Strawberries and Crème

My daughter came here with a certain “knowing.”  When she was in the womb, I noticed how she responded to certain rhythmic beats of the music I listened to; she showed me early on what she liked hearing.  By the time she was nine months old is when she began to physically demonstrate her response to beats and by the age of 15 months old, she instinctively knew what type of dance corresponded to a certain rhythm.  It was truly amazing to watch.

Everything God — you may call Him Source, Spirit, Universe — does, starts with a seed and works according to principle or law.  My daughter came here with a knowing and, through learning her, I came to know that we all did.  Unfortunately, due to some of the conditions many of us had to survive in, we lost touch with our identities before we even knew who we were called to Be.  By the age of three, my daughter was speaking and acting with a level of authority that was intriguing for a child her age; so much so, that children more than twice her age were often taking direction from her rather than she them.

A few days ago I was out running errands and decided to make a quick stop at Starbucks to grab coffee.  As we entered the store, the friendly wait staff greeted us and while I was perusing the board, my daughter said (to no one in particular), “I am going to have a strawberries and crème.”  I immediately thought, the audacity of her telling me what she’s going to get, she didn’t ask me.  So I said, “no you will not.”  What was illuminating for me was, in that moment she didn’t respond to my statement, but Spirit did.  Now, the person behind the register had already written her order on a cup while I was still scanning the board for my desired item.  So, her expectation was being met, I just didn’t know it.  When the barista asked for my order, I placed mine and then restated what my daughter desired, to which the barista responded, “oh WE got that.”  My daughter has never limited herself; from the time she could speak she has always stated things in the affirmative.  Don’t get me wrong, she definitely “asks” for permission for things or to go places, etc., but there are those times when she speaks as though she knows it will be.  Isn’t that what faith is?  We command action (whether positive or negative) with our words.  When we ask of our Father, He never told us to worry about how it would happen, only that we should ask in faith … ask with a level of expectation and allow Him to determine its way to us.

What is it that you really desire?  Trust Him for the big things.  Get your mind on it, see it, speak it and now here’s the key:  get out of the way…. allow it to be.

We limit the Power within!  God is … Source, God is … Spirit, God is …  Universal.  God IS!

Belinda Powell, ©2016

Don’t Be Afraid …. You Were Birthed for This!

This summer I was driving my daughter to camp in Southeast Dallas. Nearing our destination, we were stopped at a red light where there happened to be an AT&T truck with quite a bit of equipment outside of it blocking a small portion of the intersection.  What we didn’t see, however, was anyone “manning” the vehicle or the equipment.  A short time later, my daughter saw a technician rising from the manhole.  Her first response was one of fear, “I wonder if he’s afraid to go down there; I would be,” she said.  I told my daughter that although that’s his job, I was quite certain that upon his first time entering, he may have experienced some feelings of anxiety or fear, but you move forward in spite of it to get the job done.

I then began to think about every “new” adventure in my life and the fear that almost always gripped me. Leaving my parents’ home to go off to college; leaving college to move to Los Angeles; meeting, marrying and divorcing my ex-husband; moving to New York, meeting, dating and losing what I thought was love — first the Italian and then the Armenian — and most of this occurred before I turned twenty-eight.  I recall one situation in particular; the fear was so overwhelming that I developed an intestinal disorder, not realizing that I had disconnected so much from my feelings that it took a toll on me physically.  I was doubled over in pain.  I eventually realized the source of my problem had originated with my thoughts and I needed to get control of the mind if I wanted to regain control of what was manifesting in and through my body.  You see, unknowingly I had allowed fear to control my life.

Scripture references at least 365 times to either fear not, or don’t be afraid. Mark 5:35-36 is one such passage.  While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler.  “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?”  Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

Why did Jesus tell the synagogue ruler not to be afraid; he could simply have told him to believe? The reason he told him to not be afraid was because fear brings doubt, and doubt kills faith. God acts according to our faith.  How many times have you received an inspiring thought, belief or idea and then shared it with someone, only for them to speak from a place of fear (all the what if’s that can go wrong)?  Then, if we’re not careful, we allow doubt to creep in, so much so that it’s all but diminished our spirits and drained our energy!  We have to be mindful of the fact that we simply cannot share everything with everyone.  Some ideas have to be carefully guarded; God has entrusted you to bring it to completion.  Too often many ideas are aborted before they take root in our hearts and are never birthed because we’ve allowed words of doubt to have a greater impact than the thoughts and vision of God.

You were birthed WITH purpose and you’ve been entrusted with an assignment to execute.  When you’ve been called to do what you think is outside your capabilities, fear will come knocking, don’t give in to the trembling.  We have to learn to trust in order to achieve the triumph.  You are already equipped to get the job done.  No matter how dark or intimidating the hole appears, the mission is not only possible, it’s already done.  Don’t be afraid, manifest.  Go in and get the job done! manhole

Belinda Powell© November 2, 2016

Hidden Spaces . . . Know The Enemy Within

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I logged onto my blog today with the mind to write and saw in my drafts three posts I had started earlier, but had not completed.  One post is dated January 8, 2014, another July 9, 2014 and the third, which is the heart of the matter today, dated July 28, 2014.  What was I going through in July that I didn’t finish the assignment?  Well, as I began to read the post dated July 28, 2014, it was entitled “Hidden Spaces.”  I began telling about the process of putting my house on the market and preparing it for staging.  I detail how I basically kept my house in a “staged” setting all the time that the realtor didn’t have much to do in terms of suggestions or adding additional pieces.  My house was already “staged.”   Emotionally, I was going through a lot during that time.  I was still figuring out how to deal with the loss of my father and the resulting aftermath that death usually reveals in family structures.  I was still recuperating from a foot that I had broken three months earlier.  My world “felt like” it was spinning out of control and, instead of stopping and becoming still, rather than speaking to the raging winds, I allowed fear to take over until those winds gained more momentum resulting in a fully formed, havoc wreaking tornado in my life.

What was the crux of that post that the enemy didn’t want me to share?  Well, I began to confess that during the process of making sure my home would photograph well, I strategically placed some items in closets, or upstairs where I knew no one would see things or even just moving some items to the floor out of the area to be captured by the photographers lens.  You see, there were things that I didn’t want to be visible.  But hey, that was just the first stage of hiding, oops I means staging (lol).  After the house listing went live and eventually a contract was placed on it, I then had the task of preparing to box up my life for the new owners to take possession.  I had to go into those closets, into those chest of drawers and other places that held either things and memories I was refusing to let go of or was just simply not ready to deal with.  I was holding on to many photographs, cards, letters and notes written from admirers, “friends” and lovers …. I was holding on to pictures and cards of trips taken to Paris and London, Montreal, Quebec City and various tropical destinations of people, situation and things I thought I had let go.   I was forced to clean out those hidden spaces.  But did I really clean them out?  Thus the reason why the post couldn’t be written two years ago.  I simply re-packed them and allowed them to stay in storage …. I stored them back into some hidden spaces.  They were definitely out of sight, but those memories had tentacles securing themselves in hidden spaces of my heart and were not out of my mind.

