Thursday, December 29, 2011

How to Overcome


They overcame him (satan) by the Blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.

It seems that we are living in the last days. There is so much godless behavior, no respect for life, satan seems to be having a field day deceiving the masses and accusing the brethren. It's almost as if people are ashamed to be indentified as Christians. We have so misrepresented the name that I’m embarrassed myself. I’m not embarrassed of Jesus, but as his representatives, we haven’t done a good job. We’ve either been so conservatively cold that nobody passes our hypocritical lens of judgment or we’ve been so liberally lukewarm that we’ve allowed everything to go on under our watch.

We’ve kept the law without keeping the Sprit of the law. We’ve taken the love out of our faith. If we are going to overcome the world and keep our faith we have got to overcome the devil and prove him to be the liar we know him to be.

Here’s how we overcome:

The Blood of the Lamb. The blood of Jesus is what cleanses us from our sins and redeems us from death. It was the only perfect sacrifice that could free us from the penalty of our sins. The blood of Jesus keeps death from having the last say so.
The word of our Testimony. You can’t have a testimony without a test. We must prove ourselves faithful so that those who are watching can be blessed by how we pull through what we are going through.
They didn’t shrink back. Jesus said that those who try to save their lives shall lose it but those who lose their lives for his sake shall find it. We can shrink back in the threat of losing something. If I got to lose it to keep Jesus then it wasn’t worth having.

Dear God,

Give us the ability to overcome the deceit of this world by making sure we are covered by the blood of Jesus. Help us to endure our trials and tribulation so that on the other side of what we are going through we can have a testimony about your goodness. I will not shrink back until you come back!

In Jesus Name,

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Where Do Prayers Go?

Revelation 8:4

The smoke of the incense together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angels hand.

How many times have you wondered where your prayers go? How can God hear all of us at the same time? Is God listening? The question is not ‘Is God listening, but rather, ‘Are we praying?’ We have not, because we ask not and when we ask we must believe that God is able to do what it is we are asking him to do. It is impossible to please God without faith. When we pray or talk to God our prayers go up collectively into the throne of God.

When we come together in two’s and three’s, touching and agreeing there is a collective power that is stronger than if we prayed alone. John said, “the prayers of the saints went up before God from the angel’s hand!” There is an angel collecting your prayers and hand delivering them to God. In the proper time, God releases those prayers back to earth in the form of a response. Prayers go up to heaven and God sends back a response.

The old folks said that, “prayer changes things!” Prayer can also:

1. Cause Healing. James 5:14-15
2. Pray can get you out of a bind. Acts 12:5
3. Prayer can end demonic activity. Mark 9:25-29
4. Prayer Get’s God involved. Exodus 17:4-6

Dear God,

Thank you for hearing our prayers. It is my desire to increase my prayers so that our faith will increase, and healing increase, and blessings increase. Father teach us how to pray and what to pray so that heaven can release what we need. I’m excited today to know that the fervent and effective prayers of the righteous availeth much, I’m also excited that you hear a sinner’s prayer. Thank you for hearing mine.

In Jesus Name,


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

It's Time to Return

Revelation 2:4-5

4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. 5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.

Watching people addicted to drugs on the TV show Intervention reminds me of what a lot Christians might look like to God. Like the addicts, we really don’t know how far gone we are because we no longer have the ability to see ourselves. We are in danger of losing our “healthy shame.” Healthy shame keeps us within the limitations of God’s holiness; toxic shame takes us outside the limitations and leads to death. When we go beyond our limitations it leads to sin. Sin will take you further than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay and make you pay more than you want to pay. Thank God we have an interventionist! God sends the Holy Spirit to remind us just how far we’ve fallen from our place in God.

This is a good time to make an assessment of our lives to see how far or how close we are to God. All of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s Glory but now it’s time to get back to where we need to be. The first step to recovery is to admit that our lives have become unmanageable.

When we are out of control we end up hurting the people we say we love the most. Sin will make you forget your first love and walk away from the one that loves you the most. Our first love is Jesus. There is no greater feeling than the unconditional love of Jesus. He loved you when nobody else thought you were loveable. He took the risk of dying for us hoping that we would love him back. He’s done so much for us and I have failed to love him back to the degree that he loved me. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments, “I’ve got to return to my first love! If you are like me then you’ve gotten to the end of this year and realized I am nowhere near where I should be in God. Sin has taken me further than I wanted to go, made me stay longer than I wanted to stay, and made me pay more than I wanted to pay, it’s time for me to get back to where I was in God. This is how:

1. Remember the height from which you have fallen. Remembering means looking back on where you were when you first gave your life to Jesus Christ and look at where you are now. What’s different? Do you remember when you first accepted Jesus and how on fire you were?! God’s fire consumed every part of my being, I couldn’t think about anything but Jesus. I’ve let too many distractions interrupt my relationship with Jesus. I got to return to my First Love!

2. Repent. Turn away from the things that took you away from Jesus. Once you turn away from something that is destroying you, you cannot go back to it.

3. Do the things you did at first. Experience God in Worship every Sunday. Empower yourself in Biblestudy. Engage in ministry and missions by serving other people.

Dear God,

I don’t want you to take my light or my fire. I’m ready to be committed like I was at first. You are my first love and I miss you. I miss talking to you like I used to. I miss the closeness we used to have. I want you back in my life fulltime. Nothing else matters. I love you more than this and that. You deserve all of me and not some of me. I’m not going to tell you that I love you, I’m getting ready to show you. Use me to the fullest this year. Even if I have to lose some friends, use me. Even if I don’t get invited to some places, use me. Even if I have to walk by myself, use me. I remember who I am now, but more than that I remember how much you love me. I love you Jesus and I’m sorry for falling off.

In Jesus Name,

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

This Is Not The Time for Jesus!

John 7:6

Therefore Jesus told them, “The right time for me has not yet come, for you anytime is right.”

We are living in a time of expectancy. People are waiting on change, waiting on jobs, waiting on Jesus. Two or Three times this year someone has wrongly predicted the world ending or Jesus coming back. Advent is a season of expecting the Holy. We ought to be looking for Jesus while realizing that this is not the time for Jesus.

What?! This is not the time for Jesus?! We are trying to put Jesus on our timetable but not live our lives on his time frame. There is something we want to happen right now and Jesus says, “This is not my time for that.” It’s going to happen but God is not going to let it happen until the right time.

Jesus’ brothers wanted Jesus to be a politician or a public figure. ‘They wanted him to show off the miracles for the religious people at the feast of Tabernacles. They said, “You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret.” They assumed that Jesus was doing what he was doing for vainglory, they assumed Jesus came to entertain; they assumed that Jesus had a personal agenda and not a Kingdom agenda. This wasn’t the time for Jesus to seek political popularity, or participate in religious entertainment. What’s most revealing is that John says that Jesus’ brothers didn’t even believe in him. Why would they by pushing him into the spotlight and they didn’t even believe in him?

If you are not careful you will have people who are close to you but don’t believe in you to push you into something that is not your time to do nor your purpose. Jesus had a firm understanding of Why God sent him, so much so that he didn’t even let his brothers pressure him into something that was not his time to do. Do you have a close enough relationship with God to know what time it is?

Jesus said, “The Right time for me has not yet come, for you any time is right.” Instead of letting people talking you into moving before it’s time to move you should:

1. Be clear on who you are. Jesus knew that he had been sent by God for the lost sheep of Israel first and then to the gentiles. He knew that his Kingdom was not of this world.

2. Be anxious for nothing. Just because everybody around you is anxious doesn’t mean that has to move you. God will keep you in perfect peace when your mind is stayed on him.

3. Be Still and know that he is God. The Holy Spirit will lead you to move when it’s time to move, not until.

4. Be Sober and Alert. You won't know what time it is if you are drunk or high. Make sure your mind is clear.

5. Be ready when Jesus comes. The bible says that Jesus will come back like a thief in the night. No man knows the hour, nor the day when Jesus shall return. You just need to be ready.

Dear God,

Thank you for helping me to discern the times. There are so many people in my ear that I got me times confused but this morning I’m setting my watch to you. I will not move until you say it’s time.

In Jesus Name,

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I've Got to Pass This Test!

James 1:2-3

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.

So many students are taking tests this week for final exams and mid-terms. Before they can advance to the next level they must pass the test covering the material they’ve been going over. The teacher wants to know if they have retained the information that has been given.

