Straight Out of Ashes!

In Isaiah 61:3 we are introduced to a marvelous and benevolent exchange process. The word of God reads, “To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory.”

As many of you know, life is filled with choices. Sometimes the choices we make line up with God’s will, plan and purpose, but there are times when the choice(s) we made didn’t even come close to lining up with one letter of God’s word!

These prodigal driven choices creates “ashes” like grief in the deepest pockets of our souls, where no one but God can really see.

In the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) we learn of a beautiful “comeback” story of a young man who went from riches to rags and then from rags back to riches.

In Luke 15:16-17 we find the the prodigal (lost) son ‘starving like Marvin’, but before he took a bite of the decadent fruit (pods) prepared for swine he decided to opt-out and to return home. Now, let’s not fit it twisted; it wasn’t his empty stomach that led him back to his father’s house, it is was repented heart.

Upon his return home, in exchange for his bad choices (ashes) his loving and forgiving father figuratively gave him a crown of beauty.

Brothers and sisters, there’s beauty and greatness behind every mark of darkness. Ashes eventually blow away, they don’t stay forever, but God’s greatness and glory shines forever through every broken place, bad choice and flaw we’ve struggled through.

Our only hope is in Jesus. He conquered death. He lives forever. He reigns in glory. And we have victory in Him.

If this message is speaking to the core of your spirit, today is the day you get up and head back home to our Father’s house where there is a crown of beauty awaiting—straight out of your ashes!!

#BeStrong

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Never Forget!

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Prayer is The Answer!

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Seasoned Speech!

How many times have you started a conversation with a family member, friend, or co-worker and when the discussion was over all parties walked away feeling empty, exhausted and unaccomplished?

In most cases, we want to be “right” and it’s our pride that impedes civility, clarity and unity. Unfortunately, we unintentionally and sometimes intentionally lose sight of our ethic and moral compasses.

When we become overtly obsessed on whether we are “right” or “wrong” we create more of a problem than being just wrong, because we often repudiate what really matters. The meanings of our exchanges with others, and the feelings that an action has produced in us, are sometimes more important than our ethic and moral codes.

So why is it so important to be “right”?

It is human nature to want to be “right”. We want to exist and be visible for our other half. The problem is that being “right” becomes more important than being considerate, meaningful and compassionate. Often we do not realize it; we just get “stuck” (or one of the two of us gives up) and the discussion does not lead anywhere. Yet, quietly the doubts start inside us and we lose, bit by bit, contact with our real self.

Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:29, “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” In the OT, Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 10:12, “The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious, but the lips of a fool consume him.”

The point of all discussions is to remain objective. We shouldn’t be compelled to “win” the argument or “feel right”; it’s not a competition!We should aspire mutual understanding and we should always walk away from a conversational engagement knowing each party was at a bare minimum heard and understood.

Paul endorsed this methodology in Romans 4:19. He said, “So then, let us pursue what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” We must be cognizant and accountable of not only what we say, but how we say it. Our word choices, attitudes and demeanor should always build up the hearers in faith, holiness, clarity, civility, and unity!

#BeStrong

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Faith Moves God!

God knows, listens and moves whenever we’re in need, pray and believe.

In Philippians 4:19 Paul confirms, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”

In 1 John 5:15 we are reminded, “And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.”

Undoubtedly, God listens to our prayers, but what moves God to action? Contrary to what most people think, it isn’t prayer. Prayer is not to instruct God, or inform God, or impress God. Prayer moves you and me, however it is authentic faith that moves God’s hand. Faith is not believing that God can, rather it’s knowing that He will! Come here Centurion officer.

In Matthew 8:8 we hear those famous words, “….. just say the word, and my servant will be healed.” When Jesus heard this, He was amazed. Turning to those who were following him, He said, “I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel (v10)! The centurion officer’s faith not only amazed Jesus, it moved Him. In verse 13 Jesus responded to his faithful plea, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.”

I don’t know who I am speaking to today, but God is telling me to tell you that He knows, He’s listening and He’s moving in every circumstance in your life today!

A move of God will typically follow a move of Faith!

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Humbled!

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Repentance Precedes God’s Promises!

The call to repentance precedes God’s promise to restore. In the book of Joel(1&2), we find the minor prophet’s main message was that salvation (promise) will only pour out upon Judah and Jerusalem when the people turn their hearts back to Yahweh. God spoke intrinsically clear through His prophet in His call for repentance.

In Joel 2:12-13 God said, “12Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. 13Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Wow, I love the New Living Translation version of these passages! You see, back in the day it was ancient tradition among the Jews to tear their clothing in association with mourning, grief, and loss.

