Pick up Your Cross

When we reflect upon the Resurrection, we celebrate the triumph of Jesus overcoming the grave and sitting at the right hand of the Father in Heaven. We celebrate His victory and all He has done for our Salvation. He is alive and lives in our hearts and we await for His return. He will reign upon the earth as He did once before.

As followers of Christ, we must remain steadfast knowing that we should walk as Jesus and live as an example.  We should pick up our cross daily and follow Him. Mark 10:21

What exactly does that mean? Jesus requested the apostles to leave all they had to follow Him. In the New Testament, Jesus speaks of giving up everything to follow Him. He commanded to give riches and treasures to the poor and to put Him first in every area of our life. In Mark 10:25, Jesus said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God.”

Jesus want to know your heart is pure and that you can be content in all circumstances. Nothing should stand in the way of relationship with Him.  Of course, our Father gives us good pleasures, but He wants us to delight in Him. He wants us to honor and obey Him. He does not want us to be persuaded or enticed by glitz, glamour, fame and fortune.  Neither does He desire the church to become a den of thieves.

Picking up your cross also means to be obedient to what the Lord ask you to do.  When we follow and surrender to Jesus, we desire to please Him. He will also fulfill the desires of our heart. “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” John 15:7

Moses answered the call to lead the Israelites through the wilderness to the promise land. Joseph was obedient to endure betrayal and be thrown into a pit, despite the jealousy of his brothers, and still blessed them in spite of their evil ways towards him. Jeremiah was obedient to prophesy over disobedience in the land.

It is not always easy to be obedient to the Lord. In many cases, it can be tough. However, the Lord supplies everything you need to overcome the challenges, obstacles and surprises life brings. God is not looking for perfect people. He calls the misfits, the outsiders, the prideful, the unqualified, and the sinful.  Mark 2:13-17

When we pick up our cross, we are not carrying the burdens of life on our shoulders. This may be a misinterpretation of what the verse means and easily misunderstood. Jesus already paid the price for the penalty of sin for all of us. He carries our burdens. The greatest love of all flows from the heart of Jesus. By no means, we are to believe that we are to carry the cross like Christ did. Our works or deeds on earth does not open the doors to heaven. Salvation does. That is the whole reason Christ died for us. Without the crucifixion of Christ, there would be no sacrifice. Nevertheless, our works will be rewarded once we enter into the Kingdom. “Through faith and patience we will inherit the promises.” Heb 6:12

All that you search for in this world is null and void and does not satisfy. Jesus said, “I am the bread of life: He that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” John 6:35

Pick up your cross and follow Him daily. Be a disciple of Christ.  Share the Gospel. Uplift and encourage others. Ask for wisdom, discernment and understanding and walk as examples of Christ.

Just a few things to think about…

What can you do to welcome others who have a different lifestyle than you or do not have the same faith or values that you have? How do you react or respond to stress, worry, doubt or fear? How do you act when you’re angry, tired or frustrated? What can you do differently when emotions take over? How do you lead by example in the workplace? How do you share your testimony with others when they don’t know Christ?

You’re welcome to leave your comments. Thanks for your support.

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Additional Scripture References:

Matt 7:9-11

Phil 4:19

Heb 6:10

 John 18  and  John 19

 I Peter 1:3-9

 Romans 3:23-25

 I Corth 15:13-28

The Labyrinth of Life

 16 I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do;  I will not forsake them.  Isaiah 42:16

Do you feel that you’re on a road to nowhere? That life has pushed you down a twisted path that is based on poor choices and decisions and uncontrolled circumstances determined by external sources?

The more effort you put into your life, the more energy is sucked out of you. No matter what you try to do seems to work. Even though you may feel like you will never get to your destination, your life is constantly being diverted and misdirected. From dead ends, left turns and wrong turns that lead to right turns, it’s like a labyrinth of frustration, confusion, aggravation, not to mention stress. You may feel like a rat on a wheel, running to nowhere.

