Be the Light

One of my favorite quotes by Mahatma Gandhi is, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” I love this quote because it causes us to pause and see how we, individually, are contributing to the world in which we live. It is so easy to cast blame upon each other for the state of the world. However, how are we helping to change it? What are we doing to make positive changes and instill hope? We know that the challenges exist. What are we doing to make things better?

Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:14-16, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

In this scripture, Jesus is telling us, His believers, that we are the light of the world. He is telling us that we can create influence and change by our actions because He references that our good works would bring glory to our Father in heaven. It is also important to note that the scripture speaks about not hiding our light. When we choose to remain silent or complacent to the injustices that we see or experience in the world, we are hiding our light. When we refuse to share the Good News of the gospel and its message of hope, we hide our lights. When we make a conscious decision “not get involved in those types of things”, we are hiding our lights. We serve a God who is looking for His people to stand up in this world of darkness and represent Him well by being the light that He called us to be.

2 Corinthians 5:20 says, “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.”

We must gain insight into the influences we have as the ambassadors for Christ. Ambassadors are the highest-ranking representatives of their governments abroad, and their primary responsibility is to represent and work towards the best interests of their government or head of state. They are not elected but selected by the government or head of state. It is a great honor to be chosen as an ambassador. We, too, were bestowed with an enormous honor when God called and chose us to follow Him.

According to Ephesians 1:3-4, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In
love.” As believers, we’re chosen for such a time as this. We know that the love of Christ brings unity and peace. We understand that no one can do everything, but everyone can do something. In Matthew 22:36-40, the disciples asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was. Jesus responded to them, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment”.  The second commandment states, “Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

In a world full of division and hate, we are called to bring unity and peace. In a world filled with hopelessness and despair, we are called to bring hope and healing. There is no doubt that we are living in perilous times. Still, the Lord has given us everything we need to “Be the change that we wish to see in the world”, and the way that we do it is simple.

Just remember to: Be the Light.

Why?

Why do people grab their purses when they see me walking by? Little do they know I’ve never stolen anything in my whole life.

Why is my natural hair considered so unprofessional? Yet, other ethnicities can work with colored hair and tatted skulls.

Why am I deemed unworthy of a seat at the table? Yet, whenever I show my passion or speak up for myself I am labeled.

Why is it so hard for me to level up or own? It’s no secret that on the backs of my ancestors this land was built upon.

Why do I have to prove that I am just like you? We both know the same God who created you, created me too.

If you believe in His word, then you should see me in His image and know that we are same. Isn’t it true that we both were saved by that one name?

Is it because every ploy to end us has always brought us back? Is it because the tenacity within us is what others seem to lack?

Is it because we’re unique, strong, and full of pride? Is it because many of us have died but yet STILL… WE… RISE?

Why am I the one that others love to hate? Why am I the one always with the sealed fate?

Why can’t I just live? Truth is. I want to same things as you. I want peace, love, and the pursuit of happiness for my seed too.

If you have an issue with me simply because I am black? What will you tell the Father on the day when He comes back?

How will explain that you’ve loved a God that you can’t even see? Yet, you’ve lived your entire life inherently hating me.

Why?

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Exchanging Ashes for Beauty

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I grew up in the foster care system in Michigan. My mother had been sexually assaulted at the age of fourteen and conceived me. As a result, the sum of her childhood traumas led her to turn to drugs and prostitution. She had six children by the time she was twenty years old. My siblings and I were separated. We were all placed in different foster care homes when I was six years old. We faced mental, physical, and sexual abuse at the hands of those that the state had entrusted to care for us. I had lived in over twenty-two different placements by the time I aged out of foster care at the age of nineteen. To say that I was bitter and broken would really be putting it quite mildly. I questioned the rationale of a God who would allow such a devastating plight to befall me. What did I do to deserve this? Why didn’t I have love and stability like everyone else? How could God love me and allow these things to happen to me?

This anger and frustration found its outlet in all the wrong places. I was involved in abusive relationships because that is all that I believed that I deserved. I started using alcohol and eventually drugs to help me escape the overwhelming feeling of hopelessness in my life. The question that always came to mind was, “Lord, where are you? Don’t you care about me?”

When I was at one of my lowest points, I remember watching the 700 Club on television. The hope and the inspiration that was expressed in this Christian program drew me in. I wanted to have this peace and forgiveness that the host was talking about. I heard the testimony of a woman who had an experience similar to mines. She spoke about Isaiah 63:1, “To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified”.

I cried out to God and wept for what seemed like forever. I asked Him to please come into my life and make me new. I wanted to exchange all my hurt and disappointment. I wanted to know His unfailing love. I wanted Him to heal me from my brokenness. I wanted to be made whole. God not only came into my life and healed me, but he also restored my relationship with my mother. We were reunited after over twenty-six years. She had also given her life to Christ.

We were able to share a beautiful journey together for five years. My mother passed away in the spring of 2013. My siblings and I decided to have her cremated. The agreement was that each of us would get a portion of her ashes. Somehow, the funeral home sealed the urn. I wanted to contact them to have them open it. After praying about it, I was moved to keep it sealed. God reminded me of all the beauty I had to remember my mother by. I had her journal (she also loved to write), her pictures cards, jewelry, and her favorite pillow. All these things reminded me of the beauty of her life. It also reminded me of the glory of God and how He had restored us.

God so often wants to do this in the lives of His children. He wants to take away the despair, mourning, and replace it with His hope, peace, and joy. The scripture says He wants to give us a garment of praise in exchange for the spirit of heaviness. And as glorious as this is, it is dependent upon us casting our cares upon Him and allowing Him to do it. In order to exchange, we must be willing to give something up in order to receive something else. So the real question becomes, “Are you willing to give God your ashes in exchange for all of His beauty?”

Trust me. It’s worth it.

A Tree

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There once was a tree that stood broad and tall,
That would serve as a bridge to all that are lost.

A tree that would be cut up but held lots of power,
And bring eternal light to an ungodly hour.

A tree that would reach as high as the heavens,
That would serve as a path for the forgiven.

A tree that was robust and also very stout,
That would open the windows of heaven and pour blessings out.

A tree that would stand between a murderer and thief,
And deliver all nations and to give sin-free relief.

A tree upon which Christ would breathe his last breath on,
And that would one day seat him on his inherited throne.

I will forever cherish that old rugged tree,
For by it was saved a wretch like me.

One day when this life is over, I will lay it all down,
And give it all up in exchange for my heavenly crown.

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The Boy Who Would Be King: 7 Lesson from the Life of David

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. 

Purchase Information:

Please visit www.shaniquarischer.com to get your copy of this book today! Also available on Amazon, Kindle, Barnes & Noble, and more. 

Amazon/Kindle: http://ow.ly/YlnA50BgwiY and Barnes & Nobles: http://ow.ly/Nt0Q50Bkogg.

Praying and Parenting During a Pandemic

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.

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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.”

Sow

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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.

© FREE 2020 All Rights Reserved.

God Sees and Is Aware

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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. 

Walk with Him,

Shaniqua Rischer

From a Seed to Full Bloom

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Dear Beloved,

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.

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How Sweet It Is to Be Loved by Him

Hello Dear One,

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?

How Sweet it is to be loved by Him!

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