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6

I Came For The Anointing!

2 Kings 2:1-15(NKJV) - And it came to pass, when the Lord was about to take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal. Then Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here, please, for the Lord has sent me on to Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you!” So they went down to Bethel. Now the sons of the prophets who were at Bethel came out to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that the Lord will take away your master from over you today?” And he said, “Yes, I know; keep silent!” Then Elijah said to him, “Elisha, stay here, please, for the Lord has sent me on to Jericho.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you!” So they came to Jericho. Now the sons of the prophets who were at Jericho came to Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that the Lord will take away your master from over you today?” So he answered, “Yes, I know; keep silent!" Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here, please, for the Lord has sent me on to the Jordan.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you!” So the two of them went on. And fifty men of the sons of the prophets went and stood facing them at a distance, while the two of them stood by the Jordan. Now Elijah took his mantle, rolled it up, and struck the water; and it was divided this way and that, so that the two of them crossed over on dry ground. And so it was, when they had crossed over, that Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask! What may I do for you, before I am taken away from you?” Elisha said, “Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.” So he said, “You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so.” Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried out, “My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen!” So he saw him no more. And he took hold of his own clothes and tore them into two pieces. He also took up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood by the bank of the Jordan. Then he took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, and said, “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” And when he also had struck the water, it was divided this way and that; and Elisha crossed over. Now when the sons of the prophets who were from Jericho saw him, they said, “The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha.” And they came to meet him, and bowed to the ground before him.

Elisha followed Elijah from Gilgal to Bethel, Jericho and over the river Jordan, each time refusing to turn away at Elijah's insistence. Not only that, at each stop along the way, the local sons of the prophets kept reminding Elisha that The Lord was going to remove his master Elijah that day. Nevertheless, Elisha pressed on, determined to never leave Elijah's side until he got exactly what he came for. What did Elijah have that was so valuable to Elisha? Over and over, Elijah told Elisha to leave and the chorus of junior prophets seemed to echo that sentiment yet Elisha remained resolute while literally shutting their voices out. Then Elijah did a miracle at the Jordan by taking his mantle, rolling it up, striking the water and causing it to part in two, like the Red Sea under the rod of Moses, allowing both him and Elisha to walk across on dry ground. That was it!

Once Elijah and Elisha crossed the Jordan, Elijah addressed the "elephant in the room" by asking a direct question. In essence, this is what he asked; "Elisha, why are you here?" Then Elisha provided a direct answer by essentially saying; "I came here for The Anointing, specifically, double the anointing on your life." Elijah explained to Elisha that his request came with a price but that didn't matter to Elisha. He had a one-track mind and was willing to do whatever was necessary to get what he came for. Yet, how did they get to that moment and why did Elisha get the anointing on Elijah's life? At first glance, this looks like an easy question. Elisha faithfully served Elijah and remained by his side all the way to the end making him the logical choice to carry on Elijah's prophetic ministry. In fact, the sons of the prophets referred to Elijah as Elisha's master, further defining the nature of their relationship.

2 Kings 3:11(NKJV) - But Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the Lord, that we may enquire of the Lord by him? And one of the king of Israel's servants answered and said, Here is Elisha the son of Shaphat, which poured water on the hands of Elijah.

The king's servants said that Elisha poured water on the hands of Elijah. For a good sermon, it couldn't be any simpler. Elisha received the anointing on Elijah's life because he served him faithfully. Therefore, if you want to walk in a particular anointing, find someone who is operating in it and serve that person with all of your heart until the day comes for you to receive what they have. Do you want to preach like TD Jakes? Move to Texas, become his armor bearer and just wait your turn.

Do you want to sing like Fred Hammond? Volunteer to carry his bags, then try-out as a back-up singer, then follow him around until your day comes? Do you want to be an evangelist like Morris Cerullo? