T’is the Season to be Hopeful

Many are celebrating the Christmas season for various reasons. Some see it as a time to vacate from work and hibernate from the cares of life.  Others enjoy buying gifts and sharing their euphoric bliss.  Others see it as a time to serve as humanitarians and feed the hungry and clothe the less fortunate.Indeed it is a time that we commemorate our Savior’s birth.  The true essence of this time is to be hopeful.  According to W.E. Vine, hope is defined as a favorable and confident expectation.  It has to do with the unseen and the future and describes the happy anticipation of good. ( Vine’s Dictionary)   Jeremiah said it best in Jeremiah 29:11“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord.  “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (NLT) That was in the Old Covenant.  It did not change in the New Covenant.  The writer of Romans said in Chapter 8 and verses 24-25, “But we are saved by hope but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for.  But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.” (KJV)

   We should keep hope alive and share it with others we encounter.  You may never know when one has lost hope and is on the brink of giving up and wanting to end it all.  We must encourage others that there is something bigger and something better.  God is not limited to our expectations.  His is far greater and vast. He is not only able but willing to do exceedingly abundantly above more than what we can ask or think according to the power that works in us.  Ephesians 3:20. It works in us: Christ is in us.  He is our hope of glory.  He is the Lord God strong and mighty.  When we feel as though our strength is depleted, we have to remember His all-powerful spirit is working in us.  It is not by our own might but by His spirit.  We can relinquish control.

   If you are reading this blog, my prayer for you is that you will come into a greater awareness of our heavenly Fathers love toward you.  He has a design for your and my life.  Sometimes we can deter from his perfect will but He being a good Father waits for us to run back in his arms just to reaffirm His love for us all over again.  It is his pleasure to give us abundant life.  Life that consist of eternal treasures that will not fade away like his love, joy and peace.  Things that we can buy are temporal.  So, in this Christmas season purpose to thank Him for giving His Son to die for us that we may live.  If you have not received Christ as Savior and Lord of your life, then ask Him to forgive you of your sins and come into your life as Lord and Savior.  He so loved the world that He left heaven to exemplify his nature as man.  He experienced what you and I experience and yet lived to please the Father.  If you have already received Him , then purpose to thank Him for who He is to  you when the enemy wants to steal your joy and peace.  Proclaim His goodness!  Delight yourself in Him and He will give you the desires of your heart.  Share your HOPE with another.  Seek out the destitute and the dejected and share with them.  It is difficult to complain and be thankful at the same time. May you and your loved ones have a prosperous hopeful season.

“Those Greatest Among Us”

The United States recognizes October as National Clergy Month.  Clergy Appreciation Day is observed on the second Sunday in October.  It is a time to recognize the work of ministers, pastors and priests.   Clergy Appreciation Day was originally called Clergy Appreciation National Day of Honor.  The day was started by Hallmark Cards in 1992.  Many people also refer to the day as Pastor Appreciation Day. Though we should always honor those who serve us as spiritual leaders, we set aside this time to officially recognize them.  

     Jesus defined greatness in a way different from the way the world defines it.  Jesus said, “if anyone breaks the least commandment, and teaches others to; he shall be the least in the kingdom of heaven.  But those who teach God’s law and obey them shall be great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:19 LBT)

     Also in Matthew 23:11, Jesus said, “the lowlier your service to other’s the greater you are to be the greatest, be a servant.

     Jesus’ attitude was that of a servant and He was indeed the greatest among us.  He referred to Himself in John 10:11 and 10:14 as the good shepherd.

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 

14“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.

It is clear to us that in the Kingdom of God the greatest among us are servants.  True pastors and leaders of God’s people are servants and not hirelings. Jesus explained in John 10 that a hireling sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees.  The wolf snatches the sheep, and scatters them.   The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

In a recent bible class, I was asked a question by the instructor who happens to be my pastor and husband, “could I attest that there are yet some good men in the earth?”  I answered an emphatical, “yes.”  Then I became a little playful at the end of my response knowing that those that were listening knew I have the utmost love for my husband who happens to be my pastor.  He was serious and didn’t find my joking amusing. Anyone that knows me knows that I vehemently express my love for my pastor/husband.  The next morning it dawned on me that not only is he among the good men, but he in Christ’s eyes (and mine) is among the great, according to Christ’s definition.  Jesus said great are those among us that are servants.  I have observed him serving countless hours weekly in discipling and training other ministers and believers by equipping them in various levels.  He does it selflessly. He spends hours for radio broadcasting along with his local church duties.  He counsels members as well as those that are not. These are just a few of the duties named among many.   Many pastors and ministers are burned out spiritually and emotionally, as well as in various other ways.  Many have walked away from serving in ministry to return to secular jobs that seem to have more earthly benefits.  It is the duty of the believers to pray fervently for our spiritual leaders.  