A week ago one of those hidden desires surfaced and in such a way that I could not ignore its presence.  I reached out to a friend to discuss what I was physically feeling and I wanted to do something about it and I began to make plans.  But, many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it’s the Lord’s purpose that will prevail (Proverbs 19:21).  I was forced to sit with those feelings for what seemed like an eternity.  I tried to sleep and couldn’t, I eventually took my daughter to an outside movie venue in an effort to get out of my head and in touch with my heart.  The next day I spent even more time in another very public setting to get outside of my head and into my heart.  After a week of silence and seeking His guidance, I was able to learn that this was spiritual …. I had given ground to something and for about twenty years had allowed it to lay dormant in a crevice of my heart and God wanted it to be dealt with.  Now I’m presented with how will I choose to deal with it …. (i) allow it to fully come up for examination and healing, (ii) act on it or (iii) stuff it down even deeper just because I didn’t like what I was being shown?

When God has a call for you, when there’s a work for you to do, He needs to show you all of you.  Why?  Simple.  When there’s no enemy within, no enemy without can do you harm.  I Timothy 3 outlines qualifications for overseers or those desiring those positions and speaks of a proving that needs to take place.  If we’re to be honest, clearly we can see from scripture that many have called themselves into positions and have not been called of God.  Thus the warning given in I Timothy 5:22  …. many have partaken in the sins of others because they were either ordained too quickly or given positions for which there had been no call.  In the Bible, Moses’ first set of 40 years he learned what it was to be somebody; his second set of 40 years, he learned what it was to be a nobody; in his third set of 40 years, he would now walk into his call.  He was built up to be broken down so that he would come to learn who he really was.  But yet we get excited when we hear eight, ten and twelve year olds who learn to hoop like their elders and place them in positions where no building or breaking has even had time to occur.

Matthew 4 details the three great temptations presented to Jesus in his ordeal with Satan.  Yet, I’m certain in Christ’s 33 years of living he encountered more because it says after Jesus resisted him, when the devil had finished all this tempting, he left until a more opportune time.   But in John 14:30 we read a statement of Christ’s victory …. the prince of this world cometh AND he has nothing in me.  Jesus lived in submission to the Father.  In order for us to resist our enemy, we have to first allow God to expose the hidden spaces of our hearts through submission, nevertheless not my will but Your Will God.  Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts and see if there be ANY wicked way in me.  The enemy knew that of all the disciples he could tempt to betray Christ, he could definitely appeal to Judas.  Why?  Judas had been stealing from the treasury all along; he was already a thief.  The enemy only used what was already in him.

If we’re to walk effectively in our callings, we have to allow the Holy Spirit to illuminate and we freely clean out those hidden spaces in our hearts; the carnal mind is an enemy to God.  If you’re His sheep, Psalm 139 and Psalm 23 should take on newer meanings to us today.  His sheep know His voice and another they will not follow … He leads in paths of Righteousness for His name’s sake.  Disciple, what is hidden in you …. what can your enemy appeal to?  What areas of your life have you perfected and staged so that you appear whole?  God wants to save us, even from ourselves!

John 8:32 (KJV)  And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

I Said No!

Around the time my daughter was turning four, I purchased her a few kid appropriate books to begin to teach her about her body and the rights she had over it. Sad that we have to begin with our children so young, but children are very impressionable, quick to trust and easy to manipulate and intimidate — devices used by those who prey upon the innocent. One book in particular I just loved the cover and the title, “I Said No.”   Often in our parenting, we sometimes fail to empower our children.  What does it mean to empower?  Webster defines it as making (someone) stronger and more confident, especially in directing their life and claiming their rights.  I remember how I was as a child, depending on who told me something, some things came in one ear and out the other just because of who said it.  That person had either established themselves as being a nag, unreliable in their information or just plain untrustworthy.  Now that my daughter is older, I’ve taught her that while there are many sources for information, the best reliable source for wisdom is God and that He speaks to every aspect of our lives.  So, I had her revisit the children’s books I purchased years ago and then showed her what God’s Word said about who has right to her body. She knows that her body is the temple of God and according to Leviticus 18 she read for herself what God’s standard is and how specific He can get.  No one touches the sister of their mother or their father whether she was born in the house or born elsewhere.  So, from my teaching, to purchasing her books and finally showing her God’s Word, she understands that these are not my thoughts and ideas, but they are God’s!  God has a lot to say about children, especially His.I said No

Whatever your spiritual foundation may have been as a child, as an adult you are now responsible for gauging the veracity of what you were taught.  Do you really know if your foundation is sure?  I visited a church a few months back pastored by someone from my teenage years.  At one point during the service, the pastor began reprimanding some adults from the pulpit for being tardy to service and said if they didn’t want their positions, God would remove them and give it to someone else.  Now in the process of this Sunday morning chastising, the pastor then went on to say that also during that week the death angel appeared to her and she shared it with her husband and began to pray over the congregation as it wasn’t revealed who it was for.  Then, one of the ministers on the front row jumped in and said, “I saw it too” and the pastor said, see there, God is speaking and you better listen up!  (They were using scripture, incorrectly, that speaks out of the mouth of two to three witnesses shall a thing be established).  I’m shocked that this stuff is still being used effectively.  After leaving that church, the responsibility was now upon me as a parent to correct for my child what she heard.  The only thing that would have been sadder than me not correcting it was me not knowing that it needed to be.  God said His people are destroyed not because they lack faith, but because they lack knowledge.  There is no death angel and one of the scriptures that’s usually being referred to in the Bible stems from the Exodus passover passage of the blood being placed on the doorposts.  Now, what is key here is, no death angel is spoken of.  The Lord Himself is the one doing the striking and not of His children, but of the Egyptians, their oppressors.   The key to salvation then is the same as it is today, the blood!  God saw the blood and passed over their homes and today if we’ve accepted Christ’s sacrifice, God sees us justified by the blood!  The Bible supports the idea that God can use angels to carry out His judgments, including death. But this is a far cry from a special “angel of death” whose only task is to take life. Many charismatic and/or pentecostal churches are fronts for cults, occultic and witchcraft activity.  Check your foundation.  If the foundation is unsettled, so is everything else supported by it.  Hebrews 1:1-4 says, Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and He upholds the universe by the word of His power. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.” Look to Jesus, the Word. Each individual is responsible for his own soul’s salvation. I have been empowered by the Word of God to know what is true and when anything is contrary to Truth, don’t think against it, you speak against it.  We are commanded to demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God.  I AM a part of His Body, I have the right to say NO!

Spiritual Bullies . . . To Thine Own Self Be True!

 To lie is to deliver a false statement to another person which the speaking person knows is not the whole truth, intentionally.  So, what is truth?  It’s not what comes out of someone’s mouth per se, but rather what actually happened or what IS.  The first step to healing or recovery is being able to speak or acknowledge the TRUTH – that is to say, what happened or what is happening.  The Word tells us that Satan is the father of lies, so to be called a father of something means there are offspring.  Therefore, I don’t write this for those of the world, for they’re doing what’s in their nature to do.  I write this to those who profess – not confess – to know the I AM.  First John 2:4 says, “the person who says I know Him, but does not do what He commands, IS a liar and the truth is not in him.  So, even scripture identifies that truth is evidenced, established and proved by what IS, not the “what” that is said.

