Having a Support Team

Thinking back over my life, I have fallen short many times. To be honest, I think everyone here could say the same. However, the one thing that has kept me striving to be a better husband, father, and Christian is the love of my support team. This team is my wife, my friends, and my siblings. The truth is, that no one that has ever succeeded in anything has done it on their own. It takes the prayers of some, and the actions of others to allow us to have a victory in our lives. When I think of the perfect biblical example of this idea that I am sharing with you all, I think of Exodus 17:8-16.

In this piece of Scripture, Moses sends out Joshua and his men to fight against Amalek in Rephidim. The Bible teaches us that Joshua was faithful and gathered his men to fight against those who wished harm against their people. However, the story does not finish there. Moses stated that he would go to the top of the hill and lift his hands and pray over the battle to be won. Then something amazing happened, as Moses lifted his hands, Joshua and the Israelite people started to win. However, whenever his hands got tired and he dropped them, Amalek started to prevail.

Then, as Mose’s arms grew tired Aaron and Hur supported his hands. This allowed for the Lord’s favor on Joshua and his soldiers. Joshua won the battle, and everyone could not deny the faithfulness of the Lord and His providence over His people who had faith in Him. However, the real lesson that I gained from this Scripture can be applied in two simple ways and I am humbled to be able to share them with you all today.

First, everyone has a role or destiny that God provides them with. When we can accept our calling and embrace it, the Lord can work in our lives. In this piece of Scripture, the soldiers were fighting. They were nameless, however, without their sacrifice there would not have been a battle, to begin with. Then there was the military leader Joshua, it took his decisiveness in the field to allow his smaller forces to defeat the larger army. Then there was Moses. Moses was there for spiritual support and prayed and petitioned the Lord for the soldiers. Lastly, there was Hur and Aaron. Hur and Aaron literally held up the heavy arms of Moses and carried a part of his suffering to win the battle. Each person in this Scripture had a job and did it to the best of their ability. If they did not, the Israelites would have failed and lost the battle. So, if you are not a Moses or a Joshua, be a soldier, an Aaron or a Hur. At the end of the day, this shows others the Christ-like humility in our hearts. Be whatever God is calling you to be and embrace your role. It doesn’t matter what your role is, we all play a part in the Kingdom of Heaven.

The second and most important thing that I would like to share is that the battle was won because of everyone’s faith in the Lord. Faith is not a word, it is an action. Some people had to fight, some people had to pray, while others needed to support the rest. The common denominator was that they all did their best and acted out their faith. It is not easy going into battle, nor praying with your hands in the sky until they feel like you’re holding bricks, but it was done. Every day we have a choice to fight a battle for or against the Lord. It all begins by winning the battle in our minds and conquering our fears and anything that is keeping us from walking out in faith. So, if there is anything holding you back from giving God your very best and allowing you to defeat the armies against you, surround yourself with a support team as Moses did. By having those around you that will fight with and for you, and having those who will pray and support you, there is nothing that can defeat you or even steal your joy. They will give you a piece of mind and through the common love of Christ in each and every one of you, you will do the same for them.

I would like to finish this devotional with a simple prayer. Lord, I pray that everyone who is reading this devotional can take comfort in understanding the calling you placed in their hearts and minds. I pray for them to be supporters if you called them to be supporters. I pray for them to be warriors and leaders if that is what you called them to be. I also pray for them to be encouragers and supporters if that’s what you called them to be. However, I mostly want to pray about the godly relationships in their lives. I pray that you place the people in their lives that will build them up and not set them back as you showed us in your word with Moses. I pray that we call can have the courage to walk out our faith. Thank you for the sacrifice of your son and thank you for allowing us to leave the worst parts of us at the foot of the cross so that we can be instruments for you to use to expand your kingdom while we are on earth. Amen!

Sibling Rivalry

While reading my daily devotional on Romans chapter 14, I started to think about when I was a child still living at home. When I was a kid growing up, I lived in a house full of girls. I had three sisters that used to torture me. I don’t believe that they did the things they did to me out of evil intentions, but the things they did to me hurt my feelings at times and my confidence. Even though we were siblings, at times I really disliked them. Often, I would just leave the house or isolate myself to not be around them at all. However, as we all grew older and matured, we started to help one another, especially if they were having a bad day.  