Let us pray and encourage our leaders who give of themselves unselfishly.  There are great men and women that lead kingdom citizens to govern, rule and reign in this life. I thank God for all the great men and women who minister ‘’as an extension of Jesus’ ministry.”  You are his hands and you represent him in the earth realm.  I personally thank my pastor and husband J. Lee Gordon, who serves as an apostle for his local church and a network of churches with a father’s heart.  You are among the great.  You are among those that serve.

Thom S. Rainer did a survey with 24 pastors on how church members might share with each pastor their love language through words and expressions of gratitude.  He wrote the following five ways of expression.  These are the top five that the pastors expressed.

  1. Books. Give gift certificates to Christian Bookstores to purchase books.
  2. Encouraging notes.They treasure words of affirmation.  It helps to soothe the pain of the criticisms.  I keep all my notes of encouragement in a box, along with those that members have taken time to write out themselves.
  3. Time Guardians.Some said that their most encouraging church members are those who try to help them protect their time.  They do everything they can to make sure I have enough time to prepare for my sermons and spend time with my family.  They’re able to speak to other members about my time constraints in a way I am not.”
  4. Compliments about children. ”There are times I feel sorry for my kids.”  Pastors appreciate those few church members who go out of their way to tell them the good about their children. “One sincere compliment about one of my three kids makes my day.”
  5. Pastors deal with critics and they realize that in any leadership position, there are those who will judge.  My greatest hurt takes place when my supporters remain silent in the face of intense criticism toward me.  They’re more afraid of rocking the boat than speaking the truth.  But I have on church member who always speaks a defending word for me unless he thinks I’m wrong.  Then he speaks to me privately.  I could use a dozen church members like that.”  (Courtesy of HomeLife Magazine. Pastor Appreciation Month:  5 Ways to Say Thanks by Thom S. Rainer on Friday, September 20, 2013 at 12:00 AM)

Prayer:

We thank you Father for every minister, pastor and spiritual leader that you have chosen for your service.  We are grateful to you for every one of them that has laid down his and her life to follow you. We pray that you will keep their spirits passionate for their callings and commission.  Father give them everything necessary to carry out your commission.  Keep them and their families safe and protected from evil.  Surround them with those that support their God given visions. Reward them in this life and in the age to come as you said there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, with persecution, who will not receive hundredfold now in this time and in the age to come, eternal life.  When persecution comes let them wear it as a crown.  In Jesus name, we pray.  Amen

What You Say?

As believers or individuals period, we often pray for God to change our spiritual climates.  We may have asked Him to remove despair or the spirit of heaviness.  We can shift atmospheres with the creative power of words.  The power of life and death is in our tongues. (Proverb 18:21) We can decree a thing with God’s word in faith and things are set in motion.   Heaven’s culture or atmosphere invades the realm of earth as it is in heaven so shall it be in the earth.  Acceleration takes place in the spiritual realm and heaven makes haste to aid us. (Psalms 38:22)

I felt inspired to invite others to join me in a “fasting challenge from critical words”.  If death and life is in the power of words then you and I have the ability to shift atmospheres with our choice of words.  We can create and change spiritual climates.  Wow! Does the forecast call for son-shine?  The Son of God, Jesus Himself desires to shine forth through our words.  Let us speak His words after Him.  In the mid-eighties my girlfriend Janice and I agreed to make a pact with each other to go one week without expressing critical words about other people, places or things.  We thought in the beginning, ”too easy!”  Then on day one, we soon realized that it wasn’t so easy after all.  It seemed as though everything that could be negative was visible before us.  It could have been that things were no different than before, but because we had purposed to focus only on the good, we ourselves were different.  We were different in how we focused and we had an intentionality of being non-critical.  We prayed and asked God to help us in our seven-day venture.  Things we had grown accustomed to saying and making light of had to be re-examined and rethought.

Needless to say, it required more effort on our parts.  When we failed to be noncritical, we brought it to the other’s attention and encouraged each other and ourselves to keep it moving. Our focus and perspective of others began to alter in a positive way.  We found ourselves becoming more patient with others and clearer in hearing the Father’s heart toward those in our family and other settings.  We became sharper in the spiritual gifts in interceding for others.  