There are not too many people who are excited about tests but Paul says, “Consider it pure Joy whenever you face trials of many kinds.” Why in the world would I be Joyful when I’m going through trials and tests? Because it’s not the test, its what happens after I pass my test that I’m Joyful?

Not only that but when I’ve studied to show myself approved and the word is in me then I have a confidence that supersedes my anxiety of the test. Plus, its an open book test! God’s word is what gets me through my test.

When we go through our tests it develops something inside of us. When we go through hard times something is taking place that is making us better. The Holy Spirit is bringing back to remembrance everything you’ve been taught and your ability to persevere begins to grow. Perseverance is being able to bear difficulties calmly and without complaint. It means to persist in anything undertaken, maintain a purpose in spite of a difficulty, obstacle, or discouragement.

Once we pass this test the next level is spiritual maturity and having no lack. It’s time to pass this test!

Dear God,
Help me to pass my test today so that I can go to the next level in my living. Help me to maintain my purpose in spite of what I might encounter today. Grant us wisdom to not only pass but to be at the top of our class.
In Jesus Name,

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Keep Me From Falling

Jude 1:24

To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and great joy.

So many great men and women of God, pastors, and leaders, have fallen in recent years. There’s no need to call their names because the media has already done a good enough job in parading their shame. The world seems to get great joy when Christians fall from Grace. It seems Americans in general get great satisfaction in seeing each other fall. There is some kind of built in “knee jerk” reaction to want to laugh when we see someone fall. However, the older we get the less likely we are to laugh at the fall because through empathy we realize that the older we get the harder it gets to recover from a fall.

When I taught my sons how to ride a bike, I took the training wheels off. I held them up by their seats so that they wouldn’t fall but eventually I had to let them go so that they could learn how to ride by themselves. When they inevitably fell I made sure I was close enough to catch them so they wouldn’t feel the full impact of the fall. When I wasn’t close because they had created distance through progress and they fell, I came to the rescue to pick them up after the fall.

God is the same way! He’s able to keep you from falling but sometimes we get ahead of God and fall on our own. Sometimes, he has to allow us to fall so that we can become stronger. Les Brown said, “It’s alright to fall as long as you pick up something while you’re down there.” The good thing about God is that even when you fall he’s close enough to make sure you don’t experience the full impact of the fall and he’s able to restore you back to your rightful place if you repent.

Through Jesus Christ, God restores us so that we are presentable. We are justified. God makes us look brand new, just as if we never fell, without fault and with great Joy.

Today, I give you to God. I present you to the one who is able to keep you from falling. As you set out on your journey today just know that God is right behind you and he will not let you fall.

Dear God,

Thank you for keeping me from falling. Please keep me each day so that I will not fall but instead finish strong.

In Jesus Name,

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Don't Divorce Jesus!

Don’t Divorce Jesus!

Hebrews 10:25

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the day approaching.

It’s no surprise that one of the biggest contributing factors in divorce is finances. When times get hard financially it can cause conflict between the spouses but when the two of them have love and faith in each other they are more likely to pull together and make it through. Then there are other couples who don’t have a strong relationship and their faith waivers which could lead to divorce.

During this recession there has been a strain on marriages. One particular marriage that has been strained more than any other seems to be between Jesus and his bride, the church. As followers of Christ, we make up the church, we are the bride of Christ, but during hard times it appears that many of us have become the “Runaway Bride.” If we can stop coming to church during this recession because we are financially strained we have to stop and ask ourselves, “Did we really love Jesus or were we just with him for his money? “ I think some pastors have over promised which makes Jesus look like he under delivered but the truth of the matter is that Jesus has been faithful and should not be divorced.

When we are married we make vows. We are supposed to stay together in good times and in bad times, in plenty, and in want, in sickness and in health and nothing should separate us from the Love of God, not even death. But when we walk away from the church for any reason other than adultery (worshipping false gods) we commit adultery and if we substitute that relationship with anything else that becomes spiritual adultery.

This is not the time to divorce Jesus, especially at Christmas! Many people have got in the habit of not coming to church. This is the time that the bride of Christ should draw closer to Jesus. This is the time we need each other the most!

