Feb05

From The Pulpit of Family of Faith Christian Center

 

 

 

“Disconnected To Be Reconnected”

There is nothing like walking in the favor of God. Without a shadow of doubt God's favor truly rests on my life. By favor I am referring to unmerited gifts bestowed upon me despite myself. How else do you explain the opportunities afforded a young boy from Mississippi who grows up in California defying gang life, drugs and the various perils of society one day being invited to join a prestigious group of pastors, ministers and leaders on a visit to Jerusalem, the Mecca of Israel and many world religions?

While in Jerusalem I was favored with several highlights commencing with being baptized in the Jordan River. I was also favored to visit what we refer to in the Western part of the world as the Wailing Wall, which ironically is called The Western Wall in Israel. Here,  seeing a people so devoted to God and a lifestyle of prayer, tears began to flow  down my face as a sign of submission to God's desire of such devotion from myself.  Then I cannot overstate the feeling of favor that overcame me upon meeting a group of Ethiopian Jews who returned to their spiritual homeland on wings of an eagle fulfilling the prophetic words found in Isaiah 40:31.

Lastly, I know that favor rest upon me as it was my honor to deliver a word of encouragement in the Upper Room, the place of historical and biblical events such as: washing of the disciples feet, post resurrection appearance of Jesus unto his disciples, gathering place of the disciples after the ascension of Jesus, and election of Saint Matthias who replaced Judas Iscariot after his betrayal of the Messiah.

The Upper Room is most notably known for the Holy Spirit descending on the day of Pentecost in accordance to Acts, chapters 1 and 2. Over two thousand years later one cannot help but wonder why God allowed me to travel not only to the Holy Land, but center me in the epic center central to the foundation of Christianity.

Matthew 14 informs us how even Jesus would disconnect from the crowd in order to gain renewed strength for the various tasks His Father had in store for him.  Hence, he withdrew unto an upper room setting.

Whenever we read of the term Upper Room, we should be reminded that God is disconnecting his people from the normal in order to renew, refresh and reconnect them to, with, and for a greater purpose. The Upper Room is also a place of elevation, exemption and equipping. Consider the following passages of scripture.

In II Kings 4:8-10 we read "Now it happened one day that Elisha went to Shunem,  where there was a notable woman, and she persuaded him to eat some food. So it was, as often as he passed by, he would turn in there to eat some food. 9 And  she said to her husband, “Look now, I know that this is a holy man of God, who  passes by us regularly. 10 Please, let us make a small upper room on the wall;  and let us put a bed for him there, and a table and a chair and a lampstand; so  it will be, whenever he comes to us, he can turn in there.”"

In the New Testament passage of Mark 14:13-15 we find the following words: And He sent out two of His disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man  will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him. 14 Wherever he goes in, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is the guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?”’ 15 Then he will show you a large upper room, furnished and prepared; there make ready for us.”

In these passages the upper room also referred to as a guest chamber was  furnished for the man of God that he might disconnect from all in order to be replenished for all.

The upper room is that place where and when we are willing to detach and disconnect from everyone and everything in order to go into His presence, power unlike anything ever previously witnessed comes down as promised by God.  It is where we are reminded that if we truly want the promises of God, it mandates we deviate from the average and a life of normalcy. Remembering everyone is called to service, but the chosen are exempt from a life of normality.

While in Jerusalem, I was face timing a member back in the states when suddenly we experienced a disconnect. After waiting a while, I called and was reconnected to which the person replied "oh, that is so much better now." It occurred to me that when we are willing to disconnect from the jargons of life for a season to be alone with God, He refreshes, renews, replenishes, and restores us to the point such a light illuminates from us that all who would see must declare "oh, you are so much better now." That is truly an Upper Room experience..