After a week of our word fast from negative expressions, we decided to extend this exercise.  At instances where the truth would demand describing some unlovable situation, we chose to be silent or just acknowledge the situation for what it was and frame our words to agree with Heaven.  We had to be intentional of course.  I would recommend finding someone that will be truthful with you as you both would have to be accountable to one another.  Spouses, friends, co-workers or fellow parishioners can join in this fast.  When dealing with situations that are vexing, you may choose to pray for those cases and deliberately show acts of kindness.  It may be that you may have to remove yourself temporarily from some things after praying about the matter.  However, try using the authority of words to bring change.  Some words are formed through melodies.  It is hard to sing and be angry simultaneously.   Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. (Matt. 12:34) Speak those things that be not as though they were. (Romans 4:17).  Say a thing…. Decree a thing…..Command a thing!

Make it a habit to seek the good.  Say the good. Let that habit create a culture.  Let the culture be one of honor.  Let the contemporary Jonah’s speak to the Nineveh’s.  Can any good thing come out of your city?  When was the last time you spoke of your city noncritically? It is difficult to bless a place that you don’t like.  Ask our Father in heaven to give you a heart for your city and nation.  Let us make our words establish His rule and reign in the earth.  Will you join me in this fast from speaking negative and critical words?  Let’s do this in the power of His might.

Come thy Kingdom in the earth as it is in heaven!!!

Prayer for Marriages of Five-fold Ministers

Today, I would like to dedicate this blog to five-fold ministers and their spouses.    Ephesians 4:11 refers to five offices in the church: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. If you are reading this blog and you are not a five-fold minister or spouse please join me in praying for those who are.  Perhaps you know someone that fits this category and you can pray this prayer over their marriage.  There may be those of you who are planning to marry a five-fold leader; this can serve as a tool to prepare for future covenants.

       I pray that preordained five-fold ministers and spouses will never have to walk alone.  Though God promises to never leave us nor forsake us, I pray that you will have an awareness of the Father’s presence even at times your emotions tell you otherwise.  I pray that you recognize that there are more with you than there are against you.  I pray that God will keep those marriages together when the gates of hell attempts to prevail against them.     I decree that the same God that is able to turn the hearts of kings, will continue to turn your hearts toward each other.  (Proverbs 21:1) I decree that your kingdom purpose will be united and the two shall become one.  I pray that the Lord will prepare a table in front of evil watchers that watch through the eyes of hatred and evil intent. I decree that God ordained watchers and intercessors will pick you up in the spirit and pray the heart of God concerning you.  I decree that you will be acquainted with your Aaron and Hur for supportive roles as it was with Moses, that know how to cover and remain trustworthy,  I pray that the words spoken by prognosticators and agents of Satan will be nullified from the courts of heaven.  May the haters and envious become provoked enough to pursue the glory of God on their own marriages and be willing to lay down their lives for another.  I pray that for each marriage, not only will the intercessors will be able to discern the onslaught and strategy of the evil one but that they will discern the will of God in the lives of their leaders and pray accordingly.   I pray for an increase of god’s government through your lives and ministry.  No weapon formed against your marriage covenant will prosper and every tongue that is risen against it, you shall condemn.  I pray that your love for each other will increase and last through every test and trial. Father don’t allow their enemies to say ‘Aha, Aha.’  I decree as it is written in the volume of the book concerning your marriages that our Father will show Himself strong and vindicate the righteous.  May neither mate allow self-centeredness to blind them of the other.  May forgiveness be exercised intentionally.  May love be matured in your walk.  May those of you that have faced what seems to be unsurmountable differences rise above the ashes and experience the resurrecting power of Christ in your relationships.  May God release His promises in accordance to Genesis 12:3 to bless those that bless you and curse those that curse you. May the GLORY of God rest upon your marriage covenant. Now to the One being able to do exceedingly above all things that we ask or think, according to the power working in us. (Berean Literal Bible) In the mighty, eternal, name of Jesus, Amen.

AS YOUR SOUL PROSPERS

Often when we hear 3 John 1:2 recited ‘Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be healthy, even as your soul prospers (Young’s Literal Translation), we think of the prosperity of physical health which is alluded to by the writer but also it is paramount in this verse that we understand the soul’s need for prosperity.  I believe it is true that if the soul is in good health it will also effect the physical health of an individual. The scripture tells us “as a man thinketh so is he.”  Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.  We can learn much by listening.

I remember hearing an interview once where a ninety-three-year-old gentleman was asked, what does he contribute to a long satisfying life?  To my surprise, the aged gentleman responded, “I love shrimp and I eat them every day.”  What… what? Everyday? Now in no wise am I saying that shrimp lovers should indulge or over- indulge in appeasing their physical appetite.  But what I am saying is that he seemingly had joy in doing the things that he loves doing.  Instead of focusing on the fear of high cholesterol levels, he obviously focused on living instead of dying.  He fed both his physical body and soulish realm with things that he loved doing.