My daughter is quite perceptive for her age.  I’m often astonished during our conversations when I’m helping her decipher between what she heard versus what happened.  At six, her response generally starts out with “xyz said thus and so.”  I then begin to ask her to start with “what she knows for sure” and then assist her in walking through the steps to arrive at the heart of her question.  At some point in the process the light goes on and I can see she’s arriving to the destination of knowing what she can now say is truth.

Paul penned a letter to Timothy charging him to oppose false teachers.  But how could Timothy do so if he didn’t know what to look for?  From the books of Matthew, John, Acts, Corinthians, Galatians, Colossians, Thessalonians, Timothy, Hebrews, James, I and II John, and Jude we are warned repeatedly about them and how to detect them.  They will come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inside they are greedy, predatory wolves.  Look at what they’re compared to – wolves — predatory in nature.  Why are they hard to detect?  Well, because they know how to fake humility and they are often gregarious and very studious in the Word.  A thief, a greedy person and one who uses power to obtain sex are all seizing something that does not rightfully belong to them.  Yet, many professed Christians are following them?  Many who pastor, teach and evangelize today were liars, thieves, greedy, adulterers, fornicators, pimps, womanizers, child molesters, drug users, abusers, etc., etc., etc. and yet years after their professed conversion show evidence of some of the same behavior – spiritual bullies – and love to often use the example of King David, while trampling upon God’s grace, to explain it away.  Romans 6:1-20 teaches that we are slaves to who we obey, whether it be of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness; we should be dead to sin and not slaves to carnal lusts.

Bullies often browbeat, harass, frighten, oppress, persecute and terrorize people.  Paul, in his unconverted nature, was a bully of bullies and good at it.  He went on crusades looking for Christians to terrorize and imprison.  In I Timothy 1:12-14 Paul confesses that he was a blasphemer, a persecutor and a violent man.  However, Paul states he was shown mercy because he acted in ignorance and unbelief.  A spiritual bully uses laws, teetotalism and theology to control people from questioning their authority.  Spiritual bullying is taking the truths of one’s religion, and using them to intimidate, hurt, and manipulate.  Spiritual bullies verbally assault with dogma, keeping people “in check” with threats of excommunication within the church or removal from a position.  In some cases, they might force you to choose sides as they use the tactic of placing friend against friend or a family member against another relative.  The most effective weapon by far of the spiritual bullies is fear.  They want people to be afraid and use ultimatums, manipulate others to agree with them, or threaten to expose the victims’ faults.  Often the spiritual bully in the church is a professing Christian and it is possible that he or she is a true believer who is living a life of disobedience walking in their former lifestyle.  Spiritual bullies are modern day Pharisees who use religion and God for their own self agendas.

It took the intervention of a sovereign God with his grace to rescue Paul from his spiritual bullying and made him to be the greatest edifier of the church in all history.  Something happened to Paul – he was converted on the road to Damascus and throughout scripture we read evidence of that conversion and learned what he suffered for Christ and the Kingdom’s sake.  Jesus was an expert at putting spiritual bullies in their place, read John 9.  Jesus exposed them for who they were, stubborn and spiritually blind, guilty of sin and judgment.  It is bad to be ignorant, but that’s a state easily changed by the gaining of knowledge.  Paul came into the knowledge of Christ on that road.  Today, spiritual bullies tend to be those in positions of leadership and while they can be dealt with, typically they aren’t.  Why?  Often because they’ve gotten those they “bestowed” leadership positions or titles to, to do their bidding.  Let’s consider the charge given to Timothy to guard against partiality and to be careful  to not participate in the sins of others . . . working to keep himself pure.  (I Timothy 5:22)

This above all:  to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”  Shakespeare

Here’s a tip:  Those who cannot admit truth to themselves lack the ability to tell the truth to anyone else.

© September 11, 2013
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Do What You Want to See . . .

I subscribe to receive a parenting devotional through Parenting by Design.  While I rarely get a chance to read the emails they send, I found this one to be so timely and thought I’d share it with you all.  Often in trying to teach and discipline my daughter, I basically find that I need to “check myself” first.  What am I modeling for her; what does she see me doing?  Am I picking up behind myself?  Am I managing my time wisely?  Am I eating my veggies?  She will do as she sees first before she hears what I say.  How’s your personal discipline?  If we’re slack in disciplining the physical man, then I wonder how effective we are in matters of the Spirit.  Paul is in essence saying don’t preach what you yourself aren’t doing.  Ouch.

Personal Discipline . . . .

1 Cor 9:26-27: Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified (NASU).

 Everyone knows we ought to practice spiritual disciplines such as quiet time, prayer and Bible study, but how many of us consider physical discipline as an important example for our children. What type of model do we present when it comes to eating and exercise?

Sometimes we have to give up the good for the better. Passing up an extra helping and spending some time in the gym may be the types of activities that can make you a better parent and a better witness for Christ. With the popularity of video games and the proliferation of TV channels, your kids could use a little time outside – how much better if you train yourself to go with them.

A Spirit-filled mind and a disciplined body are a formidable opponent for the enemy.

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Messengers of Satan

John 16:33:  “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace.  In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world”.

In this time we’re living in, if there is any one thing less mentioned or taught about in church other than sin, it is that of false doctrine and false prophets – those Ministers of Satan.  Oftentimes we read the scripture above and think that we are guaranteed peace in this world.  Not so.  Let’s be clear.  Christ said He has overcome the world, and thus, our peace will never be in this world, but our peace is guaranteed only in CHRIST!  We, who have been born again, are in Christ who has overcome the world; therefore, we can be of good cheer in the midst of trial and tribulations when the messengers of Satan come against us.  In other words, in the world we don’t have peace.  Our Peace is with God, which puts us at enmity with the world, and with the messengers of Satan.

Messengers of Satan.  Just who are they?  You see, this is the position in which Paul found himself, and yet God would not remove him from it.  Being human, just like the rest of us, Paul wanted to have this thorn, this messenger of Satan removed.  He wanted to preach the gospel without the constant trouble or vexing of those who hate him.  Sound familiar to anyone?  You just want to teach or preach, sing or worship without the constant trouble or vexing.

Many teach that Paul’s thorn in the flesh was a spiritual problem.  Others see it as a physical ailment (headaches, malarial fever, a speech impediment or possibly even an eye problem).  Still others speculate that it referred to Paul’s frequent persecutions.  Taking into consideration that I have been searching for a local church for the past few years to find a local body of believers I could worship with, I am of the persuasion that Paul’s thorn was in fact not a physical ailment.

1 Peter the 4th Chapter (NIV below) tells us some of what we’ll have to endure living this life for God.  We will suffer for being a Christian.  That is an inescapable, immutable fact.

Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin.  As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.  For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.  They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on youBut they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.  For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.  The end of all things is near.  Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray.  Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.  Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.  Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.  If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God.  If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.  To him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.

Suffering for Being a Christian

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.  If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.  If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler.  However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.  For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?  And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”  So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

Did you read carefully Peter’s warnings?  He said they are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living and they heap abuse on you.  Who is the “they” Paul speaks of?  Surely it’s not the world, but rather those who are in the church!  Peter warns that the end of all things is near.  Look at the state of the world – economic turmoil, moral decay, pestilence, droughts, wars and rumors of wars, random acts of violence, hatred and intolerance of Christians and more abuse of and towards women and children than we’ve seen or heard of before.  The end of things is near.  So Peter instructs us to be alert and vigilant because what the enemy doesn’t want us doing is praying.  He wants to torment our minds to keep us thinking and reacting from the flesh.  But we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.  We must put on the whole armor of God!

Where did Peter state judgment begins?  In the house of God.  Therefore, I Peter 5:8 tells us to be sober-minded; be watchful.  Our adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  How is he seeking to devour?  By using his ministers.  Let’s go back to Paul’s thorn.

II Corinthians 12:8-10:  “For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.  And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.  Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

Reproaches and persecutions typically come at the hands or mouths of people, not physical ailments.  Why do we find it so easy to believe that a man as strong and faithful as Paul, would be so distraught as to plead with the Lord three times to have poor eyesight or a physical ailment removed from him?  Remember, it was Paul (formerly Saul) who persecuted the church.  And, at his conversion, Christ said that Paul was his chosen instrument to proclaim His name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel and that He would show him how much he must suffer for His name.  If Saul was issuing murderous threats and sought to jail, persecute or kill those who called on the name of Christ, then is it not safe to assume that his thorn in the flesh was actually people and not a physical malady?

What does it mean to buffet?  It means to pound, to beat, to pummel.  Those are literal, physical actions.  In Paul’s affliction he learned to surrender his own will to the will of God.  He would acquiesce and take the buffeting by the messengers of Satan.  He would take it patiently, and glory in his infirmities (weaknesses).  The very same principle is put forth in 1 Peter 2:20:  “For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently?  But if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.”  You see, we can understand someone enduring suffering for something they’ve done, but suffering for doing well?  That’s another issue altogether.

Paul prayed three times that the Messenger of Satan be removed from him, and God’s answer came back, “My Grace is enough for you.”  This is not unlike when the Savior in Gethsemane prayed three times, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.”  (Luke 22:42).  It’s a demonstration of surrendering our will to the will of God!  There is a basic and practical lesson here, related to humility.  It is a trait which is evident in the Children of God, and absent from the children of men.  God knows that strength is made perfect in our weakness.  Outside influences help to keep us humble.  For it is in these times of weakness and hardship that the Lord’s strength can be experienced most.  It’s in these times that we really come to recognize our infirmities (weaknesses), and to depend upon the Lord, rather than our own strength or wisdom!

Satan buffets believers by indwelling others and then using them to persecute or revile us.  Why would bad eyesight, stammering speech, or any other physical disorder, be called a messenger of Satan?  What was vexing Paul was those Judaizers, messengers of Satan who followed him from town to town persecuting and reviling him.  These were the thorns in the flesh that he wanted taken away.  But God told him no, His Grace was enough, which brings us to God’s purpose in allowing these thorns to remain.

When you come with the truth of the gospel — and truly live it — people hate you and what you say.  You see anyone can quote scripture, even Satan did when he attempted to tempt Christ.  You can even teach it, but those born of the incorruptible seed live it.   Therefore they revile and persecute us because of it.   However, what many are taught to believe is that the hatred and persecution will only come from those outside the church.  Not so.  There are many who are posing as angels of light operating in the local church and believe me, they hate those who are living Godly.  I just gave you scriptural references above, that they will come from within the local church (there are countless other references in the Bible such as Matthew referring to them outwardly as sheep but inwardly they are predatory wolves, and the book of Jude has great detail of what we should be looking out for).  These are the thorns in the flesh, the Messengers of Satan.  Paul had them and all those who will live Godly will too!

Satan works from without the body, through other evil men, not from within the Temple of God, which is our Body.  I believe I can safely speculate by saying that all the disciples had ailments.  Most people will die from an ailment or old age, (if Christ doesn’t return before, or they’re in an accident, etc.).  Ailments are a normal part of life because we live in a fallen world.  The thorns in believers’ sides as those Messengers of Satan, are false Prophets, fallen congregationalists, evil men who are the persecutors of God’s servants. 

Saints, be extra vigilant.  You see, when we walk into some churches we tend to let our guards down thinking that we’re in a safe zone.  Maybe it’s a church we grew up in, or a church where we have friends and family or even a church we were led to.  I recently encountered an attack that served as a reminder for me.  Satan doesn’t show favoritism in his tactics; he specializes in what we consider low blows.  Some of us would not hurt a woman or a child; however, nothing and no one is off limits to him.  So, why did I come under attack?  Because I am in the Light.  Yet, the bigger question is, why did I not readily notice the attack?  Because I was led there, I initially thought it was because it was a safe zone —  but no ground is pure “safe ground.”   Even when we’ve been led someplace by the Holy Spirit, continue to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.  Unfortunately, I let my guard down and allowed external voices to interfere with the voice of the Holy Spirit.   John 3:19 says, “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.”  You see these messengers want to silence truth; they want to put out the light.  I John 1: 5-7 says:  “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.  If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”  Be careful of those who act as “publicists” for the church.  Allow your answers to come from you aligning all things against the Living Word, not man’s word.  And, however long it takes, wait until God speaks!

We are in times that call for us to watch and pray like never before!  We cannot let our guards down as the price we pay may be one we will forever lament.  To my messengers — as long as you abide in Christ they will come — “Greater is He that is within me than he that is in the world!”

May the Lord who is gracious above all, give us His children the Wisdom and understanding to discern His Truth.  Saints, continue to do good; don’t get weary in well-doing.  Watch and pray!

Psalms 11:2:  For, lo, the wicked bend their bow, they make ready their arrow upon the string, that they may secretly shoot at the upright in heart.

Proverbs 3:33:  The curse of the LORD is in the house of the wicked: but he blesses the habitation of the just.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BzAkMvK1Ljw&feature=endscreen&NR=1

 

Warning labels . . . .

We find them affixed to our prescriptions.  We see them, but rarely read the labels on our cleaning products.  They come on certain equipment, machinery, vehicles, foods and beverages and toys, but we rarely take the time to check out the dangers we could be exposing ourselves to.  We have convinced ourselves that because we’ve seen someone else use the product that we’ll do things as we’ve seen it done and often neglect to read the print in detail.  We trust our own faculties thinking we’ll know when we’re in danger.

Believers have been given the greatest guide for life — it contains encouragement, hope and yes, warning labels.  However, of all the books many pick up, this one — even for believers — seems to be the most  unread.  Too many depend on the Sunday school teacher or the pastor/preacher to give an understanding of  what they hear.  In times of conflict, war, or various competitions — be they business or legal matters, sports or politics — the strategy of one side is to study everything it can about its opponent.  In Business school we called it a SWOT analysis.   Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.  Two were internal areas of focus and the other two were outside forces you sought to either leverage or protect yourself against.  We are in perilous times; all four elements of the SWOT analysis are necessary for the church.   We have to put on the whole armor of God to stand against the wiles of the devil.  Wiles:  deception through trickery;  cunning or skill applied to no good purpose; a ruse; a false impression.    The devil is a master marketing agent.   He sees and takes advantage of openings in our lives through our emotions and will use people — typically those we least expect — to get us off track.  I encourage us all, pick up the Word daily; study it; read the warning labels.  Trust me our enemy definitely is.