Did you notice the amplification in verse 13? In other words, God is saying be real, genuine and authentic with your repentance. Come here Samuel and testify. I Samuel 16:7 confirms, “But the LORD said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

I don’t know about you, but I am ready for the promise of restoration and for the promise of God’s spirit to manifest in my life and in the lives of everyone around!

Friends, it’s time for God’s blessings to fall upon us, but first we must make it right with God. Romans 3:23 says, “All have sin and fallen short of God’s glory” and with that said, it’s time for us start tearing our hearts before a forgiving, loving and promise keeping God! And then, the blessings of God will fall upon our lives!

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Called By God!

Your calling was not assigned by man! Your calling was supernaturally and specifically assigned by God. Galatians 1:1 confirms, “This letter is from Paul, an apostle. I was not appointed by any group of people or any human authority, but by Jesus Christ Himself and by God the Father, who raised Jesus from the dead.”

Paul (f/k/a) Saul conversion was one of the greatest transformations of biblical history. In Paul’s former life, he persecuted Jesus followers. His sudden change confused those around him, because he was known as one who hated Christians, who went about seeking them out to eliminate those individuals he genuinely considered as breaking Jewish law. Suddenly he was transformed from despising the followers of Jesus into fervently espousing the Gospel of that same Jesus. No one could have anticipated this conversion; it is one of the great miracles of mankind.

The key point in today’s narrative is that no one else is supposed to understand your calling. It wasn’t broadcasted on a conference call, FaceTime call, or in a Zoom meeting!

For Saul, his encountered with Jesus was personal. On the road to Damascus a bright light and Jesus’ voice knocked him off his feet. Blinded from his encounter with Jesus, he allowed himself to be led into Damascus where he was baptized, after which he set out to spread the news of Jesus.

Undoubtedly, I believe this was one of the reason Paul penned these words in Romans 9:11-12, “God chooses people according to his own purposes; He calls people, but not according to their good or bad works.”

Friends, I know you’ve heard it said, “God doesn’t call equip, He equips the people He call.” But, if you are struggling with this concept and are feeling weak and inadequate or ill-equipped for your assignment from God, you are in good company. All through the ages, your brothers and sisters have struggled with the same feelings. But what great hope we have! He promises to equip us with everything we need for doing His will — everything we need within and without.

In closing, I invite you to be confident in believing; “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil 1:6). Additionally, cleave to these words written in Hebrews 13:20-21 “Now may the God of peace, who… brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus… equip you with everything good for doing his will” (everything you need for accomplishing His will).

God is the One who works within us what is pleasing to Him (Phil 2:13)!!

You have been called by God!!!

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POWER•LOVE•SELF-CTRL

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-control.” 2 Tim 1:7

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God Will Make A Way!

In the spirit of transparency many of us have pondered this question at least once before in our lifetime: how will God make a way when there seems to be no way.

With that said, let’s briefly examine Abraham’s impasse. Abraham found himself in a conundrum when he took Isaac, his promised son up to the mountain to sacrifice him before God. Yet, just in the knick of time God provided a solution.

The Bible confirms in Genesis 22:9-14, “Abraham built an altar and bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven. “Abraham! Abraham! Here I am, he replied; do not lay a hand on the boy, he said. Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son. Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The Lord will provide (El-Shaddai).”

Abraham was typical man and there’s no doubt he initially pondered the same question as mentioned above, but in the end he like many others in both the OT and NT will scriptural testify that when you can’t explain how it happened, then you know it was God that did it!

Here’s the deal, God makes a way when there seems to be no way when we ask the Lord to teach us the way to go. Moses wrote, “Teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you” (Ex. 33:13).

Once we know the Lord’s attributes we are better able to discern His ways for our life. David wrote, “Teach me your way, O Lord and I will walk in your truth” (Psalm 86:11).

Before I close, let’s quickly examine one more NT gospel giant; Paul!! Paul understood how God makes a way when there seems to be no way when he wrote, “It is God who is at work in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13,14).

Saints, when the going gets tough it’s incumbent upon us to trust the Lord to do the things that are humanly impossible while we continue to do what is humanly possible (faith with works).

I leave you with this truth; no matter what predicament, conundrum, problem, or difficulty you are facing the Lord will aways make a way when there seems to be absolutely no solution in sight. It is God’s unequivocal will to always provide a solution to any problem we are facing.

Therefore, I encourage you (including myself) to look at the biblical guidelines in complying with God’s will so that you can experience His all sufficient grace, His enabling power and His irrefutable sovereignty working in your life.

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