Just because you can’t see a way out, doesn’t mean there isn’t one. The forced direction that you experience, may possibly be how the Lord orders and directs your steps. With each twist and turn, the Lord is guiding your steps to the purpose and plan he has for your life. Who said life was easy? It’s not a direct shot even for the best of us. Some people may have fewer turns than others, yet we will hopefully end up exactly where we need to be.

Before you make a decision, you should always check your spirit. Do you have peace with your decision? Does something feel off? Do you feel nervous, tense, or afraid?

The Holy Spirit guides you with a sense of peace. He offers wisdom and guidance. Do not ignore your intuition. That is the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Fear can be very tricky because it can be a warning sign prior to danger, but it can also be a false alarm from satan himself. Either way, fear is not of God and you must learn to test the spirit prior to making any decision.

No matter where you are on your journey, keep on moving. God is not the master of confusion and He did not create you for failure. If you get tired and weary along the way, take a break or just pause for a minute (praise break), recharge your battery (meditate on scriptures), and walk-in faith (prayer).

The Lord has the ultimate blueprint and knows what He’s doing even if you don’t. He has the ultimate global positioning system (GPS). Let Him lead the way because He will never lead you wrong. “He will lead you by the still waters.” Psalm 23:2

 But the path of the just is like the shining sun, That shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.  Proverbs 4:18

Fear Not

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The definition of fear:  (noun):  An unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain or a threat.

(verb):  Be afraid of (someone or something) as likely to be dangerous, painful, or threatening.

synonyms: terrorfright, fearfulness, horroralarmpanicagitation, trepidation,dreadconsternationdismaydistress; More

 There are two little words in the Bible that Jesus often reminded his disciples throughout their ministry. It was also embedded in Jesus’s ministry and teachings. “Fear Not,” a statement that is opposite of such a strong emotion that is often hard to control when it strikes and grips your mind and consumes you.

There is a lot of fear going around:  You may fear of a natural disaster, economic collapse, and terrorist attacks. Fear can block your actions. It intimidates. It paralyzes. It stifles. It can stop you from moving forward or taking the next step. It may become a prison in meeting different people than they are accustom to.  There is a fear of success or failure. You can have a fear of the future or fear of dying. You may even have a fear of public speaking or afraid of snakes or spiders.

Fear is disguised in many forms. Fear is a spirit from the enemy. It is ugly but has no power once you confront it. However, it will grow if you do not take control over it.

With so much going on today, it’s hard to ignore that the world is living in fear. The world is in chaos. It is out of control. It’s hard to speak to fear when there is a real presence of harm that threatens lives on so many levels.

On whatever form it may appear in your life, you have authority over fear. Many people are not aware of how to regain control over their feelings and experiences. I cannot promise you instant results, but you can subdue constant fear, anxiety, and worry and replace it with faith, peace, and love.

I’m no expert, but can only share my own experience with how I handle fear. First, you must acknowledge what you’re afraid of. Be specific. Write down every possible thing that could happen that you are fearing. “F-E-A-R” is False Evidence Appearing Real so once you acknowledge why you are afraid and picture the worst-case scenario, you have acknowledged the fear. Confronting fear is liberating and it is the best way to overcome it.

Reading the Bible scriptures is a powerful way to overcome any type of fear you struggle with. Meditate on scriptures related to fear and research stories where people in the Bible faced various obstacles and challenges and focus on how they overcame their plight.

Having a strong relationship with the Lord in prayer and communication is one of the best ways to overcome fear. Seeking His guidance and wisdom in circumstances that are beyond our control will ease our minds.

When you understand and know the character of God, you know that He loves you. You are aware of His promises. You can rest knowing that He is protecting and watching over you.  Psalm 91.

