A Heart of Stone

Last night, I watched a man of God walk boldly into the streets of Portland, Oregon to evangelize and preach the gospel to a crowd at the Black Live Movement protest. He was sharing the word of God and preaching the message of love.

I watched with anxiety and great sadness on how the people rejected the gospel with such disrespect, anger, rage and disregard. They rejected, scoffed, and mocked him as he continued to preach the gospel.

The people blocked him from going any further into the crowd and told him to leave the area. I actually feared for his safety. As I reflected on what I witnessed through an online video, I’m reminded of how much Jesus had to endure as he walked through crowds of people who rejected his message as he traveled, preached and healed in the midst of persecution.

Unfortunately, not much has changed since then. Since we live in a fallen world, it’s too be expected, but it’s still very upsetting to see others reject a pure, genuine love. It’s an unconditional, agape love that the world is desperately searching so hard to find in people, places or things. I also realize how many people really don’t understand what love really is.

Love is a word thrown around very loosely in society, which has no substance, foundation or value. The world, in general, is void of love. 

Plain and simple, the devil is the master of confusion and the lawlessness experienced in this country is a reflection of the culture which honors and validates acts of disobedience, sin, pride and arrogance.

The world seems to be spinning out of control and erupts in chaos but God is still in control despite how we may think or feel at the present moment.

Sadly enough, society mirrors the disorder, injustice, pain, abuse and hatred that is not a stranger to the history of America.

If you look at a stone, it is unmovable and nothing can penetrate it. Depending on the size, it may be very heavy, but whether it’s a pebble, rock, stone or mountain, it’s made of the same substance. Nothing can pierce it.

After years of pain, anguish, frustration, anger and bitterness, a heart becomes hardened from life experiences, poor choices and decisions and bad situations or circumstances. Things may have happened unwillingly in your life which is not your fault but you’ve suffered the consequences, behaviors or decisions of someone else’s actions. Life is a painful journey and none of us escape life without heartache and pain. The only one who can heal the deep wounds, sickness or disease is Jesus Christ.

Ezk 36:26

A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.

The Only Answer is Love

Every problem we are facing today relates to love. It’s the dominant force in life and without it humanity cannot survive.

The Lord values family and marriage. There’s a domino effect that starts in the home. The breakdown of the family has disrupted society, our communities and our nation. Whether your home is dysfunctional or operates under oppression, generational curses, domestic violence, teaches racism and bigotry in your household or have a lack of positive role models in your family, it allows children to run astray without discipline or guidance.

Prov 22:6

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

The severe neglect or abandonment of a child leads them down a road of mental, emotional or psychological anguish. As young adults, they fall prey into the world and tend to gravitate towards gang membership, crime, cults, corrupt organizations and abusive relationships. They search for anything to fill the void. Alcohol and drugs mask the pain but does not cure the original offense they faced as a child or along the path of adulthood.

The cycle continues as an adult but the devil is a liar. You can break the cycle of abuse, addiction, or rejection. You are not an outcast. You are not a failure. You are worthy. You are treasured. You are valued. You are loved.

The world is starving for love but doesn’t know or understand what love truly is, what it means or if it truly exists. The world has a perverted or distorted view or perspective on the meaning of love.

I Corth 6:19

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

It’s so disheartening to personally experience the love of God and then to witness so many people disregard or reject the truth of the gospel. The only one who saves you from the pain, discouragement, depression, anger or bitterness that you are trying to escape is Jesus. While others thrive in evil thoughts, bondages, and deeds of wickedness. The Lord is gracious and merciful to all those who desire a change of heart and mind.

What Does Love Look Like?

When you have love for yourself and others, you will not mistreat yourself or dishonor others. You will have self-control and walk with the fruits of the spirit.  You will have a desire to please God at all times. You will have integrity, morals and values that represent a Christ-like character. Even when you’re in private, you will have a desire to please the Lord while understanding that your priority is to honor the Lord regardless of your environment or surroundings. You will not be intimidated or influenced by others views or opinions. You will be truly set free from mental chains, bondage’s and worldly mindsets. This can only be accomplished through a heart transformation by the Holy Spirit. No prophet, preacher or teacher has the power to change your heart.

Acts 4:12

12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

You must come to terms with your sins and have an honest desire in your heart to open your heart to receive Christ.

Your ego, arrogance, lust of the flesh, pride, and rebellion will continue to lock you out of a relationship with the Lord but Jesus does not discriminate.

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Matt 7:7-8

Rev 3:20

20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

A Nation Divided Will Not Stand

When our society can no longer appreciate and value diversity of races, ethnicity and cultures as well as the opinions, beliefs and values other than our own, we will continue to bandage the lacerations of a culture that magnifies and gratifies sin, arrogance, and injustice.

