out only to find out that my flesh locked the door on my higher self. While my lower self walks out of the hotel misrepresenting who I am. Have you ever said something you wish you could take back? It’s almost like you can hear yourself talking but you are not quick enough to stop it. There is a battle going on in the “changing room,” and I want outta here!

The Apostle Paul described this as a struggle or a war against the law of my mind and the law of sin in our bodies. When we know the law of God or the word of God it makes us conscience of what is right and wrong. Knowing what is right or wrong is a start but not the end. Knowing actually increases the appetite of the flesh to do what you know not to do. When we see someone fall from grace we always are quick to say, “They knew better than that!” They did and you do too, but why do WE continue to do it? Because the best of who we are gets trapped in the changing room while the worst of who we are gets miscommunicated.

How do we get outta here?!

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Proverbs 1:7 a healthy respect of God’s teachings is the beginning of getting out of the war between your higher self and your lower self.

Getting Wisdom and understanding will help you overcome the lower desires that pull you from your higher self. Proverbs 2:10-11 for wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you.

A relationship with Jesus will set you free from your old self. By (Jesus) dying to what once bound us, we have been RELEASED from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Sprit, and not in the old way of the written code. Romans 7:6
I’m Outta Here!

Dear God,

Thank you for opening the doors and releasing me from my old self. I’m able now to represent you the right way and to put to death the old ways that had me trapped in the changing room. Old things have passed, all things have become new again. I’m ready to spread the good news and leave my old self in the changing room. Thanks for getting me outta here!

In Jesus Name,

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet!

I Kings 10: 6 She said to the king, “The report I heard in my own country about your achievements and your wisdom is true. 7 But I did not believe these things until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half was told me; in wisdom and wealth you have far exceeded the report I heard.[1]

So many times, we live our lives from the perspective of other people’s opinions. You miss out on the grand scope of things because of the limited perspective of other people and your own limited experience. It reminds me of the Six blind men who were exploring an elephant for the first time.

Six blind men stumble upon an elephant for the first time. Each man finds a different part of the elephant and is ecstatic in their descriptions of what they have found. One man describes the trunk, another, the tail, yet another, the body and finally the leg is described. Each is insistent they have the accurate description and the others must be wrong. http://www.noogenesis.com/pineapple/blind_men_elephant.html

Each one of them has a part of the truth but the half has not been told. How many times have we let people come back with hearsay about a church and you base your opinions on something you haven’t experienced or seen for yourself? You’ve condemned someone or something based on somebody else’s limited understanding of a piece of what they’ve experienced. An elephant gets shrunk down to a rope because one blind man touched his tail.

The Queen of Sheba had heard about how much wisdom Solomon had and how great his kingdom was but it was not until she paid a visit herself that she discovered just how great his wisdom and kingdom were. She said, “not even half was told me!” How much of life are you missing because you are living off of half of what other people tell you.

It’s amazing to me how many people tell me the varied opinions of what our church is all about before they experience it for themselves. One lady told me on Facebook that she “heard our church was only for young people” until she tuned in live for TNT to hear me preach. She said your teaching made me want to come to your church for the first time because you are nothing like what I heard. How many great experiences, good friends, wonderful opportunities have we let slide because you listened to somebody who only had a fraction of the truth? Our problem is that we don’t investigate ourselves.

In order to experience all that God has for you, you must:

1. See for yourself. One of my long time members joined my church because the Holy Spirit kept telling her to go to my church even though everybody around her said don’t. She was driving past our church when God made her turn around. When she came in for prayer the intercessor prophesied over her everything that was going on in her life. She never missed another week.

2. Let go of limited understanding. The problem with the blind men wasn’t their blindness it was their inability to let go of their limited understanding so they could share with each other their different pieces. We need to share with other people our pieces of the truth so we can understand the bigger picture.

3. Take an open mind with you when you go then test the Spirit by the Spirit. Jesus said, “My sheep know my voice and they will not hearken to the voice of a stranger.” You will know what is from God and what is not.

Dear God,

I want to experience all of what you have for me. I am ready to explore every piece of the truth so that in knowing the truth the truth will set me free. I am not satisfied with other people’s prejudices and spin on the truth. I want to know fully every revelation you have for me. Get me out of my comfort zone and show me everything you have for me. I have a feeling that the half has not been told. Eyes haven’t seen, ears haven’t heard, and neither has it entered into the hearts of men what you have for me. Show me Lord, I want to see.

In Jesus Name,

[1] The Holy Bible : New International Version. electronic ed. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984, S. 1 Ki 10:6-7

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

His Curse My Gift

Romans 5:15
But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!

When they were trying to decide what to do with Jesus, whether to release him or crucify him Pilate thought he was innocent and deserved to be let go. But the people insisted that he be crucified. Pilate said, “My hands are washed and his blood is not on my hands.” Someone cried out, “Let his blood by on us and our children!” What they meant was that the curse of killing an innocent man would be upon them. They were so convinced that Jesus was guilty of blasphemy they were willing to let his blood be upon them. That’s why Jesus had to proclaim from the cross, “Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing!” We really should have been cursed all the more when Jesus died but he kept the curse to himself. Instead of the curse they got the blessing because Jesus kept the curse so we would receive the blessing.