The reason why I am sharing this story of my childhood with you is that like biological siblings, you should not dislike or even hate your spiritual siblings. Those who partake in the same grace as you and me should never be hated. In Romans 14:7-13, Paul is teaching about this very issue. Every Christian is different. Some are stronger in their walk than others, however, we are all brothers and sisters through the gift of the Holy Spirit. Like how I handled the situations with my siblings at a young age, many Christians today have a habit of isolating themselves from other believers because they are different or because they have done something they did not like. It could be something as simple as judging their life because they are not acting as they should be.  

However, there are three simple things I would like to share with everyone today that the Holy Spirit placed in my heart while reading this chapter of the book of Romans. Firstly, no true Christian lives for themselves. We are to live a life pleasing to God and serving others. Secondly, as Christians, we should always remember that each one of us is going to give account to the Lord for our individual actions. Often, when we rashly judge others without knowing why they are doing what they are doing. When we do this, we can become a stumbling block for them. When we judge one another, it causes animosity towards both parties and will cause one of the two parties to eventually isolate themselves from the other. They could even leave the church if they feel that they are being judged. This brings me to my last point, before we as Christians say or do anything, we should keep in mind that our thoughts and our actions can directly influence how another person treats another. So, we should always focus on being positive and helping someone that we see as struggling. Just keep in mind that you were once the person struggling and someone gave you a loving hand instead of a pointed finger.  

The Spirit vs. The Flesh

While reading my Bible, I came across Romans chapter seven and chapter eight. In chapter seven, Paul identifies the two conflicting natures found in every believer. These conflicting forces are the sins of the flesh and the Holy Spirit that resides within us. In this short Bible study, I would like to identify the severity of the sins of the flesh and why we need to identify them. Then, I want to explain why at times we want to do good but come up short. Lastly, I would like to share the solution to this problem.

 

In the beginning, humanity was created and fell to sin (Genesis 3). When man fell, we were cursed and became a slave to sin from birth. In actuality, our own flesh is one of the three enemies to a believer (The world, The Flesh, and Spiritual Warfare). This is important to understand because as believers, we cannot change the influence of impact or the world, nor can we change the spiritual warfare going on in the background. However, we can fight against our flesh. Paul identifies the sins of the flesh in Galatians 5:19-21 as immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and other things like these. These things we can do something about. This is why Paul was highlighting them to his brothers and sisters in Christ.

 

Paul identified with great humility that nothing good dwelled in his flesh and even at times when he was willing to do good, he did not (Romans 7:18-20). Paul was telling his fellow partakers of Christ that everyone will go through these struggles. If an apostle appointed by Christ Himself had struggled so would a new believer. Paul was identifying that we all have evil within us that can stop us from doing good, even if we wanted to do it. I believe this is important to understand because if we cannot keep this evil within us in check by defeating it, our very flesh will keep us from God’s very best.

 

This is not the end of Paul’s lesson though. He identified that Through Christ’s likeness to our sinful flesh and His sacrifice on the cross allowed Jesus to condemn sin to the flesh (Romans 8:3). What Paul was identifying is that those who have accepted Christ into their lives have become heirs to the kingdom of heaven. The same Spirit that rose Christ from the dead lives in us. From the time that we get baptized, our minds should be on things of the Spirit and not on things of the flesh. This is because those who set their minds of things of the flesh (the things identified in Galatians 5:19-21) set their minds on things of the flesh. However, for those who set their minds according to the Spirit can live in the Spirit.

 

If we try to fight about our flesh on our own, we will fail every time. I tried to fight against my PTSD and other struggles by myself and could not win. Just like many of you have tried to fight against your own personal sins of the flesh. However, through the power of the Holy Spirit that resides in us can allow us to fight and win these personal battles. Our minds are a very powerful thing. When we choose to have a different perspective and vision on where we want to be and who we want to be can be the deciding factor on the victory. This is why Paul stated that those who have the mindset of the flesh are doomed to death because they are hostile towards God (Romans 8:6). Only those with the mindset of the Spirit will have the strength to put death to the flesh, specifically the sins of the flesh (Romans 8:13). For those who are led by the Spirit are sons of God and receive the spirit of victory and freedom instead of the spirit of slavery that comes from our flesh.

 

This knowledge leads me to identify the message of this Bible study. We already have the power to fight against our flesh! It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit within us that can allow us to have victory over our flesh. Our anger, jealousy, envying, and addictions can be defeated! First, we must be able to identify our sins. Even those that we do not want to speak about because it will make us look or feel weak in front of others. Then, repent for them and truly give them to the Lord. Lastly, live by the Spirit and not the flesh. What I mean by this is to live a life worthy of the sacrifice of Christ. Like Paul, we will all fall short. However, for those who are heirs of the kingdom, we have a power within us that can raise people from the dead. It is with this power that we can fight and win against any of our personal evils. This blessing came from Jesus’ sacrifice and it gave us the spirit of victory!

