Devotional Blog

James 1:12 Tempt of Evil vs. Test of Faith

James 1:12 (NLT)
God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

Temptation can be experienced in two forms: temptation of man and earthly things and temptation by God. When we are tempted by man and earthly things, we should escape from it. However, when God tempts us, it is not a tempt of evil but a test of faith. As our scripture reminds us, blessed is the man that endureth temptation, for when he is tried he shall receive the crown of life. Therefore, endure through the desire and enticement of the earthly temptation, and maintain your faith when "tempted" by God.

Psalm 19:1-2 He Is Everything You Need

Psalm 19:1-2
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.

This scripture reminds me that God is everything you need in life even when things are going wrong. Let the work of God’s hand be the encouragement that you need to press through the storms. Always remember, joy is a by-product of a relationship with God, not your circumstances, material items, or even your education. Stay close to God, see the work of His hands, and everything else will fall into place.

Proverbs 22:1 Do You Sell Out Your Faith for Success?

Proverbs 22:1 (ESV)
A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.

Do you walk in integrity? As I reflect on today’s scripture, it is reminding us that maintaining a good name is to be chosen over wealth? Ask yourself, have you sold out your faith for success? Have you disavowed your morals for recognition? As a Christian, it is necessary to trust that God has great plans in store for you and where He can take you is far greater than any human being. Always remember you cannot glorify Christ and engage in deceit at the same time. Choose this day what God you will serve and choose wisely.

Matthew 10:5-8 Do You Freely Give to Everyone?

Matthew 10:5-8 (NIV)
These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. 7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.

Today’s scripture reminds us that as we freely receive, we should also freely give. It is a blessing to share your time, talent, and even possessions with others. God wants us to be cheerful, generous, and courageous especially to non-believers. However, in today’s world it may be hard given radical religious views that have people slain and ostracized, resulting in many Christians afraid to acknowledge their God. Today’s scripture reminds us that God wants us to share our time and talent with everyone, not just fellow Christians. Therefore, do not be ashamed to share the gospel and know that God will be with you even in the times of terror. I encourage you to go out and spread the Good News of Jesus Christ, and make the commitment to have an overflowing heart that will echo the great love you have for Christ and his children.

Ephesians 4:26-27 Are You in Control of Your Emotions?

Ephesians 4:26-27 (NLT)
And "don't sin by letting anger control you." Don't let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.

As I reflect on today's scripture, do not let the sun go down on your anger, and don't give the devil a foothold, opportunity, or advantage; I am reminded of how the enemy attacks using our emotions. Even Jesus became angry when He witnessed unholy actions in the temple. However, anger is not an emotion that should be given into easily and frequently. Jesus was right in his anger but He did not let it consume Him. There will be many events, especially small ones in life that will evoke anger and tempt us to be filled with hatred, bitterness, and regret. I encourage you today to defeat those emotions and turn to God. Do not let the sun go down without forgiving and freeing yourself from negative emotions. Turn to God in the times of need instead of giving the devil advantage over you.

James 3:16 Zealousness for Christ or Jealousy for Others?

James 3:16 - For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.

Do you possess zealousness for Christ or jealousy for others? Considering the competitive world that we live in, do you tend to be on fire for Christ knowing that He is the way-maker or do you tend to covet your friends, family, and even enemies? Now, I am not blind to the fact that we are imperfect beings. Hence, seeing others in certain positions or possessing material things may incite a spirit of envy. However, I submit to you the more you count your blessings instead of others, the better off you'll be. Our scripture even reminds us there will be disorder and every vile practice when jealousy and selfish ambition exist. I encourage you to ask God to deliver you from the pain of jealousy so you may be zealous for Christ!