Through one man we all deserved the curse. Adam disobeyed God and as a result sin entered the world and humanity was cursed. Jesus, the second Adam reversed the curse through his obedience even to the point of dying on the cross. One man brought a curse the other man gave us a gift. The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life.

When Balaam was hired to curse the Israelites he told the men that hired him, “I can only say what God tells me.” No matter how much people want to curse you they can’t curse what God has blessed. God told Abraham that those who curse you will be cursed and those that bless you will be blessed. You don’t have to worry about any men or women trying to put a curse on you when Jesus has already reversed the curse. One man’s curse became our blessing. One man brought sin out of disobedience but another man caused an overflow of blessings to come into our life through the gift.

What is the gift?

1. The forgiveness of sin. Jesus demonstrated his love for us in that while we were yet sinners he died for us. His death was the payment for our sin.

2. Abundant Life. Jesus came to give his abundant life which consists of the overflowing, vibrant quality of life made available in Christ was evident in the authority of his speech and the power of his touch[1]

3. The gift of eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.

Dear God,

Thank you for reversing the curse, what was meant for my bad you turned it around for my good. Every morning is a gift that I open with gratitude realizing that you didn’t have to wake me and bless me. Thank you Jesus for dying that I might be able to live a life full of abundance. Thank you for my gift.

In Jesus Name,

[1]Elwell, Walter A. ; Comfort, Philip Wesley: Tyndale Bible Dictionary. Wheaton, Ill. : Tyndale House Publishers, 2001 (Tyndale Reference Library), S. 818

Monday, May 23, 2011

You Have A Credit!

Romans 4:
23 The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.

Nothing thrills me more than to look through my bank transactions and discover that to the right of all my debits an indention signifying that I have a credit. What is even better is when my credit outweighs my debits. That means I’ve put in more than I’ve taken out. If we look at the transactions from our lives you will notice that to the right side of your life are moments where God made some deposits in you that outweigh what you’ve done for him. There are moments when you didn’t have anything to put in but because you trusted him he put in for you and it was credited to you as righteousness.

There is an assurance you have when you have a credit in your account. I think that’s what Tupac meant when he said, “it feels good putting money in your mailbox.” The only problem is what Tupac had to do to put money in his mailbox. He had to hustle and sell drugs so unfortunately he was making withdrawals while he was making deposits. It is only when we trust God that God makes a deposit on our behalf. Abraham believed God’s promise that he would make a nation through him even though he was an old man and Sarah’s womb was dead. Because he believed God it was credited to him as Righteousness.

That doesn’t mean we remain idle and not work but instead we trust God for our work instead of doing something against God’s will. When we have a credit from God because of our faith it means:

Our transgressions are forgiven. (verse 7) We have overdraft protection. Some banks allow you grace when you take out more than you have in because of relationship. Your pattern through the years shows them that you can be trusted to quickly make up the difference. When we trust God he makes up the difference when we fall short.
Your sins will never be counted against you. (verse 8) your credit score with God is always high not because of your history but because Jesus paid it all on Calvary.
We are justified. (verse 25) We stand before God as Righteous because of our faith in a Resurrected Jesus who died for our sins. Justified=Just-as if- I-didn’t do it!

Dear God,

Thank you for my credit! I checked my account and you kept me from falling. I’m still in good standing because you first loved me. I made too many withdrawals but you covered me until I was able to make a deposit. Thank you Lord for giving me credit I didn’t deserve. I love you Lord and I’m grateful, you get all the credit, the Glory, and the honor.

In Jesus Name,

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Staff Infection

Psalm 101:7
No one who practices deceit will dwell in my house, no one who speaks falsely will stand in my presence.

Staphylococcus is a group of bacteria that can cause a number of diseases as a result of infection of various tissues in the body. Staphylococcus is more familiarly known as staph (pronounced Staff). Staph related illness can range from mild and requiring no treatment to severe and potentially fatal.

Surprisingly, Staph infections are most common in hospitals and other institutional health care settings and strike people with weakened immune systems. It’s important to protect yourself and others from Staph infections when your immune system is vulnerable. It’s amazing that we oftentimes use the analogy of the church being a Hospital. People come to the hospital to get better not sicker, but if we don’t protect the environment from infected staff it can spread to people who just came to get better.

Another place Staff infections occur is at work, originations, and your home. It happens when spiritual bacteria of deceit and falsehood get into the body of Christ and cause toxins to infect the fellowship and productivity of its members. It’s important as caregivers, leaders, and parents that we maintain the health of our members. Oftentimes in hospitals, staph infections are spread by the people who care for the patients. Because they had contact with someone infected they can carry it back to somebody who was not infected but was vulnerable. When you know that there is infection in your family, church, or business it is up to you to address it immediately before it spreads to everybody else and proves fatal to those involved.

