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I love ice cream! In fact, at least once a week last year while I was living in Cleveland, I would drive thru the McDonald’s by my house just for a vanilla cone on my way to work. This particular Wednesday, I was running a few minutes behind schedule but REALLY wanted to grab a cone. I couldn’t risk being late for work so I decided to skip out on the ice cream cone. However, the whole way to work, I was inwardly sulking because I had been anticipating eating it all day.
When I arrived at work, I was in for a treat! After clocking in, I ran into my manager who asked me if I’d gotten some ice cream. Ice cream? Where?! Apparently it had been some kind of appreciation day and so they had ice cream for everyone to enjoy. Don’t mind if I do! I made my way to the ice cream station and let’s just say that McDonald’s ice cream cone became a distant memory. First of all, there were cups. (I prefer to eat my ice cream in a cup, not a cone). Secondly, it was vanilla bean flavored, not just plain old vanilla. And to top it all off, literally, there was fudge, sprinkles, and cherries.
Why am I going on and on about ice cream? If there was one thing that 2018 taught me in more ways than one, it is that as much as I really want my vanilla cone and sometimes sulk when I don’t get it, God has french vanilla ice cream with fudge, sprinkles, and cherries in a cup waiting for me in His perfect time. For example, I began the year waiting on an acceptance letter from the university I was pretty sure I would be attending for graduate school. I was dead set on it and had even started looking at churches, gyms, and apartments–the important stuff. About a month later in February, I received the rejection e-mail. There’s a lot that happened in between but long story short, several months later in July I ended up submitting my application to the school I am now attending for a completely different program and I ABSOLUTELY love it. It couldn’t be more perfect. It’s not the vanilla cone I was so fixated on in the beginning of the year. It’s far better than I ever imagined. I got vanilla bean. AND toppings. In a cup! And it’s definitely overflowing.
Ephesians 3:20-21, my life verse, reads, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” God is a God of measurably more. He can do far more than you ask and far beyond what you can imagine. According to HIS power. So keep asking and imagining but don’t get too worked up when things don’t go as you had planned them. Trust that He knows you, loves you, sees you, and has your best interests at heart. You’re in for a treat!
Written By: Remaliah Evans
Did you know that October is Clergy Appreciation Month? Dictionary.com defines clergy as “the collective body of men and women ordained as religious ministers…” Clergy are the official ministers, pastors, prophets, teachers, apostles, prophets and leaders. What better time to honor these faithful people than Clergy Appreciation Month? As such, I would like to dedicate this blog to the ministers and leaders and say THANK YOU!
When I consider how ministers and leaders have impacted me, I am reminded of the phrase “It takes a village to raise a child.” I joined my church as a spiritual baby and over the years I have been amazed at the time, energy, resources that ministers and leaders pour into others. They have changed my life and helped me grow in my relationship with God. As a tribute to these beautiful people, here are three life lessons that they have taught me:
LOVE: I cannot tell you how many times I have called a minister or leader and they took the time to listen, pray, encourage, and counsel me. Speaking the truth in love, they restored my hope (and oftentimes my sanity) in one conversation! They take time out for me and so many others even though they have very busy schedules. Then there is the fact that I can get a funky attitude at times. They do not condemn me; instead they help me uncover and cure the source of my bad attitude. It takes LOVE and patience to do that. They have taught me that love must be the motivation- loving God and loving people. “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” John 15:12
CHARACTER: Some define character as what you do when no one is looking. I would venture to say that 90% – 95% of what ministers and leaders do is behind the scenes: hours of studying and praying, counseling, home and hospital visits, serving, etc. They live a lifestyle of serving with little recognition. Great ministers and leaders are not concerned with accolades and rewards; instead they choose to maintain integrity and serve people. “May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope, Lord, is in you.” Psalm 25:21
TEAMWORK: Ministers and leaders build teams because it takes teams to fulfill vision and purpose. Wise ministers and leaders do not try to do it all on their own. In fact, they enjoy imparting their experience, knowledge, and grace to others! We are better together. “But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.” 1 Corinthians 12:18-20. “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor.” Ecclesiastes 4:9
Written by Judy Smith
Psalms 118:24 This is the day that the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.
How do we see the day ahead? We say live each day as if it is the last. Then we escalate it to eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow you may die. Sadly we use these sayings as an excuse to live without healthy boundaries or standards.I have seen people dread every day, expecting the worst. People living in fear- fear of dying, fear of losing their job, fear of something happening to their children, fear of sickness and disease, or fear of their spouses being unfaithful. So much fear and negativity; no faith in God or His promises. How sad and horrible that someone should live like that, I’m talking about Christians as well as nonbelievers.
