We are the Founders of Lightsey Ministries, Inc., Faith and Favor Ministries, and We Be Buds Marriage Educators, all in the Charlotte, NC area. "Walk By Faith, Live With Favor" is the Internet Ministry God gave us in 2004 to share His Word to those all over the world. By way of monthly sermons and words of encouragement, we have been extremely blessed in reaching the masses as we proclaim the gospel and impart words of exhortation and wisdom in an exceptionally anointed fashion. Presenting the Word in a clear and no-nonsense venue has been rewarding to our supporters. No doubt you will enjoy and be enlightened as we expound upon God's Word. Select our website as one of your favorites.You will surely be blessed as we cover various issues and concerns pertinent to righteous living and steadfast dedication in being all God has called and intended you to be. No doubt you will be revived and refreshed as you "Walk By Faith and Live With Favor."
"For the word of God is full of living power. It is sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires. It exposes us for what we really are." (Hebrews 4:12, NLT)
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith." (Romans 1:17 , NKJV).
"For with God nothing is ever impossible and no word from God shall be without power or impossible of fulfillment." (Luke 1:37, Amplified)
A native of New Jersey, Pastor Sharen resides in the Charlotte, NC area where she serves as Co-Founder of Lightsey Ministries, Inc. and also of Faith and Favor Ministries with her husband, Dr. R. J. Lightsey. She also is an Associate Pastor at Freedom Worship Center of Charlotte, NC. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and Psychology from Rutgers University, and a Masters in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance from Baker College. She is a 2010 Fellow of the Institute for HIV Prevention Leadership (IHPL) from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and The Association of Schools of Public Health. She has been active in ministry for thirty-one (31) years. Her extensive ministry experience began in New Jersey where she taught Sunday School for primaries. She co-created and developed curriculum for children/teens, and has facilitated teacher-training workshops for various churches to better equip staff to teach more effectively. In 1987 she began serving in women's ministry as a facilitator for women's retreats and seminars. In 1991 God called Pastor Sharen and her husband for a work in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, where they resided for twenty (20) years. She and her husband have two (2) adult sons Jay (Ramira) and Jerius, and four grandchildren. Pastor Sharen received her ministerial license in 1998 and earned her ordination in 2000. She taught and ministered while at JCC, and continues to co-facilitate marriage classes (http://webebuds.org/), provide pre-marital and post-marital counseling, and co-write monthly mini-sermons for Lightsey Ministries. Pastor Sharen launched a ministry at JCC to address and educate the community in the prevention of HIV/AIDS. She was appointed by Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe to serve on the newly formed HIV/AIDS Minority Taskforce. In addition, Pastor Sharen owns an accounting firm, Numbers 2 Numbers, Inc. The company provides general accounting, payroll, tax, and consulting services. She has worked in various facets of business. She and Dr. Lightsey facilitated business training seminars through their business consulting company, Higher Ground Marketing Group where she assisted in cultural diversity training for the Pine Bluff Police Department. Additionally, Pastor Sharen has provided financial training workshops for local churches and civic groups. She has also been an adjunct professor at Arkansas Baptist College in Little Rock. Pastor Sharen and Dr. Lightsey have been married for thirty-three (33) years.
"Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Jesus Christ throughout all ages, world without end. Amen." (Ephesians 3:20-21)
Dr. R. J. Lightsey II was born in Albany, GA and grew up in the outskirts of Pittsburgh, PA. During his teenage years, he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior under the pastorate of Bishop Melvin E. Clark at the Church in the Round in Aliquippa, PA. After graduating from college in 1975 and working in the Pittsburgh area for six years, his employer, Equitable Life Assurance, transferred him to its Philadelphia office. He resided across the state line in the city of Willingboro, NJ. From 1985 to 1991 he served as trustee, trustee chairman, men’s fellowship director, Sunday school teacher, and associate minister at Deliverance Evangelistic Church in Burlington, New Jersey under the leadership of Rev. Eric F. Ricks. In August of 1991 God led Dr. Lightsey and his wife, Pastor Sharen, to begin a ministry work in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, where he became Vice President and General Manager of 1270 AM KPBA, a radio station that offered all gospel programming. Dr. Lightsey left KPBA in 1993. Returning to secular employment, he concurrently served as associate minister at Abundant Life Church of God in Christ under the pastorate of the late Dr. A. L. Hunt and he served as assistant pastor at United Missionary Baptist Church under the pastorate of Rev. Michael Williams. In 1993 he became the interim pastor at Christian Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church and was installed as pastor in 1994. He remained there until 1997. It was then that God commissioned him to found Jubilee Christian Center where he served as pastor for fifteen years. He currently is the Chaplain for Tyson Foods in Monroe, NC, Associate Pastor at Freedom Worship Center of Charlotte, NC and Co-Founder of Lightsey Ministries, Inc. and also of Faith and Favor Ministries, in the Charlotte, NC area. In addition to his thirty-two years in ministry, Dr. Lightsey has also spent 35 years in the business marketing and consulting field, in the profit and non-profit sectors. He has done management, marketing, training, special projects, and consulting work for LTV Steel Corporation, Equitable Life Assurance, Volkswagen, Metropolitan Life Insurance, Computer Science Corporation, Family Time Ministries, and United Way among others. From 1990 to 2012, he was President and CEO of Higher Ground Marketing Group, a company that promoted and marketed products, services, and resources of local businesses. From 2001 through February of 2008, he served as Director of Community Outreach and then as Director of Constituent Services for U. S. Congressman Mike Ross, Fourth Congressional District, Arkansas. Dr. Lightsey graduated from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania in 1975 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. He received a diploma in Supervisory Management from LaSalle Extension University in Chicago, Illinois and is also a graduate of the South Jersey Professional School of Business in Marlton, NJ. He earned a Master of Divinity degree and a Doctor of Divinity degree from Christian Bible College and Seminary in Blue Springs, Missouri. Dr. Lightsey is the author of "Living in Praise," a collection of Christian/Inspirational poetry. In 1980 he received the Outstanding Young Man in America Award for outstanding professional achievement, superior leadership ability, and exceptional service to the community. He is a Lifetime Member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the United Way of the Central Carolinas, Union County, NC. Dr. Lightsey and his wife, Rev. Sharen K. Lightsey, also own an accounting firm - Numbers 2 Numbers, Inc. They have two adult sons: Jay (Ramira) residing in New Jersey, and Jerius, residing in North Carolina. They have four grandchildren.
Have You Lost Your Mind?
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2).
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 2:5).
I will get right to the point and ask the question. “Have you lost your mind?” No, I don’t mean have you become mentally unstable or out of balance. I want to know have you been born again and placed yourself in position to think like Christ Jesus? In the apostle Paul’s letter to the church at Rome he instructs them not to change themselves to be like people of the world but to let God change them inside to a new way of thinking. “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2). To the Philippian church he wrote, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 2:5). In other words, as you strive to operate as one body also strive to think like Christ thought.
In order to think like Christ, you must “lose or abolish” your sinful and worldly mind and replace it with the mind of the Savior. First, of course, you must not only identify with the Savior but you must be in Him. If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). The new creation comes with a new mind that must be continually programmed with Christ-like data. This Christ-like data is the will of God and the way of God according to the Word of God. You must continually feed your mind with positive thoughts so that foul and negative thoughts don’t occupy your thinking and meditating processes.
I recently led a teaching during a married couples fellowship. I informed some and reminded others that it is impossible for your mind to entertain two thoughts at the same moment. Of course you can switch from thinking on one thing and immediately turn your attention to another thought. However, when you do, the initial (first) thought has left and can only return (and remain) when you allow it. So, with the ability to control your thoughts, you can lose your mind to thoughts that are not pleasing to God and let thoughts that are pleasing to Him reside in your thought process.
So many times we hear people say “I want to be more like Christ.” I too, strive to be more like Jesus. But we (you and I) must realize that it takes a concentrated and pointed effort to live the way Christ lived here on earth and to think like He thinks. That literally means leaving and dismissing the way the world sees and analyzes things and accepting and admitting the way Christ thinks. Thinking the way Christ thinks allows us to be in His will and to live life to its fullest. The question is, “have you lost your mind?”
The definition of the word now is “at the present time or moment”. It does not refer to future events or feelings. It is present. The problem that humans have is that we often live our lives looking for and/or expecting something to happen, or looking back at something in the past. For whatever reason, focusing on the now or the present is a challenge. But faith works in the present, not in the future. Faith is now! We might receive what we want at some point in the future, but we live and think and operate as though we have it now!