There is an assurance that even though you can’t figure everything out at the time, you know that the Lord is working behind the scenes. While He is working, you need to be in preparation for whatever instruction He provides and follow through without hesitation. Many times we may second guess ourselves which is only having doubt and unbelief. This may steer us off our path or delay the progress due to our actions.

At times, our environment has influence over our specific circumstances or enhancing a fearful mindset as a whole. Unfortunately, we cannot control other people, weather conditions, or other devastating elements that affect our lives, but we have the ability to walk in peace or comfort others who are struggling with fear and anxiety due to loss, grief, and difficult circumstances. We must seek opportunities to comfort one another.

In every season, there is constant change. Being flexible to change is challenging. Obviously, fear plays a big part in unknown present realities, anticipated futures and dangerous environments that the Lord may place around us, but we should rest knowing that whatever state we find ourselves in, we should be content in every circumstance and decision we face and walk in faith knowing that God will protect and rescue us in due season. You can adapt to rapid changes with faith, not fear.

God is not a God of chaos and mass confusion. The world may feel like it’s spiraling out of control, but God is in control. He has a purpose and plan for each of us.  Instead of looking to the world for solutions, we need to seek Him for direction.

Just put your trust in Him. He will lead you beside the still waters. As we enter 2016, seek Him with your whole heart and leave the fear behind.

Peace be unto you.

“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” Romans 8:22

ADDITIONAL SCRIPTURES:

Matt 8-24-26

Psalm 23:4

Psalm 27:1

Psalm 112:7-8

Prov 29:25

Isaiah 41:10

Isaiah 54:14

Luke 12:32

2 Tim 1:7

Heb 13:5-6

I Pet 3:14

I John4:18

 

Four Important Steps to a Spiritual Detox

When we engage in a food detox or cleansing, we rid ourselves of all unhealthy foods in our diet. We purge the bad bacteria and toxins that have built up in our system. Once you begin this process, it gets easier to keep a regular routine that transforms your diet into a healthy lifestyle. Your body gradually adjusts and you will find yourself not often craving junk foods as you once did.

One.  Get Rid of the Heavy Baggage

Much like our bodies, our spirit needs to be detoxed on a regular basis. We should take time out to purge all negative thoughts and influences in our lives. Pay attention to your environment and the people in your life that you call friends, not everyone, including family members are in your corner.  It’s very challenging to get rid of the negative voices in our heads and the bad influences that surround us on a daily basis, but you can slowly eliminate people, places, and things that are not working for you in your life.  If you can’t get rid of certain people, keep them at arm’s length, but always walk in love.

Clearing our minds from worry and stress, problems and even our to-do list have an impact on our daily experiences. Taking the time to fine-tune your life is a priority to creating a healthy, spirit-filled life.

Two.  We Are What We Eat

Feeding your mind with God’s word, affirmations and powerful words of motivation will provide you with the strength to overcome challenges, obstacles, and your daily grind. What we pour into our spirit determines how we act and react to situations and circumstances. It affects how we speak and treat one another. Be mindful of what you watch and listen to in the media. Your eyes, ears, and mouth are powerful instruments that will influence how you think. What you tend to mediate on will eventually manifest into your reality. If you watch and listen to trash, you will eventually produce or live out the drama in one way or another.

We live in a negative world. It is much easier to focus on negative thoughts or acts. When we abstain from negative influences, we gain enthusiasm and energy. Negative influences will always drain your energy.

Although temptation will constantly linger and be a challenge to ignore and overcome, you will be much stronger to defeat any temptation that comes your way. You will be able to distinguish between right and wrong.  It takes a strong-willed person to stand alone in their convictions and beliefs. It is much easier to follow the crowd but it takes a person of integrity and a clear conscience to be comfortable in their own skin to make the right choices.

“When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.”

