Friday, April 15, 2011

Knowing Your Friends From Your Enemies

Dear Heavenly Father, we thank you for life health and strength this morning.  We pray Father that you teach us to remain faithful in this faith walk and that you cover every path that we take to be able to reverence you more each day. We honor you and give you praise, in Jesus name we pray, Amen.
                                                                                    Prayer by:  Beissy Williams

          As humans, we are social creatures.  It gives us pleasure to be able to reason with one another on the different topics of society, and to be able to share with one another the pains and pleasures of life.  This was part of God’s design.  However, there is an enemy of this design and we know him as the devil.  His sole purpose is to attempt to undo, what God has designed.  He is about division, not unity.  He is about segregation, not integration.  He is about chaos, not civility.  He is about war, not peace.  He will use any means to further this purpose, and that includes friends against friends, family against family, humanity against humanity.
As possible and future casualties of this spiritual war, we have to identify the methods that this enemy uses to bring forth his desired results.  A friend is defined as:
·        a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.
·        a person who gives assistance; patron; supporter:
·        a person who is on good terms with another; a person who is not hostile
The opposite of friend is enemy and any description contrary to the above is considered attributed to an enemy.  The bible states “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends” (Jn 15:13). This verse is often misunderstood and underappreciated.  There is no metaphor in the statement, nor is it a parable.  It means what it states.  This type of friendship is based on love or fondness based in the heart for a friend.  The Greeks call it “Phileo” which is true brotherly or sisterly love.  This type of friendship can be seen when one friend wants for him/her self the same for their friend.  They will do anything for this friend.  If the friend’s life was in danger, the pain of knowing, would cause this friend to lay down their life so their friend will live.  This type of friendship is rare but it exists and is truly desired.  Other examples of friendship as described in the bible are:
·        A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Pr 18:24)
·        Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. (Pr 27:6)
·        As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. (Pr 27:17)
In looking at the secular definition of a friend, and seeing the spiritual examples of friendship, take the time to take an inventory of those who you call friends and compare.  Do they measure up?  Are they contrary to these definitions?  What will you do if they do not measure up?  We can be deceived sometimes because of our flesh which is what the devil does.  It is possible that the enemy of your “so called” friend may in fact be a friend and not an enemy.  In Proverbs 6, one of the things that are an abomination to God is “one who sows discord among brethren.”  Ever shared something to a friend about another friend’s behavior that you did not like?  Did that friend try to have you see it from a positive side?  Did that friend try to bring you guys together or further separate you?  That friend is not a friend if he/she did any of the negative.
We sometimes have the wrong people in our ear, and tend to ignore the person who is actually sharing what is best for us. I pray that you honestly take an inventory and decide accordingly, who are truly your friends and those who should be categorized as your enemy.  Amen!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Have You Considered…?

Father God, come before you this morning to say thank you.  Lord I thank you for your son Jesus Christ who died for us. Because of Him we are able to be here today Father. Because of Him we are able to have everlasting life with you Lord.  We thank you for your agape love, that no matter whom we are what we have done you still love us and forgive us. No matter what our lives were before, you welcome us with love.  Thank you Lord. We thank you for your forgiveness Father of our deeds known and unknown.  We ask that you help us to also forgive and love those that work against us Lord. We pray that you have mercy on the ones that persecute your children. I pray that you lift them up from that dark place that they are in, remove the obstacles that are preventing them from coming to you Father.  Help them to realize that their lives are not theirs to waste away but to use it for your work.  Help us Lord to help those that are lost.  Help us to reach out to them Father and guide them to back to you. I pray a blessing on everyone that reads this message today Father, that you will bless them with what they need Father.  Make a way for them God  in their homes, their marriages, their work, with their children, their finances, where ever they have a need Father, so you Lord may get the glory.  We love you and adore you.  We give you honor and praise.  All these things I pray in your son Jesus name, Amen.
                                                                                         Prayer by: Judith Notice