David was very much aware of staff infections and told God that he would remove people from his house that could cause staff infections through deceit and falsehood. It’s interesting that David starts with his own house before he even starts with his kingdom. King David said he would remove anybody from his house, from his presence that practiced deceit or falsehood.

John Maxwell said that the Law of the bad apple was that, “one bad apple could mess up the whole barrel.” If you let toxic behavior go unchecked it could mess up your whole staff, family or organization. Someone once told me that, “a church mess is a spill that didn’t get cleaned up immediately.” It’s important that when we see the potential for a staff infection that we deal with it before it becomes an epidemic.

How to avoid a Staff infection:

1. When you see toxic behavior address it immediately. The Law of the bad apple also says that people in your organization know who the bad apple is but they are waiting on you as the leader to do something about it. When you let it persist not only does it spread to the organization but it kills your credibility as a leader because you didn’t do anything about it.

2. Treat the disease not the symptom. When there is a Staph infection it can appear as a boil. The boil is a symptom but underneath is the bacterial infection of Staph. You can’t just treat the surface without administering medicine for the disease. Sometimes, people appear to be symptomatic through emotional outbursts but you have to go deeper as to what’s causing the behavior through intervention, counseling, prayer, and treatment.

3. Quarantine the infected for treatment. In 2 Thessalonians 3:6 Paul warned the church there of staff infections involving idleness. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. 14 if anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed. Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.

4. If they refuse treatment they must be removed from your presence. Paul talked about a man who was sleeping with his father’s wife. Everybody in church knew about it but was not doing anything. Paul told them they needed to throw him out. I Cor. 5:5- Hold this man’s conduct up to public scrutiny. Let him defend it if he can! But if he can’t, then out with him! It will be totally devastating to him, of course, and embarrassing to you. But better devastation and embarrassment than damnation. You want him on his feet and forgiven before the Master on the Day of Judgment.
6–8 Your flip and callous arrogance in these things bothers me. You pass it off as a small thing, but it’s anything but that. Yeast, too, is a “small thing,” but it works its way through a whole batch of bread dough pretty fast. So get rid of this “yeast.”(the message version)

Dear God,

Search me and my house, and if you find any wickedness in me please remove it. Keep my house clean so that I may be pleasing and acceptable to you. Help me to be a contagious Christian but not a toxic Christian. I pray that the best of who you are would rub off on the people I come into contact with. Open the eyes of my heart and let me see what you see. If you find anything that’s not like you take it out right now and use me to speak truth in love to those who are not walking in the ways of Christ. Use me today to make sure my house is free from Staff Infections.

In Jesus Name,

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Do You Have Any Experience With Sheep?

Psalms 78:70-72
And David Shepherded them with integrity of heart with skillful hands he led them.

When you go on an interview the interviewer is going to look at your resume which will list your skills, your education and your previous jobs. They will call you in for an interview where your appearance and personality play a key role. Above all, what will speak volumes is the question of experience, have you done what they are hiring you to do?

There is a proverb that says, “Despise not small beginnings.” There are some things you are doing now that seem insignificant but are really shaping your resume.

When God went looking for the next king of Israel he found David working in a Shepherd field. He was the least likely candidate from all appearances, as a matter fact Samuel was looking for tall, dark, and handsome and David was ruddy in appearance. God told him, “man looks at the outer appearance but God looks at the heart.” His resume wasn’t that long but he did have some experience in what he was being hired to do. He was a shepherd. What does that have to do with being a king? God wanted a man after his own heart and the Lord is our shepherd! He couldn’t have a man over his people that didn’t have a shepherd’s heart. You can’t have a shepherd’s heart without shepherd experience.

You can’t lead where you want go and you can’t teach what you don’t know. David was a skilled shepherd who fought lions and bears with his bare hands and a sling shot. So when his “big shot” came with Goliath he already had that experience.

David also had other skills, he was a musician. To make yourself marketable during a recession you need more than one skill.

Do you have any experience with sheep? What area of service have you volunteered for that could be preparing you for your career tomorrow? When you are in high school, colleges want to know what kind of community service you’ve done because it speaks to your character and leadership abilities. You have to serve God’s people before he lets you lead the people.

Peter before he was reinstated by Jesus was asked, “Do you love me? Then feed my lambs.” A second time Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me? Then feed my sheep.” Jesus told Peter in essence; start with the baby sheep before you go to the grown sheep. Start small before you go big.

Like David, when you finally get hired you want to be able to Shepherd God’s people with:

1. Integrity of heart. Is your heart pure? Can you do what you profess you can do? When someone or something has integrity it does what it says it can do.

2. Skillful hands. Do you have the skills to do the job? Do you have more than one skill? Have you studied to show yourself approved?

Dear God,

Thank you for the experiences of working in this field. Everything I’ve gone through has prepared me for where I’m headed. My desire is to serve your people with integrity and skillful hands. Thank you for being my Shepherd.

In Jesus Name,

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Did You Pass The Test?

I Chronicles 29:17
I know my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things have I given willingly and with honest intent. And how I have seen with Joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you.

