Practical Living through Biblical Principles

Live to Love

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Live to Love – by Pastor Brenda Gray

“Whoever does not love does not know God because God is Love” (I John 4:8).

How do you live to love? Well first you must put on the garment of love. Love is an action word. Love means that you have to do something in word and deed. You can say you love but if you don’t do anything to show love then it doesn’t mean anything.

“God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten son so we could have everlasting life” (John 3:16). God showed love by sacrificing His only son. What an awesome act of love. No one will ever measure up to that kind of love, but we can start showing love by performing random acts of love. I Corinthians 16:14 says, “and do everything with love.”

There are many ways to show love. Today I am going to name some of the ways, and I challenge you to implement at least one act of love a month. The random acts of love are: 

  • Send a card to someone in the military
  • Do a chore for someone without them knowing it
  • Write a thank you note for the mailman/woman
  • Give a candy bar to your child’s bus or metro driver
  • Donate coloring books to children hospitals
  • Buy extra school supplies for the school teachers
  • Take treats to first responders
  • Check on the elderly
  • Take unwanted books to the library
  • Bring your neighbor’s trash can up
  • Pay for someone’s lay-a-way during the holidays
  • Buy coffee for someone standing in line behind you
  • Comfort someone who needs to talk things out
  • Donate money, clothes and food to homeless shelters

When we perform random acts of love it reminds me of John 15:12 when God says, “my command is this: love each other as I have loved you.” God wants us to pursue love. Real love is an effort. It will cost you something. It’s a sacrifice! Ephesians 5:2 says, “live a life with love for others following the example of Christ who loved you and gave himself as a sacrifice to take away your sins.”

Something to think about: It’s not always important that the person or persons know who performed the act of love. Love is unconditional! When you think about rewards, would you rather receive them from God or man? My answer is always God. You can never beat God’s giving. Today I ask that you put on the garment of love!

Prayer: Farther in the name Lord Jesus we need the agape love. The selfless, sacrificial and unconditional love. The love that Jesus has for us. God’s divine love…

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G-Move – by Reverend Shakita Valentine

What should I do? What is next? How? Are usually the common internal questions asked when faced with the abundance of choices and decisions that come with this thing called LIFE.  At times the pressure to choose and then decide is what delays the START.  The challenge usually comes with the decision making as we attempt to align our free will with God’s will, thus leaving you in a place of pause and delay. The Bible may not offer you the yes or no answer you are searching, but it does provide guidance in reaching the resolve.  Jesus offers the best example of how to determine if your choice and decision aligns with what God has planned for your life. In the book of Matthew 26:36-44 we meet Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, we find Jesus in great distress about what is next and what is about (or could) happen, and he teaches us that pivotal life decisions are Guided, Guarded and Giving.

Guided – This space is where it all began for Jesus and for us, it is in the knowing where our purpose and passions lay in the grander picture of the world and life.  This is the basis of all choices and decisions.  Jesus knew what He was purposed to do and that it would eventually occur. He repeatedly, through the scriptures, prepared the disciples of His departure.  The core question you must ask yourself when making pivotal decisions; does this align with my purpose? Please do not ask if it can align; ask does it specifically align?

Guarded – This space was extremely sensitive to Jesus as it is to us.  When dealing with very important decisions we want to include our closest circle or friend in the internal conversation, as did Jesus as He summons Peter to stay awake and pray.  He simply did not want to go through the process alone in His humanity, however He had to only have a direct dialogue with God the Father.  Some deliberations must be guarded to prevent you from being discouraged or disappointed.

Giving – This space was the most difficult for Jesus, thus causing much anguish. He demonstrated how difficult it is to live in your humanity and your divinity (purpose). His whole purpose was to die and pay for all the sins of the world.  What a great cost and it would cause Him to give of himself.  In this present age, the thought of giving without receiving is a concept rapidly dying, however I would venture to say that every life changing, life altering, and life more abundantly comes with the price of giving.

If you are at the point of making a very important decision, simply look to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and ask these three questions; Does this align with my purpose? Is this too sensitive to discuss with others? Will the sacrifice required positively influence or impact generations beyond me? Once you decide watch God move.