Instead of leaving the church and divorcing Jesus we should:

Draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith. Verse 22

1. Hold unswervingly to the hope we profess. Verse 23
2. Let us spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Verse 24
3. Attend church on a regular basis and encourage each other. Verse 25
4. Don’t keep on sinning or else Jesus will divorce us. Verse 25

Dear God,

You have been faithful to us more than we have been faithful to you. I pray that you would reach those who’ve gotten in the habit of missing church and bring them back home. Keep us together during these tough times, knowing that trouble don’t last always. We will be faithful and we will wait in excitement for the groom to return.

In Jesus Name,

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Why is Everybody Leaving the Church?

I Timothy 4:1

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.

As a child, I remember an old gospel song that said, Get on board the old Ship of Zion, it has landed many of thousands, King Jesus is the captain." It was a song written around 1867 that gave recently freed slaves hope through the gospel of Jesus Christ as a vessel for their further advancement. They were embarking on a faith journey on the Ship of Zion (the church). Decades after that their great, great, great grandchildren are disembarking from the ship (the church), abandoning their faith. In the book, "You Lost Me," David Kinnamon says that 43% of twenty somethings drop out of church after turning 18. They become skeptical and disenchanted from the church and the Christian faith.

It seems we are in the "Later Days," that Paul was talking about when he said, "The Spirit clearly says that in later days people will abandon the faith, and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons." The devil's job is to deceive God's people away from God. Satan always wants you to think there are shortcuts to your spiritual fulfillment through sensual shortcuts that lead to dead ends. He brings in doubt about the relevance of church. 'Is Church really necessary? Isn't it enough just to be spiritual? You don't need church! You can have a personal relationship with Jesus and stay home." These are all deceptive words that the enemy has been sowing in our spirit.

The Ship of Zion is symbolic of the church and Jesus who is the captain of the ship. Sometimes, we want to disembark because of who is on the ship. Many times we allow the passengers, the crew, or even the captains to run us off the ship. Unfortunately, there are no perfect churches/ships but there are some good ships with imperfect people.

The Apostle Paul talked about the importance of staying on the Ship even when it's rocky. Paul was on a ship going through a terrible storm, so much so that they were throwing things overboard just to stay afloat. Some of the sailors were trying to sneak off to save themselves and the prisoners were trying to escape. Paul said, "unless these men stay on the ship no one will be saved." There were people on that ship that deserved to die and some who were good people but all of them had to stay on the ship in order to survive the storm.

Many of us have shipwrecked our faith by abandoning the ship. Giving up on church is not going to save your life, it's going to make it worse because we need each other to survive these storms.

Paul says, "do not give up on meeting together as some are in the habit of doing. The more you skip out on church the more of a habit it becomes. Before you realize it, you have abandoned ship. Paul said do not get in the habit of avoiding Fellowship. Fellowship is nothing more than two fellows in a ship. There is power where two or three believers gather for fellowship in the ship called the church.

The trend today is not only to listen to deceiving spirits leading people away from the church but also giving in to demonic teaching. There are media hounds form hell and radio talk jocks that are picking at the remains of church scandals and carnage. The failings of some pastors have become fodder for the propaganda of those who already hate the church. Unfortunately, we have given them plenty of ammunition through our indiscretions but this is not the time to abandon ship.

This is the time to get back on board the 'Old Ship of Zion'. You can't change anything from the outside looking in. If the ship was good enough for our ancestors then it's good enough for me. I feel like Noah trying to get people on a ship with animals telling people it's going to be a flood with rain in sight. Noah and his family stayed on that ship 40 days and 40 nights while it rained and people outside the ship died from God's judgement. God took Noah and his family on a ship to a new place and he saved humanity through that ship. As stinky as it was on that ship with those animals, Noah and his family stayed on the ship until God got them to the other side. They did not abandon ship.

what about you? Have you abandoned ship? Why? You could help the church better from the inside rather than being on the outside. This is not the time to abandon ship but it's time to get on board and get to the other side.

Dear God,

Help us to get on board with your will for our lives. Your Church is the ship that will transport us to salvation. Give us the ability to make the needed repairs to the ship so that we can get others on board that need a way to heaven. Help me to reach those who've gotten off to get back on before the ship leaves out without them. Thank you for letting me get on board the Old Ship of Zion. Thank you for being my captain.

In Jesus Name,


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Don't Do It For Them!

Colossians 3:23

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.

