Fulfilling His Joy

In America, most people would consider me to be a black man or an African-American man. Take notice that in both instances race or ethnicity comes first, then man. Most people even see themselves as either a black person or a white person and so on. This I believe is a true reflection of how most people think. Most people see race or national origin before they see another human. This is a natural response and really not a problem unless along with that first observation there come also preconceived ideas about that person’s likes and dislikes, aptitude and capabilities. At that point you enter into prejudices and biases that form divisive barriers. Even though people may be physically different, we must be able to connect with them first as being an equal fellow human. If we see it differently than this we are deceived and there is darkness in us.

Those are some thoughts about the general populace. Now let’s consider “The Church,” and I mean “The” Church because there is only one body of Christ. Is the Church anymore unified than the world? Amongst the majority of those confessing to be Christian, I would have to say NO. Most worldly people actually have a lot in common and merely think they are different, however the religious bodies are divided based on actual differences of thought, belief, and practices of living. Just like different races of people, we now have Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Protestant, Presbyterian, Seventh Day Adventist, AME, and it goes on. It’s not enough just to be identified as Christian. This is why I don’t subscribe to any denomination. Our God is not divided, so what is the problem with those that supposedly represent Him. There is a disconnect between the body and the head it would seem, because the head (meaning Christ, the only head of the true church) desires for the body to be unified, working together in harmony.

Christ made known His desire for believers to be united as one, just like the unity shared between Him and the Father. John 17:20-23:

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.”

The division amongst the body of believers today is carnal and devilish and until the cross is truly applied to the agendas of men so that the will of God maybe manifest, it will remain divided. It is my hope that in the near future all of those professing to love Christ will be able to share His love for the truth and then allow that truth to unite them in thought and belief. Our objective must not merely be to be right; our objective should be to be right with God. In a lot of religious communities they have become right with each other but they are misaligned with God. Jesus spent a lot of time in the earth disputing with religious leaders regarding their focus on serving their own sense of righteousness instead of truly being right with God. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and HIS righteousness….” is what the scripture says.

Do you seek to be dominated by God? Are you seeking to give God increasing power over you…your thoughts, behavior, and aspirations? That is what it means to seek the Kingdom of God and that is what it means to take up the cross of Christ….”not my will but yours be done.” The idea of allowing someone to dominate us or calling someone master meets immediate resistance in our minds due to the fact that the evils of man has diminished our ability to trust. On the other hand, if we are sick and need surgery, we will surrender to a surgeon and get put to sleep allowing total dominance over us. Is anyone more worthy of our trust than God? He wants to bring healing to us and we likewise have to surrender. Jesus proved himself worthy of our trust when He gave His life as a ransom for us. Few men have done that for another so I understand the apprehension, but Christ is truly worthy. Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Matt 16:24-25)

You are not living until you dedicate your life to His purposes instead of your own. A body does not function properly until all its members are correctly processing messages from its head. The Catholic Church says its head is the Pope. I have met Protestants that said the head of their church was pastor such and such or bishop such and such. The bible teaches that the only head of the Church is Jesus Christ.

When believers form alliances with each other based on compatibility, we end up with all these factions of religion. On the other hand if believers focus on transformation through submitting to God’s will, then we have true unity with God and with one another. The commands of God do not vary person to person. We are all commanded to love God with all of our heart, mind, and strength. Likewise we are all commanded to love one another as we would like to be loved. The love spoken of here is not abstract or subjective love but love according to the word of God.

When the body of Christ unites in the spirit of truth, the Church will be glorious and powerful. Denominations will lose their significance as we all come in unity of faith and belief as written in Ephesians 4:11-13: “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;” The bible tell us that Jesus endured the cross for the joy that was set before him. Now through the abundant gratefulness we all have for the deliverance brought to us by the cross of Jesus, we now need to fulfill His joy by taking up our own crosses in laying down our individual preferences for the corporate interest of the body of Christ. When the bride (the Church) comes forth in her glory, the groom (Jesus) will rejoice and be filled with gladness. Colossians 1:9-18;

“For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood,the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.”

 

 

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Love Supreme

What do you think of when you think of your first love? Do you think of your first serious crush or perhaps the first person you gave yourself to. Now think…does that love still inspire you, fulfill you, strengthen you, protect you, give you peace, give you joy, give you life. Jesus says, if you drink of the water He offers you will thirst no more, as a matter of fact He says His love will be as living waters springing up inside of you. This is the message He gave to a woman who met Him while she was trying to draw water from a well. She had several husbands and obviously was still searching, still thirsting, for true love. We all have a thirst for love, a deep desire to be truly known yet still accepted, appreciated, and valued. If you have never been totally open and honest in a relationship then you have never been truly open to receive love in its fullness. The fact that Jesus gave His life for you while knowing all that you are capable of, the good as well the bad, is a testimony of His enduring love. Truth is, until you have experienced the love of Jesus you are yet to have your first love. I pray that you will open your heart to Jesus, that you might receive peace that surpasses understanding, joy unspeakable, and love that gives life abundantly. A Love supreme!

The Crossing

Time races like a raging river, moving from east to west, from sunrise to sunset, dragging everything in its grasp along its course,

However in this mighty river there are monuments as great stones that stand immovable,

Stones that stand as memorials in time of momentous events that were life changing,

When we learn from those life changing events, we are able to build structures on these monuments that transcend time,

Through wise counsel we can connect these structures across this mighty river from its southern side to its northern banks,

This structure can serve as a transport that carries us and generations after us to our higher purposes for living,

So that we are not just lost drifts in the river, drug to our sunsets without fulfilling the purposes for our day in life,

Let us learn from the past and be open to wise counsel, endeavoring always to move toward our higher purposes for living,

Then time will no longer dominate us but instead serve as a reminder to stay on our own God given course.