I give God praise this morning!!!  One of my brothers in Christ really had his back against the wall.    He is faithful, but as the final hour was approaching, you could see that he began to question whether God was going to deliver him from his situation or not.  Amen, but he was surrounded by God fearing people.  We encouraged him.  We prayed for him.  We told him that it was going to be alright.  Amen, that alone is a message all by itself.  He was rejuvenated, and as the clock started to wind down he remained faithful knowing, not guessing or wondering, but knowing that God was going to bring him through.  Boom!!!  God showed up, and shown him the way out.  Even as he was headed to victory, the enemy at the last minute tried to block the blessing.  At this time the enemy is still out for the count.  My brother is blessed!  He is in a good position, and he accomplished what it takes some people months, even years to do.  This family, is a clear display, that God was in control all along.  Amen!
Now there are people who tried to count this brother out.  These are people who claim to be children of God.  I say claim, because they profess with their lips, but their actions are different.  Let’s keep this simple.  If you and I have a recipe to make a chocolate cake, when it is said and done, we both should have a chocolate cake.  It may differ in color or taste, which depends on how generous or reserve we were with the ingredients, but we are supposed to have a cake that is brown in color and that have a chocolaty taste.  If one of our cakes is brown, and the other is pink, yellow, red, or white, there is something wrong with this picture.  The bible is our recipe and despite minor interpretational differences, the root is the same.  So these people are now wondering how God seemed to answer this brother’s prayer and blessed him so quickly and so abundantly while they are still struggling.   Well, since they were willing to ask that question, how about considering this question.  Have you considered you?
The bible states For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the LORD is against those who do evil." (1Pe 3:12) Peter’s letter was to serve as comfort during a time of trial.  To encourage those in the faith and give them instructions so that their integrity is maintained where God can be pleased. However, he gives warnings as well, stating that you may be the reason, you are going through what you are going through.  Please understand, our definition of evil is not relevant.  It is God’s definition of evil that matters.  Evil is the opposite of Good, which is the opposite of God, if you are walking contrary to God, you are acting with an evil intent, and therefore, your prayers are being ignored!!!  Sooooooooooooo
·        God is not going to honor your prayer if you are holding a grudge,
·        God is not going to honor your prayer if you hate somebody,
·        God is not going to honor your prayer if you gain wealth by deceitful means
To keep it simple, if you regard iniquity in your heart, God will not hear you!!!" (Ps 66:18).  If it still isn’t clear then consider these questions.
1.      Have you considered if your prayers are according To God's Will (1 Jn 5:14)?  People tend to pray at random for whatever their selfish minds conceive. They are not permitted to come into His presence and vent their silly notions and mindless ramblings. They know too much about what they want and too little about what He wants.
2.    Have you considered if your prayers are designed  To fulfill an Inner Lust, Dreams? (Ja 4:1-3).  God will answer no prayer that would add to our honor or assist our temptations.   The test of knowing whether or not our request is based on lust is very simple. How we handle delays and denials is the clue. Prayers founded on lust demand hasty answers.  If our prayers are not answered quickly, we “woe is me” and huff and puff.  We may even begin to murmur and complain to finally accuse God of being deaf.
3.    Have you considered that you have a secret grudge Lodged in your heart against another (1 Tim 2:8)?  Many of us are in denial about this one.  I for one was in denial for years regarding grudges I held. God will not deal with anyone with a wrathful and unforgiving spirit. This one is simple.  By us not forgiving the sins committed against us, we make it impossible for God to forgive and bless us. He instructed us to pray, "Forgive us, as we forgive others."
As my former Pastor used to say, many people have a heart condition.  Their heart is not in the right place so therefore their mind is not right.  If their mind is not right, the speech and action will not be right either.  God sees the need of all, and desires to meet those needs.  However, according to His word, He will not meet those needs if the heart is not in the right place.  If you sent prayers to God, it may be that God is working on it, but it can also be you.  Investigate the latter first.  Amen!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Separate And Not Equal