"They don't appreciate me! I feel like they take me for granted! They could have at least said, 'Thank you'. People are so fickled!" Have you ever heard these laments from people who do things for people only to feel under-appreciated? We've either heard them or said it ourselves at one time or another. It's inevitable that at some point in your life when you try to help others you will feel like there is an inequity of return for what you have given out. If you are not careful you will fall into the trap of waiting on people to adequately compensate you for that which only God can fill. Even if they were to extend some kind of recompense for your contritbution of kindness, it would be fleeting to say the least because only what you do for Christ will last. Yes, you should be adequately compensated for services rendered but when you serve make sure it's for the right reason or no amount of money will satisfy when you motives are misguided.

So many people set themselves up for disappoinment because they do stuff for the wrong reasons and for the wrong people. we should do good regardless of who it is but we should never do it "for them." You should do it "for the Lord," that way if they never say 'Thank you,' if they never give you anything in return, you are still good becasue the Lord, whom you did it for, will see why you did it and he will reward you for the good you have done on his behalf.

That's why Paul said to the Christians in Collasse, "Whatever you do do it for the Lord and not for men. He went on further on what we should be doing for the Lord..."As God's chosen people, Holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another." (Colossians 3:12-13)

Today, when you decide you are going to do something for somebody, just make sure you're doing it for the Lord and not "them."

Dear God,

Help me to be a vessel you can use to bless others, knowing that my blessing will come back to me from you and not them. I have been blessed to be a blessing and that's why it's easy for me to bless people who may not even come back to say, "Thank you." My inspiration for doing good is that you have already been good to me. I will not be waiting on reciprocity, neither will I be waiting on somebody to acknowledge my good, because I have comfort in knowing that you already seen it and whatever I put out in the Universe has got to come back to me. Thank you for using me to bless them for you.

In Jesus Name,

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Catch Up To Yourself

Phillippians 3:16
Let us live up to what we've already attained.

Sometimes, we are so busy chasing success that we can't even enjoy what we already have. I was able to catch up with a new reality show called, "TI & Tiny" last night. TI had spent 11 motnhs in prison for violating his parole on gun charges and was grateful to get back to work and to his family. On one particular day, he was trying to catch two different football games to watch his sons play and make it to a BET awards show rehearsal. He made it to the first game but on the way to the second game the driver missed the exit making it impossible to catch the game and rehearsal. TI called his son to inform him that he wouldn't be able to make it to his game. You could hear the dissapointment in his little boy's voice. TI paused for a minute and told his driver to turn around and called his agent to tell him he would be late for rehearsal because he had to catch his son's game. TI said, "I love my career but I love my family more."

TI has matured and realized that it's time to live up to what he's already attained. Many of us have already been blessed with something that others are striving for but we can't even enjoy it for reaching for more. We should stop chasing and catch up to what we already have.

1. Relationally. If you are married or have children, make sure you are fulfilling your responsibilities in each role to the best of your ability. Time is filled with swift transitions, make every moment count.

2. Educationally. Whatever level of education you've attained make sure you master what you already know. Have you read all the books on your shelves? Do you remember what you read? Are you still learning? Do you need to go back to school and finish?

3. Spiritually. Now that you are a Christian, are you a disciple? Are you a student of Christ? Paul said, "Not that I have already obtained all of this, or have already been made perfect but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

There's a reason Jesus took hold of you and me. Now I want to live up to it. Now that I've been given a second chance, like TI, I don't want to waste another 11 months of my life chasing pipe dreams. I want to catch up with myself and live up to what i've already attained.

Dear God,

Help me to finish what you started in me. Help me to be Father, be Husband, be Pastor, be Scholar, be Visionary. I"m ready to live up to what I already have. I've got so much to thank you for. Let me live up to it.

In Jesus Name,

Monday, December 5, 2011

Back in Stride Again

Psalm 119:59
I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statues.

You know when you've gotten off task or ventured too far away from the path.  You just know it.  You feel it.  It's easy to do.  It's like being in a boat without an anchor and the wind is blowing gently and you're drifting without even knowing that you are drifting.

If we tell the truth about it, many of us have expereinced "soul drift."  We have drifted from our noble intentions and we are not as close to God as we were in the beginning.  The wind is deceptively gentle and it pushes us off course without us even noticing the drift.  One little compromise after another pushes us away from where we are supposed to be in God.

