Practical Living through Biblical Principles

Unity

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By Minister Yolanda Kennedy-Edwards

1 Peter 3:8 – “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.”‭‭

2 Corinthians‬ ‭13:11‬ ‭- “Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.”‭

My church had a guest speaker this past Sunday and part of her message touched on the topic “Beyond Politics”. In fact, later that evening, she hosted a prayer conference with that same title. I share that because I’ve come to the realization that we as a nation, in particularly the body of Christ, have gotten so caught up on the election and the world’s agenda, that we’ve forgotten about God’s agenda. Even as Christians, we’ve become so divided over our political views, that we’ve succumbed to the division of the enemy instead of the unity that God calls us to.

Even the Pledge of Allegiance calls for unity in God: “one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” So when did we become a nation so divided? It’s time for us to put aside our differences and move forward in unity and love.

Action: Pray for unity, peace and love for our country and all over the world. Share God’s message of unity with a minimum of 2 people each week.

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The Ability -vs- The Capacity

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By Reverend Lawrence Patterson

Recently, I had an encounter with two nouns that sparked my investigatory consideration.  “Ability” and “Capacity.”  While the line of definition between the two is thin, there is a distinction.  For example, “one might have an ability to sing, but are they capable to sing as an artist?” Often times, the natural reflexes of life are to look at what someone else has accomplished and without weighing the cost of their sacrifice, think that we can do the same.  I call it the Monday Morning Quarterback (MMQ) syndrome.    

The MMQ is when someone without demonstration evaluate the works of a practitioner.  One time, while I was watching a football game with some friends, one of the attendees started yelling at the quarterback from the couch, instructing where the ball should be thrown.  We all had a different lens from those who were actually in the game.  You should have been there, we all started weighing in on what we felt would be best and at one point, we stood up in the basement with an imaginary football to demonstrate our perspective.  It was in the middle of our boastful yelling and exchanges, that I heard a small voice reminding me that we were in the basement, sitting on the couch with chips and hot dogs.  I then realized while many of us had played football (ability) before, reaching the practitioner level (capacity) was not a part of our destiny.  When reality hit, I chuckled and gracefully took my seat.  A word of thought to consider, “Just because we have the ability to lift it, does not mean we possess the capacity to carry it.”   

In life, you will always have evaluators that have opinions on the route you should take; however, always look at where your evaluators are sitting, and their track record of personal and professional success.

Action:  Meditate on these few scriptures (1Chronicles 4:10; Psalm 71:21; Romans 12:3; Ephesians 3:20;).  Prayer, preparation and proper planning are vital tools that will always take us beyond ability into the realm of capacity. 

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Walking in Integrity

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By Elder Myrtice Rhodes

Better the poor whose walk is blameless than the rich whose ways are perverse. Proverbs 28:6 (NIV)

The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy. Proverbs 12:22 (NIV)

Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong morale principles, moral uprightness. These days it is hard to find leaders who walk in integrity. People need to be trustworthy, respectful, responsible, helpful, and patient. Our leaders of today, cannot be called good quality leaders. You may know some leaders who are childish in nature and lack integrity. People with integrity take responsibility for their actions, puts others needs above their own.

Leaders give people the benefit of the doubt and are not accusatory. Good leader’s manifest humility. Having integrity is a positive character trait. You are regarded as being honest and truthful in your actions.

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Spiritually Saved with Sinner’s Thoughts

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Spiritually Saved with Sinner’s Thoughts – by Pastor Brenda Gray

Do not conform to the pattern of this world. But be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is, his good, pleasing, and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

We must go to the next level in our thought process. It is shameful to be saved in your spirit but not saved in your thought process. What God can do in your life to bless you, Satan cannot. What Satan gives is false evidence appearing real.

Everything in your life is based off your thoughts. You cannot think negative thoughts because they will steal your joy. When you get saved your spirit also gets saved (Romans 8:10 – And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the spirit is life because of righteousness). Though we see, once you get saved, the spirit of the Lord abides in you, you still have those negative thoughts.  James 1:21 (NIV) says “Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.”