In the prospering of the soul, there are times we must do a soul cleansing.  We must “loose” some things from our soul.  Our soul (inner self) may have intrinsic barriers that are hindrances to our moving forward or acceleration.  We all experience pain and dissapointment at some point.  It is a part of life.  We don’t abandon living because some things can seem overwhelming.  But we can make a conscientious decision for an exchange.  I am sure you would rather be overwhelmed with the presence of a love that is so pure. A perfect love that cast fear from your very life. Yes, I am talking about the love of our Creator, our Heavenly Father.  It is a choice on each of our part to accept an exchange.  Isaiah 61:3 declares, “to provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, a mantle of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” “Then people will call them “Oaks of Righteousness”, “The Planting of the LORD”, in order to display his splendor.

Beloved, we can lay aside every weight that will so easily beset us.  If you find it too difficult.  Seek out a mature individual that understands the Father’s will to prosper you.  I am not speaking of a religious person as I am speaking of a lover of God, one that has relationship with a covenant keeping God.  It is not difficult and don’t let a religious mindset tell you that it is.  It is our Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:32) He has given us all things that pertains to life and godliness.  Fear, anxiety and regrets causes one to lose focus on the help that He alone can give us.  He uses others in our lives to promote growth but ultimately our help comes from Him.  The awesomeness of all of this is that in His sovereignty he can do what He wants but he gives us options to choose.   For our souls to prosper, there are times we have to do spiritual soul cleansing.  Through the aid of Holy Spirit, we “loose” our soul from unforgiveness, grief, religious pride, and other things that would hinder our freedom.  We were not created to be in bondage.  If you are a sinner and you are reading this, ask God to forgive you for your sins.  And ask Holy Spirit to bring you into the awareness of God’s love for you. ‘There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1) As free will agents we can choose freedom.  As long as we are on this journey of life, we will always have to resist things that will hinder the prosperity of our soul and choose life in any given situation. 

Christ paid a costly price for our peace, our grief and our heaviness.  The prophet Isaiah tell us, “But He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds.” Isaiah 53:5 HCSB.  All we do is ask Him to give us an exchange.  He can love you more in a moment than other lovers could in a life time.

Beloved I pray that 2018 will be a prosperous year for you.  Soul prosperity looks good on you.

Led or Driven?

October 19, 2017

   This morning I woke up feeling rushed and a bit anxious.  This was the day that I said finally, I can get caught up on personal chores.  I could work at my own paste without having to meet specific deadlines.  My goal was to finish domestic chores and then soak in devotion.   My morning began at two o’clock and my husband had requested prayer with covenant partners to meet at four-thirty this morning.  As we all waited in Holy Spirit’s presence for direction, Holy Spirit begin to impress upon most of our hearts similar messages.  We knew we had tapped into the vein of what He was speaking.  Liberty and freedom was being echoed in our meeting.

Anxiety vanished as Holy Spirit began to free us from stress and bring us a supernatural peace.  I remembered a very important lesson that I “caught” while being “taught” by one of God’s apostolic generals.  The saying goes, “The enemy drives but Holy Spirit leads.” Now when I feel rushed or anxious, I pause and evaluate my emotions.  I ask myself am I being gently led by Holy Spirit or am I being driven by the enemy or my own human emotions?  Being driven is like being at a place where the sales person is trying to offer you a deal that has a deadline and that is the last one.  Then you figure out later that his sales pitch is used on every customer.  Another example would be if we are witnessing to someone about receiving Christ in their life and we approach them like a sales person instead of going to them in genuine concern for them. We should be presenting and expressing the love of the Father and not keeping score of how many persons we’ve told about Christ.  Since the kingdom of God is also in observation, they will see His love in our lives if our words don’t reach them.

I have made fewer mistakes and faced less disappointment not moving when I felt rushed than when I am driven.  In the words of the Philippians writer in chapter 4 and verses 6 and 7, “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.  NKJV

Thus, my priority for the day began with prayer and soaking with personal devotion, corporate scheduled prayer and then everything else followed suit.  The devotion ushered in the peace of God that is mentioned in the preceding scripture. Then anxiety left and I was able to command my day in accordance to Job 38:12.  After getting His mind and heart, I spake the words that my God had already spoken over my day. Seek first his heart (the kingdom) and all else will be added unto you.