Practical Living through Biblical Principles

Faith Without Limits

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By Denise Kennedy

Scripture: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” -Hebrews 11:1

I was on the phone with my mentor, like any other Tuesday evening. However, this particular time felt different. She listened patiently as I ran down my list of fears and anxieties concerning my future. When I finished talking, my mentor asked me a simple question that would change my perception on faith and my trust in God forever; “What are you trusting God for this week?” I realized that in all my time worrying about “what if”, I never created room for God to be God. That simple but powerful question brought to surface the hidden pain and trauma that were attached to this lack of faith that I was now made aware of.  This one question also brought up other reflecting questions such as “what is it that I believe or embraced from life experiences that is not aligned to God’s perfect will?” Was I trusting my history more than I was trusting God? A brilliant mind once said that when you don’t fully believe that God will fulfill his promise, you are standing in disbelief. Could it have been that my lack of faith had me standing in disbelief?!

As I sat there allowing God to fully unpack this “stuff” that I have allowed to limit my faith and ultimately limit God, deep down I knew that the only way to be free of the weight was to surrender it to God. I had to give God all my concerns, fears, worries, and disbelief that have accumulated from past pain and trauma. This meant me walking fully in my spiritual boldness and saying, “I trust you!”.  I can’t see what the end result will be, but Lord, I trust you! I know what the doctor said and what he/she said but Lord, I trust you!

I once was part of a Life Group with my church, and I remember the group leader teaching about surrendering to the grace of God. One thing she said was, “if you don’t live a life of complete surrender, you will continue to make decisions based on the reality of what you’ve lived.” Surrendering requires us to make the conscious decision to choose to walk by faith. My question to you is, what are you trusting God for this week?” There’s a song called “Oceans” by Hillsong. The lines at the end of the song say:

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders

Let me walk upon the waters

Whenever you would call me

Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander

And my faith would be made stronger

In the presence of my Savior”

As you let that simple question sink in, my prayer is that we will live in complete surrender and that our trust in God will be like the words in Hillsong’s song, without borders and unrestricted.

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The Pendulum of Rejection

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By Reverend Shakita Valentine

Have you ever said, “this is not how I imagined my life”, “this is not how it is supposed to be?”  Yes, you are blessed to be alive, health accessible in the body and to have friends and family, however the ‘what isn’t’ plays out in your mind more than ‘what is.’  The scripture that comes to mind is when the Prophet Samuel was mourning over what was in 1 Samuel 16:1. In this passage God is asking Samuel, how long will he mourn for Saul (who God rejected to continue to reign over Israel). 

If you find yourself “mourning” over a dream or a deep desire, be encouraged to do as God instructed Samuel to do – Get up and get your oil!  While you are mourning the past, you are rejecting your future, and while you are rejecting the future you are mourning the past.  In doing so, creating a pendulum of rejection. God’s sovereignty out planned your plans and delivered a deeper desire.  Notice the past tense when it comes to God.  He knows all and reign over all.  If God is instructing you to close a door, let go of hurt, forgive swiftly and get up and get your oil – do so! He has some fresh instructions for you to follow and a different (better) place for your oil (gifts, talents and passion) to be utilized.    

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All Things Work Together for God’s Children

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By Pastor Brenda Gray

Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

We have heard this scripture time and time again. We often use this scripture to encourage others when bad things happen to them. But when bad things happen to us it is so tough to accept it for ourselves. It is never easy to see how tragedies are working for our good when going through hurt and pain, disappointments and heartbreak, loss and lack, sickness, and disease. The world has been broken by sin and we have an enemy of our soul. Bad things will always happen because Satan is the prince of the air.

The righteous will always have fires that rage in our life that we must put out. These fires may come in sickness, frustration on the job, relationships, and financial issues just to name a few. No matter what our age, color of our skin, status or position, we all have things happening in our lives that sometimes does not seem to line up with what God has promised.

So how do we come to a place where we can believe the statement all things are working for your good? 2 Timothy 3:1617 (NKJV) says “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 

So, when going through rough times we can look back at the stories and find hope to go on during our trails Romans 15:4 says {KJV} says “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.”

Mark 3:24{KJV} says “And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.” Today I want to encourage you to call your pastor, your church family, your husband, your wife, or your intercessors. If you do not have intercessor’s, it’s a good time to get some. The next step is to fast, pray to God for wisdom, strength, and favor to make it through. Remember to seek God, plead your case, and see God make a way. Jesus tells us that he is with us always. He will never leave us nor forsake us. Jesus is our provider! Amen and Amen!

