Mistaken Identity

Upon being a born again believer back in 2014, God miraculously transformed me from one minute to the next. I understand that this is not every persons experience but I thank God it was mine. Many of my desires had changed instantaneously, for example my habit of drinking, smoking, choice of music, and my choice of language. Something that hadn’t changed was me continuing to hang out with my friends. See the thing is that when God changes you from the inside-out, the world no longer “feels good”. To be honest, now that I have spiritual eyes and the Word of God in me, I know that the world offers a false sense of good.

Isaiah 5:20 NASB

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

So I hung out with my friends as they continued to do the same ole same ole, but all the while I started to become uncomfortable. I couldn’t laugh at their jokes, I couldn’t have “just one drink” as they would insistently ask, I could not partake in anything they were doing because I was different. I never felt bad about not doing what they were doing, nor did I have the desire to, Praise God! They couldn’t figure out why I did not want to take part in their festivities even after sharing my testimony with them. “God saved me, I am not the same person. I don’t curse anymore, I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I mean really-it’s crazy!” Despite me glorifying God and bearing witness to the miracle, they still thought I was the old me, regardless of what they saw. Or maybe they thought I was just going through a phase. After about two months, I started hearing them say “we miss the old Courtney, she was more fun”. They would also bring up old stories of the things I did, and how I acted. This is just typical for Satan, he likes to remind people who they were. He will constantly use other people, or memories to remind us of the pit we were in. You see, because my friends were so focused on who I used to be they were missing out on the miracle that I was. God miraculously transformed me, but they couldn’t see it. Maybe they doubted the whole thing. Even some of my family members questioned my new identity. You want to hear something crazy? Even Jesus being the Messiah was doubted by those who knew him!

Mark 6:1-6 NKJV

Then He went out from there and came to his own country, and His disciples followed him. And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue. And many hearing Him were astonished, saying, Where did this Man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands! Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us? So they were offended at Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house.”

Now he could do no mighty work there, except that He laid hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He marveled because of their unbelief. Then He went about the villages in a circuit, teaching.

We see here that despite Jesus performing miracles, healing, and teaching that His own country men mistook his identity. “Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon?” Yes, Jesus was a carpenter but now he was the Messiah being revealed in God’s perfect timing.

Are there still people who think you are the same person you used to be? Does Satan deceive you into thinking you will never be good enough? Satan is a liar! He wants to steal the identity that Christ has given us, and cause us to go backwards. Be aware that Satan knows that we are called to great and mighty things for the Kingdom of Heaven. We are a threat to his plans! It is empowering knowing that we serve a God that holds the victory, and we are victorious with him. Walk in your God ordained identity and don’t look to the world for labels.

Lord Jesus, we thank you for your crown of Glory placed on our heads. We are priceless, we are uniquely made and there is not one person like us. I am destined for great and mighty things, and you have equipped me to be victorious. I want to walk in the abundance you have for my life, and be transformed into whom you desire me to be. In Jesus name I pray, Amen!

Will I go to Heaven?

I bet my title has been googled over a million times, people looking for answers on the internet when the true answer lies with God. As believers in Jesus Christ, we have learned that God is merciful. When we sin or fall short daily, we know we can ask for forgiveness, and he grants it to us. God is love, he is mercy, he grants us unmerited favor, he is peace, he is joy, he is protective, HE IS. God is also in the business of judgement. As most of us can attest to, there is a consequence to every sin, sooner or later. It is important that we have a healthy fear of the Lord, that we respect him, and that we have a love that runs so deep in our heart that we do not want to go against his will. Today, we are going to the book of Matthew for an example as to why we must walk in a way that is pleasing to God.

Matthew 24:45-51

The Faithful Servant and the Evil Servant

Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of his household, to give the others their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose that servant is wicked and says in his heart, ‘My master will be away a long time.’ And he begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day he does not anticipate and at an hour he does not expect and will cut him in pieces, and appoint his portion with the hypocrites. There is where the weeping and grinding of teeth will be.

So what is this Bible verse being compared to you might ask? To put it simply, Jesus is coming back again and the Bible says no one knows the day or hour but be ready! What does readiness look like? I am going to use direct scriptures instead of my opinion, because my opinion will not get you into heaven. The highlighted points are key.

Matthew 18:3

and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. (not literally becoming children but have the innocence of)

Matthew 3:2

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Matthew 5:10 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God ? Do not be deceived ; neither fornicators , nor idolaters , nor adulterers , nor effeminate , nor homosexuals , nor thieves , nor the covetous , nor drunkards , nor revilers , nor swindlers , will inherit the kingdom of God . Such were some of you; but you were washed , but you were sanctified , but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God .