As you hear the word of God His word begins to grow deep in your life, then it plants seeds deep in your spirit choking out every negative thing that has been spoken in your life.

Your spirit is your inner man and your soul is your mind. Some people hear by watching and others by tribulation. Science found out that our brain changes every day because of our thoughts. If you continue to think negative thoughts, you will have a negative outcome. But when you begin to think good and positive thoughts God has your back.

Satan’s job is to create negative thoughts. You begin to allow these thoughts to take up residency in your mind. It is time for you to frustrate Satan. You do not have to worry about his trickery because no weapons formed against you shall prosper (Isaiah 54:17).

Negative thoughts create doubts and worries which produce unpleasant feelings that make you feel stressed and anxious. Being stressed and anxious affects the way you do things.

Do not let your past affect your future. Once you know better you are to do better. You have the power to change your thoughts.

It is time to change your mindset and renew your thoughts and ways of thinking. If you can change your mind and thoughts toward the things of God, you can change your world. Changing your mindset can change your circumstances because your mind is powerful. It has the power to bring life or to bring destruction, because everything starts with a thought. How you think determines how you live.

Pray: Father in the name Lord Jesus please forgive us for our negative thought process. Please change our mindset to think good and positive things that please you. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding, in all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” We trust you God and we ask you to direct our path. In Jesus’ name Amen!

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Kingdom Leadership

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Kingdom Leadership – by Minister Yolanda K. Edwards

Scriptural Text: Exodus 18:13-23

Kingdom Leaders Must:

  1. Ask God for direction: If you plan to be a leader in God’s kingdom, it’s important that you foster a personal relationship with God and always ask Him for direction before you make decisions in leading, whether it be leading a project or initiative, leading in church, leading in the community, leading at work, or leading people.

When we get out of our own way, or out of our own heads, stop and ask God for direction first, we spend more time moving forward with the task at hand and less time wondering in the wilderness, lost because we didn’t have sense enough to seek God’s direction first. But perhaps more importantly, we spend less time leading people in the wrong direction. When we lead people in the wrong direction, we are leading them to failure. As a leader, the success or failure of the people you are leading falls on you.

  1. Lead by following God: As a kingdom leader, you’ve got to be more than hearers of the word, you’ve got to be doers of the word. You’ve got to live that thing out every single day.

That is what God requires of us as leaders in His kingdom. In order to lead people in the kingdom of God, we must be living examples, setting ourselves apart from the world. The difference between world leaders and kingdom leaders, is who we follow.

  1. Put others first: As a kingdom leader, we come to the realization that it is not about us, but about those that are lost in the darkness and need to find their way to the light, as 1 Peter 2:9 says: But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.

It’s about those that we have to be living examples for, not only those that are in the world and of the world, but those who are already a part of God’s kingdom, but sometimes get off track. Those that sometimes lose their way. It’s about encouraging them to get back on the path and not beating themselves up for losing their way. It’s about reassuring them that we all are sinners and we all fall short of the glory of God, but he forgives us and expects us to get back on the path of righteousness.

Prayer: Lord, fix my heart on you and the things that matter to you. Show me how to be an effective leader in your kingdom. Give me the mind and heart to remember to ask you for direction, follow your lead, and to recognize that it’s never about me, but saving souls and making a positive impact in the lives of others, in Jesus name, Amen.

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From Wilderness to Worship

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From Wilderness to Worship – By Denise Kennedy

Scriptural Text: Genesis 16-21

As a single parent, these past few weeks of staying at home for protection from COVID-19 has been challenging. I would be lying to you if I told you that it has not been a bit stressful. The expectations of delivering at my normal pace as a full-time employee, at the same time as making sure my daughter completes her daily classwork assignments and projects sometimes became overwhelming. There was a point when the pressure to be employee, teacher, parent and friend became so overwhelming that I felt I was left alone to navigate through this new “normal” that had become my wilderness place.