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A Simple Act of Obedience

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By Denise Kennedy

Scripture: Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” KJV

Background – In the beginning of Zedekiah’s reign, God gave a word to Jeremiah that God would hand the countries of Kings Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Sidon over to Nebuchadnezzar and that all nations would serve Nebuchadnezzar. God continues to say that He will punish any nation and Kingdom that refuses to serve Nebuchadnezzar or bow its neck under his yoke.  However, if any nation bowed its neck under the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar, God would let the nation remain its own land to till it and live there. God’s instructions were that they were not to listen to false prophets that claimed that they were not to serve Nebuchadnezzar.  God’s message was very clear, they were to submit to God’s word or face destruction. The time had come for the people of Judah to be exiled to Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar’s rule.  However, not everyone was on board with serving Nebuchadnezzar and wanted to go back to the life that they knew.  So, it may not come as a surprise that the people of Judah listened to Hananiah (and other false prophets alike) when he falsely prophesied to them saying that the yoke of the King of Babylon had been broken and they would be returned in two years.  Hananiah’s words were a contradiction to Jeremiah’s prophesy from God and brought false hope to the people. Conditions for the people of Judah grew harder because they listened to Hananiah’s false prophesy when God had instructed them not to listen to false prophets. Because God had not sent Hananiah to give such prophesy and taught rebellion against God, Hananiah was struck down by death.  The people of Judah were still under Nebuchadnezzar’s rule until God created a new covenant with them and restored their hope.

There is a great message to learn from this passage.  The people of Judah spent much of their time in captivity in agony all because they failed to obey God’s word.  They were so focused on ‘what was’ and paid less time focusing on ‘what is’ and ‘what will be’.  Sometimes the test is not for us to be immediately rescued from the storm, but for us to trust God enough to sustain us through it.  I could only imagine what their time under Nebuchadnezzar would’ve been like if they had listened to God’s word.  I would like to believe that when God instructed Jeremiah to write a letter to the people of Judah with a message (Jeremiah 29:11), God intended to restore the hope that they had loss.  God needed them to know that He had not forgotten about them and His plan was to give them deliverance through ‘peace’, both externally and internally.  Because they had been so focused on getting back to what was before, they were missing that present moment of freedom that God wanted for them physically, emotionally, and mentally.  God wants the same freedom for you too and maybe all it takes is a simple act of obedience.

Action: Take this passage and think about where you are on your journey.  What from your past are you still clinging onto that God removed you from?  Maybe you’ve heard God give you clear instructions that would help you bear this new season in your life.  Are you trusting and obeying His word, or has His words fallen on deaf ears? Focus on these scriptures:

  • Deuteronomy 28:1 “If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully keep all his commands that I am giving you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the world. NLT
  • Joshua 1:9 “This is my command – be strong and courageous!  Do not be afraid or discouraged.  For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” NLT
  • Psalms 56:3-4 “But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you.  I praise God for what he has promised.  I trust in God, so why should I be afraid?  What can mere mortals do to me?” NLT

Prayer: Dear gracious and heavenly Father, I thank you! Forgive me for any lack of trusts that I’ve had. Help me not to lose hope and to remain persistent in the growing of my faith and obedience.  Lord, give me a heart that is open and ready to receive the great blessings you have in store for me. I declare that I am free from any past hurt, trauma, and mistakes.  I walk fully in the fullness of who you say that I am.  I bind the hands of the enemy, that would have me believe that I am forgotten and unworthy of your blessings. In Jesus’ name Amen.

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Planted to Bear Fruit

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by Elder Yolanda K. Edwards

Psalm 1:3 (KJV) – And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

As many of you know, this is the season for gardening. Some are planting vegetable gardens, while others are planting herb gardens. In addition to planning vegetable and herb gardens, this is also the time of year where people are creating new landscaping for their yards or fixing up current ones. Trying to figure out whether they should plant annuals or perennials.

Now, annuals don’t come back every year, they have to be planted once a year. Perennials come back every year, all you have to do is plant them once. However, generally, there is a part of the plant that flourishes or bears fruit all year long.

As a follower of Christ, If you had to relate yourself to a plant or a flower, which one would you be? Would you fall into the annual category, where you only flourish and bear fruit for a fraction of the year, or are you a perennial, where you flourish and bear fruit all year long?

Are you a wishy-washy Christian, one who reads the word, studies the bible and active in church sporadically, or are you planted in a church where you attend regularly and are active in ministry, thus growing and flourishing steadily, all year long, year after year?

God intended for you to be planted in a church. A church where you are growing in Him, whether it be in His Word, in your faith, in your commitment to Him and the church, meaning the body of Christ, or in ministry. Where ever you are planted, God intends for it to be a place where you are growing consistently in every area and every aspect of your life.

Action: If you are not already a member of a church where you are growing in every aspect of your life, find a church to plant yourself in, establish relationships, become active in ministry and flourish where God planted you.

Prayer: Father, it’s in the name of Jesus that I come. Show me what church you desire for me to be a member of and give me the courage to take the step to join and to become active in ministry. Show me my role in the church, my purpose for being there and the ministries in which I should be involved. In Jesus name, Amen.

