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 Little Things in Life

And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.  Matthew 18:3  King James Version (KJV)

When we think of the characteristics and qualities of a child, most people focus on the pure innocence and curiosity of a child. We think of the playful nature and free spirit that a child carries as well as their mischievous ways.

The Bible states that we must become as a child to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. What exactly does that mean?

We tend to lose the basic traits as we become adults through the process and experiences of life.

A child lives in the present moment. They often do not think about the past or worry about the future. They are focused on the present moment. In Matthew 6:25-34, it states that we should not worry about our life because if the Lord takes care of the birds he will take care of you (See below for scripture reference).

A child depends on their parents to care for them. They believe all their needs will be met. They seek security and acceptance. Unfortunately, in the world we live in today, their needs may fall short of being met however there is grace and protection over children. An adult will most likely step in to help, guide, nurture and protect a child that is in danger.

Just like our loving Father, the Lord will help, guide and protect us from harm. He will shield us from unknown dangers that we may not even be aware of at the time. Sometimes it seems as if our prayers are left unanswered but it’s the Lord’s will to protect us from all things that are not pleasing to Him or may cause us harm in the long run.

A child has a trusting heart. They don’t think that the world is out to get them. They are not concerned about all the extras and pressures that life brings. They do not seek power or status. They are contented with the simplicity that life offers. They find joy in the little things. They laugh and smile easily and cry when necessary. They’re not afraid to release emotions. They believe almost anything someone tells them but questions everything around them while they constantly try to figure out the world around them.

A child is quick to love others and does not harbor resentment or unforgiveness. Since they have no prior experiences, they do not fear of getting hurt emotionally. They easily open their hearts willingly through innocence and trust. They are not perverted or worldly. Their hands are clean as well as their hearts. They speak boldly which may even cause public embarrassment to others with the brutal honesty they give.

Overall, the reflection of a child’s nature is made of trust, love, peace and contentment. There are many other qualities that you may take notice of as you reflect on this message.

As you go about your week, take mental notes of the child-like qualities that the Lord has required for us to have and work towards transforming our rigid ways to mirror the characteristics of a child.

The wonders of life are enduring, wholesome and pure.

Psalms 131:2

Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.

Mark 10:15

15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.

Matthew 7:13-14

  13 “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate and narrow is the way which leads unto life and few there be that find it.”

Matthew 6:25-34

25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:

29 And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

31 Therefore take no thought, saying, what shall we eat? Or, what shall we drink? Or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.

34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

How to Conquer Spiritual Warfare

 When you read the Word of God, a seed of hope is immediately planted in your heart. You should feed your spirit daily with words of encouragement and hope. Much like watering a plant, it will become dry and withered, if not watered on a regular basis.

However, you must guard your heart against discouragement, fear, doubt and other negative emotions that can instantly rob you of the Word and strip your spirit. Mark 4:14-20

When you constantly look at the world’s problems or your own, you may feel a sense of hopelessness. There are many things in life that can discourage you and plant a sense of fear or doubt in your mind. When you continue to focus on the wrong things, it will begin to grow bigger and stronger like a brush fire.

Guarding your mind is essential to fighting off defeating thoughts.

“Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things that are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things that are pure, whatsoever things that are lovely, whatsoever things that are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Phil 4:8

Girt Your Loins with Truth

When you stand on the Word of God, you stand in the truth of the character of God and His power. It releases you from every bondage of sin. You can be released from addictions, sickness, fear, anxiety, doubts and worries. You allow God to carry all of your burdens. However, you will not attain this source of freedom unless you have complete trust in Him in which you can only receive by knowing (spiritual discernment) and understanding (spiritual wisdom).

 Walk With the Breastplate of Righteousness

We are made in God’s image. Although we are not perfect, we have been made righteous through Him. When you know the Word of God and it’s planted in your heart, you do not have the desire to sin. You want to please the Lord. You shine His light in dark places. You walk as salt in the earth.

It’s through the anointing power of the Holy Spirit who teaches you all things. The Lord renews your Spirit. Your hands are made clean and you are made whole through His grace and mercy. All sin is washed away. He does not remember a trace of your past history. Forgiveness is the greatest gift, but His love is unsurmountable.

Rest in the Gospel of Peace

It’s hard to walk in peace with conflict and everyday chaos all around you. The stresses of daily routines and busy schedules can take a toll on anyone.

