Guard Your Heart; Make Good #Choices –


Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee. Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil (Prov 4:23-27)~ We must set a strict guard upon our souls; keep our hearts from doing hurt, and getting hurt. Above all, we should seek from the Lord Jesus that living water, the sanctifying Spirit, issuing forth unto everlasting life. Thus we shall be enabled to put away a froward mouth and perverse lips; our eyes will be turned from beholding vanity, looking straight forward, and walking by the rule of God’s word, treading in the steps of our Lord and Master. Don’t get complacent because you feel like everything is going smoothly, in fact you must even more intently Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: (1 Pet 5:8).  In other words, WAKE UP …there is a force of darkness looking for ways to cause you to fall! And if you think, “That will never happen to me” look around… there is a whole world of people who never thought they would be susceptible to “falling” and yet they have. It’s prideful to think otherwise; and Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov 16:18). Don’t be naive- most people who end up down the wrong path didn’t set out to get there. Be aware of your choices- A major battle is won when we stop asking what’s wrong with certain choices, and instead, ask what’s right with them. The choices we make everyday dictate the life we lead. To thine own self be true! Moreso, to God be true! 

God Gives Us an Out; It’s Our #Choice to Take It –


Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed (James 1:13-14)~ Seems like every day the national news is full of stories about senseless killings.. whether it’s another police related shooting or an attack on a school, mall or other public place.  It often leaves one to ask “If everything is controlled by God then why are we killing others?”

One thing God has given every individual on earth is the free will to choose. Pastor Aaron Budjen of Living God Ministries has some insight on this that would be helpful. “If we assume that people have the choice to believe and follow God or not, then people have the freedom to choose not to follow God. For this choice to exist, people must have the liberty to live their lives in context of their rejection of God. For this to occur, it is necessary to allow people to choose to do evil. Therefore, the bad things that happen are not the choice of God, but the choice of the people who decided to do bad things. God has given everyone [the] freedom to choose to do evil or good. His giving us this choice does not make Him responsible for people’s evil choices. It is necessary however if we are going to have the freedom to choose not to do evil. Therefore, the allowance of evil is necessary to make allowance for people to do that which is good. This is the cost of our freedom.” The reason you have people killing each other is because you have sin in the world. And the reason you have sin in the world is because the first man, Adam, chose to disobey God. “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned (Romans 5:12).” All of us have been born under the curse of sin. However, when we do sin it is because we have chosen to do so not because God has made us do it – nor is it because of the situation or condition He allows us to be in throughout our lives. We can’t say that God did something to us or put us here or left us there and that’s why we are like we are. We can’t justify our behavior by saying He created us like this or we were born that way.  It wasn’t because we didn’t have both parents growing up or because we grew up poor or lived in a bad neighborhood and that’s all we knew.  For each of those situations on which we blame our mischief, there are examples of those that chose another path that was contrary to the excuse we submitted. Rather than God putting us in bad situations that caused our lack of integrity, He allowed the disposition but also gave us an ‘out’ that we are responsible to choose.

Nothing sinful in the heart or conduct can be ascribed to God. He is not the author of the rubbish we carry in us, though his fiery trial exposes it. Those who lay the blame of sin, either upon their constitution, or upon their condition in the world, or pretend they cannot keep from sinning, wrong God as if He were the author of sin. Afflictions and dispositions, as sent by God, are designed to draw out our graces, but not our corruptions. The origin of evil and temptation is in our own hearts. We choose as to whether or not that temptation is taken to action. To stop the beginnings of sin, or all the evils that follow must be wholly charged upon us.

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it (1 Cor 10:13). 

(Thanks Ian for Contributing!!)

