Shaniqua Rischer is a dynamic Minister, Author, and Spiritual Leader. You may be familiar with her writing through her God Morning devotionals, where she poignantly shares the Word of God each week day. She has expounded on those teachings by publishing her third book, “The Boy Who Who Would Be King: 7 Lessons from the Life of David.” As the title eludes, this book focuses on the life of David and his journey to become and be King.
David was a man who experienced momentous highs and crippling lows as he learned to serve God. Through it all, he remained faithful and the lessons that we can learn from his journey are the focus of the book. The book is assured to help you view David’s life through a fresh perspective.
Please visit www.shaniquarischer.com to get your copy of this book today! Also available on Amazon, Kindle, Barnes & Noble, and more.
It is official. It has been declared a pandemic. Those words kept ringing in my ears over and over as I watched news reports from various stations. The World Health Organization had declared Covid-19 an official pandemic on March 11, 2020. I remember googling the definition of pandemic; as I had heard of it in passing but not truly understanding what it meant. But nothing seemed more daunting than the remarks made by the WHO Director, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus. He said, “This is not just a public health crisis. It is a crisis that will touch every sector”, at the media briefing. He continued, “So every sector and every individual must be involved in the fight.”
Be involved in the fight? Yes, this would require a fight. I was no stranger to fighting an “invisible enemy”. As a Christian, I am accustomed to turning to the Bible for guidance during times of uncertainty and duress. My thoughts began racing as I pondered what this meant for my family. Should I continue to go to work? Should I allow my children to continue to go to school? What about church? I could feel myself becoming more and more frantic. So, I did the only thing that made sense to me at the moment to do. I prayed. I took all of my fears and anxieties to the throne of grace as instructed in Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” If ever was a time I needed to remind myself of the truths of this scripture, it was then. In God’s word, He has reminded me of the power in taking my cares to Him and leaving them there. Then, my next request was, “Lord grant me the wisdom of how to speak to my children about what is going on”.
In James 1:5 we are told, “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” In a world filled with false information and the spread of what has now been tagged “fake news”; reports and contradicting information are everywhere. We have to be able to decipher what is true and what is untrue. However, as children of God, we know that the Word of God is the inerrant and indisputable truth, the foundation of our faith. The Lord had to redirect my time and attention away from the worldly influences all around me. I looked towards the infinite truth found in His Word. This truth not only strengthened me but also helped answer questions from my children and grew their faith as well.
According to Deuteronomy 6:5-9, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. Take to heart these words that I give you today. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home or away; when you lie down or get up. Write them down, and tie them around your wrist, and wear them as headbands as a reminder. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and your gates”. The word of God has instructed us to teach our children His ways. My children are thirteen and fifteen; they have been in church all their lives. They are in the youth choir and are both musicians. They are on the usher board and are involved in several capacities. They are very familiar with the church but what this pandemic allowed me to do, was to help them build a personal relationship with Christ. When we realized that we were not going to be returning to our church for face-to-face services, our home became our church. We kept our church schedule and had Friday night bible studies. We had Sunday school and Sunday morning services. We looked to God, His Word, and our ability to pray to help us get through some of the most challenging circumstances we have had to face. We dealt with the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and the protests as well as unrest that followed. The racial tensions and political divide amongst our nation. Natural disasters like the fires on the West Coast and the horrific hurricane season. The overwhelming toll of death and sickness caused by the Covid-19 virus and all sorts of other calamities. There were days that we felt overwhelming sadness and helplessness as a family. However, John 16:33 says, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world, you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” We are still currently dealing with living amid a pandemic. We continue to turn to God and His word as our source of strength and encouragement. Because we know that through it all, James 5:16, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
There was a farmer who wanted his crop to grow, But he was rather stingy and wouldn’t let his seed go.
The winter brought a terrible drought, scarce was the rain, He was apprehensive. He wasn’t sure more seed he’d gain.
Carefully he’d count a few and plant them in the ground, He’d even sow at night while no one else was around.
He’d sit by the window and closely gaze at the soil, But he did just enough because he didn’t like to toil.
So, he waited and waited still his harvest was very few, He knew it wasn’t enough for him to eat. But he didn’t know what to do.
Yet, a few houses down, he could see abundant crops, So, he would spy on his neighbors while out on town stops.
Their fields were full of lush green and bountiful for miles, Densely packed with corn and wheat, so much on every aisle.
For a few mornings, he would see their fields were clear, So, he hid out and watched a few days when nighttime drew near.