When we can no longer communicate, listen or understand each other, we will thrive on distasteful behaviors, mentalities and attitudes influenced by the world system that is embedded in our music, entertainment, work culture and social norms.

When everyone has their own agenda and fighting for their own dominance and voices to be heard, we will continue to struggle with greed, power, wealth and fame for our own selfish motives and purposes.

It’s all rooted in fear. The only voice that stands is the voice of Jesus which is the foundation of love, peace and compassion.

When you know better, you do better. Every voice is screaming right now but be watchful and consider your ways and actions. Is it a reflection of love, joy, peace and compassion? We must be able to respect each other’s opinions without judgement, anger, animosity or disrespect.

Get out of your comfort zone. Lend an ear to people who don’t sound like you do. Share your story. Release your fears and negative emotions. Embrace courage and strength and mostly, focus on spreading love and compassion in a hurting, dark world.

Bible References:

Scriptures on Love

I Corth 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.

And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

Scriptures on Salvation

John 14:6

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

John 10:10

Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy, but God came to give you a life more abundantly.

John 3:16

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.

Scriptures on Communication

Col 4:6

Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

Luke 19:40

40 And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.

Scriptures on Servanthood

Rom 6:18

18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

1 Corth 7:22

22 For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant.

Matt 5:10

10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. Luke 2:4-21

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

Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places

“But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us. Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace we are saved.”Ephesians 2:4-5

Love is lacking or non-existent in our nation, communities and most importantly in our homes. Some may have felt it, yet abused it. Others long for it while others desperately search for it. Many may take it for granted while others never felt it or experienced it. But, unconditional love is something that can’t be forced.

How does a four letter word carry so much weight and complexity? It can drive someone over the edge or force another to change their personality, values or morals to please.

There are so many levels of love: Loving a parent, sibling or child as well as a husband or wife, partner and friend. We can also love our houses, cars, sports, electronic devices and other treasured possessions.

Love is a powerful emotion. It can wound us. Reject us. Control us. Destroy us. However, this is a human kind of love.

Pure, genuine love heals all wounds. It is forgiving. “Without love the most magnificent manifestations of gifts and the most heroic self-sacrifice means nothing. Love suffers long, having patience with imperfect people. Love is kind. Love does not envy since it is non-possessive and noncompetitive. Love actually wants and allows other people to get ahead. It wants the best for you. It does not parade itself. Love is self-sacrificing. Love is not puffed up or treats others arrogantly. It does not behave rudely, but displays courtesy. Love does not seek its own or demands precedence, rather it is unselfish.

Love is not provoked; it is not irritable or touchy, rough or hostile but is most graceful and merciful under life’s demands and pressures. Love thinks no evil and does not keep an account of wrong doings but instead it erases resentments. Love does not rejoice in iniquity finding satisfaction in the shortcomings of others and spreading gossip. Instead love rejoices in the truth, aggressively advertising the good in people. Love bears all things, defending and uplifting others in discouragement. It credits others with good intentions and is not suspicious Love hopes all things and never gives up on people, but continues in affirming their future and hope. Love endures all things, persevering and remaining loyal to the end.”  

We have the capacity to love because God lives within us. There is no other love on earth like God’s love. We can search for people or things to fill the void in our lives but we will continually come up short. We will never come to terms with being loved by God until we understand the capacity of God’s love for us.

Unfortunately, we often feel we are not good enough to be loved by people or by God. We live in condemnation, fear and judgment thinking that God could never love us. When things go wrong, we feel God is punishing us for our mistakes, behavior, thoughts and actions. We often blame God when things go wrong.

Some of Satan’s greatest weapons is the use of fear, doubt, shame, guilt, regret and confusion. He constantly taunts us of our faults, failures, weaknesses, circumstances and problems. The end result is a spiral of negative thoughts and emotions due to accepting defeat and failure. The devil is a liar.

The devil uses the same plots and schemes. He is not creative. Once you recognize his bag of tricks, you will understand how to defeat him through the Word of God.

God is forgiving. God loves us more than we will ever be able to comprehend. He loves us no less than He loves His Son. He actually waits for us to come to Him in prayer. God celebrates us!

Sometimes it is much easier to forgive others than ourselves. You will not have peace until you learn how to forgive. The guilt or shame can weigh you down and eventually destroy you. You must also learn to love yourself just as much as you love others.

Please don’t let shame or guilt rob you of believing that you’re in bondage. “Who the Son sets free, is free indeed.” John 8:36

“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” Psalm 103:12.