Jan07

From The Pulpit of Pastor Jamal Bryant

Jamal Bryant

“When I’m Done, I’m Done”

In 2004, Motorola lead the entire phone industry into an arena they had never occupied. Introducing a device that combined aluminum and had an internal antenna. It had a chemically etched keyboard. The device was known as a Razor and it cut all the of cell phone competition in half. Within two years, Motorola sold fifty million units, prompting the president of the company to release a press statement saying that Motorola was now the lead innovator of industry.

Within four years, the president of the company was forced out of office and the stock was sold for 12 cents a share.

They weren’t able to maintain their prominence. Why? Simply because the president had confused innovation with novelty. Consumers proved once again that they are bored with novelty and they thirst for innovation.

Novelty holds only entertainment value, whereas innovation moves toward a life impact. There have been too many people, too many organizations, too many ministries, too many choirs that have been novel, but they didn’t have any innovation.

True innovation changes the course of an industry or a society. The light bulb is an innovation. The microwave, the fax machine, the PC, iTunes are innovations.

It is an innovation only when it changes how you do business. It alters the way of life and even challenges the comfort of tradition. So even adding a camera to a phone is not an innovation, it is a novelty. It creates a trend. To be innovative means you have to be differentiated from everything else that’s in the market. To be different doesn’t mean to reinvent. You cannot compare to anything that has previously existed.

What God has to do with us in this generation is to show us how to be different and not how to reinvent.

It’s amazing because it feels as if the body of Christ has not received the memo that cloning is illegal. You’ve got to find your own DNA. You’ve got to find your own identity, your own purpose, that I’m not trying to be the next anybody, but I want to be the first of whoever it is God has introduced into the Earth realm.

God is looking for some people who want to be different. And when God does something different, understand you run the risk of persecution.

We’ve got to get to a place that what we’re doing is not symbolic if it’s not substantive. It has got to mean something after the benediction, not just shouting me up in the moment, but to I really have a life change that says I want to do better than I did before.

The reason why Motorola is a nonentity when it had a corner on the market in 2004, is that some five years later some small company—I’m not sure you heard about it—named Apple came out with the iPhone.

Apple came out with a mobile device and it had claimed an innovative design because heretofore every other phone manufacture had to acquiesce to the response of the seller. Whatever the seller said would need to be in the phone, that’s what manufacturer had to produce.

Apple showed up and announced that they would now dictate what would be on the phone, and those of you who do not like it, you will not carry it. AT&T was the only company to sign up and as a consequence, they got an exclusive deal.

I’m not talking to everybody, I’m talking to you who have come to the place where you’re tired of having to negotiate you gift.
I cannot dummy down what I have because of people who have an anointed inferiority complex. Because they feel threatened, they want to shoot down my ideas. So here I am sitting on an incredible gift, and I know how to grow my church, but because I am surrounded by people who are stuck in tradition, it has got to be their way. Because they don’t like me, they kill my idea.

I want to go where I can be a partner in ministry and really do something.I don’t need you to validate my gift. I don’t need you to co-sign the anointing on my life. Wherever I go, the glory shows up. And I ain’t even in a competition with you Rev. I’m trying to make it easier for you, but because you ain’t studied the night before, you threatened about what it is ‘m giving and you don’t even understand it’s supposed to be a partnership of innovation.

In Exodus 4, Moses is convinces he won’t be able to make a contribution, and God asks him a critical question, and the critical question that He asked him, it’s my responsibility to ask you: What’s in your hand?
Because God knew something about the spirit of Moses. He knew what was in Moses hand was a rod, but He wanted to know if Moses knew what he had. Some of you don’t even know what you have.

Dec04

From The Pulpit: ACTS Bible Church

Candace Cole“A Reasonable Sacrifice Indeed”

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God which is your spiritual worship. And do not continue to be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may approve what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God." Romans 12:1-2

The 12th Chapter marks a pivotal turn in the Apostle Paul’s focus from the careful detailed doctrinal instructions discussed from Chapter 1 through 11. If we are not careful, we will miss the begging request from the Apostle Paul to the believers' heart. He says, okay, after all God has done for you through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, in reconciling the world back to God, in forgiving our sin, now it's your turn to demonstrate how much you love Him through presenting your bodies a living sacrifice.

