Stay Encouraged!

    Writings below by the LHL Steward to encouraged you to stay faithful to your Christian journey!

    …And will be my witnesses

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8 (NIV)

There’s this restaurant that I absolutely love; I’m always sharing with people about the Chef, about the food that he prepares and encouraging people to try it out. What I’m doing is a form of witnessing and I’m not alone, each of us witness everyday about something we love or have seen. Consider what you have experienced since you have met Jesus; share with someone today about your experiences of love, of joy, of peace, of patience, of gentleness, of kindness, of goodness, of faithfulness and of self-control; someone needs to hear this Good News! That’s what Jesus meant when he said “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8 NIV

    ENOUGH LIGHT FOR ONE STEP AT A TIME…

“Your words are a flashlight to light the path ahead of me, and keep me from stumbling” Psalm 119:105 (TLB)

My mom called me one day and said “my Pastor asked me to write a monthly inspirational paragraph for the church program”, she said “I want to tell him that I will do it, but I can’t do it without you.” My mom was a very intelligent woman, however, she only had a 6th grade education, so whenever she would write anything, I would do the grammatical editing for her.

Her request came at a very difficult time in my life (I was contemplating suicide and her request would delay my plans). I had recently moved more than 700 miles away from home and those that loved me, and I had just made a major mistake in my life that had taken me well off course and I saw no rerason to continue with life. My mom knew that I wasn’t myself, but because of the distance that I was from her, she couldn’t get to me, so she began praying for me. God answered her prays through her Pastor, because I reluctantly said yes to her request to edit her messages.

Here’s the funny thing about editing, you can’t do it without reading the information written. While I was continually searching for the best way for me to end my life, my mom kept sending those messages for me to edit. One day she sent a monthly message about the above scripture “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path”(Psalm 119:105 KJV). I called her and said “mom, I don’t understand what you are trying to say in this message”, she replied “God gives us enough light for us to make one step at a time. He doesn’t always reveal his entire plan for our lives, but he gives us just the amount of light we need to be successful as we walk along this journey!”

God used my mom (by way of her Pastor) to save my life! The enemy knew that if I lived, God would one day give me stewardship over a Christian-based Training Company called Live His Love; God hadn’t revealed that portion of my path to me as I was contemplating suicide, but the enemy knew God’s plan for my life and the enemy desired that I would stumble. I thank God for using my mom and her Pastor to save me! I thank God for giving me enough light to take one step at a time, so I would live to share this message with you today!

Stay encouraged! Ask God for His Light on your pathway!

    Stand Strong!

“And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” Psalm 1:3 (KJV)

Stand strong in God’s will for your life; “…be like a tree planted by the rivers of water…” (Psalm 1:3) It’s not easy standing strong in God’s will; it means not always getting what we want. Recently, I had plans for my life, that I very much wanted to happen, but it didn’t happen and it broke me for nearly a year! But I remind myself that “[I am blessed when I walk where God tells me to walk. That I will find delight when I meditate on His Word and will produce fruit at an appropriate season and prosper. That the Lord watches over my plans and my paths]” (Psalm 1: 1-2, 6)

Stand strong in God’s will for your life…”be like a tree planted by the rivers of water”!

    YOU DID IT!

One of my neighbors posted a sign in their yard a few summers ago that read “You Did It 2016″! As I walked pass their house, I could feel their joy, their happiness, their pride in their child’s success and it made me think about what God said to Jesus when He was baptized…”This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”  Matthew 3:17b (NIV)  In other words God was saying to Jesus, “You Did It!”

Jesus was just starting his ministry:  He hadn’t yet met the Samaritan woman at the well, nor the woman caught in adultery.  He hadn’t healed the man at the Bethesada pool, the woman with the issue of blood, nor the man lowered down through the rooftop by his friends.  He hadn’t feed the 5,000, rebuked the wind and spoken peace to the raging sea.  He hadn’t looked into the cup that contained my sins and your sins and still proclaimed “not my will, but thine will be done”.  He was just starting to fulfill purpose, yet God was pleased with him.

When we accepted Christ as our Savior and invited the Holy Spirit to guide our footsteps, control our actions and correct us when we are wrong, God proudly says “This is my child, whom I love; with you I am well pleased”!  You Did It!  Just like the child of my neighbor…Just like Jesus…I am just starting to fulfill purpose but, as I show love and kindness toward my family, my friends, even strangers, I listen for God’s voice, he’s saying “You Did It!”  When I genuinely forgive people who have hurt me, I listen for God’s voice, he’s saying “You Did It!”  When I sincerely say “I’m sorry” to those I have hurt, I can hear God’s voice saying “You Did It!”  My work may not be complete, but I am continually graduating to the next level…”I Did It!”