Heavenly Father, I come before your throne of grace, in the only way I know how, with my head bowed, and heart humbled, to say thank you.  Father God, I thank you for waking me up this morning.  I thank you Father, for protecting my home, while I slept.  I thank you Father for allowing me to wake up with my organs functioning and my bones intact.  I thank you Father for the eyes to see, ears to hear, and a tongue to give you praise.  Father these things that so many take for granted, I in the name of Jesus I thank you for them.  I pray Father, that all that I have, and all that I am blessed with, that the reader and doer of your word have also partaken of them.  I pray a blessing on their coming and going.  I pray a blessing on wherever they are.  I pray that the setting is pleasant for them to read your word.  I pray that their heart is tilled so that your word can be cultivated.  I pray oh God, that they are willing to walk with purpose, and with whatever you have ordained for them Father.  Oh God, I just pray for peace for them.  Father, we are nothing without you, and if we had 10,000 tongues, we could not praise you enough.  You are our very present help in a time of need.  You are our compass when we are lost, and we pray that we never fall out of your love and grace.  And Father, if you will grant another request, we petition oh God, that you forgive us of our sins.  Father, you are able to keep us from falling, and we pray that your Holy Spirit, rest, rule, and hover over our lives continuously.  This we pray in the matchless name of your Son Jesus.  Amen.

Some of you may have heard the term “Separate but equal” before.  Separate but equal was a legal doctrine in the United States Constitutional law that justified systems of segregation. Under this doctrine, services, facilities and public accommodations were allowed to be separated by race, on the condition that the quality of each group's public facilities were (supposedly) to remain equal. The phrase was derived from a Louisiana law of 1890.  However this proved to not be the case because in essence these facilities far differ in comparison, so it was indeed not equal.  Those who oppose that law used the Declaration of Independence as their defense which was written in 1776. The opening sentence reads “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
Now bear in mind, these were laws given to us by man.  Some are favorable and some are not, however, although we are to follow the laws of the land, there are instructions, that are of a divine nature that we must follow if we say we are children of God.  Amen!

The bible states “This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.” (Eph 4:17-19)  As children of God, there is a separation that is justified. Christ has set us free, and in doing so, we no longer think the same, speak the same, or act the same as we did before, or as some does now.  We are a new creation, old things have passed away, and all things have become new. (2 Cor 5:17)  There have to be a clear difference in who we are and who the children of the world are. 

What else is said in God’s word regarding separation? 
·        Matt 10:35-36 "For I have come to 'set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law  "and 'a man's enemies will be those of his own household.”
·        Ja 4:4 “Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”
·        Eph 5:8 “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light”
·        2Th 3:6 “But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us.”
You have four different verses, with four different scenarios that all point to one fact; Separation.  Make no mistake about it, God definitely sanctioned segregation but not because of race, gender, financial, status, or the other things that the world put between people, but by those who believe and those who do not.  The word “equal” means the same.  A child of God is not the same with a child of this world simply based on the fact that one acknowledges and believes in God and the other doesn’t or chooses not to adhere.  A child of God is not the same with a child of this world because the children of God will receive blessings from the Lord due to obedience, and the children of the world will not.  I believe the point is made.

Family, God wants a people who will worship him in faith.  He wants a people who are to be holy.  The word “holy” means to set apart.  What are we to set apart ourselves from?  This world has many people, with many aspects of life.  There is only one aspect of life that God is concerned with and that is faith in Him.  We have to be segregated from those who do not share in this aspect.  Those who do not share in this aspect are an enemy of God because most of them are concerned about the affairs of this world.  We are to separate, because there is no allegiance between righteousness and unrighteousness.  We are not equal to other children of creation because their choices do not bring blessings but curses.  We are not equal to them because we can speak on things that are not as though they were, in faith, while they speak on things as though they were in fear and in doubt.  We are completely opposite of them, so why should there be a need to fellowship?  Oil and water does not mix, just as saints and unbelievers don’t mix. 
Family, these words I am sharing may seem harsh, however I am repeating what our savior said clearly.  “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. "For I have come to 'set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law';"and 'a man's enemies will be those of his own household.'  "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” (Matt 10:34-37)  As harsh as it sounds, it is true.  Some of our friends, family, co workers, and neighbors will not believe in what we believe in.  Jesus is the prince of peace, but he is here to do His Father’s will.  There will be a separation.  What side will you be on?  Amen!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Matrix