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines the wilderness as an “obsolete: Wild and uncultivated state.” That’s exactly how I would describe the place that I was in. It was a place that was completely untamed and out of my control, and definitely a territory of unknown possibilities. One day I began crying from all the pressure that had built up and I began praying to God. In that moment, God reminded me of His love for me through His daughter Hagar’s biblical story as a single mother.

Hagar was a maidservant to Sarah, a barren woman who was married to Abraham. Sarah had Abraham have sexual relations with Hagar so that Hagar could bare Abraham a child. In doing so, Hagar bore Abraham a son whom she named “Ishmael”. Overtime, Sarah grew angry with Hagar and they would bicker back and forth. One day Sarah told Abraham to throw Hagar and Ishmael out. Hagar was a single mother who was left to wander in the wilderness with her child with little food and water. At one point in their journey through the wilderness, the water was used up, so Hagar found a place to lay her son down as she cried and wept in fear of her son’s death. Her son also cried. It was in that moment of sadness and hopelessness that God sent an angel to tell her not to be afraid and that God hears her son’s cry. God said that He would make Ishmael a great nation and he opened up Hagar’s eyes and presented a well of water. God stayed with Ishmael as he grew up in the wilderness.

There are times when it can feel as though we are in a season of wilderness, especially as a single parent. I want you to know that God hears you and He sees you. God knows how great of a parent you are and the sacrifices you make as a parent and individual each day.  God will surely bless you and continue to cover you just as He did Hagar and Ishmael. As God was reminding me of Hagar’s story and His love for me, I just went into a heart-posture of thanksgiving and praise. I began to thank God for the things that I have and not focus on what I didn’t have. I thanked God for the roof over my head. I thanked Him for the choice of food I was going to cook for dinner. I gave praise for the job that I have and the flexibility that I have to telework to balance parenthood. During my praise, God had taken me from a wilderness place to a place of worship. When you change the posture of your heart, you change your perspective. When you change your perspective, you open the door to allow God to bless you beyond what you could think or imagine. It is important that when you find yourself in these moments, know that God sees you and that He hears you. When it gets frustrating and exhausting, begin to pray and give God thanks. Position yourself to a place of worship and watch God sustain you through your wilderness season.

Prayer: Gracious and heavenly Father, I thank you that your love for me is unconditional. Thank you for your peace that comforts me in the most challenging moments. God, I ask that in whatever the season I am in, that you would equip me to endure. Change the posture of my heart so that I am viewing each situation from a perspective of faith and thankfulness. Help me to move away from a place of worry, anxiety and frustration, to a place of praise and worship. It’s in your matchless name that I pray and ask in your son’s name. Amen.

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Do You Know What Time It Is?

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Do You Know What Time It Is? – By Reverend Lawrence Patterson

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”  2 Chronicles 7:14 kjv

In the late 90’s, there was a national chant recorded by Rare Essence, a renowned Go-Go Band from Washington, D.C.  While the music played, the band leader would chant an infamous hook for party goers as they swayed to the beat.  “Do you know what time it is, tell me do you know?”; Do you know what time it is, tell me do you know?”  The crowd would be in an uproar tapping their wrist while looking at their dance partners and repeating in sync “Do you know what time it is, tell me do you know”; Do you know what time it is, tell me do you know? Check the clock!”  In the late 90’s, I was one of those party goers that would tap their wrist profusely to the beat until the band leader bellowed “Put your Gucci watch on, synchronize the time and let’s rock.”

Now that was the late 90’s, more than twenty years ago, and while that song was a national hit in the DMV; more than 2000 years ago an even stronger hit was ringing from Heaven.  This ring has been compelling people to check their life clocks to make certain its synchronized because it is getting very late.

2 Chronicles 7:14, provides the way to get God’s immediate attention and involvement in the affairs of His people.  This type of attention calls for accountability, awareness and personal responsibility.  Amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic, we are collectively witnessing a virus that does not discriminate, paralyze countries with fear and dread.  While the nations are reeling to bring this crisis under control, the Body of Christ has a kingdom responsibility to get on its knees and intercede.