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Leap of Faith

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Leap of Faith – By Minister Yolanda Edwards

We all know that faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

Some time ago, my Pastor preached a sermon titled “Take the Step”. Generally, the message was about stepping out on faith to do whatever it is God has designed for you to do. That can be various things for different people. For some, He wants you to start your own business, some to write a book, some to start a bible study, some to start a ministry, others to join the licensed ministry. Whatever it is God has designed just for you. I began to wonder why is it that people don’t take that leap of faith, what keeps people from taking the step. Some reasons they don’t include lack of tools and human resources and lack of funding. Some people have low self-esteem and lack confidence in themselves to do what they know God told them to do, while others are discouraged by the nay-sayers. Some are afraid because they can’t see what things would look like down the road, they fear they will fail, and some feel that they just don’t know where and/or how to begin.

After pondering the reasons why people don’t take a leap of faith, God brought Proverbs 3:5-6 to mind; Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct your path. It all comes down to these two scriptures. People don’t take a leap of faith because they don’t trust that God has given or will provide everything they need to succeed at that thing He is calling them to do.  People are not stopping to consult God on how to proceed and the steps to take. I would venture to say that in most cases, people are operating in their own understanding based on what they see in the natural eye, not based on God’s divine will, power, and authority to make provisions for you to succeed.

Action: Meditate on Proverbs 3:5-6 until it permeates your spirit. Begin to consult God in ALL things and stop, wait, and listen for His direction, then take a leap of faith to begin the process of doing whatever it is that God has called you to do. He has already provided everything you need to get started and if you continue to consult with Him along the way, He will guide you through each step and/or process.

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Heart Posture: Living Life As A Result of Someone Else’s Sin

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Heart Posture: Living Life As A Result of Someone Else’s Sin – By Denise Kennedy

What happens when your present situation is a result of something done outside of God’s will?  Over the years, I’ve come across people whom for whatever reason, are dealing with stuff handed to them from a situation that they had no say in.  Whether it’s a child dealing with abandonment from a broken home, infidelity and distrust in a marriage, pain and an identity crisis resulting from sexual abuse, or a health-related complication that you’ve inherited from someone else’s poor choices.

How do you fare when it seems like the odds were set against you from the beginning?  Now that you must play the hand of the cards that you have been dealt, what is your heart’s posture?  The term heart posture is the inner attitude of your heart.  Psalm 51:10 says, “create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”  Surrender your heartache and buried hurt to God.  The posture of your heart says a lot about the way you feel about God.  Your heart should be in a posture of complete surrender, humility, adoration, and faith.  A surrendered and humble heart tells God that you are releasing control to Him. A heart of adoration acknowledges who God was, is, and will be.  A faithful heart lets God know that you trust Him to keep you.  When we are not functioning from a Godly heart posture, we are not functioning in direct alignment with God.  Ask yourself, “are you out of alignment with God?”

Prayer:  Abba Father, thank you for purpose that you have given me.  Help me to live a life of complete surrender.  Direct my focus so that it is towards you and NOT my present circumstance.  Align my heart to your will God, so that it is a reflection of who you have called me to be.  I bring into captivity every thought that would suggest that I am anything less than who you say I am, to the obedience of Christ!  Anytime that I am running contradictory to your perfect will, convict me, and I will surrender it unto you.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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The Heart of God

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The Heart of God – By Reverend Lawrence Patterson

“When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven,” Nehemiah 1:4.

For some time now, I have been meditating on the revelation which the book of Nehemiah in the Old Testament provides, and while all 13 chapters are loaded, one particular verse resonated with my spirit in the beginning.

In verse 4 of Chapter one, when Nehemiah learned his brethren that survived the captivity had been grossly impacted and their land which once served as the City of God (Daniel 9:19) was burned and turned into a heap of rubble, he “sat down and wept.”  He then went on to say that “For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed.”

The statement was a reverberation of what Jesus did in John 11:35, when he recorded “Jesus Wept”.  This is the shortest scripture in the bible, but it packs a powerful punch.  After speaking with Lazarus’s grieving sisters, Martha and Mary, and seeing all the mourners, Jesus was moved to tears, which demonstrated His compassion for suffering, the results of sin and the cost of redemption; the true Heart of God!

With Nehemiah, while he was living in the comfortable conditions of the Kings palace (Nehemiah 1:1), he did not choose to look the other way when the matters of his kindred and land were brought to his attention, but he demonstrated a heart towards the things that matter most to God, and that’s people!

Today, while our nation has the reputation of being the hallmark of liberty and opportunity, when I turn on the news, I am bombarded with political upheaval, racial divide, high crime, lawlessness and immense marginalization.  It would be impossible to turn a blinded eye or deaf ear and not hear the real cries of all people.  I hear the voices echoing “Where is our modern day Nehemiah, who and what institution will galvanize the community, and what is the Church doing?”