It’s final exam time for a lot of our students. They will be tested to see if all the information they have studied this semester has been retained, if so they will pass to the next level. Every so often God give us tests to see what has been retained in our hearts. He will send people who are in need in front of us to see if we will have enough compassion to help them. He will send people who are emotionally challenging to see whether or not we respond with love or retaliate with evil. God will also give us “God-sized” projects to see if we will contribute wholeheartedly out of faith or hold back out of fear what belongs to God already.

David had a final exam for his people. He was about to die but he had one last project to complete. He gathered resources for his son Solomon to build a Temple for the Lord. David said, “My son Solomon the one whom God has chosen is young and inexperienced. The task is great, because this palatial structure is not for man but for the Lord, God.” What is it that God is calling you to help with that will put your heart to the test? For our church, New Direction, God has challenged us to build a Town Center to rebuild community in the Hickory Hill area. It’s a 40 million dollar project on 43 acres! www.powercentercdc.org. It’s overwhelming but it’s also a test to see if we can believe God to see the vision come to pass.

David approached the leaders of Israel first. How a community responds depends first on how the leaders respond. We can’t ask the people to do something we are not willing to do. After King David sacrificed and the leaders responded overwhelmingly by giving their resources the bible says in verse 9, “the People rejoiced at the willing response of their leaders for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the Lord. David the king also rejoiced greatly.” They passed the test.

David said, “I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. When we give, God is looking at our heart for three criteria needed for us to pass our test:

1. Intent. Why are we giving? Simon the sorcerer thought he could purchase the Holy Spirit and got his feelings hurt. When Simon saw that the apostles by merely laying on hands conferred the Spirit, he pulled out his money, excited, and said, “Sell me your secret! Show me how you did that! How much do you want? Name your price!”
20–23 Peter said, “To hell with your money! And you along with it. Why, that’s unthinkable—trying to buy God’s gift! You’ll never be part of what God is doing by striking bargains and offering bribes. Change your ways—and now! Ask the Master to forgive you for trying to use God to make money. I can see this is an old habit with you; you reek with money-lust.”


2. Integrity. How much are we giving? When we give God tests our hearts to see if we are really going to give our best or just put on a show like the married couple in Acts But a man named Ananias—his wife, Sapphira, conniving in this with him—sold a piece of land, secretly kept part of the price for himself, and then brought the rest to the apostles and made an offering of it.

3–4 Peter said, “Ananias, how did Satan get you to lie to the Holy Spirit and secretly keep back part of the price of the field? Before you sold it, it was all yours, and after you sold it, the money was yours to do with as you wished. So what got into you to pull a trick like this? You didn’t lie to men but to God.”

3. Inspiration. How we are giving?

2 Cor 9:7

I want each of you to take plenty of time to think it over, and make up your own mind what you will give. That will protect you against sob stories and arm-twisting. God loves it when the giver delights in the giving.

When God sends a test your way like a “God-sized” project, helping the flood victims in the south, tithing in your local church to support ministry, will you pass the test? David said it best in verse 14, “Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.”

Dear God,

Thank you for trusting me with this project. I pray we would pass the test by giving you our best. Keep this desire in the hearts of your people forever, and keep our hearts loyal to you so we will always pass the test.

In Jesus Name,

[1]Peterson, Eugene H.: The Message : The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, Colo. : NavPress, 2002, S. Ac 8:18-23

Monday, May 16, 2011

Do Something Big!

I Chronicles 28:20
David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my Lord, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished.

There is something great that God wants you to accomplish in your lifetime. There is a God-sized vision inside of each one of us that he wants us to be a part of. Mary Mary was on CNN talking to Don Lemon the other day about their, “Do something Big” campaign targeted toward the people in the south who have been devastated by the storms. In their “Do Something Big” campaign they are asking each person to:

1. Do something big for the elderly.
2. Do something big for the Homeless.
3. Do something Big for the local schools.
4. Do something big to clean up your neighborhood.
5. Dream Big—tell us how you Dream big.
6. Do something Big to help world poverty.

Each of us can find something in that list to do something Big to make a difference in the world. Doing something big starts with just doing little things on a consistent basis that blesses the lives of other people.

Our Church, New Direction, started doing little things in the community that lead to Dreaming something big that was inspired by God. God gave us the vision for a Town Center that will be constructed on 43 acres of land. It will include the Power Center Academy grades K-12, affordable housing, a performing arts center, a Wellness Center, Retail Space with Owner housing on top, a track & field, and a skate board park. Go to www.powercetnercdc.org to see our complete plans.

When God gave me this vision and my son in ministry Derwin Sisnett wrote the vision, we both were overwhelmed and excited at the same time with the scope of this project. But we know that this is a “God-sized” vision. If you can do something with your own resources its not a God sized vision. If its God’s will it’s God’s bill.