He saw families drive up in trucks, and his neighbors would load, Then, more families would come, get some, and go back down the road.
He watched in amazement as his envy began to grow, Yet, he didn’t realize the problem was he did not like to sow.
The next day he asked his neighbor how much seed does he sow, His reply was, “I don’t count my seeds. I just freely let them go.”
The farmer was in awe and couldn’t believe his ears, He had never given up all his seed in all his years.
His neighbor said, “You see. It is not your seed to keep.” It belongs to God with hopes our kindness would run deep.
God gives seed to the sower and Brother that’s the truth, But if you hold on to what you have, He can’t get more to you.
So, I give all I have so people may be blessed, Then, I sit back and watch my God do the rest.
The secret to a blessed life is to sow in faith and let it go, Then, your harvest and your cup will always overflow.
As learned on that day by the farmer, it is important that you know, Be careful how you live your life because what you plant will grow.
Gal.6:7-8 7Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
Lord, how long do I have to call out for help? Why don’t you listen to me? How long must I keep telling you that things are terrible? Why don’t you save us? Why do you make me watch while people treat others so unfairly? Why do you put up with the wrong things they are doing? I have to look at death. People are harming others. They are arguing and fighting all the time. The law can’t do what it’s supposed to do. Fairness never comes out on top. Sinful people surround those who do what is right. Some people are never treated fairly. The Lord replies, “Look at the nations. Watch them. Be totally amazed at what you see. I am going to do something in your days that you would never believe. You would not believe it even if someone told you about it.” – Habakkuk 1:2-5 NIRV
With the election less than 30 days away, many have wondered what will be next. What will happen in November? If one candidate does not win, some have said there will be violence. If either candidate wins, there will be not just a political loser, but supporters believe they will lose ground in ideological areas that they support. Each candidate and every supporter contends that there are serious character flaws in their opponent. And every American desires to see change in some manner. After all, it is what an election is all about – who can bring about the change you want to see.
Yet this election is seemingly different. It started in 2008 when then-Senator Obama ran on a platform of changing direction, but it has been expounded even more so during this election. People, Americans, seemingly are all pushing for our government and country to be run differently. They are crying out literally through their vote.
Well once, the prophet Habakkuk did something similar. He didn’t cry out through a voting system. Instead, he cried out through prayer. He saw the wrongs that his people were committing. He saw a system that seemed to reward the unjust. Also, he saw how others mocked the God he served. In his outrage, frustration, anger, and hurt, God responded. Throughout the Book of Habakkuk God’s response was that He was aware of what was going on in Israel and in Judah; He was aware of the punishment He would send via Babylon, and He already knew how He would correct even the tool of His punishment. God told Habakkuk that even as it looked uncertain to Habakkuk that He was working on a new thing across the nations, something that he wouldn’t believe.
That same sentiment is true today. God is not unaware of the times. He knows the election before it will be decided, He knows the disobedience of all the nations, and He knows the tools of correction, and He knows the tools of grace. God knows. And because He knows, just as when He told Habakkuk to look and see what He would do around him, we should also trust the Lord and His hand. Why? His sight far out sees our own.
What vision has God planted in your heart? What has He gifted you to do? What interests you? What do you find yourself doing naturally? Get your finger on that one thing. What is it? What if that one thing is all it you need to launch change the trajectory of your life? What if that one thing had the potential to improve the quality of life of those around? Why do you think God planted that seed of greatness in you? God intended for that seed to be nurtured and cultivated. He planned for that seed to germinate and reach it’s full potential. He planned for that seed to sprout and give hope for the future. He planned for that seed bring Him glory. Don’t you know that everything that seed needs to grow is already on the inside of you. It just needs the right conditions to prosper.
What does your seed need? It needs the water of the Holy Spirit. It needs the light of God’s truth and the manna of His word. Then, it has to be planted in the right soil and positioned to receive what it needs. Take heart. The droughts and dark seasons in your life were only for preparation. That’s why you’re still here. Stay put. Stay rooted and grounded. The rain and the sunshine are coming. You will reach full bloom. Then, your beauty will be a reflection of His glory in the earth.
As stated in Isaiah 60:1-2:
1 Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. 2 For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.
Bloom, my beloved. Stretch out into full bloom. Bloom.