    IN HOPE, BELIEVE GOD’S PROMISES

“Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations…without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead – since he was about a hundred years old – and Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.” Romans 4:18-21 (NIV)

God often times promises us things that simply seem impossible, but Romans 4: 18-21 reminds us in hope, believe in God’s promises! Someone once told me that he “agrees with me that the world could be a better place if we each live the love of Jesus (if we Live His Love)”, but he added that “this message to ‘Live His Love’ that I was trying to share with everyone was unrealistic; it sounds good, but no one actually lives it, not even preachers.”

No matter how unrealistic the promise God has given to you, be like Abraham, “be fully persuaded that God [has the] power to do what he [has] promised.” Romans 4:21 “Do not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but [be] strengthened in his faith and [give] glory to God.” Romans 4:20 In hope, believe in God’s promises!

    DO WE REALLY BELIEVE THAT GOD CAN CHANGE PEOPLE?

“This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name…” Acts 9:15b NIV

When I was little, there was this man in my neighborhood that we used to call Jungle Jim; rumor had it that you could dare Jungle Jim to do anything and he would do it, even to sleep in the graveyard. During his latter years of life, I was blessed to get to know this man that I once was very much afraid of and God had changed him! You could still ask him to do anything and he would do it, but the difference was he was doing it for God’s glory and with a humble spirit. He would five up his time to visit the sick and the elderly from our neighborhood; I know that for a fact because he visited my dad many times during my father’s illness.

I can only imagine how afraid Ananias was when “the Lord told him go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying.” Acts 9:11 NIV “Lord, Ananias answered, I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jeresalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.” Acts 9:13-14 NIV “But the Lord said to Ananias, Go! This man is my chose instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel.” Acts 9:15 NIV

God takes our boldness or our daring spirit or whatever gift he has deposited into us and He re-directs its purpose; to be used for His glory. I believe God changed Saul to Paul! I believe God changed that man that we used to call Jungle Jim! And I believe that God can change anyone to be His chosen instrument to carry His name to all the world! I’m a living witness, because He changed me!

    …BUT IF IT IS OF GOD – NO ONE CAN STOP IT!

“But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” Acts 5:39 (NIV)

Jealousy will cause people to do some very evil things! In Acts chapter 5, the apostles were remarkable miracles in and around Jereusalem and men and women were believing in large numbers. “Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. They arrested the Apostles and put them in the public jail.” (verses 17-18 NIV) At night the Lord sent an angel to open the doors of the jail and the Apostles returned to the temple courts to teach. When the high priest (and his associates) discovered that the Apostles were no longer in jail and were back out teaching in the name of Jesus, they were once again brought back to appear before the Sanhedrin. “Having brought the apostles, they made them appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name, he said. Yet you have filled Jeresalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood. Peter and the other apostles replied: We must obey God rather than men!” (verses 27-29 NIV) “When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death.” (verse33 NIV) “But then a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and [said] Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” (verses 34a, 38b-39 NIV)

The teachers of the law were jealous of Jesus, they were jealous of the Apostles and likewise, people will be jealous of what you do in the name of Jesus. But always stay focused on this: “If [your] purpose is of human origin, [you] will fail. But if it is from God [no one] will be able to stop [you]; [they] will only find [themselves] fighting against God”!

    JOIN TOGETHER IN PRAYER!

“They all [the Disciples] joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.” (Acts 1:14 NIV)

I love, love, love the game of tennis; both to watch it and to play it! When my mom was living, I would still try to play the game for as long as the Alzheimer’s would allow her patience enough to wait as I played. One particular night the Alzheimer’s was greatly affecting my mom and my tennis partner and I were only able to play for a short time period; as we walked to our cars, my tennis partner said ” if you are available in the early morning hours, I would love for us to call each other and begin praying for your mom each day!” That was nearly 5-years ago, and although my frien and I are no longer tennis partners (because I move away) we are still prayer partners to this very day. What began out of concern for my mom has turned into daily prayer to strengthen each othe through life’s journey. She prayed me through my many challenges in life (from being my mom’s caregiver, to the numerous hospital stays as a result of her illness, to my job loss and so much more) and likewise, I have done my best to pray her through her occasional struggles too. There were times when I didn’t feel like praying, I just didn’t want to talk to God, yet, without even knowing this was how I felt, her prayers touched my situation and encouraged me to continue moving forward (and I’m sure she has had similar days too). Certainly we need our alone time in prayer, but in addition, make available time to “join together constantly in prayer” with others! The Disciples provided us the example in Acts 1:14; following Jesus’ ascension into heaven, they initially stood frozen, and looking up into the sky at where they last saw Jesus. But their next course of action was to join together and pray! Find someone that you can strengthen and allow them to strengthen you too; “join together constantly in prayer”!