When you meditate on the Word of God, it brings order to your day. It aligns your daily tasks, weekly plans and long-ranged goals in complete alignment with the Lord’s plans and purpose for your life. You also have the ability to walk with a sense of peace and do not focus so much on the daily challenges and obstacles that get in your way. You receive a peace that surpasses all understanding. Phil 4:7

Put on the Helmet of Salvation

You have a special covering when you receive Christ as your Lord and Savior that the world does not have. It’s like having an invisible shield of protection through the Blood of Jesus Christ. It guards you from harm and danger.

However, certain problems and circumstances are allowed to enter into your life to mold and shape you for His purpose. Unfortunately, no one is exempt from heartaches, but those walking with Christ has an ability to fight off evil plots and schemes that the devil sends your way.

“And be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.” Phil 3:9-10

 Pick up Your Shield of Faith

When Peter walked on the water, he kept his eyes on Jesus. When he started to look around at the stormy waves, he began to sink. He lost his faith. Much like Peter’s experience, you may lose your faith when you continue to look at your circumstances or world conditions.

Speak Boldly With the Sword of the Spirit

Photo Source: www.mysunshineforeverblogger.blogspot.com

The Word of God is life. It provides strength and vitality to a weary soul. When you speak the Word of God on a consistent basis, it breaks every stronghold in your life. Consistency is key. Believing is mandatory.

Final Thoughts

“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things freely given to us of God.” I Corth 2:12

“But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for it is foolishness to him; neither can he know them; because they are spiritually discerned.” I Corth 2:14 

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God that you will be able to withstand the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Esph 6:10-13

The i Generation

ipad3

We are progressively becoming a God-less nation. We are losing our respect for others as well as ourselves faster than a 4G network can download an app. However, we continue to upload more violence, sex, profanity and drugs into our homes, schools, communities and nation. In fact, we have become our own worst enemy and our own worst nightmare. “Where there is no vision, the people perish, but he that keeps the law, happy is he.” Proverbs 29:18

With so much going on in the world and in our personal and professional lives, the average person is operating under extreme pressure and stress on a daily basis. I tend to wonder if life was this complicated when my grandparents were alive. They lived through the Great Depression, World Wars, the Holocaust the Civil Rights Movement and many other historical events, but somehow I feel they responded much differently to crisis compared to the generations that followed them.

Yes, we can argue, “It was simpler times.” But, they still had devastating obstacles and challenges to face and overcome in their lifetime. Perhaps it all boils down to how they reacted and responded to their difficulties. I don’t know much about the older generation since I was not yet born, but I do remember what my parents shared with me. They appreciated the little things in life and stood together to overcome obstacles. They fought for what was right and faced opposition. The foundation and substance were found in the church which established strong families and nurtured healthy neighborhoods. People looked out for each other and helped one another. Despite hard times, people, for the most part, lived productive lives. They also valued life.

Despite the differences in how problems were handled back then, truth still remains the same throughout time. God’s Word does not change. Perhaps, we should take time to find out exactly what the Gospel states about how to live life under God’s laws instead of our own.

Somehow, we’ve learned to depend too much on the opinions, ideas and actions of others including governmental, political, corporate, educational and financial systems that just are not working and do not have the mass population in its best interest. Perhaps, our mentality is so mixed up and confused that some can’t even distinguish what’s right from what’s wrong anymore. Lines are being blurred.

Perhaps, we live with no morals, consciousness, values or integrity. Perhaps, our society is losing their true identity in Christ. Perhaps, our world is so noisy that we can’t even hear God when He is clearly speaking to us. Perhaps, if we put down our iphone, ipad, ipod and let go of the ego, “me” “myself” and “I” we would have the ability to hear God speak loudly.  “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matt 6:33

Yes, in fact, we have surpassed prior generations with technological advances which has provided us with knowledge and information at our fingertips, yet our lives has become so complex, so competitive, so stressful, so busy, so frustrating and so exhausting. Perhaps, if we adapted some of our past generations “Old School Ways” of thinking, as well as values, we could eliminate some of the mess we’ve created.

Let’s start with putting down our technical gadgets and picking up the Bible and putting God first in all that we do. Teaching the next generation the Word of God is the root of healing the land. “He that is willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land.” Isaiah 1:19 Not only for blessing and protection, but most importantly salvation and truly understanding biblical stories and the life of Jesus.

“Tell to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and His strength and His wonderful works that He has done.” Psalm 78:4

TD Jakes

Five Stages to Building Solid Relationships

woman and man sitting on brown wooden bench

Our lives are based on relationships. We desire to develop and build satisfying relationships. We strive so hard to find someone who truly understands and relates to us. When we do find that special connection, we are considered very rare and special.