James 1:13-14 (NIV)

38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Mark 14:38 (NIV)

Three.  Be Obedient to His Voice

Spending time alone is also part of a healthy spiritual detox. Solitude is the best time to reflect on your past, present, and future. You can celebrate your victories, revisit your past mistakes, analyze your present, and also uncover the lessons learned and reevaluate your future plans and goals. It’s a place where you can grow closer to the Lord and commit to intimacy in relationship with Him, not only in prayer but in listening to His voice for guidance.

It’s that distinctive nudge or intuition in your spirit. It’s the silent whisper when scripture jumps out at you on the page. It could be a song that you hear on the radio, a long-distance phone call when you were thinking of calling that person the same day. It can be a classmate or neighbor that speaks a special something that you need to hear exactly at that moment.

In whatever way He speaks, listen. In this time, we need discernment and the direction of the Holy Spirit to guide and protect us from the everyday changes life brings our way.

Mark 6:31 (KJV)

Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest for a while.

I Corinthians 7:5 (NIV)

Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

 Four.  Cleanse Your Body

Eating healthy does play an important role in your spiritual detox. It is highly beneficial to focus on a nutrient-filled diet while on a spiritual detox. Eating green, leafy veggies, and a variety of fruits and pure juices and smoothies will heal the mind, eliminate stress, and boost energy levels. You can eliminate meat for a period of time, however, you should consult a physician before changing your diet or fasting.

As you learn to surrender your desire for fleshy appetites, you will heal, restore, and rejuvenate your mind, body, and soul. You will be open to receive answers to difficult problems. There are no quick overnight solutions to life’s dilemma’s but if you’re consistent and don’t give up or give in to the difficulties and temptations in life, you will eventually see positive results. Most of all, you will connect and strengthen your relationship with the Most High, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Love & Blessings,

Yolanda

Your Sister in Christ

Prayer

Lord, I (we) thank you for your love and protection. Help me(us) to be an expression of your love in my (our) daily walk with you. Give me (us) the strength and ability to resist evil and negative influences in my (our) lives. Forgive me (us) for anything that is not pleasing to you. We honor, praise, and glorify you with our whole hearts. I (we) ask for your wisdom to make the right decisions in my (our) lives. Guide and protect me (us). In Jesus Name, Amen.

Matters of the Heart

Several churches have become motivational powerhouses, however, they’re missing the mark on the message of Salvation.  The church, the body of Christ, has become a form of entertainment. Reality TV shows, superstar singing, shouting, dancing, and dramatic prophesying have all been incorporated into worship which makes it hard to tell what is real from what is not real.

Some people are attending church every Sunday but their hearts are not being truly transformed. Others are calling themselves Christians without having Godly character, a Godly lifestyle, or a personal relationship with Jesus.

Being a Christian today is like wearing a “title” on your chest like Superman or like wearing a badge or bumper sticker that shouts, “I’m a Christian!” But, what does that mean if you’re sleeping with your best friend’s husband, using the church to network for business or chasing women in the church?

The world on the outside looking in is even more confused because they have don’t have an understanding of the spiritual world much more how to discern the Spirit of God.

They’re looking at the church to be an example of what it means to be a Christian. Often times, no one can tell the difference because believers are conforming to the secular world at rapid speed.

Some preachers are preaching hate instead of love. Others are confirming same-sex marriage. Others are passive with heterosexual partners living together. The statistics in the divorce rates within the church is outrageous. There is just so much confusion about what religion, faith, and spirituality really mean.

The reverence for God is quickly diminishing. Morals and values are in the toilet. However, there is a remnant of believers that are thirsty for righteousness and the presence of the Holy Spirit.

As Christians, we are not to live like the world lives, but we are to set the example and live clean and sanctified lives.

The only way to do this is to be transformed by the Holy Spirit. Yes, we can change some things in our lives and make better choices and decisions but to be truly transformed, it takes the power of the Holy Spirit.

No one will ever be perfect, including me, but that’s why Jesus died for our sins. When we repent, we are acknowledging and declaring our weaknesses and faults and wrongdoings to the Lord. We do not have to have to carry guilt, shame, or condemnation in our hearts, but we are releasing everything attached to sin to God. He carries our burdens, troubles, and worries.