Believers must learn to live in the present knowing that all of God’s promises are ours now! However, the manifestation of some of those promises won’t be fully awarded to us until the appointed time. Unfortunately, some believers focus so much on their past behaviors and choices before they fully committed to Christ, that they don’t understand where they are now.
The word of God reminds us of the importance of now. Let’s look at a few scriptures.
But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ. (Eph. 2:11-13).
Paul is reminding the believers at Ephesus that they should keep in mind where they’ve come from. He’s not implying that they should focus on their past condition, but while focusing on their present condition in Christ, they should be mindful of how much Christ has done for them and where they are now.
Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence. (Eph. 3:12).
Again, Paul is reminding the believers at Ephesus that things have changed. Our faith has changed our position from being on the outside and apart from God, to being on the inside. We have sonship authority that allows us to boldly and confidently come into the Father’s presence. We have this authority now!
And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you. (Gal 3:29).
Now that we belong to Christ by faith, we are also connected to Abraham, and are positioned to receive whatever promise God made to Abraham. The promise is ours now! Paul tells the Corinthians that God has commissioned us and enables us to stand firm in Christ. God has identified us by placing the Holy Spirit as the first installment that guarantees everything He has promised us. (2 Cor. 1:20)
Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. (Col. 1:22).
Since we have accepted Christ, we are now reconciled to Him because of his physical death. We are now in His presence, and he sees us as not having any fault. This is where are now! This is how God sees us now! He sees us with pure love with no faults, no issues, no shortcomings, no sin! We are without fault now!
These are just a few scriptures to remind us that things have changed for us now that we have Christ. His Holy Spirit confirms our position with the Father. He shows His love for us every day we are here because Today is the present time. It is the “now” time. Our success requires us to live in the present. Our miracles are happening now. Our prayers are being answered now. Our expectations are at work now.
When we can focus on now, I believe we will live out the words of Christ when He told the disciples that they would do greater works than He did because He was going back to His Father. What did He mean? I believe part of what He was saying was that as long as we are here on the earth, we are under assignment from God. Consequently, we will see and experience God’s power in the earth realm now.
When we don’t experience the great power of God, it’s because we are not following Christ’s example. We must think in the present. We must pray now. We must expect now. We must have faith now. When we do, there is no doubt in my mind that Christ’s love and power will spread in the earth realm, and we will live lives of victory and have great success.
The Opportunity to Do Good
“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all me, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (KJV).
As a Chaplain for Tyson Foods, I had the opportunity to serve on one of several disaster relief teams dispatched to eastern North Carolina to assist and comfort those affected by Hurricane Florence last month. Food and water were freely supplied and donated by Tyson Foods to all who needed assistance. Over 250,000 meals were prepared and some delivered with the help of local volunteers and the National Guard. It is an honor and a privilege to be associated with a company that would do so much for those in need – not only as a result of Hurricane Florence, but whenever there is a major disaster anywhere in the country.
This (and other acts of unselfish kindness) reminds me of what Paul stated in his letter to the church at Galatia. “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10). He instructed them to not only look for and recognize opportunities to help others, but to go beyond and to actually “do good unto them.” What does this mean for us? This act requires being attentive to the needs and concerns of others, determining what we have and what we can do to assist them in their time(s) of need, and then taking action. Paul went further in his directive to the Galatians by stating they should “especially do good unto those who are of the household of faith.” Who are those described as being in the “household of faith?” Ephesians 2:19 describes them as fellowcitizens with the saints, those who are of the household of God – simply put, born again believers should receive first priority!
Certainly the question will (and often does) arise, “What if they really don’t need my help? What if they are scheming and plotting to get something for nothing? What if they are trying to take advantage of me?” First of all, let’s admit we all want to sow our seed in good ground. We don’t want what we give to be wasted, misused or unappreciated. But there are two important points I want to make. First, we should allow the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us in each and every situation. No doubt there has been and will continue to be times when we know those asking or seeking help really don’t need it or have misused it on every previous occasion. The Holy Spirit gives us wisdom. He leads and guides us. In addition, the longer we dwell on those questions and try to rationalize who we help, the longer the needed remains in need. We have two (2) commands: 1) Recognize the opportunity, and 2) Do good.
We have been blessed to be a blessing. Oftentimes, what we give to others can be the ministry of presence (being there for and with them without providing money or other tangible items). Taking time to pray is another way of doing good for others. May we consistently seek and take advantage of the opportunity to do good.