God is Well Pleased – Not in What You Do, But by Your #Faith in Who He Is –


My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand (John 10:27-28)~ Through our circumstances, God speaks to us in all many ways and is ALWAYS speaking to us. It is up to us to always be listening! When it comes to being in the will of God, most Believers are right where God wants them to be for this season of their life. Most who are seriously trying to follow Christ are not living in wanton and purposeful rebellion to the Lord and are trying their best to honor Him with their lives each day. God knows your heart fellow sheep. He knows your desire is to please Him. The message I want you to hear loud and clear today is to be at peace in that truth. Unless you are purposely living in rebellion to God, you are right where He wants you for today! Who else but Satan is planting those seeds of doubt in your mind? Remember my friend, Satan is a LIAR! He wants you to believe that you are out of God’s will, that you aren’t where God really wants you because you’re not doing what God really wants you to be doing. He wants to lead you astray where he can deceive you even more…. having you thinking you have to do all of these menial and mundane works to get in God’s good graces. Well remember, the Bible says it is by GRACE that we are saved, not by our works – that we might have something to brag about! All of the ‘work’ that was needed to be done for our salvation and acceptance by God was completed by Christ. When we learn to rest in that and be at peace with “ourselves” the easier it will be for us to dismiss the lies of the devil. Don’t listen to the lies of Satan and let him rob you of your peace and joy in serving Christ. God wants you to be free as you serve Him each day, not bound up in confusion over whether you are in the will of God or not. Don’t be so focused on the “task” you do as some “service” for God, but be focused on the faith and belief in Him. When God wants you to do something for Him, He will tell you. He tells you through passages of Scripture that you read. He tells you through that “still small voice” as you pray. It is God who gives you the inspiration to serve Him. But don’t ever think your pleasing Him comes from tasks, achievements and milestones; – remember, you can do every measure of great things in God’s name, 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 (Heb 11:6). Want to do something to please God? Stop DOING trying to get His attention and listen for Him… He’s trying to get yours! Hear His voice! Believe Him! REST in the FAITH of His Grace!

Dignified Restraint: If They Go Low – You Go High #SelfControl –


See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men (1 Thes 5:15); Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men (Rom 12:17-18); Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing (1 Pet 3:8-9)~~ People are going to be … people. They will sometimes disrespect you, mistreat you and will use you to obtain their own gain or make their own way. They will take out angers and frustration on you that you may not even deserve, just because you are there and the opportunity exists. Sometimes it’s a malicious act, sometimes they don’t even realize what they’ve inflicted on you. This can come from anyone; co-workers, classmates, perfect strangers, even those we know and love. But we have to keep within ourselves that fruit of the Spirit- self control,  that we don’t make it our purpose to seek revenge or return the negative behavior that is done toward us. Not that we should allow ourselves to be abused, but justice for an act is the reserved responsibility of the Lord, for He says ‘Vengeance is mine”. As hard as it becomes for our “persona” to walk away, we must remember that the wrath of man does not bring about the righteousness of God (James 1:20)..or as we also hear, two wrongs don’t make a right. The greater blessing comes upon you when you learn to “be not weary in well doing” and you respond in blessing and grace to your offenders. Your “ego” gets bruised when you worry about what others think about you but your “spirit” is blessed when you realize and respond based on what God says about you. Want to see Him work in this situation? Watch what happens when you respond in kind grace; and keep the peace! You can’t control what people do to you but you can control how you respond. Do unto others not as they do unto you, but as you would HAVE them do unto you! Remember, God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Heb 11:6). Trust in the ways of God and be blessed!

In Whatever Situation, Praise God for #Favor

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need (Phil 4:11-12)~  We see it as easy to be comfortable and content when we are in a good place. We find it easily within us the “ability” and “desire” to acknowledge and even squeak out a little praise when we feel like God has blessed us with answered prayers, success, material prosperity and those things that talk to the ‘favor’ of God. But do we recognize the favor of God when life isn’t giving us that desire to smile? It seems as though we find ourselves more often in bonds, imprisonments, and necessities; with varying stages of pride, unbelief, vain hankering after something we have not received, and fickle disrelish of present things, make us at times to appear discontented even under favorable circumstances. True ‘favor’ not only gives us the blessings of standing at center stage of His provision; but when it seems like the Light is not on us, it turns out that this may actually be when it’s at its brightest! If you look at all of those areas we seem to feel slighted about, His provision is there too. In the hardest points of our lives, God shows us favor because we got through those hard points. When we are having bad days on the job, He is giving us favor because somewhere, somebody is in the unemployment line with benefits about to run out while you’ve got a job to go to. When it seems like you’re all alone, remember that you can talk to Him because He’s never left or forsaken you. It’s not just when things are going in what you see as your favor, that you’re getting favor, but realize that when you feel like you’re struggling most, is when His favor is even more upon you. Let us pray for patient submission and hope when we are at our lowest; and for humility and a heavenly mind when we are exalted; because in all cases, we are in His divine favor! 