In ancient Israel, the sacrificial system was a pervasive part of the life of God's people It reminded the people of God quite specifically about their powerlessness over sin in their lives. Just as an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting reminds those who gather that they are powerless over alcohol in their lives, so all of us have an area of our lives over which we are powerless: powerless to please God as we wish in our hearts and our minds.

Through their sacrifices, the people were reminded of their utter dependence on God, of their need to search fearlessly in their moral lives, to give an account of their lives before God. To look to see where relationships in their lives had been ruptured between them and God, between them and others, between them and themselves internally within their lives.

Within this system, people came before God with a willingness, a longing, not only to make a sacrifice, but to set things right when they were out of alignment with others. There was a sincere sense here that relationships broken needed to be mended and restored and for that to happen, something else had to happen. Something had to be given. Something had to be done. Amends had to be made. A sacrifice had to be given.

Today we speak too loosely of sacrifice. We might "sacrifice" a few things here and there,—a few pieces of clothing and a few hours perhaps twice a year on Thanksgiving and Christmas to feed the hungry. We might even give up a favorite food, perhaps to lose weight, and call it a "sacrifice."

These type of sacrifices don’t even come near to the meaning of King David's words, "I will not offer to the Lord a sacrifice that costs me nothing!" If it’s only an inconvenience, or a temporary delay in gratification, it’s not a sacrifice.

May our spiritual sacrifices in 2010 not frustrate God nor offend Him. Remember, we are priests under the Most High God. We are a kingdom of priests whose goal is to offer up spiritual sacrifices, even as priests of old offered up physical sacrifices of animals before God.

How do we present ourselves as living sacrifices? As spiritual priests (1st Peter 2:5) there are many kinds of sacrifices. Scripture talks about the fact that we can offer the:

* Fruit of our lips, according to Hebrews 13,
* Which is praise and thanks unto God.
* We can offer God our petition and prayer,
* We can give to God of our substance (what we possess).
* We offer Him worship when we serve others, which is truly an act of worship.

But above all, the ultimate sacrifice for the believer is the offering of themselves as a living sacrifice that offers God's glory through our character, in our relationships as parents, spouses, co-workers, neighbors, citizens; in our integrity; and in our spiritual convictions and moral ethics.

It's not easy my friends, but it is absolutely necessary.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus wrestled with the thought of what was going to happen to him. "My Father, if it be possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet, not as I will, but as you will" (Matthew 26:39).

It was not only his death that was in his thoughts when he prayed this. The "cup" of his suffering contained more than the humiliation and agony of the Roman cross. For dying there, he would take upon himself the sins of the whole world. To take our sin upon himself was the greatest sacrifice our Lord could make. Yet he made it, as Paul adds, "so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." And for this great gift bestowed upon us should not we offer our lives daily to God?

How will your life reflect a great maturity of sacrificial living for Christ in 2010?

Nov06

From The Pulpit: of Holman United Methodist Church

 

 

 

 

 

“Locked up, But Not Locked Out!”

Rev. Kevin Sauls

Peter in Acts 12 is dealing with an empire and because of his courage and his witness, he’s locked up in the jail. Like Peter, sometimes life can lock us up behind prison bars. Life can bind us up with all kinds of chains; chains of debt and depression, of unemployment and disappointment.

The cradle to prison pipeline is real. Life can sometimes lock us up behind prison bars.  These bars can be social. These bars can be political circumstances, social and political circumstances we did not choose. Schemes and systems you see we cannot control.

Circumstances such as abuse and neglect, my brothers and sisters; abuse from a bully or a brother or a father; neglect from a mother or sister or a society that has shut her ears to your concerns; circumstances such as exploitation and discrimination. Circumstances that can create prison style conditions whether it is in the suburbs of London or the inner cities of America; prison-style conditions from South Los Angeles to the Southside of Chicago; from Skid Row to your row on the corner of misery and despair. Prison style conditions!

