Monday, February 27, 2012

He's on the Way

Mark 6:48

He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night he went out to them, walking on the Lake. He was about to pass them by.

Jesus knows all about our struggles. He sees us and knows what we are going through when we are going through. It may seem like he doesn’t see us because there is no immediate response every time we get in trouble but he is watching and he is on the way.

The disciples were in a boat on the lake trying to get to the other side but the wind was against them. There are times when we are trying to get to the place that God has asked us to go but the wind is against us. We run up against resistance as we try to complete our mission. The resistance could be persecution for a stance, red tape with code enforcement on a building project, political sabotage from people within the church or an overall resistance to change.

The disciples were straining. They were having a hard time going forward. God gives us an assignment and he wants us to put our strength into it. Sometimes, he will let us strain until he sees we need help. Straining produces strength.

Jesus came to see about them. He walked on the water toward them to check on them but he was getting ready to pass them by! Why would he do that? Because he saw they were okay even though they were straining. Straining produces strength but then they thought he was a ghost. Their confusion and fear made them lose their strength, so Jesus had to step in.

Once Jesus stepped in the boat the wind ceased and the storm stopped. When we allow Jesus to step into our situation that is when the storm has to cease. Jesus is on the way in whatever situation you find yourself in but in the meantime, keep rowing and growing.

Dear God,

Thank you for sending Jesus to help me in my situation. I know today that I will get to the other side of what it is that I’m dealing with. I take courage that Jesus sees me and he’s on the way.

In Jesus Name,

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What You Crave Could Kill You

Graves of Craving

Numbers 11:33-34
While the meat was still between their teeth and before it could be consumed the anger of the Lord burned against the people, and he struck them with a severe plague.

Did you know that what you eat could kill you? More and more people are trying to eat healthier because their diet is killing them. The comedian Broderick E. Rice joked about being addicted to Honey Buns, he said, “You have those glazed demons, those white powdered demons, …look at all this weight the devil has put on me!” It’s funny how we put the blame on the devil for what we put in our mouths. Some of the stuff we are asking God to bless at dinner is actually killing us, fried food, bread, sweets, and starches.

For the next 40 Days we are starting a Healthy Eating/Living Challenge where we are asking people to live out the 5-2-1-0 model. 5 servings of fruits/vegetables, 2 hours of no technology and 1 hour of exercise everyday and no added sugar, sweets or sodas.

It seems that every time we try to get in shape, we start craving something that represents who we used to be and what we used to eat. When God delivered the Children of Israel out of Egypt they went in the desert and grew tired of manna. They craved the meat and food from Egypt where they were slaves. God had given them provision in the desert but they wanted meat. God gave into their cravings because they kept crying out and he sent them so much quail that it made them sick. Instead of killing their craving, their cravings killed some of them.

How do we avoid our Cravings leading us to our graves?

1. Stop craving Slave food. There are foods that we ate when were slaves that we don’t have to eat now: Foods high in saturated fat, fried foods, foods loaded with sugar and salt. We need 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily along with fish and chicken, baked and broiled.

2. Eat smaller portions. When we eat healthier meals 5 times a day it helps our metabolism to work more efficiently and our digestive system actually burns calories eating smaller healthier meals.

3. Be thankful for what you have. The things that made God angry was not so much that the people were hungry but that they were unappreciative of the food they had. They craved food from the place God delivered them out of slavery. Thank God for the food you do have before you complain about what you don’t have.

Dear God,

Take away my cravings for the things that could kill me. Give me food that will help me to live and not die.

In Jesus Name,

Is It Time to Set Up or Set Out!?

Numbers 9:22

Whether the cloud stayed over the tabernacle for two days or a month or a year, the Israelites would remain in camp and not set out; but when it lifted, they would set out.

It is so important to know when it's time to set up and construct something that will give you a place and purpose as you carry out God’s will for your life. Typically, when a person “sets up” something it’s because they are getting ready to do some business so as to be productive. After that business is over they take down what they set up and then set out. Sometimes, its not that clear to recognize when its time to set up or set out if you are not driven by “God’s Time” vs. "Man’s Time.” Our Time is not God’s time and if you don’t know what time it is you will not know whether it’s time to set up or set out.

If we are not careful we can set out too late, or set up too prematurely or miss our time to move all together. The distinguishing factor is the “Cloud!” No, not the iCloud but God’s Cloud. The Cloud represents God’s presence. Whenever the Israelites were to set up camp, God would rest over the tabernacle as a cloud. When it was time to leave, the Cloud would lift. Whether it was two days, a month, or a year they would not set out with until the Cloud left.