To my reader’s who may be questioning your salvation and whether you will end up with Jesus in heaven, it is only too late to change once he returns. Do not wait another day to be saved because tomorrow is not guaranteed. The Lord loves you, has a special plan for your life that goes beyond what you can imagine, so seek God and ask of his forgiveness. The next thing to do is, ask him to transform you into his likeness. As long as we have a genuine heart wanting to be changed, God will do it. Read the word and that will renew your mind.

Dear Lord, We thank you for the gift of life. I ask that you forgive us of our sins, and help us to be more Christ-like. We desire to know you more. To hear from you more. And to love you more. I ask that you create a new spirit in me, one that is righteous and bold for you. Help us to understand your Holy Bible and grow. We love you and thank you, In Jesus name I pray.

The Sinner’s Prayer (by Dr. Ray Pritchard)

Lord Jesus, for too long I’ve kept you out of my life. I know that I am a sinner and that I cannot save myself. No longer will I close the door when I hear you knocking. By faith I gratefully receive your gift of salvation. I am ready to trust you as my Lord and Savior. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for coming to earth. I believe you are the Son of God who died on the cross for my sins and rose from the dead on the third day. Thank you for bearing my sins and giving me the gift of eternal life. I believe your words are true. Come into my heart, Lord Jesus, and be my Savior. Amen.

Lighten the load

Matthew 10:28-30

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

So suppose you were a farmer, and had lots of cattle one kind being oxen.

oxe

You have this big masculine animal but the problem is that He (sorry guys, it only makes sense) is very stubborn. You need some heavy loads of hay needing to be hauled from one place to another and he is your only hope. You tie one side of the rope around his neck, ensuring it is secure and the opposite side to a pallet full of hay. Everything looks good. You start walking along side the Ox, provoking him to walk by poking him with a stick. The ox walks about twenty yards and the pallet strung behind him is rigidly swaying left to right. At this point, the Ox is uncomfortable from being poked and the haystacks are about to topple over. The farmer didn’t really think this one through but then he remembered, “I have a yoke back in the barn”!

yoke

So the farmer gets the yoke and says to his ox, “this should do the trick, it will provide stability and help you carry the load with ease”. So he puts the yoke on his ox.

ox and farmer

The weight of the pallet of hay was now evenly distributed because of the yoke, it became easier to pull and within minutes the task at hand was accomplished. What was the game changer in this illustration, the yoke!

I am almost there folks, continue to follow me..

Lets make this relatable since not all of us are farmers.

#1 The farmer is us, or you, or me.

#2 The pallet of hay is the burdens we carry through life (trials, tribulations, relationships, finances).

#3 The ox is what we think is going to solve the problem (person, place or thing). It is what we see as the solution.

#4 The yoke is our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the true solution.

For he the Lord says, take my yoke upon you= Allow the spirit of God to come upon you

Learn from Me and you will find rest= I will give you direction and peace

For my yoke is easy and My burden is light. (Matt 11:30)
Easy in Greek is chrestos and denotes; useful, pleasant, comfortable, good.
Burden in Greek is phortion and denotes weight
Dear Lord, we thank you that you are always there for us when we can’t carry the load. You desire us to cast our cares and burdens on you and in return you give us rest, we are so grateful for your love and compassion. Continue to comfort us all with your grace and mercy. Amen.

God, why are you silent?

We have all been there right? You are in a tough spot, you don’t know what to do or where to go and when to take the step. God, why are you not answering me? We cry, we beg, we doubt, and grow weary. You start reflecting, am I living a repentant life, am I reading my Bible enough, are my prayers superficial, what am I doing wrong? Let me tell you that once you hear the voice of God, it is tormenting not to hear from him. We assume he is mad at us or no longer hanging around but that simply isn’t true. What does the Bible tell us;

Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

I know we have all heard that when God is silent he is testing us, are we up for the challenge of obedience. Is our Faith steadfast regardless of his silence? While this all is very true, I have found that God’s silence is more to purge us of our negative character. I will give you an example. I am the type of woman who likes to figure things out, solve problems, and do things on my terms, some may refer to this behavior as a “control freak”. So here I am, unable to do a darn thing about my situation. I have absolutely no control, although, the Lord knows I tried. A couple of months ago I said to the Lord, “Okay I get it, you don’t need my help. Forgive me for trying to do things my way and in my own strength”.  Sometimes God wants us to fight the battles with him leading us, but in this particular case, he wanted it all to himself.