This passage of scripture demonstrates that God is looking for a conscious people that know “what time it is.”  Further, the scripture provides a prophetic timetable of things a people can expect when they “know what time it is” and position themselves to respond to God appropriately.

During a crisis, many people instinctively go into a survival mode, when I believe a crisis should drive a people into a revival mode.  A true revival, consistent with church history is when a sovereign work of God drives a people out of spiritual indifference and worldliness.  When a true revival comes, there is a strong conviction of sin; an earnest desire for more of Christ and His word.  When a true revival is present, there is a boldness in witness; purity of life; lots of conversions; joyful worship, and a renewed commitment to follow God with greater purpose.  This is the ticking clock which God desires most; however, the heart has to be synchronized to the divine will of God.  How do we get there?

Action Item:  Be sensitive to the subtle ticks in your heart that are calling you to self-evaluation.  Remember that all wrist watches need forward movement to keep ticking, and the clock to your breakthrough is rapidly ticking.  The question that I ask in closing, “Do you know what time it is, tell me do you know?; Do you know what time it is, tell me do you know?; Do you know what time it is, tell me do you know?”  “Check the clock…, put your Kingdom watch on, synchronize your heart and let’s pray.”

Meditate on these scriptures (Psalm 51:17; Psalm 131:1-3; Joel 2:13; Isaiah 5:15; Hebrews 12:1; and Romans 8:1; James 4:10).

 

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God’s Armor

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God’s Armor – by Pastor Brenda Gray
Scripture reference: Ephesians 6:10-17
We are in spiritual warfare with Satan. Satan is waging war against God’s people every day. We are told to be strong in union with God’s power. How? By putting on His whole armor. When properly dressed we are empowered to withstand the deceits and strategies of the devil.. Why God’s armor? Because our warfare is not with each other. We are in combat with spiritual forces. Our carnal strategies and physical weaponry are not effective against spiritual forces. We cannot successfully contend without our God-given armor
Satan uses four main weapons; (1) deceit, (2) intimidation, (3) our ignorance of the word, and (4) an appeal to our carnality. Matthew 28:18 says that Jesus has all authority in heaven and earth. Jesus has given us authority and power. Satan’s only power against us is that which we allow due to his trickery and our unwillingness to resist him. To wage a successful campaign against him, we must dress completely in God’s armor. Then we are able to stand firmly against the cunning craftiness of the devil.
Your Armor: Ephesians 6:10-17
The belt of truth – is your integrity. Satan is a liar, Jesus is the truth. Integrity is a weapon  You don’t lie, you tell the truth and you live the truth.
The breastplate of righteousness- is your purity. Satan attacks your purity by using the lust of he eyes with the internet, social media, magazines, porn etc. Watch what you watch and hear. Guard your heart with integrity.
Put on the shoes of peace-the believer’s tranquility. Don’t fall apart when trials come your way. Put your shoes of peace on and walk through it.
Shield of Faith-the believer’s certainty. The enemy shoots the darts, but you speak the promises of God. (i.e. God is my healer, He’s my provider, my lawyer in the courtroom, my strength when I am weak, my courage when I am afraid, the doctor in the operating room, my help in the time of trouble and he is my shield).
Helmet of Salvation the believer’s sanity. I must keep hope alive. No matter what I go through I will rise! I will always be in my right mind. I am a over-comer!
Sword of the spirit-the word of God. Enemies can’t be vanquished by defense alone. God gave us the greatest weapon ever the word of God.
You don’t need to be afraid because you have all the tools that you need. God has fully equipped you!
Now get dressed and when you dress, dress for success! And when you have done all, stand!!

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Start to Stop

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By Reverend Shakita Valentine

Artist Jonathan McReynolds released a song in 2018 entitled cycles – that opens up with the lyrics “didn’t I conquer this last year”.  When listening to the song many could identify with at least one of the cycles he listed, if not, there is something that is in your life that keep playing itself out as a vicious cycle, or unwanted pattern. As we embark on a new year, new week or new day full of brand-new mercies this is the perfect time to START TO STOP.