I strongly believe something has to happen if we want a fresh move of God, compassion and courage has to come forward if we want to see sustaining change.  While I thank God for relief and social organizations, I still believe if the Church would take a collective stance like Nehemiah, we would receive divine instructions and be more than a building taking up a block in the community but a movement on a mission to reach, teach and rebuild a community.

Action: Mediate on these few scriptures (1 John 4:11, Ephesians 4:3; Acts 2:42), adopt a community to pray for and then seek God for ways to rebuild hope in the lives of people where your influence matters the most.  Hebrews 6:10, say’s “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.”

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By Elder Myrtice Rhodes

Proverbs 16:2 – All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord.

Motives Definition
1) A reason for doing something, especially one that is hidden or not obvious.
2) An underlying reason for any action.

People have various motives for the different actions they take…pride, anger, revenge, a sense of entitlement, or the desire for approval can all be negative motives for our actions. Believe it or not, we can even preach or minister to others with impure motives.
It’s important to remember that because the human heart is very deceitful, we can easily fool ourselves into thinking that we are operating out of pure motives. We can pretend that we are choosing certain actions for God or for the benefit of others, but in reality, we have very selfish reasons.

Proverbs 21:27 tells us that God is not fooled by so called “good deeds”.

We should do EVERYTHING with one motive in mind…TO PLEASE GOD! (I Thessalonians 2:4 – On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts.)

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by Pastor Brenda Gray

I Corinthians 16:14 KJV – Let all your things be done with charity (Love)

The Greek word for Love is Agape. The Agape love is the highest form of love that there is. Agape love is the type of love that God calls us to operate in daily. 

God gave the Apostle Paul the guideline that we are to follow concerning the Agape love. The guideline is written in I Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT). 

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, it never complains, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, Love never loses faith, Love is always hopeful, and Love endures through every circumstance. Love Never Fails! Love Is the Greatest!

Something to think about

We can have spiritual gifts, works and sacrifice ourselves but if we do not love others then we would be no good to anybody and we would be of no value whatsoever. I challenge you to re-visit your life to make sure that you are doing everything in love.

On judgment day God will read to you everything that you have done during your lifetime. It would be sad to hear him say, my child you have done numerous things over the years, but they are counted as nothing because they weren’t done in love.

Let’s change our ways while we still have the chance.

God tells us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. (Matthew 22:39) The term neighbor in this scripture doesn’t only apply to the people who physically live next door to us. So, you might ask, “Who is our neighbor?” The answer to that question is “everyone that we meet.”

I am going to end with the scripture that reveals true love and that is John 3:16. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have ever lasting life. 

If God can sacrifice His son for us, then why can’t we love our neighbor as He commands of us? God’s Love Is The Greatest!!!!

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Your AFTER is better than BEFORE

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By Revered Shakita Valentine

The freshness of the New Year reminds many of all they aspired to accomplish the previous year and the opportunity to fulfill them in the present year…a before and after, if you will. The declarations of starting or stopping various task is where we meet Joshua and the children of Israel (Joshua 3). They had stopped wandering and were resting in the place between wandering and wonderous. You may find yourself sitting in Acacia Grove with them. You are no longer where you use to be and sense that there is something great ahead, but you have never really been in this place and you do not know what is ahead because things have not been this way before (v. 4). This text reminds us that when preparing for the unknown or indescribable promises of God (that is what I call the unknown), there are some actions that you must take heed BEFORE leaving the place of wandering.

  • Sanctify Yourself – Set yourself apart from those things that easily distract you. Take the time to simply sit with God to listen and trust that you are hearing from Him and know His voice will align with His word (Bible).
  • Position Yourself – Take the first step to start the journey of obtaining the promise. Most will say start the book, launch the business or submit the application. However, I charge you to start at the end. Start knowing the end (the vision/promise)(v.1). All other actions will derive from the end state.

AFTER completing the sanctification and positioning, the other step is:

  • Take possession – This action is the most difficult because it comes with so much certainty. Certainty that there will be a battle to fight and a battle to win. Many are so used to being “blessed and highly favored” they forget what came with that blessing. Mary had to endure much strife to birth our Savior. So as Joshua and Israel (v.10) Know that you are not an exception but an exception because God knew and know you can and will win the battle.

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A Season of Reflection, Gratitude, and Thanks

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By Minister Yolanda K. Edwards

John 3:16 –  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Let’s start by unpacking this a little bit.