Stay tuned . . . .

The Gift of Knowing . . . You Are not Alone!

Mark 10:27-31  And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.   Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s,  But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.  But many that are first shall be last; and the last first.

Often times in our lives we hold on to people — even those who are harming us — because we’ve been conditioned to think having something is better than having nothing.  How many of us are holding on to toxic relationships, friendships that are draining us and are often one-sided; family members who don’t love or support us?   If you were brought up “old schooled” as I was, you were taught that no matter what was going on, to keep your mouth shut; that what goes on in a house stays in the house and that family is all you have.  You remember that three monkey figurine you saw in most households in the ’70’s, they were sitting Indian style — with their hands covering their mouths, ears and eyes — speak no evil, hear no evil, see no evil. 

Family?  What makes a family?  Here’s how Christ answered that question in Matthew 12.  While speaking with the Pharisees , the disciples interrupted Jesus telling him that his mother and brothers were waiting outside to speak with Him.  Jesus questioned the disciples and asked them who is His mother and who are his brothers?  Jesus then pointed to His disciples and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers.  For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.”  Unity of purpose.

Fear.  Fear is the opposite of love.  Out of fear of being alone, many of us hold onto people and things that are hurting us.  Some of us compromise Truth in our desire to not be alone.  However, God said He would never leave us or forsake us and that He knows what we have need of before we even ask.  God’s Word contains many promises for the Believer.  We say we believe the Word of God, but do we trust His Word?  Perfect love casteth out fear!

We’ll never know all that God has waiting ahead for us if we’re constantly focused on those things that are behind us.  Sometimes, the things of our past were good things and good people — all experiences aren’t unpleasant ones, but they can hinder just the same.  So whatever those things are, the Apostle Paul exhorts us to forget those things and press!  Three short words of advice to those who think we can make progress by walking forward and looking backwards:  Luke 17:32, one of the shortest verses in the Bible.

This life is full of beautiful moments waiting to happen — allow God to add them to your life path.  And always remember, in EVERYTHING give thanks for it is the will of God for your life! 

I share this powerful story of love with you today:  The Gift of Charles

http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2012/05/us/gift.of.charles/?hpt=hp_c1

© May 7, 2012 Belinda Powell

Created to reflect His image . . .

Genesis 1:26-27:  And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over the earth, and over every creeping thing, that creepeth upon the earth.  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.  http://youtu.be/VG3-q3_KIv0 
We are not our own!

He Rose with All Power . . . He Lives!

Isaiah 53: Who hath believed our report?  And to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?  For he shall grow up before him like a tender plant, and like a root out of a dry ground; he hath no form nor comeliness, and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.  He is despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised and we esteemed him not.  Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows, smitten of God, and afflicted.  But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.  He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

Although he was God in the flesh, we somehow seem to forget that he was also Mary’s baby.  A man who knew was it was to feel pain, knew what it was to be betrayed, tempted, despised and rejected; yet a man who never lost sight of his purpose and God’s plan.  Seeing, then, that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not a high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.  Let us, therefore, come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16). 

 It wasn’t the nails that kept him to the cross, it was His love for me and you!

http://youtu.be/PdWfNImqqy4

Worthy is the,
Lamb who was slain
Holy, Holy, is He
Sing a new song, to Him who sits on
Heaven’s Mercy Seat

Holy, Holy, Holy
Is the Lord God Almighty
Who was, and is, and is to come
With all creation I sing:
Praise to the King of Kings!
You are my everything,
And I will adore You!

Filled with wonder,
Awestruck wonder
At the mention of Your Name
Jesus, Your Name is Power
Breath, and Living Water
Such a marvelous mystery
Yeah…

Come up lift up His Name
To the King of Kings
We will adore YOU Lord
King of heaven and earth
King Jesus, King Jesus
Aleluya, aleluya, aleluya!
Majesty, awestruck Honor
And Power and Strength and Dominion
To You Lord,
To the King, to King
To the King of Glory

in the beginning . . . He Came!

In the beginning was the Word.   Lord you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.  Before the mountains were formed or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God!

Growing up in church and a single-parent home, Amena grew up struggling to trust God. She now expresses her love for God by performing spoken word poetry.  Enjoy the spoken words of the Word by Amena Brown.

http://youtu.be/nl40wVuCJUA

The Purpose of the Church . . .

Matthew 28: 16-20 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.  And when they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted.  And Jesus came and spoke unto them, saying, “All authority is given unto me in heaven and in earth.  Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.  Amen”

In the past 20 years, I have noticed a trend introduced into the church experience – that of the ubiquitous “conference.”  Many of us are very familiar with one of the most known conferences, which originated here in Dallas, Texas that has become an annual event hosted in various cities and states.  From my understanding, the conferences book well-known speakers; they provide seminars on varied topics; they have books, cd’s, DVDs, t-shirts, etc. for sale; and definitely provide some of the best entertainers in the industry.

Since the inception of this trend 20 years ago, I had neither felt inspired nor a sense of urgency to see what this was all about.  However, two and a half years ago the Holy Spirit led me to a few women conferences, three to be exact.  The first conference I attended was in November 2009, and it ran over three nights.  In March 2010, I attended a second conference, which was held over five days; and the last in August of 2010.  I began to see some patterns – the conferences were being promoted as the place you needed to be to hear and receive a relevant, timely, inspired word from God – that is, a prophetic word.  Hmm.  It is touted to be the place to “take you to your next level in your faith walk,” and you were always told to expect to receive your “breakthrough, it’s in the air.”  If that’s the purpose of the conference, then what is the purpose of the church?

If you read the scripture cited above, you probably overlooked a very specific instruction Jesus left his disciples and it is the same directive given the church today.  Also, in John 21:15, we find Christ eating with disciples this being the third time He’s shown himself to his disciples after being resurrected from the dead.  He begins to question Peter’s love for him.  Jesus asks Peter three times if he loved him and on each occasion Peter responds in the affirmative, “yes Lord,” to which Christ replied, “Feed my lambs,” “Feed my sheep,” “Feed my sheep.”  I’d like for you to read John 21:15-17, keeping in mind the post, The Subject at Issue.  Notice that, although Christ is having a conversation with Peter, look at who is the subject of Christ’s command.  You are.  Christ’s threefold repetition of “my” is a reminder to all Christians who hold responsibility over others that the persons under them belong to Christ.  “You” means pastors, missionaries, teachers and parents are under-shepherds to whose care Christ has committed His sheep and He has a standard of care to which you will be held accountable.  Teach them!

In Philippians 4:9, Paul instructs the church at Philippi, “whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me, put it into practice and the God of peace will be with you.”  In the book of Hebrews, the writer — unknown but assumed to be Paul — has a message of exhortation to hold fast and to go on to maturity.  Additionally, II Peter 3:18 exhorts us to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Learn.  Practice.  Grow.