There are three different times to discern whether or not to set up or set out; to stay or to leave.

1. Two days. Some places you camp are just short term experiences that we try to make permanent. You are there to gather information and inspiration and keep it moving. Don’t allow weekend experiences to cause you to get stuck in a place where you were supposed to just be camping.

2. A month. Some relationships need to be on a 30-day trial period. In business you have 30 days to return a product if you are not satisfied. Run DMC had a song where Run said, “and if you find that you don’t like my ways then you can send me back in 30 days.” Dating ought to be an exploratory time where you see if it’s worth sticking past 30 days. Don’t waste time where God’s presence is not there.

3. Once a year. You should make a commitment to volunteer for a ministry or missions for a year at least. After a year you should ask is God’s presence still here or do I need to join God somewhere else? Henry Blackaby said, “In order to experience God you have to find out where God is and join him.”

It’s important to know where God is at all times so that you know whether to set up or set out. God is always moving but he doesn’t want you to always move. Don’t move until the Cloud moves. The Cloud is God’s presence.

Dear God,

Thank you for blessing us with your presence. I am waiting on you to tell me when you are ready to move and I’m listening for when you want me to be still. You are a very present help in the time of trouble and a shelter in the time of storm. I will follow your lead.

In Jesus Name,

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I Was Born Free!

Acts 22:28

Then the commander said, “I had to pay a big price for my citizenship.” “But I was born a Citizen,” Paul replied.

Free, like a River raging

Strong, if the wind I’m fading

Chasing dreams and racing father time

Deep like the grandest Canyon,

Wild like an untamed stallion

If you can’t see my heart you must be blind, you can knock me down and watch me bleed.

But you can’t keep no chains on me, I was Born Free!—Kid Rock

We take our freedom for granted. Every morning we wake up, we can come and go as we please. There are no borders we can’t cross, no schools we cannot enter, no prayers we are not allowed to pray in our sacred assemblies. We have a lot of freedoms that we enjoy because we were born free. There are people in other countries still enslaved in the Sudan, persecuted for their faith in India, fearful for their life in Palestine, children being used as sex slaves in Bangkok. We have so many freedoms that we don’t even realize how good it is to be free.

Just three or four generations ago we were slaves in America without any civil rights. We had no say so for our own personal desires. We were not allowed to read, to marry, to raise our families, to pick our president. We couldn’t go to certain schools, we couldn’t live in certain neighborhoods, couldn’t shop in certain stores. We were slaves.

Our Ancestors paid a heavy price for our citizenship. Today, when our babies are born they are born free. They don’t even have the posture of a slave or the pain of remembering that we ever were slaves. They were born free, free from the low self-esteem imposed by those who told us we were 3/5 of a human. Free from impossibility thinking because they see a President that looks just like them and walks just like them. Free from the fear of some terrorists burning a cross in their yard, raping their mother, or lynching their father. We were born Free.

The Apostle Paul was born free. Even though he was a Jew from an oppressed group, he was born a Roman citizen. Rome was the dominant ruling nation over Israel but Paul’s citizenship gave him access to rights that others didn’t have. When the Roman authorities were getting ready to flog Paul over accusations from the Jews, Paul reminded them that he was a Roman Citizen. ‘You can’t beat me I was born free!’ The guard in charge told Paul I had to pay a lot of money for my citizenship, ‘How did you a Jew, afford this freedom?!’ Paul said, “I was Born Free!”

As African Americans, we remember during Black History month the paradox of our existence, we are born free because our fore-parents paid the price with their lives for us to be citizens. More than that, Jesus died for us all so that all of us, white, black, red, brown and yellow might be born again and set free. WE are citizens of another world and Jesus paid the price to set us free and we are Free indeed!

Dear God,

Don’t let us take our freedom for granted. Help us to use our freedom to set other captives free, to give sight to the blind, to help the poor, to end slavery worldwide. Help us to use our freedom to stop the sex slave trafficking of young girls. Help us to use our freedom to end homelessness and poverty worldwide. Help us to use our Freedom to ensure that all men and women have access to certain inalienable rights, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

In Jesus Name,


Keep Shining

Leviticus 24:2

Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning continually

This little light of mine I’m going to let it shine, all in my home, all in the sinners face, everywhere I go I’m going to let it shine.

Dr. King once said, “Instead of cursing the darkness light a candle.” It’s important that during these dark times that we who have the light of Christ keep shining to break up the darkness. Somebody somewhere needs your light.

