Practical Living through Biblical Principles

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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True Friendship

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What is a true friendship? – By Elder Myrtice Rhodes

I am glad you asked! The Webster dictionary says that friendship is a relationship of mutual affection between people. Friendship is a stronger interpersonal relationship between humans, a friend is a partnership, attachment, association, bond, a tie or a union. A true friend is someone who has your back, stands up for you when others are trying to hurt you emotionally or physically. They do everything they can to make sure you stay safe. They don’t care who it is trying to hurt you and they will protect you anytime and anywhere. A friend is someone who does not judge you but will listen and understand what you are going through. A friend is someone who will make you laugh when you’re sad. Let’s discuss some close friends who we found in the Bible. There are five great friendships that I would like to discuss:

  1. There was a friendship between Moses and Aaron. God blesses us with friends who compliment us perfectly who helps us achieve something that we could not have achieved on our own. Moses was afraid to speak with Pharaoh, so he gave him Aaron as a spokesperson and they both accomplished what God wanted them to accomplish. This was a partnership and a friendship. Together they accomplished one of the most glorious rescues in all of history. They weren’t jealous or envious of one another and were willing to work together.
  2. The second friendship was between Elijah and Elisha. Elijah was the well-known prophet of Israel who called down the fires from heaven. God sent Elijah, a friend and eventually successor of the younger. Elisha the holy friendship displays another aspect, the purposeful choosing of friends Elisha attached himself to Elijah (2 Kings 2:2).
  3. The third friendship was between Naomi and Ruth. The book of Ruth 1:16-17 says, “do not judge me to leave you or to return from my following you. For where you go I will go and where you lodge I will lodge.” Ruth didn’t care what she had to do or where she had to go, but she knew that she was not going to leave Naomi as the other daughter did. Ruth was loyal to Naomi.  She ate where Naomi ate, slept where Naomi slept, and did what was instructed for her to do by Naomi and she was truly blessed in the end.
  4. The fourth friendship was between David and Jonathan. They were like brothers, they were more than friends. Jonathan defied his father on every hand to protect David from any hurt, harm or danger that his father sought to do to David. Jonathan was going to lay down his life for his friend David to save him.
  5. And last but certainly not least, there was Jesus and Mankind. John 15 :13 says, “greater love has no one than this that a man lay down his life for his friend.” Now that is love! How many of you will lay down your life for your friend? Jesus lay down his life for us because we are his friends and he loves us unconditionally. Real friends help to define each other. In the take and give, a genuine relationship is as iron sharpeners iron. Being a friend means hearing things out when or if something goes wrong, hash things out and talk with them reasonably. Sometimes you have to learn how to rebuke, comfort and accept their faults and stick with them through thick and thin. A friend is someone who does not give up on you. You don’t need someone in your life only in the times when you’re doing good, and when things get rough, they bail. That is not a true friend. A friend will not try to change you to conform to their ideas or thoughts (i.e. the way they dress, the way they talk, the way they think). Instead, a friend realizes and accepts your unique way.

Enclosing I have adopted a saying and it goes like this: When someone comes to me and wants to talk about my friend, I’ll ask them “do you mind if I quote you on this?” And they never come back to me to talk about anyone. If you have someone in your life who is not supporting you, then I strongly suggest that you think about what role they are playing in your life. Also, consider if they still have a seat in your arena of life. If not, then I would strongly suggest that you get rid of them.  People are not always put in our lives to stay, and may only be there for a season, and that season might be over.

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The Tongue Is A Powerful Force

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By Pastor Brenda Gray – The tongue is a very powerful force. God says in his word that life and death are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21) and out of the same mouth come blessing and cursing (James 3:10). The tongue also has the power to crush the spirit because your words take root.

Today there are many people walking around with a wounded spirit because of something that someone has spoken over their life. It may take days, weeks or even years for the manifestation of pain, hurt, misery or regret to take place.

The sad thing is people continue to live their life taking no responsibility for their actions, spreading deadly seeds in the lives of others causing pain and misery. We must re-visit our life to see if we have planted any deadly seeds and ask God and the other person for forgiveness.

From this time forward before you speak something into some one’s life ask yourself this

Is It Kind, Is It True, Is It Necessary. We want to build up the spirit not tear it down. Amen!

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