Notice the four directives given the church by Christ and the apostles:

  • Teach
  • Learn
  • Practice (to live out, to do, to observe, to abide)
  • Grow.

Of our time dedicated in the sanctuary, although we should gather together for corporate worship and praise, the ultimate purpose of our meeting should be dedicated to teaching and feeding Christ’s sheep, building up the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning of craftiness, by which they lie in wait to deceive all with the ultimate goal of equipping the saints to go out and make disciples of men.

Instead of teaching, many churches today spend so much time preaching to the saints.  I read Face Book posts of those who talk about going to church, especially Bible study, and announce how their pastors or ministers preached a good word.  Teaching is for the saved; preaching – while I know many enjoy the charisma of it — is for the lost.  You ever wonder why some pastors are preaching a word instead of teaching the Word?  I will give you three solid reasons why?  First, many of them are self-appointed and not a gift that the Word declares only God Himself can give.  Second, many are not equipped to teach the Word and lack the knowledge (not intelligence, but knowledge Himself) to impart to you.  And finally, but more importantly, the false teachers preach instead of teach so as to not expose themselves.  Many of you have been in various churches over the years, while some have belonged to the same church consistently for years.  I ask you to do some serious reflection.  Ask yourself how many whole books of the Bible has your pastor taken the time to teach your local body, verse by verse, or chapter by chapter, until finished?  Ask yourself how often your church has preaching on Bible study night and not teaching that entails you taking notes and being able to ask questions?  Ask yourself if your church has a model for evangelism that is regularly taught to believers to equip you to carry out Christ’s directive?  And, if you have a model, how often are you as a church going out to seek to make disciples of Christ?  Finally, has your pastor taught any or all of these books in entirety at any point in your membership:  John, Romans, Galatians, Philippians, Colossians, I and II Timothy, James, I and II Peter, I, II and III John and Jude?  Why these books in particular?  I encourage you to make the time for study and discover it for yourselves.  The false teachers will always distort truth of scripture, and will avoid teaching whole books – specifically the ones mentioned above – in their attempt to draw you to themselves and away from Truth in their desire to make merchandise of you.  I cannot detail it here, but please read this passage of scripture, Paul’s farewell to the elders in Ephesus (Acts 20:19-38).  This is the heart of a shepherd given by the Holy Spirit!

Churches have become occupied with so many events, so much entertainment and very little teaching.  Pastor and wife anniversary; founder’s day; church anniversary; choir anniversary – these were the events of the past.  In addition to those events, they have added youth conferences; women’s conferences; men’s conferences; pastor’s conferences; single’s conferences, marriage conferences, musicals, banquets, concerts and the like.  Ever wonder why they are having all these conferences?  Christ himself has given the directive to feed his sheep, but they have learned how to make the gospel big business.  It is a lot easier and beneficial for them to make members than it is to make disciples.  Look at the business world model.  Anyone who goes to school, gets a degree, attains let’s say twenty years or more in a given field, can then with certain credentials be labeled an expert and hire themselves out at exorbitant rates for those who need what they have.  And so it is in the church now.  Thus, anything labeled conference, symposium, seminar, or summit comes with a price for which, if they truly are gifts given by God, they received it freely.  Observe and discern these events, and the people who sponsor them, for what they can be – distractions – meant to keep you busy, but unfocused to lead the sheep astray.  Do you recall the account of Christ feeding the five thousand (Mark 6:32-44)?  There is much to expound on, but I will point towards a few key facts.  First, if you are not being taught where you are, then you don’t have a shepherd.  The shepherd seeks to meet the needs of his flock, not having the flock meet his.  When Jesus saw the need of the people, he had compassion toward them as they were as sheep not having a shepherd and he taught them.  Second, when the work is of God, He sustains it (II Corinthians 9:8-9).  The disciples, concerned that it was getting late and because they were in a desert place, became concerned as to how the people would be provided for.  Notice Jesus gave the command to the disciples first for them to feed the people.  If Christ said it, they should have known that with Him they could do it.  They failed to see the power that was amongst them and, greater things could we all do in His name, if we surrender to the power within us.  Finally, never look to man.  Place no confidence in the flesh, but always look up to God.  When they brought Jesus the five loaves and two fish, Christ looked up to heaven – the source from which all blessings flow and where His help came from.  A good under-shepherd will always help you focus your eyes on The Shepherd of your souls in all things, in all your ways, at all times.

The enemy is the prince of this world, but his agenda is still the same; he wants to exalt himself above God (Isaiah 14:12-14).  Christ has forewarned us to beware of the false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.  Did you notice the revealed truth?  Not just that there will be false prophets who appear to be sheep, but the fact that they will come to you?  Thus, we should be on guard for them in the place you least expect —  the church!

Practice and you will grow!  If they teach, you should learn.  Are you learning?  If so, then it is required of you to practice so that you may grow.  Both 2 Peter 3:17-18 and Colossians 1:9-10 clearly show the importance of growing in knowledge.  On the one hand, we are called to knowledge of the Truth – the unalterable revealed Truth that contains no error – and we are told to hold fast to that Truth.   On the other hand, we are admonished to grow in grace and knowledge.  In order to realize that one has grown, one must have a starting point, a point of comparison.  We should drink in God’s Word like newly born infants, crave pure spiritual milk that we may by it be able to grow.  In light of the fact that many churches today have made various doctrinal adjustments over the years, wisdom shows itself by asking, “if God’s word has not changed, then why have they?”

We can certainly understand that growth is essential. Yet, do the scriptures provide any specific indications of how to grow? Indeed they do.  At the beginning of 2 Peter is a clear description of what it means to grow and neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 1:3-10 reads :

According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue, through these he gave us the very great and precious promises that by them we might participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.  Because you have these blessings, we need to make every effort to add these things to your lives: to your faith, add goodness; and to your goodness, add knowledge; and to your knowledge, add self-control; and to your self-control, add patience; and to your patience, add service for God; and to your service for God, add kindness for your brothers and sisters in Christ; and to this kindness, add love.  If all these things are in you and are growing, they will help you to be useful and productive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But, if anyone lacks these things he is blind and cannot see afar and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.

Please note that faith, virtue, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity are characteristics that are not acquired through personal study and intellectual prowess.  Many intelligent individuals in this world are sorely lacking in these attributes.  These are characteristics that we obtain and develop, over our lifetime, only with the help of the Holy Spirit.

In like manner, the “knowledge” that Peter is referring to also is not acquired through study.  We cannot grow in spiritual knowledge on our own – we need the help of the Holy Spirit.  While it is mandatory to grow in knowledge, what is often overlooked is that there is more than one type of knowledge.  The book of Colossians addressed this very issue.  There were those, a group called Gnostics – derived from the word for knowledge – who claimed that the possessed privileged supernatural knowledge necessary for salvation.  Satan is a deceiver, he is a liar and the father of them and his knowledge is earthly, sensual and demoniacal.  God’s knowledge is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.  I serve an all-knowing, all-powerful omnipresent God who desires to be known by those who are His.  Thus, growth in this knowledge is not about coming up with new doctrines, but it means that our behavior will begin to reflect His behavior. Our actions will begin to reflect His actions. Our thoughts will begin to reflect His thoughts.  One does not grow in grace and knowledge by adding additional restrictions to the revealed Way of life.  Neither does one grow by taking away any requirements from the revealed Way of life.  We cannot change the Truth of God.  What we must do is persevere in our application of the knowledge of the Truth, for “perseverance must finish its work so that we may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:4). We should labor fervently, that we “may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God” (Col. 4:12).