The scriptural impartation is found in Isaiah chapter 65:17 this one passage reads as this, “for behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.”

Here is God’s response to another prayer about the same thing from the people of Israel and like them we have a tendency to replay some of our prayers about matters that we are likely mature enough to address but there is something in the cycle that keeps pulling us in.  You know what your cycle is that you want to break, but you simply cannot break it – I know you have tried. When I speak of cycles, I am not speaking of the external cycles that are first thought of, like drugs, alcohol, sex those are the surface names – for fear and facades. I would venture to say that cycles are caused by fear and facades.

Our text reference was God responding to a people that were in fear of the detriment promised to them if they continued in their selfish, rebellious ways. I know that is not you, you are just trying to START TO STOP.  They too lived a vicious cycle of on and off loving God, on and off of worshiping Him only, on and off of obeying.  Not too far from starting to stop and starting again and then stopping again to start again. A cycle landing you right where you do not want to be, disappointed because you feel like you have failed again.

I realize it is very difficult to end cycles in your life, they can sometime make you believe that you are not disciplined, and you can become so frustrated to the place where you begin to say; it is what it is. We resolve that it is in “my nature” and eventually become comfortable and complacent in the cycle.  I always respond to that statement, and IT is subject to change.

Here is what you have been waiting for the – how to portion. When you continue to read the chapter, God provides a biblical example to ending cycles – It is an entire culture change.  A total shift from the way to the why. In attempting to end cycles many get addicted to the way of escape verses the why which connects with the soul.  The way is surface the why is substance. In order for you to START to STOP you have to change your personal culture. When you find yourself facing that unwanted habit, or your vicious cycle STOP and ask yourself, am I avoiding a fear or fronting a facade? And simply say it is in my nature to change my culture – my personal culture.

Lord I pray, strip me of my old nature. Deliver me from the addiction to what I am use to, comfortable with or simply acquiesced to because I have seen it play out in my family.  This old nature has hindered my life and possibly delayed my destiny.  All things are lawful, but I am not powered by any of them and there is no temptation without a way of escape. Now, Lord I cast off my former conduct and construct a personal culture that will resolve in ending vicious cycles.  In Jesus name AMEN!

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A Season of Peace

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by Minister Yolanda Kennedy-Edwards

Philippians 4:6-7: 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

This time a year can be a stressful season for many people. In the midst of our daily activities; work, school, ministry, extracurricular activities, doctor’s appointments, etc., this season brings an extra hustle and bustle outside of our normal routine. We feel like we have to make time to shop for gifts for family members, friends, coworkers, and classmates.

Often times we become anxious because not only do we have to add shopping time into our normal busy schedules, we also end up spending money we don’t have and when I say don’t have, I mean accessible cash on hand. If you have to purchase something on a credit card, it is money you don’t have. We become anxious and all stressed out trying to meet the demands of this world’s system.

Philippians 4:6-7 tells us not to be anxious for anything. This includes trying to figure out how you are going to fulfill the wishes and demands of loved ones during this season, attending holiday social gathering that you are only attending to say you went or to save face, participating in secret Santa activities that you know you can’t afford, but everyone else is participating so you feel like you must and the list goes on.

The next part of the scripture tell us to talk to God about how we are feeling this season, about the parties we don’t want to attend and why, about the gifts you feel you have to purchase, but can’t afford, about the extra time you’ll have to add in your schedule to meet the demands of the season and then give thanks because He will provide the peace you need to help you make it through the season.

Prayer: Father, it’s in the name of Jesus that I come. Asking you to give me peace that passes all understanding, life changing peace to not only get through the stressful times of this season, but every season of my life. Take away the guilt I feel because I can’t afford to purchase gifts that people are expecting from me this season. Convict me when I’m about to make a decision that will cause me to go into debt against your will for me. In Jesus name, Amen.

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