Exodus 14:14 NASB

The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.

So I backed off in the natural realm from the situation at hand, but in the supernatural realm I was still fighting for control. I would pray and ask God, “Lord show me something, tell me something, how is this going to work out”? I literally felt tormented not knowing how everything was going to end up. I needed and wanted control so bad that I was trying to manipulate God so I could know his plans. Ridiculous.

Then God awakened me! Why would God reveal his plans and timing to you if he is trying to rid you of control issues? Along with control issues, you need deliverance from fear also because that is the root cause. Oh, and also you have trust issues which is bringing you anxiety. Yup, I’m pretty jacked up! I can laugh now but I seriously was going crazy.

If I rest in the full assurance that God is fighting my battle then I don’t have to interrogate him in my prayer time. I can use that time in thanking him for my deliverance and worship him for who he is and also pray for others. I know God’s ultimate goal is to transform me from glory to glory and I am to be patient and plugged into him while he does the work. Don’t let anyone tell you that it is not a painful process because God exposes our weaknesses, flaws and above all, our heart. If he is silent, it does not mean you have done anything wrong. God wants to see how you will respond to his silence, your character may need some purging. Let him bring you out stronger, that way in the next battle you are cool, calm and collect.

2 Corinthians 3:18

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

 

 

 

 

Stand Firm

It seems like more often than before that the Church and Christians are being persecuted for their beliefs. We see the enemy rising up through people and politics to quiet our proclaiming of Christ and his Word. Take for example the City of Houston requesting that churches turn over their sermon notes that taught against homosexuality or gender identity. Why such a request you might ask? The first openly gay Mayor obviously felt convicted because her lifestyle did not align with the Word of God. I suppose she thinks that if she can remove the preaching against homosexuality and gender confusion then her conscience is cleared, however, the Bible says;

Matthew 24:35 King James Version (KJV)
35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

Can I get an Amen in this house?! Hallelujah to the Most High! His Words will never ever pass away no matter how hard the world tries to get rid of God, they will fail.

I am not going to speak in a condemning way in regards to the lifestyle of homosexuality or gender confusion, I would rather be tender-hearted towards them. Being hateful is not going to help anyone or lead them closer to God, but love covers a multitude of sin. (1 Peter 4:8) Plus the reality is that sin is sin, and God is no respecter of persons. The Word of God is in black and white and he hates all sin and unrighteousness.

Today I was led to read the Book of Acts, which entails the baptism of the Holy Spirit in the upper room, spreading the gospel through the power of the Holy Spirit, signs and wonders, and the persecution of Christians. I will be talking about the persecution of believers and how we need to stand firm in adversity.

In Acts chapter 3, we have the story of Peter and John heading to the temple and at the gate called Beautiful they cross paths with a lame man. The lame man lays at the gate asking for alms (charity)from all those who come to worship, but on this special day he received more than that. As he fixed his eyes on Peter and John, they said “look at us”, so the lame man fixed his eyes on them, and they continued, “silver and gold I do not have but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” The lame man took them by the hand and raised up and immediately, his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he leaped up, stood and walked into the temple with them. All those around them saw the miraculous had been done in Jesus’ name and were amazed. (Acts 3:1-10)

So of course the devil can’t stand that God and his son Jesus get all the glory, so he plots. The story of the lame man being healed had spread like wild fire throughout the city and the Sadducees sent his men to arrest Peter and John for preaching the gospel of Jesus. The next day Peter and John were in presence of authority being questioned as to what power and in what name do they perform these miracles, and they replied that they did these things in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth whom they crucified but raised from the dead. (Acts 4:7-10)

The authorities spoke among themselves and asked “what shall we do to these men? For indeed, that a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But so that it does not spread any further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name.” (Acts 4:16-17)

‘But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than God, you judge”. “For we cannot but speak of the things which we have seen and heard”. (Acts 4:19-20)

Just as today’s society, we have slanderers of Christianity who are refusing to gain access to the Father through his Son. Just as the Sanhedrin, the high priest and others, people cannot deny the signs and wonders that are occurring in the name of Jesus. Instead of submitting to the supremacy of our Almighty God, they silence the truth. I am calling all my brothers and sisters in Christ to not give way to the enemy and hide your Faith- Stand Firm and see the salvation of the Lord!