I was raised by my grandparents on a dirt poor farm and my grandfather was barely able to keep us alive, but my grandmother did not face each day with dread and fear. She would say, “You know Judy today is a brand new day that has never been lived before. You go out there and do the best you can to make it a good day and don’t let nobody or anything ruin it for you. Every day is a gift from God”.
Later at the age of thirty one, I received Jesus as my Lord and Savior, and I learned as I studied God’s Word, how scriptural my grandmother’s words were. Because of her, I learned at a very early age how to view my days as a gift.
I come to the Lord very early in the morning every day of my life to thank Him for the gift of today. There is so much to thank Him for. Psalms 5:1-3 Give ear to my words Oh Lord, consider my meditation. Give heed to the voice of my cry, my King and my God; for to you will I pray, my voice you shall hear in the morning; O Lord, in the morning. I will direct it to you, and I will look up. Just think of it- this day has never been lived before, by anyone on this earth. This day is brand new. We must live it the best we can even when those sudden challenges come across our path. Psalms 16:11 You will show me the path of life; In your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
I have learned to live in the joy of the Lord that is my strength. I refuse to allow the enemy to rob me of the joy of the Lord.Yes sometimes I get tired, sometimes I cry, sometimes I get angry, but I make myself praise Jesus and I thank Him for His guidance and strength because today is His gift to me. He leads me and He guides me. I will not be denied His joy. Psalms 34:1 I shall bless the Lord at all times, your praise shall continually be on my lips.
There is nothing more satisfying than slapping the devil with the Word of God. I am so blessed to be living out this gift of today. Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.You can be very creative in making the best of your worst circumstances, by the direction of the Holy Spirit. We walk by faith and not by sight. The more we do that, the greater our faith becomes and we know that nothing is impossible with God.
Psalms 46:10-11 Be still and know that I am God, I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord of Hosts is with us. The God of Jacob is our refuge.
Since I learned to make the best of every day, to see my days as a clean slate and a gift from God, I am responsible to give my very best. I look forward to each day and I allow Jesus to be Lord of my day. I don’t stick my head in the sand and ignore my circumstances, or pretend that they don’t exist, but I start my day with great joy in the presence of Jesus; saying not my will but Yours be done. Each day I study the Word, take authority over my day, speak the Word over my life, and pray for others. I seek first His kingdom and His righteousness for my life and then everything gets taken care of. Numbers 23:19 NLT God is not a man that He should lie. He is not a human that He should change His mind. Has He ever spoken and failed to act? Has He ever promised and not carried it through? No! In the evening I meditate on the day, repent, think about what I learned, and praise Him for the gift of another day. Oh, how I love Him and thank Him.
I sense right now that many of you are saying “but you don’t know what I’m going through.” That’s true. Believe me my precious one, in my 70 plus years of life there is very little in life that I have not experienced and Jesus brought me through all of it. If you will just let Jesus sweep over you and carry you through, this too shall pass.
Lord Jesus I bring before you those that are reading this message right now and I ask You, Abba Father to send the Comforter, the Holy Spirit to comfort them, strengthen them, and teach them how to overcome and cope during challenging times. Lord Jesus give them wisdom, knowledge, understanding, discernment, revelation, and guidance. Let them walk in the power of your might and be overcomers. Lord they are more than conquerors through the blood of the lamb. I apply the blood of the Lamb over them. I pray your hedge of protection around them and all that is theirs, and your guardian angels surround them and their families. I pray that each new day be filled with victories as they recognize that each day is a gift to be treasured. Restore them to the joy of their salvation. Bring healing into their lives, and deliverance from all oppression. Meet their needs Jehovah Jireh, according to your glorious riches. Guide them through each day and shine your light on them and every circumstance. We love you Lord! Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!
Have you ever walked into a room and the atmosphere is tense? Maybe there is a quarrel between family members? Maybe there is gossip between co-workers? Maybe someone is creating a conspiracy theory about another person? The potential scenarios are endless. How do we react when are faced with these types of situations?
Be the light. Be the light. Be the light…is literally my prayer each day. It almost seems like a childish prayer but sometimes we need childlike faith to get us places. Be the light is what Jesus asks of us.
“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16 MSG
Nowhere in the Bible does it state, if there is drama at work, pick the side that’s winning and tear the other people down. Nowhere does it state, when you and your child get in an argument, everyone around must bear the wrath of your anger. Nowhere does it state, if there is darkness in the atmosphere, make the atmosphere darker.