Gracious Father, I come before your throne of grace once more to say thank you.  Father I thank you for allowing me to see another day.  I thank you for health and strength.  Father I thank you for the many blessings you have bestowed upon me, in the past, present, and what you will do in the future.  I thank you Father for your divine covering.  I pray this morning, that the reader and doer of your word, will too experience what I have experienced.  I pray a blessing of peace to be on them in all that they do.  I pray Father, that you set the atmosphere for them to receive a word this morning.  I pray that all imaginations that are not of you, be cast down in the name of Jesus.  We decree oh God, that all malicious spirit be bind and removed from our presence, in the name of Jesus.  Oh God, just have your way in our lives this morning.  I pray Father, that you give those who feel that it is over for them, a reason to hold on a little bit longer.  I pray that they have confidence and assurance that even now, you are working it out for them.  And Father, I pray that all that we do, is according to thy will, and pray that any thought, speech, or deed performed that was not pleasing in thy sight, that you forgive us for it.  We give you all the honor, glory and praise, and we pray this in Jesus name, Amen.

The title alone should tweak your interest.  I remember when the movie first came out.  I saw it six times while it was in the theatre.  It was a very thought provoking movie.  Years later I watched it again and realized that the movie has some very deep, spiritual connotations.   Some of you are probably guessing which angle am I going to come from.  Nope, I will not bring it from the red or blue pill scene; although that does speak volumes regarding choice. 
What grabbed me, were a couple of conversations Morpheus had with Neo.  In one, he talks about the condition of the people regarding the world they live in (The Matrix).  He says “The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window, or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work, when you go to church, when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.”  When I heard that, I am reminded when Jesus was tempted by the devil in the wilderness.  The third proposition the devil made to Jesus was to promise Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory if He would bow down and worship him (Matt 4:8-9).  That is what the devil does.  He puts illusions before our eyes and presents it as reality.  Many people have forsaken God for what they thought were blessings.  As Morpheus said “It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.”  
The other conversation really gave me pause.  Morpheus said “The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you're inside, you look around, what do you see? Business men, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system, and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.”  Further in the dialogue where Neo was distracted by the woman in the red dress, Morpheus purposely had her transform into an agent (protectors of the Matrix) Here is the dialogue:
Neo: This … this isn't the Matrix?
Morpheus: No. It's another training program designed to teach you one thing: if you are not one of us, you are one of them.
If you are not one of us, you are one of them.  The bible states “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”  (Eph 6:12)  Any person who is not a believer is a potential host of these principalities.  I have personally experienced a person who I thought was a die- hard believer, unfortunately never got control of their worldly struggle to the point they were transformed right before my eyes.  The things that left their mouth would make a sailor cringe.  The motive behind their action toward another was birth from deep wickedness.  It was like they had a split personality.  It is easy for us to get angry at co-workers, family, and friends who wrong us, and it is even easier for us to respond in kind.  However, we may take a different approach if we understand that the real enemy is invisible.  The enemy takes on the form of a negative spirit, and cloud the minds of these potential  hosts, and we fight this spirit not with carnal weapons (2 Cor 10:4), but spiritual ones, hence being dressed in the whole armor of God (Eph 6:13-18) “And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.”  This is a true statement.  They have come so accustomed to what they see and feel that any attempts to show them otherwise will be met with opposition; sometimes in a violent manner.  In the bible, Jesus had performed many miracles and cast out many demons, to where some of the people said He was the ruler of demons (Mark 3:22).  They were so deeply infected, to the point they did not even see what they said did not make sense.  It is not the people, but that spirit in the people.
The truth family is the devil is the current god of this world. He is a spirit conspirator manipulating the world by deception and by fostering the spirit of disobedience.   And until Christ returns we live something similar to the Matrix.  Get into the word and “free your mind”.  Amen!

