From: Love To: Self Control

   I was pondering the fruit of the Spirit and found it funny that the list begins with love and ends with self control. Jesus emphasizes love as the center of His life, His motivation, and His reason for coming to this Earth. Ultimately, He loved us so much that He gave himself upon the cross (John 3:16). Yet today, we are challenged to love.

   Why is the idea to love so foreign? I often find myself trying be intentional about loving those around me, especially when it comes to my family. Jesus seemed to exhibit a life in which love was just ingrained in His DNA. People were drawn to Him (John 4:1-42) and He comforted them (John 8:1-11). People were challenged by the way He chose to live (Matthew 9:19-17), and yet they wanted more.

     Love was second nature to Him. As we look at the fruit of the Spirit, there seems to be a connecting thread that begins with love and ends with self control. See, Jesus never appeared to be controlled by His emotions (John 16:12) or fears (Matthew 26:39). He spoke of disappointment (Matthew 17:17), heartache (Matthew 11:28-30), and concern (Mark 1:41). His self control compelled Him to the Father’s will and the ultimate divine plan. The connection Jesus had that we now embody was the Holy Spirit.

    The bottom line is that our love for our Father should compel us to love ourselves and others. The Holy Spirit, God on the inside, then empowers us to practice self control. Let’s face it. No one enjoys being hurt, betrayed, or persecuted. However, God calls us to love, and He equips us with the Holy Spirit to live for love daily. Jesus showed us how to love by Himself becoming an example in this world. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit keeps us connected to the fountain that brings heaven to Earth today.

    Start with love. Love comes from the inside out. Stay tuned in to the Holy Spirit. It will require discipline, intention, and persistence. As your eyes are opened to God’s ways, the rivers of living water will begin to flow out of you. The more self control you practice, the easier it will become to love.

Light It Up

Most of us probably grew up singing,”This little light of mine. I’m going to let it shine. Let it shine. Let it shine. Let it shine”. I doubt many of us had an idea of what that light even was but we joyfully sung about it. In John 8:12 Jesus said,”I am the Light of the World”. He goes on to say, “Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but have the light of life”. The reference of Jesus being the light refers to the light of His truth, His word, and of eternal life. If we walk in His light, we will never walk in spiritual darkness.

Just as a candle lit in a dark room illuminates and dispels darkness, so is our presence in this dark world when we walk Jesus’ light. How can we be a light? First, we have to choose not to practice a life of sin. We must keep our hearts open to repentance so that when sin creeps into our lives, it can be denounced. That is why it is important for us to walk in transparency because it keeps us aware of the tricks of the enemy, our weaknesses, and keeps us free. However, if we do find ourselves in darkness, we can always draw closer to the light of truth. When we do, we will reflect the light of life and others will see it. It becomes evident not just in our words but moreso in our deeds. Then, we will be credible witnesses of the gospel in action.

Let’s self-reflect:

1) Are we reliable?

2) Do we walk in truth?

3) Are we ready and willing to share our faith with others?

4) Is it evident that we are walking in the love of God by the way we treat others?

5) Are people better because they know us?

I’m sure we all have work to do because we should want to be vessels of God’s light and His love. We want to live in a way that exalts Christ and draws others to Him. When we show up, our light should shine but God is the one who gets the glory because it is actually His light shining through us and not our own. This should be the purpose of everything we do.

As commanded in Matt. 5:16:

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Light It Up! 🕯️🕯️🕯️

This Cup

Life can be tough. There have been things in my life that I’ve gone through that if I had the power to choose them, I wouldn’t have. I’m sure you can relate. Jesus felt the same way when faced with the daunting task of the cross. While in the garden in Matthew 26:39, he prayed, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me”. Although he loved God and knew it had to be done, he had moment of reluctance concerning the suffering that he was about to endure. He felt the weight of what lied before him. He knew the contents of the cup of suffering that he was about partake. We’ve all been there at some point or the other. Was it having to bury a loved one? Was it receiving a scary diagnosis from the doctor? Divorce? Lay off? Dealing with a rebellious child? Being betrayed by someone you trusted? Huge financial responsibility? Regardless of the circumstance, the fact that life can be overwhelming still remains.
What is our perspective on suffering? It would be insane to want it or look forward to. Right? Let’s revisit Matthew 26:39. Jesus ended by saying,” Nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” He stepped back into the role of Savior. He was willing to put his own feelings and fear aside to honor the will of the Father for His life. This is the response that God requires of us. 

Hebrews 5:8-9 states,”Although he was a son, he learned obedience through
what he suffered.
And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him,“. If Jesus, the blameless son of God had to suffer, then we cannot expect any less. There are areas within us that God can only build through suffering. If our true heart’s desire is to become Christlike, then we must drink the cup because trying to pass the cup only hinders the process of God in our lives.

Let us not don’t despise the suffering that God is allowing in our lives to mature us.

God will provide the grace we need to bear and drink the cup. His grace is sufficient.

Passages for Difficult Times:

James 1:2-3 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.

Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Job 23:10
But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.