1 Kings 19
In 1 Kings 19, we read the account of the prophet Elijah running in fear for his life. The queen Jezebel had placed a hit on him after he had killed the 400 prophets of Baal. He journeyed about eighty miles from Samaria before he actually slowed down a little. He rested under a juniper tree and asked the Lord to let him die. He had given up. All his zeal had left him. He went to sleep and an angel woke him up and told him to eat. He ate and fell asleep again. The angel woke him a second time and told him to eat some more because the journey was too great for him. The food that Elijah ate kept him for 40 days and 40 nights!
While Elijah continued on his journey he came to a cave and the Word of God came to him and asked him what he was doing. He responded that he had been very jealous for the Lord, the Israelites had forsaken His covenant, thrown down His altars, and killed the prophets. And he added he was the only one left, and now his life was on the line. (1 Kings 19: 9-10) God told him to leave the cave and stand on the mountain.
As Elijah was standing on the mountain, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore through the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. Then a fire came, but the Lord was not in the fire. After the fire…listen closely…there was a sound of gentle stillness, and a still, small voice. (1 Kings19:12) Notice what Elijah did after he heard the sound of this still small voice. He hid his face in the mantle and stood in the entrance of the cave. Then the voice asked the same question as he heard earlier. “What are you doing here, Elijah”? Elijah gave the same response as he did earlier as well. (v. 10)
At this moment Elijah and God began to have a conversation – a two-way conversation. Elijah was now in a position to not only state his grievance, but to listen to what God wanted to say to him about his situation.
You see, I believe, it’s not that believers don’t pray to God. The problem is that we don’t wait long enough to hear from God. We state our case, we list our grievances, and we walk away feeling as if God hasn’t heard us. It’s not that God doesn’t hear us. We don’t hear Him! We are the ones who are not listening! We are the ones who are so wrapped up in what’s happening to us, that we don’t take the required time to hear from the One who is listening to us. We need to listen closely! We need to slow down, and wait for God to speak. He’s not always where there is the most noise. Sometimes He’s in the very quiet.
We may be looking for God in the wrong place, when all He wants from us is to be still and listen closely. When Elijah finally allowed himself to hear from God, he found that things were not as bad as he believed they were. God let him know that there were going to be some political changes – He was going to anoint a new king in Syria, and Jehu was going to take over the throne in Israel (which let him know that Jezebel was not an issue for him). There was also going to be a change in the spiritual leadership. Elisha was going to take over his position as prophet. Then the Lord gave Elijah some comfort. He told him that he wasn’t the only one who was left, there were seven thousand in Israel that had not bowed down to Baal! Seven thousand!
The work that Elijah had done in Israel, his prophetic words, did have some impact! There were some who heard the Word of the Lord and believed! He did have some results! It wasn’t all for nothing! What a feeling of comfort Elijah had in this knowledge…and all because he slowed down enough to listen!
My brothers and sisters, this is a very important lesson for us to put into action. Take the time to hear God’s voice. He does care. He is concerned. He has a plan. We just need to listen closely!
The Good Fight
1 Timothy 1:18-19; 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:7
This charge, son Timothy, I put to you, in keeping with the prophecies already made about you, so that by these prophecies you may fight the good fight, armed with trust and a good conscience. (1 Timothy 1:18-19)
Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:12)
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. (2 Timothy 4:7)
These words were written by the Apostle Paul to Timothy, his son in the faith. They are letters written from a spiritual father to his spiritual son. When one reads these letters, the reader can not help but notice the very intimate and strong bond between these two men.
In his first letter to Timothy, Paul instructed Timothy on the importance of order in the church. He also encouraged his son to stay strong to the sound teachings he had been instructed in. Apparently, Timothy was facing great opposition from people who were twisting the scriptures. These people had persuasive arguments. They were challenging. They were willfully ignorant of the truth. He instructed him not to get caught up in the arguments of these people, but to keep his focus and pursue godliness as his way of life.
Timothy was in a fight. He was in a struggle. This fight was taking a lot out of him. But Paul wrote to encourage and remind him about the things he had been taught so he would gain strength to keep fighting the good fight of the faith.
In his second letter to his son, Paul continued to encourage Timothy. He told him to not be ashamed to tell others about the Lord, and to not shrink away from the suffering, or of him who was in prison. He reminded Timothy that he was also in the same fight. That it was because of the gospel that he was in prison. But he told Timothy that he was okay with it because he understood that those who live godly in Christ will suffer persecution. He encouraged him to endure the sufferings along with him. He told him to fight the good fight.