 

So I pray today that if there is anyone out there that feels like they are fighting alone, please understand that you are not. I pray that you can understand that you have the Spirit of God right next to them wanting to be in their hearts and minds. It is only through this Spirit that we can become complete, fight against our personal issues, and have life everlasting. I pray for those who have been stuck in a life of bondage and defeat to accept Christ into their lives. A life of victory and joy is only a change of perspective away. I also pray for those who are already believers that are fighting against something they are having issues with to bring it to light. Identify it within yourselves and seek help. Together we are stronger! Amen.

 

Being a Useful Servant

The life of the apostle Paul is a perfect example of the redemptive and transformative power of Jesus Christ. At first, Paul, a Jew among Jew’s was on the Damascus Road to hurt the disciples of Jesus and then faced the Lord himself (Acts 9). Once Jesus made himself known to Saul (Paul), Paul had no choice but to serve Him. Paul was able to experience the love, mercy, and grace of Jesus Christ and from that point, his life would be changed forever. I think it is funny to know a little of Paul’s history because it made him perfectly equipped to spread the Gospel to the Gentiles (non-Jews). Paul had a deep understanding of the Jewish, Greek, and Roman culture. This made him a valuable tool for the Lord to use. You see, without Paul knowing it, God was grooming and equipping him to be His servant. I believe that this is important to understand before we begin to read our Scripture for today. By understanding where Paul came from will help the audience grasp a deeper understanding of not only how to understand this Scripture but how to apply it into their lives.

It is written, “Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,” (Romans 1:1-7, NASB).

In Paul’s introduction to the Roman church, he first identified himself as a “bond-servant” or “slave” to Jesus Christ. The Greek word used was “doulos” which cogitated a special servanthood to Yahweh. This term was used for the biblical characters of Moses, Joshua, Abraham, David, and the prophets. Paul was letting the church understand not only his position but his complete devotion to God. This is not the first time Paul referred to himself in this way, he did so in Galatians 1:10 and Titus 1:1. Paul did this because of his complete and full devotion to Jesus Christ.

Imagine living in a time where the term “slave” meant that a person was worth as much as an animal. Being a free man, Paul was showing the church his humility, obedience, and submission to Jesus Christ. Even though God set Paul aside from normal people, Paul did not see himself in a manner other than being a servant. There is a lot to learn from Paul’s position.

Paul knew that being a servant of Christ enables believers to be partakers of the same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. To Paul, understanding this fact was a privilege but also his responsibility to share with the world. Since he experienced the transforming power of Jesus Christ he could no longer sit still. He needed to share the Gospel of Christ until his last dying breath.

Many of you may be telling yourself “I do not have the anointing and calling of Paul.” However, I believe this statement is not true. God may not have called you to be an international missionary; however, He has been guiding your steps since the day you first took your breath. As God used Paul for whom he was, God wants to you each and every one of us today. Once a person accepts Christ into their hearts and minds, they are born again as a new creation. They become slaves to Christ! As slaves to Christ, there must be a certain amount of submission that is required. Your attitude, mindset, and actions must change for the better.

Since the old you is gone and your sins are forgiven, what is holding you back from being the useful servant that God wants you to be? So I will ask everyone here today some reflective questions to help guide you to become a useful servant. First, what is your attitude toward Christ? This may be a straightforward question but the reply to it will share with you your spiritual maturity. If Christ is at the center of everything you think and say, you can be useful. If you are distracted by things that challenged the old you, you have to let go and allow Jesus to take control of that aspect of your life. My second question is are you willing to obey and serve Christ? I get it, sharing your testimony with people or allowing the Holy Spirit to guide you can make you feel uncomfortable, and however, is the lack of willingness keeping you from your calling? Being a slave means that you will do things that will make you uncomfortable. Your life is not your own anymore. As a Christian, your life is no longer yours. Your life belongs to Jesus Christ. Have you felt uncomfortable lately? My last question is are you serving another master? I simply mean are you putting other things before serving Jesus?

As you reflect on your replies, only you can know if you have been a useful servant of Jesus Christ. This is something very important to learn from the apostle Paul. Paul lived a life that understood that we all cost Jesus too much to simply sit still. As we come to learn about Jesus’ sacrifice for us, we should be compelled to not only accept him but share the transformation that we have had in our lives through Him. As we become true servants for Christ can His Gospel continue to spread? If we sit still and grow stagnant, we start to lose the fruits of the Holy Spirit. So I challenge everyone reading this today to reflect if they are being a good servant.