In the final analysis, it is the Christian’s responsibility to diligently remain faithful to the Truth, firm and unwavering, from the beginning to the end (Heb. 3:6, 14; 1 John 2:24).  If we are members of the church of God in these last days, then we are recipients of the Truth.  This is not just a physical, letter-of-the-law truth, but also spiritual truth, which can only be comprehended through the inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit.  This does not imply that we have all understanding about everything. Far from it. We still have partial understanding with regard to many things.  However, those called during this present dispensation are given knowledge of the Truth, while others are ever learning, yet never able to come to it. Sadly, some would have been better off not to have “known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them” (2 Pet. 2:21).

In case you didn’t see it, the purpose, the work, the mission of the church should reside within the walls of the heart of each individual believer because, unfortunate as it may be, you may not see it residing within the walls of the church!

Jesus said the harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few.  If you aren’t being trained for evangelism, if you aren’t being equipped for spiritual warfare, if you aren’t being exhorted to remember all that Christ has commanded of you and if making disciples is not your focus, then what is the purpose of your church?  Make  your calling and election sure!

© April 2012 Belinda Powell

God is No Respecter of Persons.

As a child, I was taught to respect my elders, those in authority and those in the community.  Children were never allowed to use certain words, nor could we address adults by their first names.  In the community, we addressed everyone by either “Mr., Miss or Mrs.” and their first names – but only if we had a relationship with them.  Otherwise, it was “Mr., Miss and Mrs. and their last names.

From as early as I can recall, I have been involved in the church.  My first church was located a stone’s throw from what used to be the projects in West Dallas.  We were very close knit.  Quite a few of the members were like family to me, both naturally and spiritually.  However, as I look at the state of many local churches today, I’ve noticed a paradigm shift – that has crept in ever so subtly – resulting in a departure from Truth.

Our church attempted to follow Biblically-based doctrine, at all costs.  In an attempt to keep the saints accountable to each other, we held church meetings where issues — moral, financial or otherwise — were addressed, discussed and dealt with.  Church discipline was conducted according to scripture even to the point of ex-communication, if necessary.  We had a senior pastor, assistant pastor, youth pastor as well as youth teachers and evangelists.  No matter what the age of the adult, their area of ministry or service or title given them, we called everyone in Christ what they were, a brother or sister, even the pastor!  Therefore, it was common for let’s say a five year old to go to the pastor and greet him by saying, “hello Bro. XYZ.”  It was fitting, it wasn’t considered disrespectful, nor was it taken offensively.  We now see those operating in ministry being glorified as if they’re deity and take offense if they’re not addressed at all times as Bishop, Apostle, Prophet, Prophetess, First Lady or whatever title they or others have bestowed upon them.  Anyone who has come into the Body of Christ has become a son of God and joint-heirs with Christ; thus, no one is more esteemed over another, no one!

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.  The Word became flesh and dwelt among men.  We read nowhere in scripture of Jesus promoting Himself or His will, but always the will of the Father.  We never read of Christ living an ostentatious lifestyle, never seeking fame or riches.  He was about doing His Father’s business.  His focus was on building THE KINGDOM of God.

The body of Christ should be seeking FIRST the kingdom of God and His righteousness and He will add to us those things that we need.  We have been forewarned that there would be those preaching another gospel and another Jesus.  Many have perverted the gospel and have fallen for the prosperity gospel.  Churches now give preferential treatment to those members who have significant means and social status.  They have assigned parking, assigned seating, and access to the pastor who, in many cases, eventually becomes their personal “spiritual advisor.”  People are being taught that those we see prospering must be godly or are receiving God’s favor and those who suffer are either wicked or not in the will of God.  Many have been duped into believing that churches need multi-million dollar sanctuaries to promote the gospel, and to accomplish that they tease you by making accommodations in these sanctuaries for bowling alleys, theaters, restaurants and the like (with how busy many of our lives are, I wonder how often you’re afforded the opportunity to utilize those amenities).  If we’re focused on building God’s kingdom, it’s simply a matter of each believer looking for ground (i.e., hearts) to plant the seed of the Word and allowing the Holy Spirit to do the work.  Pastors seeking to build their own kingdoms have convinced their parishioners that God wants you all wealthy (Hebrews 13:5) – thus aiding in shifting your focus from seeking those things above — and improperly teach III John 2.  The word “prosper” in this scripture is derived from a Hebrew word shalom, which we know means peace.  Nevertheless, for argument sake, if in fact it did mean wealth, what is the focus of that verse?  John is praying that above all things your natural man grows, succeeds or prospers to the same degree as, or in relation to, your soul prospering.  Thus, the focus is first on the soul of man.  Wasn’t that Christ’s focus?  Shouldn’t that be your pastor’s focus; our focus?  How is your soul prospering?

Over the course of the next few posts, I will be discussing the purpose of the church, the New Testament prophet and the gifts given the church.  Listed below are a few scriptural references to establish contextual foundation for the dialogue to come.

Jesus has given example and instruction:

  • (i) of the Principles of the Kingdom and what the life of those in the Light should look like (Matthew chpts. 5-7),
  • (ii) of where the focus of our hearts should be (Matthew 6:25-34),
  • (iii) that our concern should be as His was – for the soul of others.

The Apostle Paul:

  • (iv) describes how Christ, humbled himself, was not concerned about titles or reputation, but took on the form of a servant.  The life of the believer is to be conformed to the image of Christ.  Thus, our desire should be to imitate His humility (Philippians 2:1-8),
  • (v) in I Timothy 6:3-19 Paul gives warnings to pastors and explains what a good minister will be following after; and

James, the half-brother of Christ:

  • (vi) discusses in his epistle practical Christian living through our thoughts, motives and acts.  If we have respect of persons (James 2:1-9) we commit sin and are convicted as transgressors.

I pray that over the course of these next few readings the cry will be to ask the Holy Spirit to search us, test us and lead us into Truth everlasting.

If God is no respecter of persons, then why are ye?

For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. (Deuteronomy 10:17)

© 2012 Belinda Powell

The Subject at Issue . . .

In English, the subject is an essential part of a sentence, because it tells you who or what is performing an action or is in a certain state of being.  Subjects are nouns or pronouns and are usually followed by a verb (just a little English 101 reminder).

There is also the imperative or command form of the subject.  “Go away!”  This type of sentence has no spoken or written subject.  Thus, the implied subject is always “you,” which can be either singular or plural.  The subject “you” is simply understood.

Recently, I was speaking with someone and a window of opportunity presented itself whereby I could segue into the gospel.  However, while not surprised, whenever I’d say something that the individual didn’t want to accept as truth or relevant to his life, I would get the response that that particular directive was for that day and time or that it just no longer applied.  He could accept some portion of scripture as relevant and true, but not all.  While we live in a constantly changing world, God does not change.  He’s the same yesterday, today and forever.  He’s eternal.  His Word is true from the beginning and every one of His righteous judgments endures forever.  Look at what Psalms 90:2 says, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, you are God.”

I agree that the Word in some references and epistles are to a particular group of people.  However, here is what’s important to remember, “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (II Timothy 3:16-17).”

So, for those who adopt the position that God understands the times we’re living in and gives breaks, or that his commands were for those in that day, I trust you now stand corrected.

Place your cursor over the links of the following scriptures:

If in your reading you find that the subject is not so clear, try inserting the word “you” before the first word.  And yes, it really does mean You.  You are the subject at issue!

© 2012 Belinda Powell

Imitation of Life.

There was a time when, based upon what we saw, we could distinguish between “the haves” versus the “have-nots;” what was real versus a knock-off.  Many companies fight hard to protect and defend the reputation of their brands — Rolex, Gucci, Prada, Fendi, Vuitton, Louboutin.  Now, absent careful scrutiny, it’s easy to blur the lines of what’s authentic and something produced to copy the original . . . a counterfeit.  Just about everything is being imitated from cars to pharmaceutical drugs, handbags, perfumes, jewels and the like.  Even grocery stores, clothing and electronic retailers will produce their own store brands to compete with designers and brand names.  Imitation has become a regular way of life.  Having a form of the good life; you know the saying — fake it until you make it.
If there’s any one thing Christ speaks so strongly against, it is hypocrisy.  Recall the fig tree?  From afar off Christ saw the green leaves, an indication that something should have been there for Him to satisfy his hunger.  However, upon closer inspection, He saw that tree bore no fruit and brought judgment upon it.  And so it is today.  We perfect the outward appearance, have learned the testimony lingo and have become motivational speakers using scripture.  What did Christ say to the disciples about the teachers of the law and the Pharisees?  He said they seek far and wide to make one convert and, when they make that one, they then set out to make him twice as much a child of hell as they are.  He said they teach and don’t do and those things they do, is only because they want to be seen of men.  They bundle the word to make heavy burdens to weigh others down and take pleasure in watching them struggle under the load never lifting a finger to help them.  They make clean the outside of the cup, but inside they’re full of greed and extortion.  Outwardly, they appear righteous, but inwardly they’re full of hypocrisy and wickedness.  These people, He said, draw near Him with their mouths, honor Him with their lips, but their hearts are far from Him.  So you see, it’s a matter of the heart and what’s in it will eventually come out.
Without faith it’s impossible to please God.  Without love you don’t know God.  If HE hasn’t changed you, then has HE saved you?   Christ said his yoke is easy and His burden is light.  Are you a true disciple or just an Imitation of the Life?

The Law of The Vital Few.

Many of us have had conversations about slackers or co-workers who we feel get away with things while others take on their load.  We often wonder how they’re getting away with it or, question whether or not management even knows.  Rest assured, they know.  Entrepreneurs and managers analyze different aspects relevant to their business:  staff, complaints, profits, sales.  In management, this is known as the Pareto Principle or, the law of the vital few.  In everyday language, it’s known as the 80/20 Rule.  You recall the scene in “Why Did I Get Married?”  In the end, Jill Scott tells her ex-husband that he gave her up, thinking he was getting the real deal, only to realize he gave up an 80 in exchange for a 20.  Well, here’s the actual theory behind the rule.  An Italian economist began to take note of the wealth in his country.  He discovered 80% of the land was held by 20% of the population.  He developed the principle after studying his garden and realized 20% of the pea pods produced 80% of the peas.  Thus, good managers have learned to identify the 20% that matters.  They learn that 80% of their sales are made by 20% of their team; that 80% of complaints come from 20% of their customers and that 80% of profits come from 20%.  They’ve identified their vital few.

The Word gives a similar distribution of a Vital Few, sort of a 75/25 principle.  Do you not know your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit?  God said He doesn’t live in temples made with man’s hand.  Thus, the local church is a garden so to speak, where lively stones come together for corporate worship; yet all in the garden God didn’t plant.  Recall the parable of the sower?  Christ said if you don’t know this one, then you won’t know any of them.  Many have taught and continue to teach that the seed sown is money and that the fruit brought forth 30, 60 and a 100 fold is a financial blessing you receive.  Not so.  Christ is talking about the Word–the truth of the Word–and souls.  The first ground hears the truth, it makes it to their minds, but before it can become a matter of the heart Satan immediately snatches it. The next ground is stony; they receive the Word, temporarily. They hear it and as long as things are great, they are made happy by the Word, but when times of affliction or persecution come, they take offense with the Word as they have no root.  The next ground, the Word is sown among thorns (false doctrine, man-made tradition lacking truth of scripture, worldly views, etc.). They hear the Word, but the cares and lust of this life and deceitfulness of riches become more important that it chokes the Word.  And these are they where the results happen. Here the Word is sown on good ground; they hear it, receive it and bring forth much fruit.  One-fourth of the seed takes permanent root and the result is wheat, children of the kingdom!  What god is planted in the soil of your heart?  God knows those in His garden, His Vital Few.

© 2011 Belinda Powell

Terrell Owen says, “I’m in hell!”

After trusting the wrong people too many times, at what point does one get the lesson: “you haven’t learned to trust yourself?”  Many people have said you attract who you are.  While it is a true statement, maybe it should be clarified for a fuller understanding — you attract where you are.  We all emit pheromones — chemicals released by an organism into its environment enabling it to communicate with other members of its own species.  These pheromones can be sexual in nature, drawing us to one another or, they may be those that alarm us letting us know when we’re in a fight or flight situation.
When you’re whole, healed and can take responsibility for your own actions, you’re better positioned to clearly see when you’re attracting people of a similar state, thus attracting who you are.  When you’re broken, wounded and still victimized by things in your past you will draw to you not a person of like standing, but rather a person willing to take advantage of yours — one who detects your brokenness, smells your wounds and sees your vulnerability, thus you’re attracting people to where you are.  A structure whose walls are fortified is hard to penetrate.  If I fortify my house with an alarm, cameras and/or a watch dog, then what was intended for my domain will more than likely move on to some place less secure.  The enemy walks about seeking whom he may devour with the intent to steal, kill and destroy.  When you’re established, built up and rooted in Christ your walls have been fortified.  You may be a target, but the weapons formed will not prosper!  We have to become as wise as our enemy, but not harm as he does.
Some people wonder why they keep running into the same situations or the same type of people who end up doing what others have done to them.  If your focus remains on what others have done or are doing, things won’t change.  Focus on yourself.  Look within, find the source of the pain.  If you’re looking for others to fix you, validate you, or make you feel complete, I have news — you’ll forever be broken!  Give God every offense and offender.  The wound has to be cleaned.  Allow God to heal you.  Focus on Christ and what He can do within you and not only will You change, your situations will change.  Colossians 2:7  “Let your roots grow down into Him, let your lives be built on Him.  Then your faith will grow strong in the truth and you will overflow with thankfulness.”  
© 2012 Belinda Powell