The Seeds of Joy

The harvest is always so much more abundant than the seeds sown. It takes one peach seed to grow a peach tree but after the tree comes forth think about how many sweet peaches will be enjoyed.  This relationship is not coincidental or happenstance but the whole process of sowing and reaping is a law created by God ordained to teach us about life. The implications of this law extend beyond growing vegetation. I have been considering a lot lately the verse of scripture that says, “Sow in tears, reap in joy.”  Consider far a minute the implications of tears being the seeds for joy. In order to have an abundance of joy in your life you have to be willing to sow a few tears. We often avoid getting involved in to situations to a level that opens us to the possibility of experiencing sadness, hurt, and pain but in doing that we also avoid our greatest opportunities at real joy. We have to live courageously and engage life with our whole heart or we will experience life anesthetized by fear. Christ teaches us that in this world we will have tribulation however be of good cheer because He has overcome the world. In this world there will be tears but be of good cheer Christ has secured our harvest of joy. The scripture says that Christ endured the cross for the joy that was set before Him. The focus of the Savior was the joy, not the tears, because the joy is so much greater and more abundant, it is worth the sacrifice. So do as the scriptures instruct, “whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” Be brave and live life with your whole heart engaged, knowing that you will have to sow some tears, but let the PROMISE of “abundant life” and “joy unspeakable” be your motivation. When tears fall in light of the gospel a rainbow appears in our hearts, a promise from God that it will not rain for ever. Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning!

Who You Gone Call?

Most friends and acquaintances prefer to be around us when we are celebrating or have good news to share and that is understandable. I find it extremely comforting though to know that the Almighty desires to be around us MOST when we are hurting and discouraged. When we are AT our worse or IN our worse, most people we know would probably prefer we go (like someplace other than where they are) somewhere and get ourselves together or hurry up and get over it.  We may have a rare friend that wants to stay near and listen, empathize and support, but even they have their moments when they have issues of their own and just don’t have the strength to support us and deal effectively with their own circumstances. However, The Wonderful Counselor, as He is also called, inexhaustibly calls us near to take our burdens and to give us joy and peace. Isn’t that uplifting to know! The question is, do we take advantage of that? When we are going through something, do we go to our quiet place and call upon His name? Do we open up our bibles and search for the Bread of Life? Or…..Do we turn to our relationships and look for a person to console us? Do we throw comfort food at our appetites that seem to invigorate during times of duress? Do we escape reality altogether with a movie or some other form of fiction?  It is natural to do all those things but we have to cultivate a habit of going to God first. Instead of the quick and temporary gratification natural remedies offer, God restores us and in process spiritually vaccinate us from future injurious effects of what ever was ailing us. We become stronger. He is calling us to do this. He is calling you when you are burdened and heavy laden and when you have a broken spirit and contrite heart. He welcomes us to come as we are but He has not intentions of leaving us that way. The Lord will renew your strength and you will feel as if you could soar as if you had wings life the eagles.This experience is not a mere high but a deliverance that elevates your life, bringing you to another level of freedom. Don’t misunderstand me, friends and loved ones are a definite blessing but there is one that sticks closer than any other and He truly is the Prince of Peace and He should be our first love in every way.

Male and Female Created He Them

Though we are the same, we are different,
The way we contrast brings definition and meaning,
As an artist expresses through imagery with dark lines on white paper,
The lines formed by our differences illustrate the glorious image of God,
When we embrace the differences that are inherent between us,
We allow for bolder lines which enhances the visibility of God’s full image,
The lines our differences form, should not be points of contention toward division,
But equal value must be bestowed on the masculine and the feminine,
Bolstering appreciation in a holistic way towards unity,
When man and woman are united in their true essence, they are glorious and powerful,
Just like God,
In whose image we are made,
Man, to love woman is to love yourself,
Woman, to love man is to love yourself,
Man and Woman, Love each other.

Tenacious Love

When you think about God’s truly awesome power and might do you ever consider the source of it. We know God is self-existent so His power does not come from any source other than Himself but how awesome is it that God’s power is Love. God is Love. I am not saying that God is just a force or power called Love. God’s inexhaustible will to create beauty, life, peace, righteousness, and fulfillment is expressed in what we understand as Love. God has captured my heart in all His efforts to save me and give me life. He has exercised all of His power to rescue my heart so that I could know that He loves me and so that I could know the joy of loving others. Love is central to our existence. Look at 1 Corinthians 13.

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging 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, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

If you don’t have Love, all that you do have amounts to nothing. If you have knowledge of God but fail to understand that all that He is and all that He does is rooted in His inexhaustible love for you then you are missing the riches part of Life. If you see love just as a power or force you are missing the intentional will of the creator to have an intimate relationship with you. The scripture says in Jeremiah 31:3,

“The Lord appeared from old to me saying, Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn you and continued My faithfulness to you.”

The bible is a love letter to you, don’t sleep on it. Let your heart awake to the awesome love of God. All that Jesus suffered, He suffered to win your heart. Let the life and sacrifice of Jesus be a testimony of God’s love for you and even as He was resurrected you will find your heart renewed as His loves fills it. As you grow in your understanding of God’s love you will learn to sense His love not only in the warm sun on your face and the gentle breeze that refreshes you but you will also sense His love in the dark ominous clouds and the thunder that shakes you. You will learn to trust His love even in what you don’t understand because you will embrace His promises like Jeremiah 29:11,

 “For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.”