Paul instructed Timothy to stay in companionship with those who also believed in the Lord, Jesus. And he reminded him again to not get involved with those who wanted to argue and start fights. He told him that evil people would flourish and get worse and worse.
Then Paul told Timothy that he himself had fought the good fight. He had finished his race, and he had remained faithful. Consequently, he knew he had a reward – a crown of righteousness which the Lord was going to give Him on the day of his return. But not for him only, but for all those who love his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:8)
My brothers and sisters, we, too must fight the good fight of the faith. Sometimes the fight is hard, but we must remember these words of encouragement that Paul wrote to Timothy. We must keep in mind that each of us has his/her own race to run. No matter what comes our way, we must stay true to God, and to sound doctrine. Yes, things are going to get worse and worse. But regardless of the struggle, we must do the work of an evangelist, and be faithful to our Lord. We must fight the good fight.
God's Ever-Effective Word
Isaiah 55:11 “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”
Several years ago, a slang became very popular among young and old alike. The simple expression “word” was used to confirm someone was speaking “truth to power.” The one-word response was (and is still) used to respond that what is being said is agreeable and true. No doubt the person being responded to felt good that the verbalized expressions were received, accepted, and agreed with. The God of all creation tells us in Isaiah 55:11 that His Word is ever so powerful. “So shall my word be that goeth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” What He says and commands will not only definitely come to pass but it will produce His desired result each and every time. The result will always, always return “mission accomplished!” In addition, God’s Word will always prosper in every situation and occasion. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “prosper” as to become strong and flourishing, to cause to succeed or thrive. Any way you look at it God’s Word improves the situation, circumstance, or person it attaches to. We read these words in 2 Timothy 2:15: Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” How powerful is that? If we study God’s Word to the point of knowing it and knowing how to use it we can speak “truth to power” no matter what the test, trial, or circumstance. But it is imperative that we know God’s Word and truly believe that His Word should be spoken by us just as He speaks it. When we say what God says, His Word goes out and immediately begins to accomplish things and produce positive results. But, we must say what God says – not what man says or what we want to hear. You may have heard the expression – “If God said it, I believe it, and that settles it.” But here is my response to that. “If God said it, that settles it because His Word never returns unto Him void (empty)! Always seek, receive, and act on God’s ever-effective Word.
How Deep is Your Passion?
One of the things I often wonder about is how much do those of us who say we are followers of Christ love Him? How much do we love His Word? How much do we desire to fulfill His purposes for our lives? How far are we willing to go for Him? To what degree are we willing to lay down our lives for Him? How far does the bar for our surrender and submission go? For most of us, our desire to please God and live out his word in our lives is very small. For others it’s a little deeper. Then there are those who are completely sold out. They love God more than the air they breathe. They are willing to do whatever it takes to please Him. They long for God’s presence. They long to spend time in His word. Their motto is “for God I’ll live, and for God, I’ll die.” They just want Him. If you evaluated yourself today, and included all your circumstances, how deep is your passion? In Psalms 119: 130-131, the Psalmist writes these words regarding his desire to know God’s intentions: “I pant with expectation, longing for your commands.” This verse challenges me. Do I really want to know God’s intentions for my life? Do I really seek after God in this way? What about you? I believe when we are struggling with some things in our lives, there are moments in the struggle when we cry out to God for deliverance. But when we’re in the struggle, do we cry out for Him just because we love Him? Do we still desire Him with purity of heart? Or do we just want out because of our discomfort? God’s testimony regarding David was that he was a man after His heart. Here’s an example of why God said this. When David was in the wilderness running from Saul, he penned these words: “O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory. Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you! I will praise you as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer. You satisfy me more than the richest feast. I will praise you with songs of joy. I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on you through the night. Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely.” (Psalms 63:1-8) When I read these words, I am awed. In the midst of trying to preserve his life from Saul, David’s passion for His God was so deep that he took time aside to write these words. His vow to his God was that he would praise him as along as he lived…with no conditions! David’s circumstances didn’t matter, he just wanted his God! David understood that he could trust God. This trust developed confidence in God that no matter what, God would see him through. He was totally sold out and unashamed of his God. He loved God with his every breath. Again, in Psalms 27, David writes these words: “Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will not be afraid. Even if I am attacked, I will remain confident. The one thing I ask of the LORD— the thing I seek most—is to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, delighting in the LORD’s perfections and meditating in his Temple. For he will conceal me there when troubles come; he will hide me in his sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock.” (Psalms 27:3-5) Do you have this kind of confidence in your God? After all we know about our God through the Scriptures, why are we not more passionate about Him? What prevents us from giving our all to Him? What hinders us from experiencing the very best that our God desires for us? I believe the time is now for each of us to make a renewed commitment to our God who loves us beyond what words can express. He wants to come back for a church without spot or blemish. He wants our hearts to be pure. The writer of Hebrews exhorts us with these words. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1)
Obtaining salvation is an event – living a saved life is a process. Too often we see salvation as a one-time event and then it’s over. Not so. There is a standard every believer must abide by if he intends to serve and love God with all his heart, mind and soul. Your daily walk is not reduced to simply remembering the day and place you received salvation. But after the receiving, there is a daily commitment to live a life that’s pleasing to God. Herein, lies the difficulty and the challenge.