2 Corinthians 10:4 Our Weapons Are Spiritual

2 Corinthians 10:4
For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty throughout God to the pulling down of strong holds

During these times of international war, national gang violence, communities condoning racism, and school shootings, we are quick to think that violence is the answer to solve any and all problems. However, as Christians it is important that we stop and pray for wisdom before retaliating especially with violence. As our scripture reminds us, our weapons are not carnal — bombs, guns, and knives, but rather spiritual, the Holy Spirit. Therefore, more pray and fasting will end generational drug abuse, child abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse, and community and domestic violence because we serve a mighty God. Today, I pray for all of those who have lost a loved ones through the act of violence. I pray that we turn to God during times of warfare and despair when we feel that the strong hold is more than we can bare.

 

Psalm 90:17 Do You Live in God's Favor?

Psalm 90:17 (NIV)
May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us – yes, establish the work of our hands.

As I reflect on this scripture, I undoubtedly can affirm how necessary it is to live in God’s favor and carry out His will. As scripture indicates, God’s favor isn’t fair, so praying for his favor is important to grow into the purpose God has for one’s life. Asking God to establish the work of your hands enables you to live in His favor. However, God’s favor comes with a responsibility. The responsibility of staying humble and grounded in His word. Also, the responsibility of knowing that some people are going to speak negatively and unfavorably about you, who may have uncommon favor. Some people may be jealous of the favor you have been blessed with. Therefore, it takes constant worship and communion with God to have the wisdom that is needed to live in God's favor.

Psalm 86:1-2a;11 How Deep Is Your Yearning?

Psalm 86: 1-2a;11
Hear me, Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Guard my life, for I am faithful to you; Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.

The powerful words of this scripture evokes humility because often in life we forget that we are poor and needy. Now I am not simply speaking about material items, but rather poor in spirit because of our lack of worship and needy for protection because of our sinful ways. Therefore when we converse with God through prayer, it is important to petition for God to show us His ways. More specifically as verse 11 indicates, it is essential that we pray to have an undivided heart. Often times, we pray for our will and God’s will, but when God’s will manifests we are not happy, content, nor satisfied. Therefore, if we pray for an undivided heart, we will be at peace with whatever shall come to pass. So, today, ask yourself how deep is your yearning for God to guard your life, give you an undivided heart, and that only His purpose and plan come to pass?

Proverbs 14:1-3 Do You Build or Destroy?

Proverbs 14: 1-3 (NIV)
The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down. Whoever fears the Lord walks uprightly, but those who despise him are devious in their ways. A fool’s mouth lashes out with pride, but the lips of the wise protect them.

“The wise woman (or man) builds her (or his) house, but the foolish tears it down with her (or his) own hands.” This scripture resonates with me when I think about people who are on the journey to building a family. When a man and a woman choose to embark upon a journey of lifelong partnership, their decisions will affect the whole household. Therefore, if they both choose to walk upright and fear the Lord, they will continue to build a strong house. If one spouse chooses to despise the other spouse, that is despising the Lord too. Resultantly, the spouse’s devious ways will tear down the house which was built. Today, I pray for marriages to be built on the solid rock, our Lord, so even in the hard times it will last and flourish. I pray that the husband and wife chooses introspection in difficult times so each one can acknowledge personal wrongs and seek God for direction. So, today, what do you choose? Do you choose to stand on God and gain wisdom to build up your house, or do you choose to seek yourself, stand on stubbornness and tear down what you built? So, do you build or destroy? The choice is yours.

Romans 8:5-6 Mind Check

Romans 8:5-6 (NIV)
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.

As a mental health professional, I always emphasize the importance that change starts in the mind. Once a person changes their thoughts, their behaviors and feelings will follow. Our scripture reminds us that what we choose to govern our mind, will be our destiny. Today, I challenge you to do a mind check. What predominates your mind? What kind of thoughts have you had lately and are you pleased with the subsequent actions? I encourage you to take ten minutes and reflect on the thoughts you’ve had lately and if they are based on the flesh or the Spirit?

Galatians 5:22-23 What Type of Fruit Do You Bear?

Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Have you stopped to think lately what type of fruit you bear? Do you bring love to your family, peace to your workplace, patience to your enemies, and kindness to the homeless? Do you bear fruit that will have people to stop and ask you where the extra pep in your step comes from? Do you bear fruit that will cause someone to ask how you are extremely discipline or gentle? Does your fruit drop seeds that are worth watering? Every now and then as a Christian, you have to evaluate the seeds you sow into people’s lives and be mindful of the fruit you are bearing. The fruit you bear is a representation of the work of Christ. Therefore, reflect if you are producing fruit that is harvesting or destroying the works of Christ. So, what type of fruit do you bear?

Philippians 3:13-14 Do You Trust God Enough to Persevere?

Philippians 3:13-14
Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God's heavenly call in Christ Jesus.

This morning I shared with my Instagram community, "Your job is to keep persevering until God handles the situation!" One aspect of perseverance is forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, as Paul noted in this letter. Just last week we saw Christ's perseverance in His assignment and towards the promise by his father. Christ had to reach forward so our lives could be saved. So, the question is, what do you have to reach forward towards and will you trust God so you can obtain the prize promised to you? Will you trust God like Christ trusted his heavenly father and persevere towards your assignment? Will you continue to push your way towards your uniquely designed purpose by forging ahead? I encourage you to use Christ as your example like Paul did and forget what is behind and persevere toward what is ahead!

Isaiah 53:1-6 Your Personal Journey to Building the Ultimate Connection with Christ, Pt. 7

Isaiah 53:1-6 (NIV)
Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

So, now we have it, FAITH, HOPE, TRUST & LOVE!

 As the scripture reminds us, we all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all!  God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, Jesus, for our iniquities.  Over 2,000 years ago when Jesus hung on that old rugged cross, with sweat, blood, and tears dripping from His body, He died for your sins and rose again, so you could have a personal relationship with God Almighty!  That personal relationship begins with acceptance; acceptance of Jesus’ sacrifice for your sins.  However, it doesn’t stop there.  God wants you to build on that personal relationship. God wants you to have a close bond and ultimate connection with Him through: Faith, Hope, Trust, and Love!

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James 5:13-15 Your Personal Journey to Building the Ultimate Connection with Christ Pt. 2

James 5:13-15 (ESV)
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.

Last week we reflected on the importance of staying connected to Christ and now let’s take a look at the first step — faith.

Faith, is building a relationship with God. How can you build a relationship with God, you may ask? It is through Daily Prayer. In the movie, Miss Clara showed Elizabeth how to pray, and not just pray out of frustration, rather pray with the spirit of expectation! Daily Prayer as John 14:25 reads, “I am leaving you with a gift--peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid. Prayer builds faith and faith provides endurance through every situation you may face! This type of peace of mind that grows your faith cannot be found in the world but only through Christ Jesus! Therefore daily pray connects you closer to Him! During this Lenten season, as you seek to form a deeper connection to Jesus, you need to have faith in your prayers! Faith is the one and only thing that you need. Faith that God will not leave nor forsake you, faith that God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory, faith that you will embody resilience while exiting the storm, faith that He will open the right doors and close the wrong ones, faith that He has the healing power, faith that He can be your comforter in the midnight hour, and faith that you will be ready to embark upon a new journey at the end of your preparation season. Even the rapper Big Krit says, “Don’t get it twisted, I ain’t no saint, I ain’t no pastor. But prayer ain’t just for cloudy days and natural disasters.” Hence, prayer needs to be a daily commitment! So, don’t limit yourself and pray only when you need God. Prayer builds faith and in order to increase your faith, you have to have continuous communication with God.

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Revelations 3:15-18 - Your Personal Journey to Building the Ultimate Connection with Christ