Dear Lord, I thank you for your Holy Spirit that lives within all your believers and I pray that they are consumed with your fire to go out and share the gospel in boldness and without regret. We thank you that our reward is in heaven and that all the persecution here on earth is not in vain. I pray for the heart of every man, that it will be softened to receive your Word which is the truth and live a Holy and pleasing life, In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

 

 

Those outside voices

Who doesn’t love when someone gives their opinion without being asked for it? I admit that I have been guilty of this more than a million times but am getting better! I certainly have learned who I will and will not receive counsel from when I am going through a firey trial. It is important as believers and unbelievers that we go to seek wise counsel, someone who is dependable, slow to speak and quick to listen. However, the reality is that we seek out whoever is convenient and end up more confused or hurt than before. To give a prime example of negative outside voices, we are going to look at the well known story of Job.

Job was a blameless and upright man (it says this in the Bible). He had been blessed with a wife, seven sons, three daughters, and a large household and a keeper of thousands of livestock. Some people might say blessed, others might think that’s a lot of work! As most know, back then inheritance with family and possessions was a depiction of God’s favor over ones life. It even says according to the Bible that Job was the greatest of all the people in the east. Job was clearly just an all-out great guy and he feared God. He made regular sacrifices and burnt offerings on behalf of his sin and the unbeknownst sin of his family members. He always desired to be in good standing with his God.

So one day in Job’s perfect not so little life, Satan decided to approach God and his angels to stir him up. The Lord asked Satan, “From where do you come?” So Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.”(Job 1:6-7) Meaning that he was on the prowl for a victim.

1 Peter 5:8 NIV
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?” So Satan then answered the Lord and basically says well he doesn’t fear God in vain, you have placed a hedge of protection around him, his family and all he owns. You, his God has blessed his hands and the work of them, but if you stretch out your hand against your servant he will surely curse you. And the Lord replies to Satan, “Behold all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person.” (Job 1:8-12)

I can just picture it, God is looking at Satan pathetically and probably thinking about what a slime ball he is. And I’m sure Satan was laughing and rubbing his nasty little paws together, drooling at the thought of tormenting Job. Besides this little imagery, we learn that God is in control of everything and that includes Satan. It is difficult to understand God’s supremacy and sovereignty but He is God. No questions asked.

So Satan pursues Job and wreaks havoc on his life, kills his children, kills his livestock, and attacks Job’s health with painful boils. So if things couldn’t get any worse, his wife rises up against him and says “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9) And Job replies “you speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.(Job 2:10)

Talking about kicking someone while their down, Job’s wife was anything but supportive. This U-turns back to my original statement of seeking people of wisdom. As if she wasn’t bad enough, Job’s three friends show up and lay the condemnation on him real thick. Here’s just one example out of many..

Job 4:7-9 NKJV

“Remember now who ever perished being innocent? Or where ever were the upright cut off? Even as I have seen, Those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same. By the blast of God they perish, and by the breath of His anger they are consumed”. 

So here we have Job’s friend Eliphaz, accusing him of being a sinner which is why the wrath of God has struck him. (Lets hit the pause button) Who does this guy think he is? There is a right way of doing things and this was not it. If one of your friends is living a life of sin, the number one thing we are to do is pray for them. Secondly, if God calls you to correct your friend and guide them toward repentance, do it gracefully and with tact. However, this wasn’t even the case! Job was blameless and upright, he was a Godly man, walked and talked it. Eliphaz had no idea what was going on in the spiritual realm nor did he have any wisdom to interject. Poor Job, heard all of his friends accuse him of sinning and cursing God. I mean these accusations went on for a couple of chapters and Job had to defend himself against the wolves disguised as friends.

The Lord knew Jobs heart and that is why he allowed Job to be tested, he knew that he was a faithful servant. As for Job’s friends, they were self righteous. It is an eye opener though because we have all been there and done that, maybe we’ve been the accuser or we’ve been the one tested. There are several points to this story and they are:

  1. God will allow us to be tested even if we are upright and without blame
  2. God will allow us to go through trials if we fall into sin, so we must repent.
  3. The devil loves to see people tormented and especially curse God, no matter how difficult it gets continue to serve the Lord.
  4. Don’t share everything with just anyone, seek out Godly counsel and mature wisdom-filled people
  5. Don’t be the accuser because you will do more harm than good.
  6. Pray for people who are suffering and going through trials that is the best thing you can do!

Father God, teach us by your Holy Spirit how to deal with people and situations. Let us bring glory and honor to you forever and always! Amen.