Christ has given us the charge of practicing daily self-denial if in fact we are to continue following Him. Matthew 16:24-26 reads,
“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”
To “deny” yourself means to refuse your own claims upon yourself. To “take-up” means to lift up – to lift up Jesus (even in times of burden and despair) for all to see. Remember, Jesus said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. (John 12:32). Christ was lifted up from the ground while on the cross for all to see His suffering death. You and I must lift Him up daily by bearing our crosses and burdens as we follow Him. In doing so, we present Him as the Risen Savior for the world to see.
You must be willing to spiritually kill your flesh man every day to deny what you want and what you lay claim to in your life. You must be willing to daily take up your cross and say to the Lord, “I’ll do what makes you happy. Have Thine own way, not my will but Your will be done.”
Jesus commanded satan to get behind Him (Matthew 16:23) because he did not desire and cherish the things of God nor did he see things from God’s point of view. When you follow the Master, you see what He sees. The more you see what He sees the more you follow Him because He orders your steps as you go. The steps of a righteous man are ordered (directed) by the Lord.
Have you “died through self-denial” today? Do you continue to follow God by refusing your own claims on your life? Do you daily remind yourself of your commitment by saying, “I am not my own. I’ve been bought with a price and that price is the precious redeeming blood of Jesus?”
Denying yourself doesn’t mean giving up God’s blessings and favor. Quite the contrary, it means following Him so all His blessings and favor will follow you and overtake you. God rewards those who seek and follow Him (Hebrews 11:6). You don’t get paid first, you follow first! If you want to get what God’s got you’ve got to go where God’s going. Deny yourself today and every day and present Christ to the world by promoting Him and His agenda. You’ll be glad you did!
July 2018 Devotional
THE BEST IS YET TO COME
But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,
shining ever brighter until full daylight.
Path – a way of life, conduct, or thought. It is a course of action, conduct or procedure.
As I was meditating a few weeks ago, I came across this passage of scripture in Proverbs – again. But this time, the words hit me in a different way, and I started thinking about this verse. Scripture encourages believers to live a certain way in this world. We are reminded that we are in the world, but not of the world. This means that though we exist in a place, we do not attach ourselves to our surroundings. We receive our instructions and our direction from someplace else – which implies there is a someplace else somewhere in the universe. Once we are saved our quest is to attach ourselves to this other place that also exists but is one in which we do not see with our physical eyes.
Believers look to scripture to seek instruction and guidance on how we should conduct ourselves while in this world, yet not of this world. This scripture tells us that the path of the righteous is a way of life. It is a specific thought or action, specific conduct or procedure that believers follow. This path is described as the light of dawn, shining brighter and brighter until full daylight. Think about that. The path that we’re on gets better and better. It doesn’t get worse.
Sometimes we get discouraged along the way. We wonder why things happen to us the way they do when we set ourselves to follow this path and live this life. Why so many disappointments? Why do we personally experience so much wrongdoing aimed against us when we are doing the right and good things?
This scripture is one that ignores the disappointments, setbacks, unfairness & wrongdoings done to us. This scripture wants us to focus on what’s ahead. It wants us to focus on the outcome of this way of life. It reminds us that as we continue on this path, things are getting better for us. Things are getting brighter. There’s something good and amazing that will meet us at the end of our journey in this place.