How are you today? I just wanted to remind you that you are loved beyond measure. Infinitely. Undeniably. Certainly. Passionately. Guess what? You didn’t have to earn it. His love isn’t based on your performance or your ability. His love is not generic or one size fits all. His love is tailored specifically to your being. His love pursues you even if you have no idea about who He is or desire to know Him. He is your biggest fan and thinks the world of you. His love is so intimate. He’s so In-to-You. You don’t have to look any further. The one who longs to have your heart not only wants to be close to you but wants to live within you. He wants to be so close that your intrinsic rhythm is His and your heartbeats match. He serenades you with the songs of birds at the dawn of each new day. He lights up your world with the sun and breathes through your very lungs with each breath you take. His arms are always open for your embrace. His ears are inclined to your worries, fears, and prayers.
Oh, how sweet is His peace. Oh, how sweet are His words.
Oh, how sweet is His presence.
Oh, how sweet. Oh, how sweet.
Oh, how sweet Dear One. Will you dare to taste it and see?
As a child, I had a lot of responsibility on me that I probably should not have had. I had to be responsible and bear the burden of adult issues. As a result, I learned early that my emotions had to take the back seat because it required a great deal of focus and strength to maintain my sanity. I had to be able to remain calm in stressful situations. I could not speak up because it would be considered a threat or disrespect. I had to learn to accept being lied on because I didn’t have a say so in the matter. As soon as I got older and gained my freedom, my heart became set on always speaking up for myself and not allowing myself to be in vulnerable situations. Unfortunately, alot more came along with and adhered to that vow. It affected my ability to connect and relate to others. A wall came up. I was the overseer of that wall. I was responsible for who gained access to what was beyond the wall.
While protecting the wall, I gathered tools to guard myself against anything or anyone who could hurt me. Tools shaped by generational curses, hurts, disappointments, and broken relationships. It took some years for me to realize what I had been carrying. When I think about the song “Bag Lady” by Erykah Badu, I can relate on so many levels. In verse one, she sings, “Bag lady, you gone hurt your back. Dragging all them bags like that. I guess nobody ever told you. All you must hold onto, is you, is you, is you.”
In the second verse, she continues,” One day all them bags gon’ get in your way, so pack light”. What were the “bags” she was referring to? I believe the “bags” were the things she had picked up along the way. Some of the same things I had picked up. I didn’t realize that what I thought was my arsenal of protection ended up being a summation of burdens. They had become my “bags” or what Paul refers to as “weights” in Hebrews 12:1.
Hebrews 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily.
Anything that slows us down or hinders us from moving forward into all that God has for us is a stronghold. Erykah Badu knew the effect those bags had. This is evident when she says “you gon’ hurt your back, all those bags gon’ get in your way”. The burdens that we have can manifest themselves as physical illness and also affect our health. Carrying things we were not meant to carry will eventually slow us down. The song says continues, “You gon’ miss your bus. You can’t hurry up. You got too much stuff.” Being weighed down by things that are unlike God may keep us from reaching our full potential and receiving all God has for us. Such hindrances may take our eyes off of Jesus and bring our focus inward instead of upward. They can even impair our judgment and ability to love others out of fear of being rejected. I had developed all of those things and I knew that I had to be honest about them. I had to own them to overcome them. I realized that the only way I could overcome them was by allowing the Holy Spirit to inspect my “bags” and search my heart. I had to be brave enough to hand those bags over. Once I got my healing and freedom, I had to be courageous enough to leave those things behind and press forward. That required me to repenting and being honest about the sin that had occurred in my life because of those bags and weights.
It is interesting how we can find comfort in our dysfunction if we aren’t careful. I’m reminding of Linus on Charlie Brown and his blanket. He took that blanket everywhere he went. He found security and comfort in that blanket. Likewise, we tend to do the same with those things in our life that are unlike Christ when we fail to allow the Holy Spirit to have its way. Our perspective is so very limited. That is why we need His spirit.
1 John 2:27 As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.
John 16:13 “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, HE WILL GUIDE YOU INTO ALL TRUTH …”
We need His Spirit to shine the light on our brokenness and restore us to wholeness. We need His spirit to bring us back into the right relationship with Him and others. We need His word and His spirit to serve as a gauge for our growth and a guide for our path. We need His spirit to break the chains that bind us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. We need His spirit so we can “Pack Light” and be free to be who He has called us to be.
Dear Friends, what is in your bags? What have you allowed to become a crutch in your life and hinder you from moving forward to your healing? What dysfunction have you allowed to settle in and cause you to sin? Galatians 5:7 (TPT) says, Before you were led astray, you were so faithful to Messiah. Why have you now turned away from what is right and true? Who has deceived you?” Good question. We should all ask ourselves if we are all in when it to following Christ. If not, what’s the problem? Is it physical, mental, or spiritual?