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Procrastination and My Destination

By Reverend Lawrence Patterson

Last month, I was sharing with a group of associates about our plans for the summer.  Each of us had the opportunity to express our sentiments. However, one of them had ideas that captivated everyone because the goals were innovative and made us wish that we had planned out our summer a little better. 

During the conversation, one of our associates asked a question, “do you have a timeline to make certain you remain on schedule to reach your destination?”  The room went silent, while we waited for a response.  Our dear associate paused in deep thought and said “I have a confession to make.”  Every year, I make plans with really good intention, yet something seem to happen on my way towards my desired outcome.  I inserted some helpful food for thought.  

Procrastination is a destiny killer, it destroys time and if we allow its companionship, it breeds depression and will derail opportunity. Have you ever wondered why getting started is difficult, or better yet when something is due, you find a surge of energy to complete what you could have completed weeks ago?  Some people use the response, “I work better under pressure” when in actuality, all of these delayed actions have their root system in procrastination. 

Procrastination is the action of delaying or postponing something important to you or someone else. I have come to learn that time is an equal opportunity employer, and each of us have 24 hours to make a difference on something important to us or someone else. What we do with time determines if we prefer to win, or if we prefer to just watch the winners. The reality is that your future destination toward success is more than faded inspiration, it is actually revelation that you are much better than where you are right now.  Beloved, get up, get moving, failing is not an option. God placed those desires of change in your heart to make an impact and a difference.

Action:  Meditate on these few scriptures (Ecclesiastes 11:4; Proverbs 13:4; 1Corinthians 2:9; John 9:4; Philippians 4:13).  Consider this way forward to defeat procrastination: Make a list, eliminate distractions, get an accountability partner, celebrate small victories and never let procrastination steal your destination again.

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Christians and Mental Illness

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By Elder Myrtice Rhodes

Psalm 34:17-20 – “The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all. He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken.”

Why is it uniquely challenging for Christians to address issues often associated with mental illness?

As Christians, we sometimes tell ourselves we should not have these afflictions associated with mental illness, and if we do, it somehow translates to a lack of faith. People who suffer from mental illness often struggle with anxiety, suicidal ideations, shame, depression, trauma, obsessions and thoughts of compulsion.

Sometimes they are aware that something is not right or that they need help, but are fearful to go to the church for assistance for fear of being judged…sadly because sometimes they are, or have been judged in the past. People who suffer from mental illness are waging a war in their minds to keep their thoughts healthy and bodies well, whether they are Christians or not. This is why it is important for the church to have a better understanding of mental illness and to be able to share resources for both members and non-members of the body of Christ to get appropriate assistance.

Action: Take a little time to learn about mental illness…learn the signs so you can get family members, friends and colleagues the help that is needed. Pray for those that suffer from mental health.

Prayer: Lord, you said in your word that the righteous cry, and you hear and deliver them out of all their troubles. That you are close to the broken hearted. Though many are the afflictions of the righteous, you will deliver them out of them all. So, Lord, we bring you into remembrance of your word and ask that you deliver those who suffer from mental illness Lord, renew in them a right mind and clean spirit, bring their systems back into the right balance. We ask that you open the eyes of understanding of their loved ones so they can recognize the signs and help them. We pray that you provide the resources that is needed for their complete healing. In Jesus name, Amen.

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Christ Canceled Culture

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By Reverend Shakita Valentine

The Canceled Culture has been trending and forming silently in the background for a number of years. In the recent year, the Current Canceled Culture supporters have leveraged every trending matter of societal impact, looming in the background watching to see who will say or do something this is closely offensive to a race, religion, or culture to scrutinize them to say, “YOU ARE CANCELED”! Turning their culprit into an outcast. Placing them on list of “are nots”. How would it feel to have the “world” turn their back on you?

Let us further that thought in our daily walk with all kinds of humanity. How quick are you to “cancel” a person? I propose that we exercise the original “Cancel Culture” where we do not ostracize one for an act or offense. That we cancel what they did but not the individual.

How fortunate would you be, or already are to be a part of the original culture called the “Christ Canceled Culture”. This is the place where you were forgiven but not forgotten. That you were exonerated from all your excuses.

The “Current Canceled Culture” has taken something of old and added their spin to make it new. Christ Canceled Culture does the opposite, it takes the outcast, depressed, and cancel what they did, not the individual! Will you join the “Christ Canceled Culture “?

To do so read: Romans 10:10For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

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Is Your Word Your Bond?

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By Pastor Brenda Gray

Numbers 30:20 “If a man vows a vow to the Lord or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word. He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.”

I have often heard people say ‘my word is my bond.’ We say this because we want people to take us at our word. We may think that our words only carry weight if given under oath, but, should an oath be necessary to bind us to our word?