    NEVERTHELESS MOMENTS!

“For I have come down from heaven not to do my will, but to do the will of him who sent me.” (John 6:38 NIV)

It’s been difficult, but years of being outside of God’s will have taught me to have what I call “nevertheless moments”. Moments when I want to do my own thing because it’s easier, it’s more fun, it’s what the world finds acceptable. But Jesus “[came] down from heaven not to do [His] will, but to do the will of Him who sent [Him]“. Jesus’ example taught me the significance of “nevertheless moments”; and I hope you too will find the courage within to always say “nevertheless… [it's not what I feel like doing, but nevertheless...I really want to get give up, but nevertheless...I really want to give in to this desire that I'm having, but nevertheless...] not my will, but thy will be done”!(Luke 22:42 KJV)

    HOW LONG WILL YOU STAY IMMOBILIZED?

“Then Jesus said to him, Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” (John 5:8)

I took a picture this past summer of a semi-tractor trailer truck that had been booted; I’ve seen cars that have been booted, but I’ve never seen a big transfer truck that had been booted. What a sinking feeling it must have been for the driver to have found himself (or herself) stuck in that situation. The man at the Bethesda pool had been immobile for 38-years and Jesus asked him a simple question, “do you want to get well?” (John 5:6b NIV) Instead of answering “yes I want to”, the man gave Jesus excuses as to why he had been stuck for so long. Jesus is not looking for excuses as to why you and I have been stuck (he already knows why we have been stuck in our situation), what He really wants to know is do we want to get unstuck? If our answer is yes, then this is what Jesus has to say to us “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk”!

    …SHE SHOWED ME THE WAY

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6 KJV)

Should I be blessed to live a life of longevity and as a result, have moments of memory loss, I believe that one thing that I shall never forget is the passage of scripture – John 14: 1-6! Why? My mom said to me as child that “I would need a scripture that is mine”, she said “everybody needs a scripture that is theirs, so I’m going to give you a scripture that is for you”. I didn’t understand then why I needed a scripture, I didn’t understand the meaning of the scripture that I was memorizing, and I didn’t understand why it was so important to her that I have a scripture, but she spent countless hours teaching me John 14: 1-6. Looking back, I now get the why of it all; she knew that dark days would surely come my way (as it does for nearly everyone) and that I might lose my sense of direction; for those days she wanted me to always know that Jesus is the Way!

One day in the future I will lay eyes on my mom again and when our spirits meet, these are the words I would first like to share with her, for she was the one that showed me the way: “Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (KJV)

    WHERE IS YOUR FAITH?

“Then he asked them, “Where is your faith?” (Luke 8:25)
I often look at construction sites and even completed buildings and think, “what faith it took for someone to have a dream of something and follow it through until it turned into reality”! My sister’s Pastor (Dale C Bronner) built a few years back a building called the EpiCenter; a multi-purpose facility that has gym, banquet rooms to host weddings, a theater, meeting rooms, fast food restaurants, a game room, a basketball court, a bowling alley, a rock-climbing wall and more! Every time I go the the facility to workout, I think “what obstacles he must have encountered?” I think “how many people told him that it couldn’t happen, that he was in the wrong location for something of this magnitude?” But somehow he keep hearing Jesus ask “where is your faith?” (Luke 8:25 NIV)

The Canaanite woman in Matthew 15:21-28 stood toe to toe with Jesus and demonstrated her faith. The Disciples said “send her away, she keeps crying after us.” (verse 23) Even Jesus told her I’m not here for you, “I was sent only to the lsot sheep of Israel” (verse 24) “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs”. (verse 26) But she boldy replied “yes Lord [this is true] but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’table.” (verse 27)

The easy thing to do is to say “that’s right, what I want is impossible” and walk away; but she didn’t, she wanted something so much that she stood up for it to Jesus and He rewarded her faith! “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” (verse 28)

I’m tired of doubting whether Jesus can handle my personal and my professional dreams; his Word tells me that He can handle every area of my life. My faith is in Jesus, the crumbs from His table is exceedingly better than any full meal the enemy my dare to serve me!