These prison bars can be personal experiences that we did not sign up for.  A cycle you see, manufactured to entrap us in addiction, entrap us in a certain location.

These changes can be professional experiences we did not subscribe to, familial and societal experiences we did not make reservations for.

These bars and chains, my brothers and sisters, can be situations and conditions we either created and/or signed up for.

Behaviors that we choose to participate in and perpetuate, actions we engage in that resulted in bars and chains being a reality for us for days and months and even for years.

But one thing is clear, whether intentional or unintentional, emotional or financial, physical or spiritual, prison bars can seduce and entrap us into a destructive cycle that can compromise God’s plan and purpose for our lives.

However, being locked up in jail doesn’t mean we are locked out of justice.  This is the good news my brothers and sisters, prison bars don’t have to have the last say on you. Chains don’t have to have the last say on you. Being locked up in your physical and emotional jail doesn’t mean that you are locked out of help and healing.

Being locked up in that jail called depression, that jail called domestic violence doesn’t mean that you are locked out of hope or healing. In the midst of paralysis due to a stroke or diabetes or obesity, you can know today my brothers and sisters that you are not locked out of the miracles of healing and recovery towards wellness, regardless of the familial bars and societal barriers. We can never be locked out of God’s grace and God’s possibility.

Oh, church, there’s about to be an angelic break-in to facilitate a breakout. God has the commitment and God has the courage to break into your locked down and locked in situation and facility a breakout. God has the audacity and facility to break into your breakdown and facilitate a break through.

Whatever it is that has you locked up, whoever it is that has you locked down, you are not locked out from God’s plans nor God’s possibilities. Whatever has you locked up, whoever got you on lock down, you are not locked out from God’s plans and God’s purpose for your life.

If you want to move towards being broken out, I believe Acts 12 tells us to wake up and to get up. In the first place, if you find yourself in a locked up situation, wake up and get up.

Why wake up? Because sometimes our locked up situation can invite us to slumber; sometimes our locked down situation can make that which is abnormal, become normal. It can make that which is abnormal very comfortable and we just take a nap over there.  The first thing that the angel does to Peter in Acts 12:7 is to wake him up.

So first thing, brothers and sisters, it is time for you and me in our locked up, pinned down situation to wake up and smell the coffee and realize we might not be where God wants us to be. We might not live the life.

God is inviting us to live. Peter had to wake up and if you are to get ready for that angelic breakout at your break down it’s time for you to wake up!

But then it’s not just enough for you to wake up because if you’re like me, waking up doesn’t mean I’m going to get up. The alarm clock might wake me up, but it doesn’t mean I need to get up. I can just sit there and have a good time with my eyes open and in my mess, with my eyes open in my craziness, with my eyes open in my foolishness.

It’s not just enough to wake up, my brothers and sisters. We also need to get up because God has a new way for you to walk. God has a new way for you to talk. God has a new destination for you. God has a new direction for you!

I don’t know about you, but now and then it gets so comfortable for us to just take a nap in our mess, to take a nap in injustice, to take a nap in all the craziness around us, with violence, with abuse.  But oh, thanks be to God that there’s about to be a break-in in your breakdown to facilitate a breakout if you are just willing to wake up and get up!

Wake up to your faith. Wake up to your ability. Wake up to the possibility that God has placed in you, and get up for the future.

Oct06

From The Pulpit of Miracle Temple COGP

“I Am Walking In The Favor Of God”

by Bishop Johnny Young

God provides tests as measures of progress and as a proving ground for us.  When you have the favor of God, everything you go through is a situation for a revelation.  We need to know that we will walk in the favor of God, in spite of circumstances and situations.

In Genesis 12, we see how God chose one family and made a covenant agreement with one of the members, Abraham.  God spoke to Abraham and promised to bless him, and through him to bless the entire human race.  Because of that covenant, “Abraham” became the father of the Hebrew nation and God’s favor passed to his sons and the nation of Israel.