I want to ask you a question, ‘Is Your Word Your Bond?’ You probably feel that your word is your bond because you meet your commitments. But are there times that you do not follow through on all that you say you will do? Could it be that you are going about it the wrong way? When we say our word is our bond what we are doing is making promises. Let’s divide the term promises into three categories:

The first category is Overt commitments. An example of an overt commitment is: I will recalculate and correct the numbers on Barbara’s checking account next week.

The second category is Implied commitments. An example of an implied commitment is: I will be at the soccer meetings involving my team every Saturday.

The third category is Self-commitments. An example of a self-commitment is: I will put away $200 a month in my savings account.

When you do not follow through and make excuses for why you did not correct Barbara’s account, why you blew off the soccer meetings to only let someone else deal with it or take money from your savings for the second time in 6 months, ask yourself this question, ‘who loses?’ Not just people you may be letting down lose, but ultimately your whole sense of yourself and what your word is worth. None of us are perfect; we all have commitment lapses, intentional or not.

Could it be that you have not examined the promises that you make? Keeping a record of your promises could be an opportunity to examine how you make and keep commitments to the people you work with, live with, are friends with and your relatives.

In just one week you can change everything about the way you relate to other people and the way they relate to you. All it boils down to is practicing a very simple phrase, do what you say you will do, which is the same as saying my word is my bond.

I would like to Challenge you for 7 days to:

Write down every specific promise or commitment to yourself, family members, business associates, clients, or prospects and to write down every implied promise or commitment which includes statements you might casually make that others could interpret as a commitment or promise. At the end of every day, see how you did. If there are promises you made but did not keep, roll those over to the following day. At the end of the week, assess your performance; How many promises did you keep?

Reflect on what you learned about yourself, the way you communicate your word, and determine what you will change for next week and beyond. You might find that you tend to promise to do things just to get someone to stop asking. You might find that you agree to take tasks on the assumption that the person asking will forget or does not care if you do it or not. Maybe you will find that you are agreeing to do too many things even if you are able to follow through on every one of them.

Fortunately for us, God does not operate as we sometimes do. He always speaks and acts with complete integrity. He keeps his word and honors his commitments to the truth. And since that is how God operates, our desire should be to operate that way as well.

You may find that you may need to think things through before giving your word. Having the conscious awareness before committing to something will make a huge difference in your ability to follow through when you do. Your word is your bond, even when it is difficult or inconvenient. All our words are binding because everything we say, we say before God. God weighs every word we speak as if we spoke it to Him directly and God requires truthfulness. Simply put we should always be truthful, faithful, have integrity and keep your word for the glory of God. Amen!

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What’s Holding You Back?

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By Elder Yolanda K. Edwards

Scriptural Text: Ephesians 5:15-18 (NLT)

Often times when God gives us an assignment, we find ourselves procrastinating. Well, I don’t know about you, but I do! One day, I was reading and studying, and my mind began to drift to thoughts about an assignment that God has given me. One in which I have procrastinated to begin. Then my mind drifted to a conversation I had with a good friend of mine, who too had a God given assignment, but has been procrastinating.

During our conversation, I discovered a few of the main UNDERLYING reasons why people procrastinate on God given assignments. You may be wondering why I used all caps for the word “underlying” in the previous sentence. We frequently come up with superficial excuses as to why we cannot or should not move on an assignment that we have received from God. However, the reasons that we publicly share and try to fool ourselves into believing, are surface reasons. Not that they are not valid, but they are not what is really holding us back.

There are three main underlying reasons that we procrastinate when God gives us an assignment: 1) Fear of failure; 2) Fear of rejection and 3) Feelings of inadequacy.

When I think further a bit more, these three main reasons are superficial too, because God has not given you the spirit of fear, neither has He rejected us. In fact, He gave the life of His only son, so that you may have an abundant life. As for the feeling of inadequacy, well God already knew the plans He had for you and the assignments that He would task you with before you were born. He has already equipped you with the knowledge, tools, and resources you need to get started. What you don’t already have, He will provide along the way.

When we choose not to move on an assignment from God, we hinder ourselves from living the best life that God has for us. We also block blessings that we would receive as a result of obedience in accepting and moving on a God given assignment. Lastly, we deny others that would benefit from us completing the assignment. Remember, this journey is never all about you.

Have you been tasked to do something, but have been procrastinating?

Action: Stop procrastinating. Take a leap of faith. Sit down and write out a plan for the assignment that God has given you. Follow the plan until it is complete.

Prayer: Lord, I know you do not give me the spirit of fear, but I am afraid. Please help me overcome my fear to begin the assignment you have given me. I’m putting my trust in you to provide everything I need to accomplish the task. I pray that I remember to consult you along the way. I ask that you lead me throughout the process and help me make the decisions you would have me to make. In Jesus name, Amen!

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