When David’s son Solomon was to build the temple for God, he was overwhelmed by the scope of the project but his father reassured him by saying:

1. Be strong and courageous. Paul told his son Timothy the same thing.
2 Tim 1:7

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

1. Do the Work. It’s one thing to have a vision but it’s another thing to do the work. You have to do your preliminary research, count the costs, work the plan, do value engineering. There is some sweat equity you have to put into making sure your dream becomes a reality.

2. Do not be Afraid or discouraged. When you look at a God-sized vision or attempt to do something Big you can become paralyzed with fear. F.E.A.R. is False Evidence Appearing Real. You have to work past your fear by depending on the Love of God. Perfect Love casts out all fear.

3. God is with you. The only thing that keeps me going is knowing that God is with me. His favor is with me. There is another kind of confidence that surges through my veins knowing that God is with me and he is with you. Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.

4. He will not fail you or forsake you until the work is done. He is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. God will never carry you where His Grace will not keep you.

Dear God,
Please help us to finish this work. We want to do something big for you and we will not stop until your will is done. Grant us favor and resources to finish what you started. Help us to overcome our fear and cling to our faith. That which you have begun in us I know you will be faithful to complete it. I’m ready to do something Big for you Today!

In Jesus Name,

Thursday, May 12, 2011

He Hears You

2 Samuel 22:7

In my distress i called to the Lord; I called out to my God. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came to his ears.

Sometimes, it feels like we are cut off from God and he cannot hear us. When we are surrounded by our enemies, distressed by our circumstances, and drowning in our own fears, sometimes, it seems like God has forgotten about us.

It's not that God has forgotten but sometimes he gives us space to work out our soul salvation. He gives us room to work out our dilemmas with the strength, wisdom, and knowledge he's already given us. When it becomes more than we can handle he will step in and deliver.

Sometimes, I can be in the house with my three sons and I can hear them upstairs in conflict. With three sons in the same house there is bound to be conflict. I don't jump up every time I hear an argument, or a bump, or a thud. What i listen for is a cry of distress, then I go regulate. If I jumped in every five minute sthey would never learn how to resolve their own conflict. God doesn't jump into every situation because he trusts us to use our spiritual DNA to work it out but if we cry out in distress he hears us.

When you cry out to God in your distress he will:

1. Reach down and take hold of you to draw you out of deep waters. when Peter was brave enough to follow Jesus out into a storm to walk on water he became overwhelmed with the storm and started sinking. He cried out and Jesus reached down to pull him up. Jesus will allow us to walk through storms but is always there if we get overwhelmed. Verse 17

2. God will rescue you from your enemies when they are too strong for you. Verse 18

3. God will bring you into a spacious place. when we feel like we are surrounded and closed in God has a way of expanding our territory and making banquet tables in the presence of our enemies. verse 20

Dear God,

Today I pray that you would show my friends that greater is he that is in them than he that is in the world. Show us today that greater are those that are with us than there are with them. Thank you for coming to see about me and for rescuing me in my time of distress. you are an awesome and mighty God! Thank you Father for caring enough to rise from your throne and for sending Jesus to regulate my situation.

In Jesus Name,


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Seeing Is Not Believing

Matthew 28:16-17
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshipped him, but some doubted.

"I've got to see it before I believe it." We've heard people say this when they've heard something so incredible that it's hard to believe without proof. When President Obama announced that Osama Bin Ladin had been killed many people rejoiced because the mastermind behind the 911 attacks was dead but others doubted because they needed proof. At first, I began to speculate when they said they buried him at sea and I started seeing the right wing demanding photos for proof.

President Obama said he would not release the photos of a deceased Bin Ladin because, "that's not who we are," to show graphic pictures of a murdered man. Even if they produced photos there would still be some who doubted. They would say the photos were photoshopped. I think it has more to do with believing in your leader more than it does seeing proof.

Jesus told his disciples to meet him in Galilee after reports that he had gotten up from the dead. Jesus told the women to go tell the men he was alive and to meet him in Galilee. He told the least respected, women, to tell an incredible story to a group of traumatized men. Women and children in those times were last on the totem pole of social hierarchy yet Jesus sends women to validate his resurrection. You know it had to be hard for these men to believe because they saw Jesus die now you want us to believe he's alive? Seeing is believing! where's the proof? We need some photos!

The Eleven disciples went to Galilee to see Jesus and when they saw him they worshipped him but some doubted. Jesus resurrected from the dead is standing right there in front of them but some doubted. What more proof do you need? He's here and they still doubted. How can we be in His presence and still doubt?

1. Trauma numbs our hope. When we go through traumatic events in life it starts numbing our hope to the point that we can be in worship and still doubt that God can do it. Sometimes, it takes time for our emotions to catch up with our faith.

2. They knew him as man but not God. They had walked with Jesus for three years in ministry. They saw the miracles he had accomplished but somewhere some of them had become too familiar with the man Jesus that they couldn't see the God in Jesus. Jesus was more than a good teacher he was the Son of God. Knowing that should remove all doubt.

3. He didn't satisfy their agenda. Some of them, James and John, wanted to sit on his left and right in his earthly kingdom. Their understanding was that he was going to be King of Israel not the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords. Sometimes, when Jesus doesn't do what we have planned we start doubting as to whether it's really him or not.

