Practical Living through Biblical Principles

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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Father’s Day Edition 2018

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By Rev. Shakita Valentine – Happy Father’s Day to all the wonderful men in the world!  You deserve to be celebrated for your dedication, diligence and tremendous role in the lives of others.  The father’s role is not only to fix what is broken and step in when the child fears, it is the father that cultivates potential to person, boy to man and girl to woman. It is his role that establishes natural progression while sustaining order.  The Center for Disease Control stated that 85% of behavior disorders are persons of a fatherless home.  Now most of us have had our moments of bad decisions that has caused some disorder of sorts, as you read this you are likely thinking of an exact moment that changed the trajectory of your life.  Whether you believe it was because of an absent father or a distant father the choice was yours to make and you made it.  I am fortunate to have my biological father in my life; but he was not always a part of my life.  Though pain shadowed life moments when he was not there I resolve to seek safety, wholeness and relationship with a father that never disappointed me.  Know that whatever feelings you do or do not express about your biological father, you are welcome to share mine.  For He said He will never leave nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6) and He is also stated that He would not leave you fatherless (John 14.18-20). He is one that promised to be IN and A PART of your life if you allow Him.

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Me Time

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Genesis 2:2-3 – By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

Women in today’s society tend to wear several hats. We are mothers, wives, daughters, family members, friends, professionals, members of society and the list goes on.

The expectation is for us:

  • To keep the house clean, shop for groceries, prepare meals, wash the laundry, and perform our wifely duties
  • We help with homework, get involved in the PTO, transport to and from extra curricular activities, take care of sick husbands, children, parents, family members, and sometimes friends
  • We become care givers for ailing parents, attending doctor’s appointments, getting prescriptions filled, ensuring their needs and wants are met
  • We plan family gatherings, host family gathering, serve as peace makers, financial enablers, sounding boards, etc.
  • We attend church, sit on boards, participate in various ministries within the church, and volunteer our time for outreach projects and activities

All of this while working a full or part-time job. We have so much on our plates that we find it hard to take time out for ourselves. In some cases, we think it’s selfish to take time for ourselves with all that we have to do.


Genesis 2:2-3 shows us that God took time to rest. It was okay for Him and it is okay for you. In fact, taking time out to rest or do something nice for yourself is the key to refreshing, renewing, and restoring your physical and mental health. Taking time out for yourself will make it easier to wear the many different hats you wear as a woman in today’s society.

Take action: Take a moment to schedule some time to your self or make plans to do something nice for yourself (get a massage, manicure/pedicure, book a weekend way).

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Kangaroos and Emus

By Pastor Brenda Gray

Philippians 3:13-14 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Two of Australia’s indigenous animals are kangaroos and emus. The two have something in common and that is they seldom move backward. Kangaroos, because of the shape of their body and the length of their strong tail, they can bounce along with forward movement, but they cannot shift easily into reverse. Emus can run fast on their strong legs, but the joints in their knees seem to make backward movement difficult. Both animals appear on Australia’s coat of arms as a symbol that the nation is to be ever moving forward and making progress.

The apostle Paul called for a similar approach to the life of faith in his letters to the Philippians: “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus”

Something to think about: While it is wise to learn from the past, we shouldn’t live in the past. We cannot redo or undo the past, but by God’s grace we can press forward and serve God faithfully today and in the future. Remember the life of faith is a journey forward. Amen!

Prayer starter: Father in the name of Jesus I am pressing on the upward way, gaining new heights every day. While I am onward bound, Lord plant my feet…

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God’s Grace

By Pastor Brenda Gray

Isaiah 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.

During the winter season when the snow begins to fall, a transformation takes place. Dark patches of soil turn white. The white cottony fluff of snow comes down steadily and covers trees, roads, grass, houses etc.

The snowfall reminds me of a spiritual truth: Just as the snow covers everything in sight, God’s grace covers our sin. But grace doesn’t just cover sin, grace erases sin.

Through the prophet Isaiah, God appealed to the Israelite’s to come and reason together even though their sins were like scarlet, he said that their sins would be as white as snow. When God made this promise, His children had a painful problem with sin. God compared then to a physical body plagued with “wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with oil.”

Something to think about: As bad as their sin was, God was willing to extend His grace to them. As His children today, we have the same assurance. Sin may stain our lives, but when we repent and confess it, we have the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of God’s grace.

Prayer starter: Father in the name of Jesus, give me courage to confess, to bare my sinful heart to you. To receive the forgiving love that you long to show me and from my sin to set me free. Lord…

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A Good Soldier

By Pastor Brenda Gray

2 Timothy 4:7: I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

Do you remember running relay races in school? Someone on your team would run around the course and then hand off the baton to you. You had to wait for them to make those final yards before it was your turn to run with it. Then, with all your strength and endurance you ran your part of the race.

Something to think about: God’s word has been given to every one of his children. We have been entered into the race of life. We have no excuse! It’s up to each of us to use all our strength and endurance to complete what God has called us to do. Be set on fire by God’s word. Read it! Know it! Then set your eyes on the finish line of heaven and run! Remember that God is on your side!

Prayer starter: Father in the name of Jesus teach me to search your ways so that I may know you. Thank you that when I draw near to you, you draw near to me with wisdom and discernment…

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