Revelations 3:15-18
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

Many of you may have seen the movie, War Room, which was released in 2015. The premise of the movie is that the Jordans who seem to have it all on the outside are internally dying. The daughter feels unloved, the husband flirts with temptation, and the wife becomes increasingly bitter. You see the Jordans are a true example of how many Christians deceive others through the appearances they keep up, but there is someone we cannot deceive! God! God, brought Miss Clara, into the wife, Elizabeth’s life. Through the relationship that was forged between Miss Clara and Elizabeth, the Jordans learned the formula for the Ultimate Connection with God! This connection that Elizabeth learned was vital to not only her healing but those around her!
Staying connected and having the ultimate connection with Christ is important because it shields us from the bait of Satan. John Bevere, said in his book, The Bait of Satan, "Often when we are offended we see ourselves as victims and blame those who have hurt us.  We justify our bitterness, unforgiveness, anger, envy, and resentment as they surface.  Sometimes we even resent those who remind us of others who have hurt us.  For this reason Jesus counseled, ‘Anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see’ (Rev. 3:18).  See what?  Your true condition!  That's the only way we can "be zealous and repent" as Jesus commanded next.  You will only repent when you stop blaming other people.  When we blame others and defend our own position, we are blind.  We struggle to remove the speck out of our brothers eye while there is a long one in ours" (p. 10).
Just as the scripture says about being lukewarm, we need to be hot for Christ, and the way to stay hot is to be connected! Therefore, over these next six Wednesdays, we are going to explore the steps, to have an ultimate connection with Christ, so we can take ourselves out of the victim role, and identify areas of easy attack. Resultantly, when we find ourselves emotionally and spiritually dying, we know what steps we need to take to stay connected!

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Exodus 33:14-16 - You're Not Alone

Exodus 33:12-14
Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.” The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

So many times in life when people face adversities they approach them as their worldly counterparts would. They start to get anxious, producing worries outside of their control, and forget that God says cast your burdens on me and I'll give your rest! The scripture reminds believers, that they have found favor in God's sight and His presence is omnipresent. Therefore, when you find yourself in a challenging or comprising situation, especially involving your integrity, remember that you are part of the chosen people. Being a part of the chosen people, means addressing situations with peace, solitude, and comfort, knowing that God is there to ease your troubled mind, shield you from the storm, and be with you along the journey.


1 Corinthians 2:9 - Your Preparation Season

1 Corinthians 2:9
However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”—the things God has prepared for those who love him—

During this season, as God is preparing to propel you higher in the next mission in your life, you need to have faith in the process. As the scripture reads, no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human mind has conceived; therefore, faith is the one and only thing that you need. Faith that God will not leave nor forsake you, faith that God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory, faith that you will embody resilience while exiting the storm, faith that He will open the right doors and close the wrong ones, faith that He has the healing power, and faith that you will be ready to embark upon a new journey at the end of your preparation season. So, today I challenge you to ask yourself, do you have just enough faith, enough the size of a mustard seed to sustain you during your preparation season?

Psalm 78:35 - Your Rock is Solid!

Psalm 78:35
And they remembered that God was their rock, And the Most High God their Redeemer.

Natural rocks have been around for hundreds of years, they are considered durable, permanent, and long-lasting. However, what's even stronger, lasts even longer, and is eternal is the spiritual rock, God! Sometimes in life when we get caught in a bind, we forget the solid rock that we stand on. The rock that redeems us from our sins, the rock that saved a wrench like you and me, the rock that shields us from the enemy, and the rock that can weather any storm! As you continue to face challenges, stressors, or minor situations that may try to alter your perspective about the outcome of whatever you may be facing, just remember that you stand on a solid rock, and His name is Jehovah Nissi, God is my Protector!

Philippians 3:12-14 - Strategize, Stretch, and Scape Your Comfort Zone

Philippians 3:12-14
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

At the start of the new year, many of us write out yearly goals. These goals are typically focused on getting into physical and financial shape. However, frequently we let time win and we try to implement the same goals the following year. I offer and encourage you to let 2016 be different and be the year of forging ahead and not looking back! Two things are key when forging ahead: 1) understanding that you can't move forward and look back at the negative situations and attitudes that have occurred in your life 2) where you are is based on the decisions you made in a crisis. Therefore, ask yourself these questions, how am I letting influences of negativity impede on my growth? and what decisions have I made in a crisis situation or when I felt overwhelmed that has set me back in life? Having insight on these questions will enable you to strategize using the word of God, stretch your spirit to overcome the vices, and leave your comfort zone to press on toward the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.