4. It was too good to be true. They had already grieved his death, saw him put in the tomb, now he's supposed to be alive?! There are somethings God does for us that are too good to be true. When we realize that God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly more than we can imagine or conceive then we know that there is nothing too good to be true if we just believe.

5. Maybe it was an impostor. We live in such a skeptical society and look for smoke and mirrors in every situation. You must use your discernment, think critically, but when it's all said and done you have to trust God. You have to trust him when you can't trace him.

6. They looked at his form but didn't listen to his voice. Jesus probably didn't look the same after the resurrection. Even the two disciples that walked with him on the Emmaus road didn't recognize him until they kept listening to him. Jesus said my sheep will harken to my voice. Instead of looking for a physical Jesus you need to be listening for his voice in other people.

7. They hadn't received the Holy Spirit yet. They wouldn't receive the Holy Spirit until after Jesus ascended into heaven. The Holy Spirit enabled the disciples to experience the power of the resurrection and to move from mental ascent to a spiritual experience of the resurrection. The old folks used to sing, "you can't make me doubt him because i know too much about him." The Holy Spirit helps you to know Jesus beyond the cognitive and moves you to a more experiential grounding of who he is and where he is.

Dear God,

I have all the evidence I need that Jesus Christ is alive, because he lives in me. Help me to be living proof that the Savior lives. My life is no longer mine. I surrender to the Lordship of Jesus and I pray that others would see him in me.

In Jesus Name,


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Which One Do You Want?

Matthew 27:17
So when the crowd had gathered Pilate asked them, “which one do you want me to release to you, Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ (the anointed one)?”

A stay of execution is used to defer the execution of the convicted person. This may occur if new evidence is discovered that will exonerate the convicted person. Similarly, a Governor’s pardon is an act of the Executive of a state or country whereby a person is forgiven of a crime. When a person is pardoned they are immediately released.

Can you imagine being in prison for a crime you didn’t commit awaiting execution and standing before the Governor who has the power to release you? We would want that Governor to do the right thing and release us because of the lack of evidence but instead he gives the responsibility of our fate over to the people. These are people that don’t care that much about you. The Governor has the authority to release you but he gives in to the demands of the people.

This is what happened to Jesus. The Governor, Pontus Pilate, had the opportunity to release Jesus. His wife even warned him about a dream that he should have nothing to do with the condemnation of this innocent man. Instead of listening to his wife, he listened to the people who had been influenced by Jesus’ haters to crucify him. Pilate passes the buck and tells the crowd, “It’s your responsibility!” Who do you want to be released, A notorious killer by the name of Barabbas or an anointed leader by the name of Jesus? They chose the killer.

Every day we have a choice to release a prisoner in the galley of our hearts. We have two men locked up in our Spirit. We have the Notorious and the Anointed One. It’s your responsibility to release the right one. Tupac, that tormented artist and rapper, summarized our human struggle best, “I’m not a killer, but don’t push me.” Inside each of us is a debased person and a righteous person. We have the responsibility of releasing the right person every moment of decision as it relates to our morality.

Who will you release in your relationships, Jesus to keep the peace or Barabbas to manipulate? Who will you release in conflict, Jesus to reconcile or Barabbas to get revenge? Who will you release in your entertainment filter the Notorious Gangsta Barabbas or the miracle working Jesus? Gangsta Rap or Gospel music?

Make up your own mind, don’t listen to the crowd. The crowd will always ask for Barabbas but your conscience is screaming for an early release of Jesus this morning. Murder was the case that they gave you but you are innocent through the blood of Jesus. I’m innocent! Now Release Me!

Dear God,
Help me to release Jesus in my actions today. Release your Holy Spirit in my thoughts. Elevate my spirit man and bind up the strong man so that I can walk in freedom today. Today, I release Jesus to rule over my life and I keep that debased man that rattles his cage in the dungeon of my flesh captive. I choose to Release Jesus! Today I walk in Freedom.

In Jesus Name,

Monday, May 9, 2011

Sleeping Through A Revolution

Matthew 26:40

Then (Jesus) returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?”

So many things are taking place in the world simultaneously that appears to be leading up to some type of apocalyptic climax, wars and rumors of wars, global recession, natural disasters, division in the house (yours and the one in Washington, DC). More than ever it would seem like the church would be sober and alert, ready for the return of Jesus but instead many of us have decided to sleep in on this revolution. How in the world could any follower of Christ fall asleep during times like these? Why are so many Christians staying home instead of going to church to receive their battle plans? How can we be drunk with the wine of the world and forget the assignment that God has for us? We are in danger of sleeping through a revolution.

Jesus was on the brink of restoring the world back to God through his death and resurrection. This was the night he would be arrested and begin the excruciating process of his arrest, torture, and crucifixion. He was so distressed that night that he sweat drops like blood. He took with him his three closest disciples, Peter, James, and John, so that they could watch and pray while he tried to spend time with his Father.