Christ asks us to be the light because it’s a reflection of Him.
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 NIV
Christ is the Light of the world. God is light, and Christ is the image of God. One sun enlightens the whole world, imagine what Christ illuminates?
It only takes a tiny light to illuminate the darkness. Scientists explain darkness as nothing, and light as something. Which means darkness is the absence of energy where light is the presence of energy. So you know what this tells me? In my life, I am carrying the “energy” of this “light”. This light is not me, but the light of my Savior, Jesus Christ.
So here is a test, if there was a GPS tracker on you and your travels, would it show your transmission of Christ’s light? Would it look like a light saber show or a power outage? How often are you able to apply Matthew 5:14-16 in your day to day actions?
Thank you for being perfect and consistent even when I am not. Thank you for dying on the cross and taking my imperfections and making me clean. Though this world is filled with many situations that don’t honor you, I pray by your strength and grace, that you help me continue to be the light in the darkness. I ask for your Holy Spirit to be my guide and guard. Guide my words, guards my thoughts. Guide my spirit and decisions, guard my mind. I pray that my actions and behaviors demonstrate your light in any situations I face. I continue to humble and decrease myself to allow you to increase in me. In Jesus name-Amen.
Written By: Raemarie Kimura
I thank God for all that He is doing in my life and with my photography. God has taken my love for pictures and is transforming it into a business. Last night I contacted a friend to arrange a meeting and discuss the best way to start this business venture. I also emailed a friend to help me create the website. Well, when I got to work this morning I was in the zone, thanking Jesus for connecting me with people who are willing to help me with the logistics of starting a business. Then a coworker asks if everything is ok. I said yes and I told her that I was thinking about my new photography business. She said “girl you don’t even have income. You’re opening up a can of worms, and you don’t know what to do.” My dream was momentarily crushed until I thought of the great God whom I serve. I don’t serve a God of little. I serve a God who is Limitless!
Dreams are best shared with those whom believe in you; people that believe in what God is doing in and through you. Do not allow your dreams and desires to be destroyed by discouraging words. Two fires united create a larger combustion. Therefore share your dreams with others who are also on fire with God’s Word. Jeremiah 23:29 “Is not my word like fire, “declares the Lord, “and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces.” These fiery people will speak the life of God’s word into your dreams; they will declare His promises over you and remind you that His purpose will prevail in your life. In such an environment the fire of your dreams will burn as they are fueled with the fire of God’s word.
“Now may the God Who gives the power of patient endurance (steadfastness) and Who supplies encouragement, grant you to live in such mutual harmony and such full sympathy with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, That together you may [unanimously] with united hearts and one voice, praise and glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah).” Romans 15:5, 6 AMP
Share your dreams with those God has united your heart with. Those people have the grace to patiently endure with you and encourage you through you the process because turning a dream into a reality takes work, discipline, and submission to the One who placed the dream in your heart. We need people who will encourage us when the dream is deferred or when God begins to refine our character. As I am just beginning my business I can see that God has surrounded me and united me with these types of people because He knows what I need. I am so grateful.
Written By: Angie Venegas
Now what’s the story of the toaster? Okay, you know how God can gives a message in anything right? Well I’m visual and he had someone tell me a story and it went like this:
A lady and her husband were fighting, the conversation got heated. Eventually they became more angry, after arguing for a while the husband left the house and she turned to the son who was in the house throughout the whole argument. She said, “Your dad, is a monster, I can’t stand him…blah blah blah. The son just standing there listening to his mom bash his dad to pieces, slowly turned to the kitchen counter and grabbed the toaster…the mother still ranting on and on about the dad, turned toward her son just when the toaster was in front of her face. Her son said, “Mom, Who’s the Monster?” In the toaster she saw her face, full of anger and ugliness! She was the Monster! Wow, is that how she looked when she was full of anger? How awful, she thought.
In a message I shared, I asked all the ladies to pass around a toaster and make the ugliest face that they thought represented themselves when they are angry. It was an eye opener for many.
James 4:11-12 Don’t speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God’s law. But your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you. God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor?
Psalms 34:11-14 Come, my children, and listen to me, and I will teach you to fear the Lord. Does anyone want to live a life that is long and prosperous? Then keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies! Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it.
I pray the next time you are about to argue or fight that your remember the “toaster”…be blessed as we learn to be more like Jesus..
Written by Kim Gutierrez. If you would like to reach Kim, you can contact her here.