Social media has made communicating even more interactive to share and learn about others in detail. However, we should not forget how important it is to connect with one another in a social setting or individually.

There are five basic stages of building a relationship:

  1. Casual Conversation; also known as small talk; discussing things like the weather, sports, work, etc.
  2. Developing Trust; Sharing feelings, ideas, thoughts and opinions
  3. Deeper Trust; Sharing deeper issues such as dreams, mistakes, pain and frustrations
  4. Intimacy; sharing another’s quiet space and enjoying each other’s company without conversation.
  5. Union; sharing a bond of emotions, feelings, actions and communication as one.

There are many layers to a person’s personality and history. It is a process to learn someone and each stage should develop naturally and not be rushed.

When you develop a relationship in your personal, social and business settings, it will allow you to find the right mate, friend or business partner. It’s fine to have high standards and not settle for less than you deserve. Respect, honesty, trust and communication should be the basis of any relationship. It doesn’t just work one-sided. The key is finding someone who shares the same values and belief system that you do. “Do not be unequally yoked with non-believers. 2 Corinthians 6:14

Heartaches and several headaches can be avoided if only we apply the simple standards that God desires us to live. Prosperity, peace of mind, healing, joy and fulfillment are just some of the benefits that God has promised us.

We should also apply the same five stages in developing our relationship with Christ before we even try to develop relationships with others. Our main goal should be striving for a union with Christ. Through our relationship with Christ, we understand how to treat others and walk as an example for others to follow. Developing a union provides a secure foundation to build a strong, solid healthy relationship.

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He that abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in e, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. B this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit so you will be my disciples. As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep my commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” John 15: 5-12

References:  Elijahlist.com

Light of the World

As we enter the Christmas season, it’s important for us to shine the light of Christ into a dark and hurting world.  This is the most meaningful time of the year besides Resurrection Day or Easter which is rooted in the Christian tradition.

“God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten  Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish  but have everlasting life.” John 3-16.

tealight-candle

God gave out of love for us. Unfortunately, the whole  idea of the meaning of Christmas is being lost in  commercialism. It’s now called a “holiday” rooted in  expectation of “How much can I get?” “This is not what  I wanted!” “Why didn’t I get that?” “I wish I could get  that!” It’s the  joyous events of running people over in  the parking lot to get the latest tech toy, stressing out  over bills that you have to pay in the New Year along  with a host of other pressures that come along with the  Christmas season.

Unfortunately this is an “I” generation which has caused a society full of  demands, selfishness and greed.  When was the last time you thought about Jesus? Do you know who He is? What He did when He came to this earth? The message is very simple. Love. That’s it. He provided love, demonstrated love and gave hope. Everything He represented was about love in a world that could not and still not understand or comprehend the capacity of  His love.

It’s very hard to walk in love in you don’t know Him or have a relationship with Him. The natural man does not understand spiritual things because it’s foolishness to him.

Those of us who do have a relationship with Jesus have a responsibility to demonstrate God’s love to others. “The spirit of the Lord has anointed us to preach the gospel.” Isaiah 61:1. We were anointed and called for His purpose as a chosen vessel.  This is not only to share His love in this season but it should be carried out 365 days out of the year. Emmanuel which means, “God is with us” and who also lives in us, so we should reflect His character at all times.

Let’s not get wrapped up in commercialism or depression because we over consume or can’t purchase or get what we desire. This is a time to reflect on the love that Jesus provided and sacrificed for us and in return we should share the same love of Christ with family, friends, co-workers, classmates and strangers.

The best gift you can give is your time to someone who is lonely, sick or in need. Let’s spend more time listening rather than shopping. Also, take some time out for solitude. Turn off the TV, computers, cell phones, Xbox, tablets, kindles, ipads, iphones, ipods, etc…You can not hear from God with so much noise and distraction around you. Spend some time reading the Bible to learn and understand the character of God and find a church that you are comfortable with that is spirit-filled.

If this is new to you, ask the Lord to open your heart and come into your life, forgive your past sins and make you new. Receive Him as your Lord and Savior.  The Holy Spirit will begin to teach you all things so ask Him to lead you to the truth and to find a church where you can grow in Christ. Transformation is a process so don’t expect a change instantly. The caterpillar eventually becomes a butterfly.

As we reflect on the real celebration of Christmas, let us remember Christ in a desperately unsatisfied, lost world.

Jesus stated, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follow me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. John 8:12