2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Put Your Finger On It 👇👆

When I was a teacher, I’d hold individual goal setting meetings with each student after all practice tests. I would tell them what their scores were on the test and I’d show them the STAAR conversion chart. On the chart, I’d have our goal for Mastery highlighted. I’d ask them three questions: 1) Where is your score?; 2) Where are you trying to go?; 3) How are going to get there?. Then, I would have them to put their finger on it. This occurred after each test and I always ended each meeting saying, “You’ve got this”. Each time, their faces would light up from seeing their progress and they would happily set goals for the next test.

Over the years, I noticed that the students scores would get better every year. Why? They began to take ownership of their successes and activate their faith. In Hebrews, faith is described as the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. My students hoped for improvement even from their first score which was always their lowest because they were able to visualize where they were trying to go. It is one thing to say we believe we can do something, but it will remain a mere thought if activation and execution don’t follow. Throughout my life on many occasions, God has required me to take action and my belief had to catch up. We see this happen in Luke 17:14 with the story of the lepers. The scripture states that as they went, they were healed. There are some things in God we will never see until we abandon the safety of our own understanding and surrender in obedience.

People make resolutions, create vision boards, and all kinds of things to prepare for what they wish to see occur in their lives. In order for those things to come to fruition, a level of faith must be activated and plans must be executed. The awesome thing is that He is faithful. When God puts visions or desires in our hearts, he is faithful to meet us and provide all we need for them to come to pass according to His will.

What are you believing God for today? What are you wanting to see take place in your life? I can imagine God saying: 1) Where are you now?; 2) Where are you trying to go?; 3) How are you going to get there? Then replying,”WE’VE got this!”

Activate your faith! Put your finger on it!

Let It Burn 🔥🔥🔥

I was a bit of a daredevil growing up. Once, I was dared to stick toilet paper in the bathroom wall heater. I didn’t think twice about it. I grabbed the toilet paper, tore a piece, rolled it up, and stuck it in the heater. Immediately, the fire began to race towards my finger and burned my thumb. I dropped it. The fire began to burn a hole in my grandmother’s new rug. We put it out but my thumb felt like it was still on fire. I spent the next two days running my “fire finger” under cold water for relief. Due to that experience, I developed a fear of fire until adulthood.

Today, I want talk about different kind of fire….the fire of the Holy Spirit. In Acts on the Day of Pentecost, the spirit of God was described as flames above the heads of the disciples. In Hebrews 12:29, God (his Spirit) is referred to as an all consuming fire. God’s spirit comes to purify us from all unrighteousness to make us more like him. If there is any sin in our lives, we must surrender it to the Holy Spirit and let him have his way in our life. If we do, we will never be the same. In Exodus 3:2, God instructed Moses to lead his people out of slavery in Egypt through a burning bush. Although the bush was completely engulfed in fire, it wasn’t destroyed. God’s presence in the bush sustained it. This also exemplified the glory of God. That’s what God wants to do in our lives. He wants to display his power through us. Just like tissue and my “fire finger”, his fire starts working in one area of our lives and spreads to the rest. We don’t have to be afraid. The Spirit isn’t spooky or antiquated. He was sent by the Father to reside within us after Jesus went back to Heaven. Jesus had to leave so that the Comforter (God in us) could come and endow us with power from on high. We need the Holy Spirit operating within us to fulfill God’s divine plan for our lives. There is no way to live victoriously without him. Salvation without the Holy Spirit is like having a gun with no bullets. We need holy fire. We can’t withstand the fiery trials that come our way without it.


Perfect Love

Have you ever watched small children and noticed how fearless they are? They run and jump off of things around their parents with full confidence of being caught . John 4:18 says that God’s perfect love casts out fear. We have to reach the point where we’re no longer only aware of God’s love for us but we also accept God’s love.
     When we experience abuse, loss, rejection, and other difficulties that may shake our core, sometimes we begin to live our lives in a “safe zone” that is cushioned by fear and insecurity. We try to control every aspect of our lives to try to protect ourselves. However, this is not standing in the power of God’s perfect love. When we grow to accept his love, we begin to walk in a deep trust for Him. We trust that he knows what’s best for us and will be everything we need. Why…because He loves us.
     The enemy works overtime during times of adversity to convince us otherwise. However, we have to do all we can to hold on to this great truth. God not only wants us to take hold of how much He loves us but wants us to abide (stay permanently, rest) in it. It may be hard sometimes but far from impossible.

Things We Can Do:

  1. Go to the Word. Find scriptures about God’s love for us. John 3:16 and Romans 8:38-39 are both a great place to start. Read it and speak it until it becomes embedded in your spirit.
  2. Check God’s track record in your life. Count your blessings. Write down all the things he has done and is doing.
  3. Pray and ask God to help your disbelief. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you grow in your consciousness of how his love is actively working in your life.

Just like the fearless child, God want us to be assured that he will catch us and be there for us.

Friend, we are loved by the Almighty God.

Freedom Isn’t Free!

As I grow in my relationship with Christ, the more I learn that there is a cost to walking in the true freedom in Christ. The greatest cost is also it’s reward. The giving of ourselves to service, the bearing of our crosses daily, the crucifying of our flesh, and transparency of the ugly within that we often want to hide are just some of the costs. However, these things all are made new when we allow the light of God’s love in to shine through our darkest places. How could our greatest pain lead to our greatest victory? Look at the cross. Christ’s greatest pain lead to OUR greatest victory. That’s why WE are FREE indeed. John 8:36

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