During these last days there are only a few of us left who still love Jesus wholeheartedly but there is a danger that even we could fall asleep. There’s no doubt that you really love Jesus but does it show up when you are needed the most? Sometimes when I’m driving long distance with the family, it’s discouraging to look around and everybody is sleep. I need somebody to watch with me so that we can all be safe. Are you watching with Jesus or asleep thinking that he doesn’t need your help?

Jesus asked them, “Could you men not keep watch with me one hour?”

In order to watch with Jesus we need to:

1. Watch. We need to be awake so that we can be discerning and alert the body of Christ when we see the enemy approaching. Judas was coming to betray Jesus with the Roman guards. The disciples were supposed to be a buffer between Jesus and his enemies so that he would have time to pray. Christians are supposed to be the watchmen for all others to discern when the enemy is trying to sneak in. This is not a physical enemy but this enemy comes in the form of injustice, racism, and bad religion. We have to be awake to see it coming, and then sound the alarm.

2. Pray. We need to pray without ceasing. Jesus needed the strength of his friends to get through his ordeal but they were sleeping. How much power is missing in the church because the saints refuse to pray? If the success of your pastor and your church depended upon the frequency of your prayer life, how successful would they be?

3. Stay awake. The Spirit is willing but the body is weak. The disciples were fatigued by grief and the work of ministry. We need to make sure we give God a rested body every night so that every day we can be at our best.
Stay awake during the revolution by Praying, reading, discerning, serving, giving, helping, loving, and sacrificing. Jesus needs you to be awake during this revolution.

Dear God,

Use me in your service each day. I want to give you the best of me. I don’t want to be caught sleeping when you need me the most. Awaken your church in these last days so you will not find us sleeping on your return. The revolution will not be televised nor will it be seen by those who are sleeping. Help us to wake up.

In Jesus Name,

Thursday, May 5, 2011

What Did You Do With Your Invitation?

Matthew 22:8 The Wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.

It was amazing to see all of the people trying to get a glimpse of the Royal wedding last week. People were camping out just to get close to the place where the Royal couple was. Could you imagine if you got a personal invitation to come to the wedding? An all expense paid trip to be special guest at the Royal wedding, would you go?

Every Sunday is an invitation to come be part of the Royal wedding banquet party celebrating the marriage between Jesus and the bride of Christ, his church. You have an all expense paid trip to paradise, purchased with the blood of Jesus. You will be seated in the heavenlies with angels. The invitation reads whosoever will let them come! but there are not that many people responding for some reason.

What are people doing with their invitations?

1. They pay no attention. People know they need to be at church to hear God's word, fellowship with other believers, and serve the body of Christ but they ignore the invitation. Other things or people have claimed their attention and attending the celebration on Sunday is no longer a priority.

2. They go to their field. Six days, we have to work and on the seventh we are to rest in worship. We have worked God out of our lifestyle. It used to be at times that everything centered around church but now church is our last option. When I was younger my mother would tell me if you can go out all night to hang with the devil you can get up and worship God on Sunday. Now when we get the invitation, we send back a tentative acceptance depending on how we feel that morning. I'm so glad Jesus felt like getting up after he was crucified.

3. The rest kill the messenger because they don't like the message. Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:3 The time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine, they will turn their ears away form the truth and turn aside to myths.

This Sunday is the Royal wedding rehearsal called Worship. You have been invited as a special guest of honor. what will you do with your invitation?

Dear God,

Thank you for letting me be a special guest at your banquet. I thank you that you not only invited me but you chose me to be in it. Glory to God! Thank you for looking beyond my faults and letting a commoner be a part of your royal priesthood, and your chosen generation. You are an awesome God, and I wouldn't miss it for the world!

In Jesus Name,

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Have You Produced Anything Lately?

Matthew 21:18-20

18 Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. 19 Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered.
20 When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” they asked.

A sure way to keep your place on the team or your job in an organization is to make sure you are productive. It's important to make sure you are adding value to the team. Nobody can argue about your value you bring when everybody can see your fruit. In fact you don't even have to argue with people when you are producing. Jesus said, "you will know a tree by the fruit it bears." Have you produced anything lately that proves that you still belong where you are?

It's not enough to hold a position if you are not producing fruit. What you produced last year is not going to keep you next year. Jesus said that every branch that bears fruit the father prunes so that it can produce even more fruit. God expects us to produce more not less.

Jesus was hungry one day and walked up to a fig tree, looking for fruit but he found nothing but leaves. From a distance it looked like it had the potential to bear fruit but upon closer inspection there were only leaves. Jesus is hungry for his followers to produce but on closer inspection we are just leafy. There are too many churches full of leafy Christians who look the part but they don't have any fruit to go with it. They have a form of godliness but no power to go with it.

God made us to be productive. We are supposed to be fruitful. This is how we need to be productive:

1. We need to show the fruits of repentance. When we tell God that we are sorry for our sins, our lives should show that we are heading in a New Direction. It's not so much what you don't do anymore than it is what you do accomplish now that you've been forgiven.