It’s important to observe how God proposed His plan.  He told Abraham that He would favor him, along with his cattle, land, family and name.  God spoke to Abraham, heart to heart, revealing the blessings he would enjoy through the covenant.  Abraham took God up on the deal.  While he might have chosen to obey God simply because of who God is, the Lord made the effort to connect with Abraham first.  God touched Abraham’s heart before asking for his hand.

In Jeremiah 29:11 God said, “I know the thoughts that I think toward you; thoughts of peace and not of evil” to give you a future and a hope.

God said He would give us favor.  We will never want for anything!

This is the hour and season for an outpouring of God’s favor.  The secret to abundant favor is to want what God wants. As we continue to want what He wants, our desires will be increasingly in line with His will.

In Genesis 24:35, we see where Abra-ham’s servant reports “the Lord has blessed my master greatly,” and goes on to enumerate the material blessings God has given to Abraham.

The Lord’s promise of His blessing to Abraham and Sarai included the benefits of a long and healthy life; plus wealth and importance.  However, let us remember that favor is granted to those who are faithful.

There are additional benefits that God promises to the faithful.  The first benefit is that you will be blessed with the fullness and completeness of a long abundant life.

In Galatians 3:13-14, God promises to give all believers the blessings of Abraham, telling us that Jesus redeemed us from the curse of the law so that we might receive the blessings of Abraham.  This begins, of course, with our being born again, and becoming a new creature in Christ Jesus by receiving the precious gift of the Holy Ghost.

The Lord wants us to prosper spiritually, emotionally, physically, mentally and financially in order for us to bless others.  The blessings are ours by His promises and we need not make apology for the fact that prosperity is included in the promises.  Your borders, territory, influence and blessing expands when you bless others.
To walk in the favor of God in the fullest we must cultivate God’s community.

We can develop a healthy, robust community and enjoy its results only if we do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity, respect and honor.  Another benefit is that you will be a blessing and leave a legacy to your next four generations.

The land of Canaan was a gift to the descendants of Abraham.

In Psalm 24:1, the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. God declared that this land would become the land of Israel.

Take note that God said to Abraham: “I will bless you so you shall be a blessing.” God’s covenant with Abraham was straight-forward. God was a blessing to Abraham, and Abraham was a blessing to others.

 

God did great things for the descendants of Abraham. God walked alongside them and delivered them from captivity.  He gave them the promised land, Daniel in the lions’ den, David and Goliath and more.

You can’t lose when you have God’s favor! The way you treat others is the way you will be treated.  Don’t let somebody else’s behavior toward you determine your behavior toward them.  That’s their problem, not yours.  Just wait on God’s timing.

Keep on loving!  Keep smiling in spite of what is said and done to you.  What is done is done!  You are heaping up coals of fire on the enemies head.

The moment we decide to act like our enemy, we become like our enemy.  It’s a choice!  God said He would curse those who curse you.

Ask God’s hand to be with you and keep you from evil so that you can remain in the favor of God. For some of us this is when doubt creeps in and we say, “But, Pastor you just don’t know what they did to me.”

Guess what, it doesn’t matter.  The issue is not what they did to you; it is what you are doing to yourself by harboring a bitterness, anger, strife and unforgiveness.

God is saying, I want to favor you to bless others but you have to live, walk and always take the high road.  You have to mount up your wings as an eagle and soar over the pettiness and immaturity of others.

Let the favor of God rain on us!  Let the favor of God Shine on us!

Be Blessed!

Sep04

From The Pulpit of First Holy Mt. Zion Baptist Church

“Two Are Better Than One” by Pastor Dr. Terry Nelson

Friendship is one of life’s greatest gifts. A true friend is a gift from God. Yet, friendship is something that is often taken for granted. Ginsburg quotes, “A man without friends is like a left hand without the right.”