At the end of the song, she sings “Sometimes it’s hard and we can’t let go.” Then, she says, “Let it go, let it go, let it go”. That is what the Father is saying. The Father is talking and He wants His children to listen. We can’t listen if we don’t lay aside all the distractions. He wants us to pack light and be free in our minds, bodies, and spirits. Only a good father desires the best for His children.
The mistakes you’ve made do not change the fact that God has a plan for your life. The enemy and others will try to tell you otherwise. It’s simple. Repent and move forward. He STILL wants to use you. You can’t change what’s behind you but you can make a conscious decision to work daily at doing better.
You are the only person who can stop YOU.
#noguilt #noshame #befree
Rom. 8:1 8 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
During this pandemic, I have become emotionally exhausted. The unending stories of injustice, police brutality, ineffective government, and the lack of empathy, have been overwhelming. I never watch the news because we are fed bad news over and over again. It is very depressing. As a woman of color and a mother of 2 African American sons, I am always concerned about their well-being. My heart gets heavy every time a mother loses her child to violence. Honestly, I haven’t watched the video of George Floyd losing his life. I can’t. Social media doesn’t make it any better. While scrolling my timeline, I am repeatedly seeing the negativity that shrouds us as a country. When will it end? What do we as people of faith do? How can we navigate such murky waters? During prayer, the Lord whispered in my spirit two words,” Pack Light”. What does it mean to pack light? How is it possible when we are exposed to so much that is unlike God?
1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
In Hebrews 12:1-2, Paul states that we must “lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily besets us”. What negative mindsets have we allowed to creep in during this time of chaos? What negative words have allowed to seep out our mouths in response to what we see happening around us? Have we spewed words of hatred and fear from our mouths? Are we being peacemakers or are we allowing our political views to divide us as the Body of Christ? I believe we are all guilty to some extent. We aren’t called to be Republican or Democrat. We are called to the body of Christ and the sons/daughters of God. We have a responsibility to let our lights shine amid darkness so that others will come to know the Father. Honestly, I have found myself asking, “Where is the church?” When the NBA is more outspoken about social injustice than the church, there is a problem. Many of us are so busy trying to defend worldly principles and beliefs that we have put the gospel on the back burner.
God is calling us to His truths. Some of us are so blinded by our agendas and ideals that we have willingly turned a deaf ear to the cries of those around us. What are we doing? We need to search our hearts. Jesus came to set the captive free. He came to be the voice of the oppressed and poor. His identify was not political. His identity was defined by His holiness and found in God the Father. Now is the time for us to stand up for what is right, not in the eyes of man but what’s right in the eyes of God. If we fail to do so, then their blood will be on our hands.
Again, I don’t have all of the answers. I have felt helpless as a believer too. However, verse 2 tells us to “look to Jesus who is the author and finisher of our faith”. First, we must ask God to search our hearts. If there is anything in them that is not like Him, we need to repent and ask God to remove it. Secondly, we need to seek the Lord in prayer like never before. We need to ask God to give us wisdom on what we can do to make things better. Once He shows us, we must obey. Third, I believe that He will deliver us and heal us if we are willing and obedient. This is not a skin or political problem. It is a SIN problem. Those of us who say we know the Lord should know that what we are seeing is not of God and know that He is not pleased.
We can no longer hide in the shadows. We have to rise and be who God has called us to be. If we are intercessors, we should be praying. If we are preachers, we should be preaching. If we are teachers of the word, we should be teaching. I will be the first to admit that I have not been doing what I need to do. I have allowed the issues of life to distract me from my spiritual responsibilities. However, I know that God is calling all of us to a greater level of accountability and action.
Beloved, let us pray for one another:
Father, we thank you for who you are. You are sovereign and do all things well. We thank you for your grace and mercy. We come to you with repentant hearts. Forgive us for not being who you have called us to be. Forgive us for our selfish ambitions and agendas. Forgive us for not seeing our brothers and sisters as you see them. In you, there is neither Jew nor Gentile. You came that ALL mean might be saved. Help us to love ALL men as you love them. Lord, show us the weights to aside in our lives and reveal the sin that beset us. Open the eyes of our hearts so we can see you and your ways. Father, heal our nation and let it start with us. These things we ask in your son, Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.