There is a Duracell battery commercial that shows people in the dark at crucial times. One mother hears something in the garage and she goes out in the dark and turns on her flashlight only to get a glimpse of a possum when the flashlight goes dark and all you see is red eyes in the dark. Yikes! There are others like her that attempt to turn on the light with dead batteries. You don’t want to have a moment where you need light and don’t have it.

To make sure you have light when you need it, you need to make sure you keep shining. The Israelites were commanded by God to keep their lamps in the temple burning continually. The lamps represented the presence of God with the people and the witness of the people to his presence. You only keep the light on if you’re expecting someone. We keep our light of witness because we are expecting the return of Christ and to give light to the people in the dark who are searching for him. The Israelites were commanded by God to keep their lamps lit and shining by:

1. Bringing Clear Oil. Our witness has to be clear so people can see God through us. Our hearts have to be pure.

a. We always need to make sure our motives are pure.

b. We need to make sure we are consecrated.

c. We need to make sure there is nothing in us that interferes with our fire

2. Using pressed Olives. The way that the Israelites were to get olive oil was that they had to put Olives in an olive press. When Jesus prayed before he was crucified he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane which is translated Oil Press. God was about to press the oil out of Jesus through his crucifixion. Sometimes in order to get pure oil out of us God has to allow us to be pressed.

3. We must continually let our light shine. We must have a consistent witness especially in dark places and dark times. Don’t fade out when God needs you lit up.

Dear God,

Help us to keep our lights shining during these dark times. Keep our hearts pure so that our witness might not be contaminated and burn out before Christ returns. Father, keep our hearts aflame with the power of your Holy Spirit. Thank you for not letting my fire go out!

In Jesus Name,

Thursday, February 9, 2012

How Are You Going to Handle This?

Acts 16:18

She kept this up for many days. Finally, Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the Spirit. In the Name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her! “At that moment the Spirit left her.

Have you ever had one of those weeks where bad things kept happening back to back? Or maybe you are in a miniseries drama with one particular spirit that keeps following you at work, on Facebook, or twitter; at school, at home. Every time you turn around this antagonizing spirit keeps following you. The temptation is to allow your frustration to explode on this person but the right thing is to speak to the spirit.

Before we were born again of the Holy Spirit we were not able to discern between a person and a personality disorder. We were not able to discern when a person was naturally mean or they were going through something that didn’t even have anything to do with you. We all have been exposed to aggravating moments and people but the question is how are you going to handle this?

Paul and Silas were being followed by a slave girl for many days who kept telling their business. She kept saying day after day, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you how to be saved.” She did this all day every day. It troubled Paul. Have you ever had anybody that followed you that bothered you? It wasn’t them; it was a Spirit on them. How do you handle a pesky Spirit? A jealous spirit? A lustful spirit? A stalking spirit? A worrisome sprit? You have to:

1. Turn Around and face what’s been bothering you. A lot of times we try to keep going and ignore it but sooner than later you have to turn around and trouble your trouble. It’s not going to stop until you face it.

2. Speak to the spirit without attacking the person. Many times what’s on a person doesn’t truly represent who they are or what they are going through. This girl was a slave which meant her existence was miserable and she had a spirit but not the Holy Spirit. In speaking to the Spirit, Paul realized that the girl needed to be released from the control of the spirit. We have to speak to whatever spirit is on a person by allowing our Holy Spirit to speak for us.

3. Pray to God to remove the Sprit so that you can talk to the person. Before you go into any confrontation ask God to remove the evil spirit off the person so that you can speak to that person’s heart. It probably wouldn’t be a good idea to go into work or school and start yelling, “In the name of Jesus come out of them!” LOL, but instead in your own private prayer time ask God to remove whatever spirit is on the person troubling you.

Dear God,

I Pray that you would give me the patience to deal with difficult people. Help me to see past the Sprit and talk to the person. Give me the authority to expel evil spirits to save relationship and ease my frustrations. Help me to salvage relationships out of necessary confrontations.

In Jesus Name,

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Don't Be A Deserter

Acts 15:37-38

Barnabas wanted to take John also called Mar, with them, but Paul did not think it wise to take him because he had deserted them in Pamphilia and had not continued with them in the work.

In Military terminology, desertion is the abandonment of a duty or post without permission and is done with the intention of not returning. Absence without Leave AWOL can refer to either desertion or a temporary absence. Such people are dropped from their unit rolls after 30 days and then listed as deserters.

Paul used the analogy of being in the army as an example of being a follower of Jesus Christ in 2 Timothy 2:3-4

New International Version (NIV)

3 Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.