Everyone needs a friend. When you think of a friend you think of one who steps in when everyone else steps out. It does not mean a casual acquaintance, but a close, trusted, relationship. It refers to an inner circle that enjoys close, direct access, and confidential information.

I truly believe  friendship is a necessity on two levels. You need a Horizontal friend - a healthy relationship with another person, and most importantly a Vertical friend - a relationship with Jesus Christ.

What is it that makes the pro-verbial saying—“Two are better than one” sometimes difficult to grasp? When you yoke up or be-friend someone who is not your equal or on the same page as you, this saying may be difficult to embrace.

But, can two walk together, except they be agreed? (Amos 3:3) “Therefore, as a believer you should always be mindful of the scripture, be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” 2 Corinthians 6:14.

This saying “Two are better than one,” is also difficult to grasp at times due to conflicts. Disagreements and conflicts will appear between friends. However, it is not always the conflicts that erect the wall of separation, it is the unresolved conflicts.

So if you have made a friend, don’t allow conflicts or adversity to separate you. I truly believe that some friendships are worth saving and should be cherished.

Keep in mind, you do not realize who your true friends are until adversity arises. Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

God designed life for companionship and friendship. God did not want Adam to be lonely, so He fashioned a helper comparable to him. God created the duo, Adam and Eve, after which came other duos; such as, Abraham and Sarah, Moses and Joshua, Ruth and Boaz, Elijah and Elisha, Joseph and Mary, Aquilla and Priscilla, Paul and Silas, Romeo and Juliet, Jack and Jill, Lucy and Ricky, Ozzie and Harriet, Laverne and Shirley, Batman and Robin, Ebony and Ivory, Ike and Tina, Beyonce and Jay Z, Sanford and Son, and George and Weezie.

The Holy Scripture gives many examples of two being better than one. But, even today this proverbial saying, “two are better than one,” has advantages as well as benefits. It is better to have two witnesses rather than one, because at the mouth of two witnesses a matter shall be established.

Moses used this law to convict lawbreakers and Jesus used this truth for means of church discipline in St. Matthew 18:16. The best kind of friend is a praying friend and two are better than one when joined together with one accord in prayer.

Jesus said in St Matthew 18:19, “Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.”

Two are better than one because one is able to help the other during the time of test, loneliness, and discouragements. During these times it’s good to have someone to lean on!

In addition to this, when one gets burdened and becomes weak, the other is there to strengthen and help bear the burdens. Romans 15:1 says, “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. In addition to this, one can lift the other one up if he falls or stumbles.”

Galatians 6:1 says, “if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”

So, if you fall without having a friend close by, you are really in trouble! The scripture also says two are better than one because they have a good reward for their labor. They can help each other succeed. The joint labors of two produce much more effect than the efforts of a worker who is alone. Two working together understand the concept that working together works!

Two are better than one is also beneficial when being attacked.  A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer.

With God’s help, one can chase a thousand and two can put ten thousand to flight (Deuteronomy 32:30).

Finally, two are better than one, but what    ever you do be sure to include the one with the two. The one is Jesus Christ!  So you and a friend in holy love and fellowship, together with Jesus Christ, is a threefold cord and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

So, if you do not have a friend, I recommend Jesus Christ. Oh! What a friend you have in Jesus. Jesus showed himself friendly by laying down his life for you.  Romans 5:8 says, “In that while you were yet a sinner, Jesus died for you.” There’s not a friend like Jesus!

In conclusion, Once you have your vertical relationship intact, meaning your relationship with Jesus Christ, it will help you with your horizontal relationship, meaning your relationship with your fellow man. Here is a suggestion, if you don’t have a friend, first try to be one and then make one!

Two are better than one.

First Ladies High Tea
November will mark the 20th Anniversary of our Annual First Ladies High Tea, honoring the contributions of female leaders and women of faith to the Los Angeles community. For more information, visit www.firstladieshightea.com
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