Greek Definitions of a few words in the scripture

Begotten: one and only

Believeth: to have faith in, to put one’s trust in, or the reliance of Christ for salvation.

Perish: to destroy fully literally or figuratively, to die, or to lose or be lost.

Everlasting: eternal or forever.

Life: to live, lively, the mere vitality of any breathing creature (man, animal, plants).

We have to remember, before God sent Christ to die for our sins, many of the people during that time were living a lost state, in darkness. When we break this scripture down in laymen’s terms, it is saying that God loved mankind so much that He gave His one and only son (Christ) so that those who have faith in and put their trust in Christ will not be destroyed (figuratively speaking) but live eternally in heaven. Yes, our bodies will die (literally), but our souls will live on forever with the Lord.

This brings me to the real reason for the Christmas season. John 1:1-13 tells the story of how God sent Jesus to give light to those living in darkness (those living a life of sin without a conscience effort or thought to the consequences of their sinful state. These are the people who have not chosen to give their life to Christ. However, those who have made the wise decision to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior has lots to be thankful for, not only in this season, but for all time.

We get so caught up in the decorations (don’t misunderstand me, they are nice and pretty), the hustle and bustle of spending money on gifts for family, friends, co-workers, etc., we sometimes don’t stop to reflect on the real reason that we celebrate Christmas. That God gave His one and only son, so that those that were living in darkness or living a sin filled life, would have an opportunity to be transformed and renewed, to walk into the light, to receive salvation and live an eternal life with the Lord in heaven. That’s why we celebrate…that’s why we are thankful. That is the ULTIMATE GIFT! The gift that keeps on giving.

Take a moment to reflect on Jesus being the reason for the Christmas season…on how because of Him, you have the opportunity for eternal life. Even those reading this that have not chosen to give your lives to Christ yet, it’s not too late. Pray this simple prayer: Father, I thank you for dying on the cross for me. I believe in my heart that Christ was raised from the dead. I accept you as my Lord and Savior. As I accept you as my Lord and savior, the old man is now gone, and I am a new man in Christ. Amen.

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Freedom After Bondage

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Freedom After Bondage – By Denise Kennedy

Have you ever participated in ungodly things that has caused you to drift away from the course that God has set for you?  Maybe you struggled with alcoholism, drugs, or kept an unhealthy relationship that you know you shouldn’t have been in.  How many times have the enemy tried to remind you of those mistakes that you’ve made?  How many times has the enemy tried to tell you that you are unworthy of the blessings that God has for you because of those choices that you made in life?  Romans 8:1 tells us that “there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus…”.   This is great news, because it means that God sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross to condemn fleshly sins, so that we can walk in the freedom that God has given to us.  The enemy will try and keep you in bondage of those things that God has already forgiven you for.  I personally struggled with shame for several years.  I had graduated from college and had expectations for my future.  However, I made a few poor choices in my life that caused me to drift far away from not only the expectations that I planned for myself, but also, the purpose that God created for my life.  I dated a man who God did not intend for me to be with, endured years of emotional abuse, participated in fornication and had a child out of wedlock.  Even though I had gotten myself (with God’s help) to the point where I was able to walk away from that unhealthy relationship, and my child had grown to be 3 years old, I walked around with complete shame.  Most of my shame was because I kept telling myself that I knew better.  Each time I tried to walk into my purpose, I heard the enemy say, “you’re unworthy.”   I allowed the enemy to infiltrate my thoughts and make me believe that I was less-than who and what God says I am.  I had lost myself and needed to find who I was all over again.  The only way that I knew how to begin to find myself was to get back to my relationship with God and remain consistent.  I went to Abba Father and gave myself permission to be patient with myself.  This would definitely be a process.  I carved out time just to spend time with God and I began releasing what the enemy and what the world told me I was, and began to digest who God says I am.  Ephesians 2:10 says that I am God’s masterpiece.  God’s word also reminds me that “whom He predestined, he also called; whom He called, he also justified…” (Romans 8:30).  This told me that I no longer had to feel unworthy of being used by God, because God calls anyone whom He pleases to advance His kingdom.  Once I let that sit in my spirit and accepted it, I was able to let go of who I was and what I did in the past, and focus on who God was calling me to be.  My mistakes do not define who I am, but simply remind me of whose I am.  When the enemy tries to keep you in bondage to what God has already forgiven you for, don’t be afraid to speak to the enemy and tell him who you are in Christ.  Walk in your freedom and don’t be afraid to let your light shine.  For who the son sets free, is free indeed – John 8:36.

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