Even though we release all our problems to the Lord, it doesn’t mean it magically gets easier. Actually not to sugar coat anything, all hell breaks loose in our lives. You will still have to walk through tests, trials, and uncomfortable situations. However, the Lord will reveal his love, mercy, grace, power, healing, and faithfulness.

When we acknowledge Christ as our Lord and Savior. We confess and understand that Christ died for our sins and that Christ is the Son of God which was created in the image of man.

We ask the Lord to come into our hearts and transform us. It’s much more than just mouth service. You must have a deep yearning, desire, and surrender to God to change your heart. That’s where the transformation takes place – in the heart.

Your heart is where your desire and passion reside. “Out of the heart, the abundance speaks.” Luke 6:45 The core of a man is his heart. Sometimes decisions are made from the heart. The heart carries emotions and feelings. However, the mind is equally powerful and can override the heart. The mind carries logic, memory, intelligence, and consciousness.

If your heart is clean, you will have a desire to please God. It all stems from the issues of the heart. However, the mind is not an island. It also needs to be transformed. Our mind controls our thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and behavior.

When we align our thoughts with God’s thoughts, all doubt, fear, discouragement, and negative thinking has to go! The Lord will give us the ability to discern situations and people, guard our minds, provide focus and clarity, and help us make wise decisions. We will also have a teachable spirit.

When we surrender our thoughts to the Lord, He gives us the authority to overcome attacks from the enemy in our minds that plagues us with worldly concerns. We know the difference between right and wrong and have accountability for our actions while maintaining grace under pressure.

We are not to judge others at all, but we are to live by God’s laws.

There are many questions to ponder on in your spiritual journey.  Have you surrendered your life to Christ? Have you backslidden? Do you have integrity? Do you forgive others without holding grudges? Do you gossip? Do you complain? Have you changed your language to represent the love of Christ? Are you jealous? Are you kind to others?

It’s time to step up and lead by example. Walk like Jesus. Even if you stumble or fall, He will catch you and will not let you go. Take the first step. It’s not an easy walk, but He promises it will be worth it.

John 8:24King James Version (KJV)

24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.

Romans 3:23King James Version (KJV)

23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Hebrews 11:6King James Version (KJV)

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

John 15:10King James Version (KJV)

10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.

1 Corinthians 13:1King James Version (KJV)

13 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

Wings of Freedom

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 “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.” Psalm 100:1-2

As we step into 2015, we hold great expectations and goals for the New Year. We anticipate change whether good or bad, but either way we go forward with hope or anxiety entering into the unknown.

As we confess our resolutions, plans, and goals, we may feel overwhelmed, yet hopeful of what is to come. However, we often put a time limit on success. When we don’t meet those expectations, we experience disappointment and we feel like a failure.

We live in a time-based society. We are consumed by hectic schedules and unrealistic demands. The Lord is not limited to time. He orchestrates our lives according to His intricate plan for our lives. He plants the right connections, family, friends, enemies, challenges, obstacles, struggles, and experiences in our lives for a purpose.

Some people are just for a season while others are rooted in our lives for longevity. “Each experience is not a result of luck or coincidence. It is the result of His divine plan. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jer 29:11.

The ups, as well as the downs, are part of our development and growth process. It doesn’t take much to praise God in the easy times. However, when we are locked into bondage, it is hard to trust, praise, read the Bible and rest in the Lord.

We all have different prisons: A failed marriage, a friend or family member who has committed suicide or has died in a tragic accident, depression, drugs or alcohol addictions, poverty, job loss, natural disaster aftermath, or terminal illness.

We struggle with our identities:  Low confidence, self-esteem issues, jealousy, competitiveness, egos, and status. We may even be in a good place in life, but still, feel like we can’t breathe; stuck in a routine, and trapped in mediocrity.