As a follower of Jesus we cannot desert our duty. It’s been said that if a new Christian doesn’t get involved in a small group or ministry in 30 days they go AWOL. There is something to being actively involved with serving in a local church that can help you from going AWOL or becoming a deserter. Once we start serving we must make sure that we remain faithful and not desert our duties just because the job is dangerous or difficult. When our marriages get difficult we can desert our spouse too entangled in another affair. When it gets hard on the job we can’t quit just because we have a bad day. The more you quit the harder it gets to finish anything in your life.

Paul had experience in difficult missions but he was faithful through all his difficulties. (2 Corinthians 11:23-29) However, he had a companion that deserted him on the mission field named John Mark. Barnabas wanted to take him with them but Paul said, “No! If he deserted us before he will do it again.”

You don’t want to be labeled as a deserter because it takes people’s trust away. In order to be a good soldier you need to:

1. Endure hardships as a good soldier. There is a reason why boot camp is difficult. It tries to prepare the soldier for the extremities of war. Before you are ready to put on a uniform you have to go through boot camp. Before you get married make sure you go through the boot camp of dating, put your relationship to the test to make sure they pass the examination so that when life gets hard you know you didn’t marry a deserter.

2. Finish your assignment before you move on somewhere else. You can’t leave until you have finished your assignment. Never leave a job unfinished.

3. Ask for permission to be reassigned. Even though you feel like your time is up make sure God and your leader agree with you that it’s time for you to move on.

4. Stop church hopping and bed hopping. Be committed to the place and person you have been called to.

5. Don’t get involved or entangled with worldly affairs. When you are a soldier you have to be focused on your mission and you can’t act like a civilian who doesn’t have any assignment. Your mission is too important to lose focus.

Dear God,

Help me to finish what I start today. There is something you’ve entrusted for me to carry out and I cannot afford to be distracted. No matter how difficult it gets I am determined to walk with Jesus until the day is done. You can count on me, Father, to finish what you started in me. Thank you for giving me another chance to join you even though I went AWOL for a season. I’m back and this time I will not desert you.

In Jesus Name,


Don't Worship Your Pastor!

Don’t Worship Me!

Acts 14:15 Men why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God.

Bishop Eddie long apologized for allowing Ralph Messer, a self described rabbi to lift him up in a chair, parade him around in the pulpit, and proclaim him a King as the congregation cheered on the embattled Bishop. In a letter to the Anti-Defamation League, Bishop Long wrote, “I sincerely denounce any action that depicts me as a king for I am merely just a servant of the Lord.”

This was disturbing on many fronts especially in lieu of recent allegations of sexual impropriety. I’m glad that Bishop Long denounced any suggestion that he should be lifted up as a King. Our job as Pastors and preachers is to lift up Jesus and not be lifted up ourselves. We are servants of the most high God. We get messed up when the people lift us higher than Jesus, who is the King of kings and the Lord of lords.

There is a way to honor your pastors without worshipping them. Paul said that, “the elders who direct the affairs of the church, well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. “ (I Timothy 5:17 NIV) Honor is not Worship. Paul had made this clear when the people tried to Worship him after a miracle.

The Apostle Paul and Barnabas healed a man who had been crippled from birth. The people mistook them for gods and started worshipping them as Zeus and Hermes. Paul stopped them immediately and asked:

1. Why are you doing this? We need to stop and ask ourselves why do we put men where only God is supposed to be. Many people put too much faith in men when they have not developed their own faith in the true and living God. You should honor your man or woman of God without worshipping them.

2. We are only human like you. Paul reminded them that the miracle that they saw was from God not them. What makes a miracle a miracle is that God did it through a human. Do not attribute the power of God to the ability of the men and women that God uses.

3. Our job as pastors is to bring you good news. We are clay pots with a great treasure inside. You shouldn’t kill the messenger because of the message and you should worship the messenger because of the message. The message is about God and from God.

4. Our job is to turn you from idolatry (worthless things) to true worship.
After Paul had set the people straight on not worshipping him, the Jews provoked the people into stoning Paul. They hit him with rocks until they thought he was dead. They drug him out of the city and left him for dead. The disciples gathered around Paul and started praying. Paul was revived and went back into the city to preach. We should gather around wounded leaders to pray for them but never to worship them.

Dear God,

Strengthen your servants. We’ve taken many hits, some self-inflicted and others through persecution. In any case, we need your help and the help of other disciples to be revived. Father, we have sinned against you and you alone. We are no longer worthy to be called your sons but if you would make us as one of your hired servants, we will come back home and serve you as your slaves. You deserve all of the Glory. Today, I choose to lift up Jesus. Hide me behind Calvary’s cross that others would see Jesus and not me.