So, as we set our minds and hearts to live this life, this path, let us encourage ourselves along the way that regardless of what we face, the trials we go through, the questions we may have, the best is yet to come!
July 2018 Devotional
BLESSED ALL THE TIME
“And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God. Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep. Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store. Blessed shall thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out” (Deuteronomy 28:1-6).
What a powerful and dynamic passage of scripture! Moses wrote this book between 1410 B.C and 1406 B.C. In the book of Deuteronomy the Israelites are preparing to enter Canaan and God is giving them instruction on what to expect upon entering the “Promised Land.”
There are two (2) things God is instructing the children of Israel to do if they want to be on the receiving end of His all the time blessing: 1) listen to His voice, and 2) keep all His commandments. If they do these two things, God promises to set them high above all nations, bless them in the city, bless them in the field, bless their offspring (descendants), bless what they plant, increase their kine (cows) and increase their sheep. They will always have plenty on hand and stored up for future use. They will be highly blessed when they travel to and from the city. Oh, what a blessing!
As I studied this passage of scripture I became overwhelmed by the promise to bless them all the time and in all areas of their lives. I immediately began to thank God for the blessings I realize and possess each and every day. I’m reminded that all I need God has already provided. I’m reminded that my God delights in blessing me. I’m reminded that I am blessed to be a blessing to others. I am delighted to live the life I love and love the life I live in Christ Jesus. Yet I am still encouraged to daily thank God for who I am (a child of the Most-High King) and why I exist (to bring glory and honor to His Name by letting my light shine).
So here is what is most important. Please do not miss this. I don’t live to run or chase after the blessings. If I love God enough to always hear His voice and keep His word the blessings will automatically “come on me and overtake me” (Deuteronomy 28:2). The blessings are outstanding and incredible results of love and obedience. My desire is to always hear and obey my God. His promise is to keep me blessed all the time. I confess, I admit – I’m living a blessed life! How about you?
June 2018 Devotional
It’s Going to Be Different Next Time
Just as human beings have to die once, but after this comes judgment, so also the Messiah, having been offered once to bear the sins of many,[c] will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to deliver those who are eagerly waiting for him.
These words of scripture are so important for the believer. We often spend so much of our time and energy on sin that we often forget that Christ has purified us from our sin already, and that He is coming back to deliver those who are eagerly waiting for him. What does the author mean by these words? You see, my brothers and sisters, sin is no longer the dominate influence in our lives causing us to continually think about our failures. Christ has already set us free from the power and dominate influence that sin once had in our lives. We need to move on from our concentration of sin and begin to live our lives now with the Holy Spirit as the dominate influence. When we do this our mind changes from thinking death thoughts to thinking life thoughts and living life in expectancy of Christ’s reappearing.
Living life this way allows us to experience a different kind of living – not one of condemnation and guilt, but one of victory and power. Sin should not continue to occupy our minds or the way we live. We are new creations when Christ by His Spirit comes to live in us. We look forward, not backward. We live with expectation, not condemnation. Paul encouraged the believers at the church in Rome with these words,
So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit. (Romans 8:1-4)
June 2018 Devotional
Deliverance in Action
17 The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.
18 The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.
19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.
Almost daily one of my counseling sessions deal with someone asking “Why is God putting all this on me? I try to live right but it’s hard when you have so much to deal with at one time. Am I being punished for something?”
Truly my heart goes out to them and I thank God for the opportunity to share the above verses from Psalm 34. It wasn’t until recently that I began by emphasizing verse 19. “Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.” But after reading and studying the chapter several times the Lord spoke to me (through the Holy Spirit) and led me to concentrate on verse 17, “The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.”
The righteous do cry, the Lord does hear and He delivers. That is not only powerful, but also comforting. We (the righteous) are encouraged and reassured that God knows and controls every one of our troubles. The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines “righteous” as: acting in accord with divine or moral law, free from guilt or sin. So verse 17 states that those who are righteous, in right standing with God, and free from guilt or sin (born again by accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior) cry out (verse 19) as they go through tests, trials, and all kinds of afflictions. But what we must remember is that God is with us (always) as we go through and He is delivering us from those tests, trials, and afflictions as we go through them. In other words, we are steadily moving from the beginning of a circumstance or what I refer to as an opportunity to overcome, to the end of that circumstance. God is working it out and delivering or bringing us out.