2. There should be other people who come to Christ as a result of our influence. How many people have you brought to Christ? How many people have you brought to church so they can know more about Jesus?

3. We should give God a share of the crop at harvest time. God supplies us with a harvest and all he asks for is a tenth so that he can make sure there is meat in the house of Worship to feed his people.

4. We should bear fruit that nourishes the body of Christ. The gifts and talents that we have only work when they serve the body. We have something inside of us that God has planted that when produced will make the body of Christ better.

We should have the fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Dear God,

Please don't dig me up yet but give me more time to produce more fruit for you. Prune me so that I can give you more than I gave you last year. Thank you for giving me more time to be more productive. Use my fruit to feed your body. May the mediation of my heart, the words of my mouth, and the work of my hands be pleasing and acceptable to you.

In Jesus Name,


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Can You Stand For (Them) To Be Blessed?

Can you Stand for (them) to be blessed?

Matthew 20:9 “The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’ 13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

People get excited when they hear the promises of God spoken in their lives. Promises like, "you're the head and not the tail, the lender and not the borrower, the prayer of Jabez to expand my territory but the most quoted has to be 'the last will be first, and the first will be last.' I think it's because oftentimes we feel like we are in last place and it's good news to know that those in last place will get the same thing that those in first place will get. The problem with this promise is that fact that there is always somebody further back than you.

Jesus tells a parable about a man who owns a vineyard. He went out to hire workers none of whom had a job. They were just Glad to get a job. He went out early and hired a group and they agreed to work for a days wage. He went out about 12 noon, 3pm, 5pm and even 6pm to hire people to work. When it came time to get paid the owner paid everybody the same thing! The people who had worked all day got an attitude, some would say, rightfully so. They worked all day in the hot sun and some of these people came at the last hour to get paid the exact same thing. Where is the justice in that?!

The problem is that they agreed to the salary. It wasn't the injustice they were mad at, it was the generosity of the owner to the let people to get there that got them upset. Sometimes, God's generosity to others looks like an injustice to us. Can we really handle it when God blesses people who haven't been at church as long as we have? Can we handle it when the new person at work gets the same benefits that took you years to get? Instead of focusing on what other people are getting thank God for what he already gave you.

God told King David that his successor Solomon would be the one to build a temple for God. David could have got an attitude and said to God, "I'm the one who had to fight for my life, go against Goliath by myself, lose my wife, live in a cave for over a year, why does Solomon have to be the one who get's the Glory?" Instead, David prays one of the most humble prayers to God in I Chronicles 17:16, "Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?"

Every now and then we need to stop and thank God for what he's already done instead of getting mad at what he's doing for the late comers. Thank him for having a job. thank him for bringing you this far. Thank him for your benefits. Count your blessings, name them one by one and by the times you're finished you won't have time to complain about anything.

Dear God,

Thank you for being good to me and my family. Thank you for taking care of those behind me. Thank you that the battles I had to fight my children will not have to face. I'm okay with other people being blessed because it was your grace and mercy that kept me and I'm sure will lead me on. Thank you for hiring me.

In Jesus Name,


Monday, May 2, 2011

Now Serving Justice

Psalm 106:3 Blessed are they who maintain justice, who constantly do what is right.

President Obama made a special announcement last night that Osama Bin Laden had been killed, the master mind behind 911, almost ten years later he is finally dead. President Obama said, "justice has been served." I can appreciate the sense of closure that the death of Osama bin Laden brings to the thousands who remember the horrors of the 911 attack but there is something about the 'finality' of the statement "justice has been served," that bothers me.

Cutting off the head of the snake so the body can die, is a bad analogy for the death of bin Laden, this is more like cutting a starfish in half and throwing its body back into the ocean. Starfish can regenerate after being cut in half. the idealism of Al Qaeda is what we are fighting against and the need for Justice at home as well as abroad needs to continue. We fight not against flesh and blood but against dark powers and principalities in high places. Our fight is against poverty in the inner-cites, world hunger, genocide in Africa, unemployment in America, racism everywhere.

Instead of saying that Justice has been served we should have illuminated in the windows of our conscience the words, "Now Serving Justice." the Psalmist reminds us that, "Blessed are they who maintain Justice, who constantly do what is right." it is not a one time act. It is not getting revenge on your enemies. Justice as defined by Cornell West, is what love looks like in Public. To be human you must bear witness to Justice everyday.

How do we maintain justice daily?

1. Treat others like you would want to be treated.

2. Seek the good of others not just yourself. to look out for self interest only is selfish.

3. When it is in your power to do good and help those in need do not withhold it.

4. Do not accept a bribe (money) to release the wicked. In other words Justice is not for sale. We can't make deals with corrupt leaders just to get their oil then later turn on them when they no longer serve our interests.

5. Be consistent with Justice in every area of life.

Dear God,
Help us to Love our neighbors and our enemies. Love conquers all. Lover covers a multitude of sins. Loving others in full view of everybody is Justice. Let Justice roll down like water and Righteousness like a mighty stream. Fill me with living water so that I can maintain justice every day of my life.

In Jesus Name,