Protests; Killings; Destruction -But The Problem is not Solved #NextSteps –

For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God (James 1:20)~~ So the craziness continues.. more African Americans are getting needlessly profiled and killed by law enforcement. So we mobilize, march, block streets, get riled up…kill a few of them and burn our cities down… but it continues… we claim it’s because of the police officer killings, which are by every form of the definition, murder… and they’re protected by that badge and some weak prosecution and weak defense for the innocent.  I realize that not all of us are innocent when we get shot, some of us are just flat out stubborn, rebellious and belligerent…. but more often than not, our men don’t deserve what’s happening at the hands of the police! Thus, the anger and tension… and to make it worse, we see a whole different outcome with regard to non-African-Americans.  Our next complaint is about the job situation – the lack of opportunities we seem to have compared to others… – So again, we mobilize, march, block streets, get riled up and burn down a few buildings and steal whatever is not nailed down… and that’s it… but now the employers that COULD give us jobs are gone…. the economic prescription to building the lower parts of our cities up is being diverted to recovering from where we brought parts of our cities down.  What did we SOLVE??? What RIGHT did we bring about by responding with more WRONG??? Hmmm.. let’s think this through, we get mad, protest and complain about things that are not fair to us – so we retaliate with the same kind of behavior.  They kill us, so let’s go kill them.  Then there are things beyond the reprehensible killings – such as JOBS… and our celebrities and people who are part of the ‘well off’ that are indeed true to the CAUSE give us ideas that actually are counter-productive.  Recently a well known actor suggested we skip out on work, school and putting into the economy.. all things that drive UP the opportunities we need!!! As our favorite TV and Music personalities guide us, we decide in protest now to just skip out on our JOBS (for those of us that have them)… respectfully speaking.. BAD IDEA!!!
Help me understand this…. So our mindset is what we feel like they’ve done to us, we have to do to them.. SO, we’re gonna protest, tear up our cities, kill them and even each other if we feel like we have to because we need to teach somebody a lesson.. or whatever we feel like justifies us because we want them to see that we indeed matter.  YES… we DO matter and we absolutely DESERVE and should DEMAND our proper place in all things… but our mindset of how to get there… we need to really think this through!  Like I said before, WHAT DID WE SOLVE in all of this battling??? And the skipping work idea…. I’m sorry but like voting, I see JOBS as an important point… people have fought for opportunities – and equal opportunities for African Americans to even HAVE JOBS… and yet our answer is to not participate in what we’ve fought for so long to have. Don’t Vote??? Don’t go to work??? Are we really making things better? Are we impacting anything by taking a day off or are we just making a statement? Refusing to work hurts the worker more than it hurts the employer… If I take that day off, I’M the one not getting paid… and my company goes on!!! And burning their building down won’t change that.. they just won’t be IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD ANYMORE…
Like my opinions or not… this is not about likes and approvals, but hopefully provoking some real self examination of all of us and how we can make this world a better place.  We can’t sit back and constantly point fingers at what the world is doing wrong – everyone has an issue of some type – but if we don’t work together on this, we are just in an endless rat race. Nothing gets fixed when we resort to fighting in and out of our cultures! While the protests are important and voices need to be heard, we’ve got to find a way to go to the next step beyond that and work WITH those that we are trying to bring change in… if we keep just protesting and rebelling – going against the grain, tearing up everything in sight like a kid having a tantrum; and not going forward to the next step… pretty soon, they’re going to ignore the message…claiming we’re just making noise… it’s going to get old and violence only makes it worse FOR us! And NOTHING will change because at the end of the day all we’re doing is fighting. When do we go the next step beyond protests and fighting and destruction and start taking positive actions toward making things better? We’re great at organizing coalitions of people for protesting and rioting – where are the LEADERS who will step up and work on the ACTIONS to actually make things better???

Promote You – God Humbles You; Humble You – God Promotes You #Humility –

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11)~~ What does it mean for us to have the Mind of Christ? Herein is our example. Jesus knew full well who He was and what His destiny was; yet He didn’t make a show of it; He didn’t walk around pounding His chest in arrogance about His power or His persona or what He possessed in Heaven. Instead He walked in His assignment for 33 years on earth as a man; in humility, denying Himself of all of His Heavenly glory to walk among man AS a man. He could have easily made it all about Him because in truth, He was worthy but He, even He gave all glory to God the Father! It wasn’t about Him, but about the Lord. Jesus could have walked around promoting Himself and subscribing to a form of ‘social media’ of that day – seeking His own followers and favorites, likes and trends; but He instead promoted the Father. He lived a life that made Him worthy of GOD’s acknowledgement (This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased – Matthew 3:17) and as a result, He was GIVEN a name above every name. His promotion came not from those around Him, but from the Lord (Psalm 75:6). Jesus knew that everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted (Luke 14:11). So herein again is our example in having the mind of Christ: Walking in our assignment – doing what we are called to do; not being self promoting, but sacrificing ourSELVES, being humble and worthy of God’s acknowledgement and giving credit to HIM for what comes to us by our ways and works. And in Him, not the promotion by and of the world, will we be positioned!