If you realize and understand that God is working His will out through you, then you know “God’s got you.” You will not lose your mind over this. You will not have a nervous breakdown. So, since you know you are being delivered from the circumstance or situation, concentrate on the celebration for winning. Your deliverance is in action. You are on your way to the finish line. Victory is yours in this time of trouble and in all, I said all times of trouble. Always remember, never forget – in times of trouble, tests, and trials God hears your cry and deliverance is always in action.
May 2018 Devotional
The Unseen Reality
20 For ever since the creation of the universe his invisible qualities — both his eternal power and his divine nature — have been clearly seen, because they can be understood from what he has made. (Romans 1:20)
3 By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen. (Hebrews 11:3)
The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world. (Psalm 19:1-4)
These scriptures remind us that there are two realms that co-exist – the physical realm which is the seeing one, and the spiritual realm which is the unseen one. Both are real and both are in operation at the same time.
Unfortunately, the human race puts more emphasis on the seeing realm. We place more confidence on our physical senses - of feeling, hearing, seeing, smelling and touching. If things are not clearly seen and felt, then we assume it is not accurate or true.
Scripture, on the other hand, shares with us another realm that is just as real, but one that is not operated by the senses. The unseen realm is eternal, but the seen realm is temporal.
In the above verse to the church at Rome, Paul reminds us that God’s invisible qualities, His eternal power and divine nature were at work when He created the universe, and have been clearly seen, and understood from what He has made…from what can be seen. First, Paul acknowledges the unseen presence of God. Secondly Paul confirms that this unseen presence is the One who created the universe.
The writer of Hebrews continues by saying that we understand that God is the One who formed the entire universe, but he goes further by saying that what we see came from what cannot be seen. In other words, there were unseen things that were at work in the creation of the universe. The author is clear that this knowledge is only available by faith. We trust in God’s own Word that He is the creator of the universe. It is not something that can be proved by mere fact. It is believed and known through trusting faith.
The Psalmist describes how the celestial, the heavens or skies proclaim the glory of God day after day. The stars, moon, sun, planets…these things glorify God by bestowing honor, praise or admiration to Him.
Proclaim means to announce officially and publicly, declare. To indicate conspicuously; make plain. The Psalmist says that day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world. What message is that? The message of the unseen God, the Creator of the universe.
Throughout scripture there are reminders of the unseen and the seen continually in operation, co-existing together. Paul reminds the Corinthian church about this coexistence when he writes about the troubles we experience. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18) “That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
My brothers and sisters, I hope you will take the time to meditate on these verses. They will build our faith and remind us of God’s presence in our lives and in the entire world. God is in full control of everything that is happening in the universe. After all, He’s the One who created it. The Psalmist writes about God’s ownership of the earth in the following verses: The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him. For he laid the earth’s foundation on the seas and built it on the ocean depths. (Psalms 24:1).
May 2018 Devotional
An Invitation to Win Souls
18 And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.
19 And he saith unto them, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
20 And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.
21 And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them.
22 And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.
23 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.
24 And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them.
25 And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan (KJV).
I have always enjoyed reading and studying the above passage of scripture. Verse 19 has always been (and will continue to be) one of my favorites. As Jesus was walking by the sea of Galilee He saw Simon (Peter) and his brother Andrew busy about their work of fishing. He invited (instructed) them to follow Him and He would make them “fishers of men.” Wow! That is awesome. They were chosen to move from gathering fish in a net to winning souls for Christ!
What I find so amazing about this is that they immediately “left their nets” – that is made the proper arrangements to put the business in order and then followed Christ. Once that happened, they moved on and came upon James and John, the sons of Zebedee. Jesus invited (instructed) them to follow just as he did with Peter and Andrew.
From that point Jesus went throughout Galilee preaching, teaching, and healing. What Peter, Andrew, James, and John witnessed was Jesus doing what He had called them to do. The first requirement was for them to “follow Him.” If we follow Christ (His Will, His Way, His Word) others will see His anointing in and on us. We will be seen as living examples of who and what Christ has called us to be – fishers of men.
Those who have confessed Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and have an earnest and sincere desire to serve Him will be extremely successful in living a life that compels others to do the same. We will be “fishers of men” and our nets will be full as we fulfill the great commission of making disciples through preaching, teaching, and healing. Always be mindful that we have received an awesome invitation to win souls!