All of our life issues send us on an emotional rollercoaster ride that is rooted in fear, anxieties, abuse, torment, confusion, isolation, procrastination, temptation, sadness, and discouragement.

When we have negative feelings and experiences, it sucks our energy dry. We are stagnate and idle. We are unable to focus or can’t seem to move forward.

The best thing to do when you have moments of despair is to praise the Lord no matter how hard it may be. I know this sounds crazy, but it’s true.

However, if you are dealing with serious issues such as a chemical substance or physical, verbal, emotional, or sexual abuse, you will need to seek rehab and/or counseling immediately.

All throughout the Bible, music is emphasized. The whole chapter of Psalms exhorts the Lord. The Lord inhabits the praises of His people. It is the best way to get God’s attention. This is a form of worship and communication with God that builds relationships not only in the good times but in the worst of times.

Satan’s desire is to shut our mouth in prayer and worship. His whole goal is to steal our joy, hope, faith, and truth. He wars with us to establish lies into our minds and hearts. However, where God is present the devil can’t reside. Where there is light, darkness is obliterated.

Do you ever notice when you listen to music you start to feel better when you’re down? Music speaks to our soul. It is a powerful force. It stirs up emotions. When we listen to worship music it lifts our spirit. It encourages and inspires us. It gives us hope to go on. When you sing to the Lord, you open your heart to Him. You rejoice in his love, grace, and mercy even through pain, you begin the healing process.

It’s not about how we feel inside when we are singing or listening to music, but it’s because of who God is that makes worship so special and powerful. When you magnify Him, your problems become smaller and you enlarge His territory to work in your life. Your focus is now on the solution and not the problem.

Whatever trouble or prison you may be in, open your mouth and shout unto the Lord for He is worthy to be praised. “Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song.” Psalm 95:2

We are transformed by His power. He has kept us under the safety of His wings. We are released from whatever is holding us back once we renew our minds and align our thoughts with God’s thoughts. This is a season of action and redemption. Accept no limitations as we move forward in faith with high expectations in this New Year.

In 2015, receive God’s promises and blessings for you and your family.

Singing praises to the King, we are set free, in Jesus’ Name.

“And at midnight, Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake so that the foundation of the prison were shaken and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bands were loosed.” Acts 16:25-26.

“Thou has turned my mourning into dancing thou has put off my sackcloth and girded me with gladness.” Psalm 30:11

The Greatest Christmas Presence

During this season, we are busy preparing for the biggest day of the year: Baking cookies, stringing lights on the tree, attending Christmas parties, going shopping, and wrapping presents.

Christmas can also be a very depressing and lonely time of the year for many. While family and friends gather together, many are left alone. Others are left without gifts, food, or shelter. Others may have lost a loved one and Christmas is just not the same anymore.  It can crush someone’s spirit when they don’t feel joy and cannot celebrate as others do.

Jesus cares. It’s through Him that we share His same spirit to help and assist one another in life. A kind word, a hug, a listening ear, a warm touch, or simply a smile can heal unspoken wounds or silent tears.

Jesus is with you in the most desperate of times. His name, “Emmanuel” means God with us. Yes, we may ignore his presence when everything is going great in our lives, but He never leaves us regardless if we acknowledge him or not. He patiently waits for us to come to Him. He is patient and kind and loves us more than we will ever know.

Through all the exciting festivities, I challenge you to take time out during the holiday season to focus on the reason for the season which is the birth of Christ. The Lord sent His Son for our salvation which is the greatest gift in the world. His presence is forever with us. We are part of His heavenly family once we acknowledge Him and accept Him into our hearts as our Lord and Savior.

I-pads, tablets, iPhones, the latest video games, or flat-screen TVs will never compare. Jesus is the greatest Christmas presence ever known.

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Emmanuel.” Isaiah 7:14

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.”  Luke 2:14