It is only when we wake up and look up, that we notice how far we are from God.  The end of the year is a time of Spiritual reassessment.  It's time to consider our ways to see if they are pleasing to the Lord and ask ourselves, 'Have we gotten off track?'  Have we been obedient to God?  Are we living in the will of God or just spinning our wheels?  Many of us have had the sobering reality of the four lepers who were being greedy when they discovered the food, clothing and gold left by the enemies during a severe famine.  Intead of sharing with their fellow Israelites, they hid what they found.  They said, "This is a day of good news, We should be sharing, we are not doing right!"  They turned their steps back to Israel to share the good news.

Once we consider our ways and realize that we are off course, we've go to get back in stride again.

The only way we can get back in stride again is to:

1. Turn our steps towards God's statutes. verse 59 Our Lifestyle has to match the word of God.  If we are not living in alignment with God's word we are off course.

2. In order to live Holy we must keep ourselves pure by staying in the word of God.  verse 9.  We are supposed to be set apart and there are special instructions that come with our use.  Those special instructions are found in the word of God.  

3.  We must delight in God's decree and not neglect his word.  verse 16  Blessed is the man who delights in the word of God, he shall be like a tree firmly planted by the rivers of water, yielding forth it's fruit and whatever he does will prosper. (Psalm 1)

4.  Hide God's word in your heart so you will not sin against him.  Verse 11 God's word is like a virus protection software.  There are things that try to creep in to our spirit daily but if we have God's word the virus protection program of God's word will not allow you to sin against God.

Dear God,

I pray that you would get me back on track.  I've drifted too far from you and I need your word to get me back on course.  My anchor grips and holds the solid rock.  That Rock is Jesus!  Keep me Lord and do not let me stray.  I want to get back in stride again.

In Jesus Name,

Thursday, December 1, 2011

We Rejoice in Our Sufferings!

Romans 5:3

We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character, and character, hope

You never really see anybody glad about his or her suffering. You don’t see too many smiling players after a loss of a game. You don’t see too many people glad after they lost a job. You don’t see too many people jovial over the struggles in life but yet as believers we are told to rejoice in our sufferings.

On 60 Minutes the other night I saw a report about homeless families in central Florida. One particular family made a home out of an old bread truck. They washed up every morning in gas stations before going to school. They did their homework in libraries so they could use the computers to do their homework. They ate their dinner out of tin cans. When they interviewed the two children, the oldest daughter was asked, “are you sad?” She said, “No, I look at this as an adventure. ..Its just life!” And she was smiling. She was rejoicing in her suffering.

I think we’ve lost the ability to rejoice in our suffering. African-American’s mastered the art of rejoicing through suffering by recognizing that this world was not our home and that we were strangers in a foreign land on our way to somewhere better. The legacy of Slavery in America cause Africans in America to struggle with their faith in God and through that experience they met a suffering servant by the name of Jesus that liberated them through their suffering. The Black Power generation would look back on that slave generation and scorn them for their “pie in the sky” theology but it was their ability to transcend their existential pain for greater gain that got us through as a people.

Like the Apostle Paul, our ancestors knew that their present sufferings would lead to something far greater.

1. Suffering produces perseverance. When we suffer through the trials of life it creates the ability to endure hardships. I believe it was Nietzsche that said, “that which does not kill us makes us stronger.” Frederick Douglass said, “Where there is no struggle there is no progress.” What you are going through is actually making you better.

2. Perseverance produces character. You are a better person because of what you survived. When you endure your suffering it builds your character. God will never take you where your character can’t keep you. Your Character speaks to what kind of person you are. When you endure sufferings it strengthens the integrity of your character.

3. Character produces Hope. The reason the little girl who was living in the bread truck could smile was because she saw something beyond the bread truck. By surviving and being focused on her dreams, studying in the library, spending time with her family, acting in community theatre, this girl had more focus on her future than a child who is spoiled with luxury.

Paul said in Romans 8:24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we don not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

I rejoice in my sufferings because it leads to my hope that God is working this out for my good!

Dear God,

Thank you for being with me through my suffering. This present suffering does not compare to the future Glory that you have for us. Keep my eyes on the prize so that I can hold on to the hope that I have for a better tomorrow. Use me today to help somebody who might be suffering to encourage them that weeping may endure for the night but joy comes in the morning. I rejoice that you trust me with trouble because as a result I’m stronger, wiser, so much better. Without you God, I never would have made it.

In Jesus Name,