How to get the fullness of joy?

While listening to one of my favorite Christian songs “Joy” by for King and Country, I started to think about the fullness of joy and where it comes from. The reasoning behind this was because I started to think about how many Christians that I have met while traveling during these past four years that had little to no joy in their lives. Then I started to think about how many nonbelievers I have seen that are unhappy and use things like alcohol, drugs, or something else to fill a void in their life for temporary relief. So, I want to share with everyone today a little devotional about the fullness of joy and how to attain it today.

Most people know that every Christian receives the gift of the Holy Spirit in their lives after they have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and are baptized (Acts 2:38). Once a believer receives the Spirit of God in them, they start to feel energized and want to grow closer to the Lord. This season of a Christian’s life is one filled with love, peace, and joy. However, over time a Christian can become stagnant and stops seeking the Lord in everything they do. Soon, they start to allow worldly opinions and desires cloud their judgments and they start to lose focus on what joy is and that only through Christ can the fullness of Joy be in a believer’s life.

In Jesus’ lesson about the vine and the branches (John 15), He teaches us that no branch can bear fruit by itself. To be able to bear fruit, you must remain in Christ Jesus and Him alone. He goes on to clarify what He is teaching by stating, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete,” (John 15:9-11).

I think that Jesus is the ultimate authority on the fullness of joy because His joy becomes our joy when we keep His commands. I say this because no one can steal your joy! Joy does not come from getting a promotion or getting something that you want. Joy cannot come from alcohol or drugs either. Those things may make you happy, but after a while, you will start to feel another void in your life. Something will upset you or you may not get your way. This is why I want to share with everyone today that to have the fullness of joy in your life is a simple choice. That choice is to accept Jesus Christ into your life. Within this choice, you can choose to follow and obey Him or choose not to. You can become fruitful and enjoy the gifts of His Spirit or not. It is that simple.

My family and I have chosen joy and I pray that many of you start to follow. If you are already chosen joy (Christ), but you do not feel joyful on a daily basis, sit back and consider where the source of your joy is coming from. It may just take some time to reflect and then get back on track. For those who have not come to know Jesus, I challenge you to learn a little about Him. Pick up a Bible and read about His life and ministry. Then I challenge you to follow His commands and you will see a change in your life for the better. Then you can make a choice to accept the fullness of joy in your lives.

I pray that everyone reading this today takes what the Lord wants to put in their hearts as a reminder to lean on Him not only for strength and peace but also joy. Please have a blessed day!

FIVE STEPS TO BE A MORE EFFECTIVE MINISTER

Lately, I have not been writing many devotionals because I have been studying hard to graduate with my master’s degree. While doing so, I have been so focused on doctrines and the complexities of theology that I have been having issues relating to those I am called to minister to. While doing laundry today I prayed. I asked God to provide me with the wisdom to be a better husband, father, and minister. I have been trying so hard to balance being a full-time student, husband, father, and minister and to be honest, I have felt that I am missing the mark at times. However, after I prayed, I opened up my Bible to do my devotional time and I read 1 Corinthians 9:22-23. Then it hit me like a brick! The Lord gave me the solution to a problem I was pretending not to have because of my pride. I need to get back to the basics of ministry and leave the complexity of theology for school and get back to the foundational principles that made me an effective minister, to begin with. It is these five principles that I want to share with you all today.

It is written, “To the weak, I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may, by all means, save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it,” (1 Corinthians 9:22-23, NASB).

Principle One:

Find a common ground with everyone you meet. I am a strong believer that you can start a conversation with anyone. My wife tells me often that I have never met a stranger because of this principle. Do not be afraid to engage others to find a commonality. It may take time, but when it comes to ministering, it is a requirement.

Principle Two:

Humility is key when communicating with people. You never want to have or give off a know-it-all mentality, especially when trying to minister to an unbeliever. This is key for having an impactful conversation with someone. You want people to not only hear your words but respect them as well. So, when you communicate with someone, always do so in a loving manner.

Principle Three:

Always make sure to make the people you are in contact with feel accepted and loved. Whenever you engage someone, you must always remember that they are a person you want to help find salvation and not a number. It does not matter how many people you have saved or how many people are in your congregation. When you are ministering to someone, they are the sole focus of your ministry. Treat that person as if they are the only member of your congregation.