Monday, April 11, 2011

It Is Not Over

Heavenly Father, we come to you today Lord with thanksgiving. To give you thanks for all that you have done for us and all that you have given us. We thank you for your patience, your unconditional love, expressed by way of your Son, who died to save us. Thank you Lord. We thank you for all the prayers you have answered Lord. You heard our cries Father and you listen to our screaming hearts.  You give us comfort when we are hurting and you give us understanding when we are confused.  You help us Lord in whatever we need Father. We pray that we continue to listen to you Lord and not lean to our own understanding.  We only see the now Father, but you see the future.  You know what we need in the future, what we have to go through now to prepare us for it Lord and we thank you for it. We know that it will be better later on, even though we can’t see it now. We trust you Lord and believe that you and only you God will get us through any obstacles that come upon us. With us under your umbrella of protection we know that you are with us.  We just thank you for it Father, and we pray oh God that you forgive us of our sins.  Father all these things we pray in your Son Jesus name, Amen.
                                                                                        Prayer by:  Judith Notice

I am excited because soon I will be a part of a prison ministry.  Those who are not aware of what a prison ministry is, it is a mission for people who are willing to visit the prisons to share the gospel with those brothers and sisters who are incarcerated.  I went the other day to meet with the Chaplain and he gave me the opportunity to tour the facility and I was able to meet some of the brothers there.  I did not get to sit with them as long as I wanted to, but it was long enough to introduce myself, and shake some hands.  I was in awe of the passion and humility that these brothers had.  What was also amazing was the love they had for the Chaplain.  Here we have a bunch of big, muscled up men listening attentively like little babies to this man who was 3 times less their size. I would admit, even I was captivated by his way of expressing the word of God.  Before I left the facility, we went to a part of the prison for those who are awaiting trial for crimes that will result in heavy time.  I shared my faith walk as they did theirs and I expressed by the Lord’s will I will be back there to fellowship with them.  As stated before, their passion and humility amazed me, but something one brother did stood out the most.  Even now, this morning, I am still moved by what he did.  His name is Ackuma (if spelled right), and before I left, he asked if he could pray for me.  The prayer that he prayed was a prayer of protection and covering.  It is a prayer I pray when I pray for my family before they leave home.
I am a free man.  Not only by Jesus, but because I am not physically confined.  I was able to go home to be with my wife and kids.  I have the opportunity to go shopping if I wanted to.  I have the opportunity to go to a beach or theme park.  If I wanted to call up some of my brothers, we could meet to go fishing.  I have what this man does not have.  He is left in there with C.O.’s (correction officers) dictating to him when he eats, sleeps, or play.  He is left with a possibility of having to defend himself if another individual wants to take what is his.  Family, he is in prison, yet he prayed with a sincere concern for me.  His prayer indicated to me what his faith walk is really about.  The bible states “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;  and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  (Php 4:6-7)  He is a prayer warrior.  He puts his trust in God and it stays with Him.  He understood that although his body is confined, his mind does not have to be, and he knows in his heart that prison does not make it the end for him.  It is not over for him.  His countenance displayed a peace that only a believer can comprehend and that is that peace that is beyond our human comprehension.  Amen!
Family I am telling you if this brother can see pass his circumstance, and still believe that God is faithful then I encourage you to do the same.  I understand you may feel that no one understands what you are going through, but I implore you to make your prayers known to God, and you will not have to worry about that situation.  I understand that every time you take two steps forward, something causes you to move four steps backwards.  Give it to God and wait and see.  Your unfavorable situation is not the end for you.  In Christ we can do all things, because when we are weak He strengthens us (Php 4:13).  Even as recent, another brother was kicked out of an apartment he was sharing with someone, and had no indication of a job in sight.  It was said he was sleeping at airports.  He did not call it quits.  He did not say it was over.  He trusted God.  In weeks, God sent him help.  He was able to stay at a hotel for week, and when that is up, he will have a furnished apartment ready for him with a deposit made already.  Not one dime came out of his pocket.  He did not let the obvious circumstance cause his faith to waiver.  He did not tell himself this is it.  Because of his faith, he is in a good position.  Oh, and he now has a job.  Oh God is good!!!
Family, that inmate and that brother who was briefly homeless, did not let their circumstance dictate it was the end for them.  They remembered the God who they serve and they believed in the teachings of Christ.  Because they said it is not over, God in Jesus’ name made sure it was not over.  Don’t let your circumstance cause you to give up.  God is still in control, and He is still in the blessing business.  It is not over for that incarcerated brother, it was not over for that homeless brother, and it does not have to be over for you.  Amen?  Amen!