The Lord will redeem your mistakes. Every evil thing that the enemy meant for your harm will be turned around for your good. Genesis 50:20.

Building a relationship with the Lord is not built on repentance only. It is based on worship and praise for who He is; not on what He can do or provide.

God understands you and knows your heart’s desires. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.” (Jeremiah 1:5).

The Lord’s characteristics is of peace and not of harm. “For I know the plans that I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm; plans for a hope and a future.” Jer 29:11

You are deserving of God’s love. It is the reason He shed His blood on the cross so we may have eternal life. “God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

His love does not have to bought, earned, manipulated or controlled. In 2014, let’s walk in love by first receiving and accepting God’s love as a prime example of His nature and honoring our bodies, minds, thoughts and actions by serving one another in love.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” Romans 8:35.

“For I am fully persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor thing to come. Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

Resurrection Power

“And behold, there was a great earthquake, for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door where Jesus laid. His countenance was like lightening and His raiment was as white as snow. And for fear of Him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye; for I know that ye seek Jesus which was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as he said. Come see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead; and behold, He goes before you into Galilee, there shall ye see Him.” Matt 28:1-7

The death, burial and resurrection is the most important declaration of faith we can pronounce in our hearts and in the world. Jesus is alive and lives within us. As another Easter passes away, we should keep the remembrance of Jesus’s sacrifice with us daily.

We should walk with the authority that Jesus has given us. We have the same resurrection power that Jesus has because He lives within each believer. Time passes, weather shifts, people change, yet there is one man who walked the earth over 2000 years ago who was crowned with thorns, falsely accused and sentenced to death. At one moment, the crowd was raving over him and the next minute, they yelled, “Crucify Him!” He was mocked and beaten while He stumbled carrying a wooden cross. “But He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we our healed.” Isaiah 52:5

“He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter; and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth. Isaiah 52:7

He is a man who does not change. His love remains the same. No matter what we’ve done we can ask for forgiveness. It’s a special, unconditional love that the human mind cannot comprehend. It is a deep-rooted love that allowed Christ to take the penalty for our sins. He did not come to condemn the world, but to redeem the world. “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever shall believe in Him, will not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

So, as we go about our week, let’s carry Easter in our hearts and minds daily and share Jesus’s story with a lost and desperate world.

“All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I’m with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen Matt 28:19-20

Developing a Foundation of Prayer

forgive-and-let-go

Those who diligently seek me shall find me.

Building a relationship with Jesus requires daily communication with Him.

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. “In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” “Be not wise in thine own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from evil.” Prov 3

We may lose sight of the importance of daily prayer due to a busy schedule, but we must put God first in all our endeavors for His protection, grace, mercy and provision.

His grace is sufficient. He provides blessings to the just and the unjust, but when you are in a relationship with Him you are open to receive the many benefits and promises that He gives freely to His children.

Prayer is more than asking God to do or give you something. It’s an act of worship and praise.

It’s in the quiet moments when we acknowledge who He is that provides us peace, inner joy and strength to go through our day with high expectations. When we pray over our lives and others, we will gain a sense of inner harmony and peace despite what we may encounter through the day.

Sometimes we may feel our prayers go unanswered, but God has our best interest at heart. It must be His will not our own. Everything happens for a higher and greater purpose that we may not understand at the time, but through faith, obedience and patience, we will inherit the promises of God.

God works in seasons. Abraham and Sarah, The Apostle Paul, Daniel, Joseph, Job and Moses are examples of people who had to endure and wait for the promises of God.

I write this piece to encourage you to endure any situation, circumstance or obstacle. I am a living example of the realities of deterred dreams, dealing with extreme difficulties and disappointments, but God never fails and His word does not return void. (Isaiah 55:11)

Reflection of God’s Love

I just have to provide a follow up on my most recent post. On Sunday morning, I was reading, “Our Daily Bread” and since I didn’t read Saturday’s devotional I combined both readings into one. It was about God’s Love! When I went to church, my pastor specifically preached on another scripture I read the same morning on “Mark 7” and also preached on God’s love confirming my recent posting. I also reached for Joyce Meyer’s book, “The Secret Power of Speaking God’s Word” while lying in bed. I opened the book and it turned automatically to “Receiving God’s Love.” So I posted the scriptures that I found below. It was very strong in my Spirit to post this experience.

I just have to tell you that God will work through you if you allow Him. I have millions of stories similar to this one. Some may call it coincidences, but I have to acknowledge the truth. I cannot discredit or disregard the simple to the biggest things that God has done for me.