In Jesus Name,


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Go With Me!

Go With Me!

Exodus 33:15 Then Moses said to him, “if your presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.

When I was a little boy we lived in a trailer behind my grandmother’s house. Inevitably my mother would send me over to my Grandmother’s house to get something at night. We lived in rural Kentucky with no street lights. It was so dark you could see every constellation in the sky surrounded by the cacophony of sounds from wildlife. I would stand in the doorway trying to get up enough nerve to go across the field to Grandmama’s house. If my little brother was anywhere near me I would tell him, “Go with me!” I wouldn’t tell him I was afraid but instead I made it appear that it was merely for companionship. I felt a little more confident, secure, and braver when he was with me.

There are times when God sends us out to do something but as we stare out at the expanse of the unknown, we become fearful and want somebody to go with us. Moses had to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt into the Promised Land. They would have to pass through hostile territory. God initially told Moses he would not go with them because the people were a stiff necked people and he would end up killing them on the way there. Moses begged God to go with them or else not send them. Moses needed God to go with him because:

1. He needed God’s presence for assurance. There are some things so large and intimidating that we dare not handle without God’s presence with us. In his presence there is fullness of Joy. We need God’s presence to get through things that are bigger than us.

2. He needed people to know God was pleased with him. There are assignments that God gives us that we need his presence for so that people will know that God is pleased with us. A lot of politicians are waiting on the right endorsement to prove that they are worthy of being president. I just want God to endorse me with his favor.

3. He needed something to distinguish them from all the other people. We are a royal priesthood and a chosen generation when God’s hands are on us and his presence is with us. It’s important to have God’s oil on your life so that you are distinct from everyone else.

Dear God,

Please go with me today. I can’t do this by myself. If you go with me I know I can face whatever it is that I need to face, do whatever I need to do. Father please go with me, I need your presence.

In Jesus Name,

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Money Can't Buy This!

Acts 8:20

Peter answered, “May your Money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money!”

It’s been said that money can’t buy you Love, although some have tried. Money can buy you a house but it can’t make it a home. Money can purchase you a bed but it can’t make you sleep. Money can buy you clothes but it cannot purchase your self-esteem. There is something immaterial that money has no control over and that is your Spirit. God is the only one who is able to pour in you his spirit and ability. It is even God who gives you the ability to get wealth. It is not your wealth that gives you the ability to be like God. You can do a lot of things with money but you can’t buy God.

Simon the Sorcerer was used to people following him when he used his magic to draw them but when the people heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ they were baptized and started following the Apostles. Simon was drawn by the miraculous signs, wonders, and gospel; he was baptized as well. When Peter and John came to Samaria to lay hands on the people they received the Holy Spirit. When Simon saw this he wanted in on this “action.” He was attracted to the signs and the popularity of the Apostles and wanted to purchase the Holy Spirit. He had been baptized but he had not been regenerated. His heart had not been changed. He offered them money and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” Peter responded, ‘May you and your money go to Hell because you believed you could buy God’s gift with money!”

Money can’t buy what only comes through Relationship. God’s Holy Spirit is free to those who have been born again and are in relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

Many of us have been trying to buy only what God can give. This is why your money won’t work:

Peter told Simon, “you heart ain’t right with God!” This is how you get right with God:

a. Change your heart and life. When you come to God for the right reason his Holy Spirit will begin to regenerate your heart and your life will begin to realign itself around God’s will. Your heart will drive you to make changes in your life that are pleasing to God.

b. Turn from your wickedness. We can’t drag old ways into a new life. We have to make a U-turn and head in a New Direction.

c. Ask for forgiveness. Peter tells Simon he should plead to God not to send him to hell for trying to purchase the Holy Spirit for his own material gain. If we confess our sins God will forgive us our sins.

d. Get at the root of your bitterness and envy. Simon envied the Apostles because they were getting the attention he used to get. We need to always check our motives to see what’s really driving us. If we can identify the source of our emptiness God can fill us with his Holy Spirit instead of covering up with stuff that can never satisfy.

Dear God,

Thank you for giving me the ability to be wealthy in your spirit and not in money. When I seek you first all these other things will come. I want you more than anything God. I can have money and still be miserable if I don’t have you. God I thank you for your Holy Spirit that makes me prosper even as my soul prospers. Lord Keep my heart pure today so that my ways are pleasing to you.

In Jesus Name,