Principle Four:

Try to have a sensitivity to what people are dealing with and try to meet their needs. These needs can be physical, emotional, or spiritual in nature. Sometimes people do not want someone to solve a problem for them, but in actuality, they just want someone to listen to them. Sometimes people have a physical need that needs to be met such as food, water, or clothing. Other times, people are dealing with real spiritual needs. An effective minister must be able to not only be able to identify what a person’s needs are but to have the sensitivity to show compassion and not pity for others.

Principle Five:

Look for opportunities to share Jesus Christ with others. This does not mean shove religion down people’s throats, but to emulate the qualities of Jesus. Share his love, compassion, and mercy. This could also be an opportunity to share one Bible verse with someone having issues to lift their spirits, help them with comfort, or to encourage them.

Even though I am sharing with you all the five principles that came into my heart, it takes time and dedication to actually do them. We learn from Paul’s commitment to his ministry that it requires personal discipline. In fact, Paul compared this discipline to that of an athlete that is striving to be the best in his or her field. Like Paul, we have to be willing to give up certain thoughts and actions to win the prize, and that prize is helping someone find and build a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

I pray that these Principles help someone today to get back to the basics. If anyone wants to add or share a personal experience relating to this post, please leave a comment. I would love to hear how the Lord is working in your life. God bless you all!

Filling the Void

Ecclesiastes 2:16

“For neither the wise nor the fool will be long remembered, since in days to come everything will be forgotten. The wise man dies the same way as the fool, does he not?”

Death is the ultimate equalizer of all people. It does not matter how much you have attained in wealth, wisdom, or popularity. Death comes for us all the same whether you are penniless or a billionaire. Many people may ask “why not just enjoy your life?” I agree with asking these questions from a slightly different perspective. I ask, “why not live and enjoy the life God gave you?” The way we live our lives affects the outcome of our death. Do you want to pass away and hear angels singing and glorifying our Heavenly Father, or do you want to suffer the consequences of living life full of sin and worldly desires? So, what does the Bible teach us how to enjoy your life?

1 Timothy 6:6-8

“Of course, godliness with contentment does bring a great profit. Nothing to this world we bring; from it take us nothing. With food to eat and clothes to wear; content we are in everything.”

The Bible teaches us to enjoy the life we must be content with what we have. This lesson can be applied to both spiritual growth and personal fulfillment. If you put God in the center of your life and not your personal desires, then you can be content with all that God has already provided you with. Often times people confuse riches and possessions with being fulfilled. Money cannot buy you happiness. People get stuck in a vicious cycle of gaining riches and possessions, and they never feel fulfilled. They have a void in their hearts that only God can fill. However, these people try to fill their voids with more things that do not bring about any fulfillment in their lives. They try to fill the void in their hearts with things that can only bring about temporary happiness. When the void comes back, they repeat the process and end up living a life of emptiness.

Are you currently stuck in this cycle? If so, how do you break it? Many things can be learned from this simple truth God shared with us in 1 Timothy 6:6-8. First, is to love people more than you love your money and your possessions. When you die you cannot bring your things with you. However, the positive impact that you leave on the people around you will be everlasting. Focus on being a good person and being Christ-like. Do not be religious, but act compassionately towards others and be a blessing. Too many people go to church and go through the motions and still fill a void in their lives. But a life of service and love will always bring about rejuvenation to a person’s soul.
Secondly, there is a fine line between what you need and what you think you need. If you continue to try and fill the void in your life with possessions and riches, you can never be content with what God has already provided you. Think about your family and your friends that you are losing in your pursuit of riches and possessions. Think about how many people you could have shared what God has blessed you with and made memories with. If this is you, take some time and figure out what is really important in your life and what you truly need to achieve it.

Ecclesiastes 8:15

“So then I recommended enjoyment of life because it is better on earth for a man to eat, drink, and be happy since this will stay with him throughout his struggle all the days of his life, which God grants him on earth.”

The Lord wants us to enjoy our lives when done in the right spirit and with the right moderations. People who are not believers “yet,” often have this mindset that they cannot fully enjoy their lives if they accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. They focus on what they have to give up in their lives instead of realizing what they are gaining in return. You see, the Scriptures teach us that life is not just about enjoying what you do have, but understanding that you would have nothing without God’s mercy and compassion towards humanity. By understanding this, you will finally be able to enjoy an abundant life. If you continue to try and fill a void that only God can fill, then you are going to miss the happiness of knowing Jesus Christ and the daily gift of the Holy Spirit. I pray that this short devotional helps someone find fulfilled today in Jesus Christ. Only when someone can truly come to terms with the fullness of having Him in their lives can they truly live an abundant life.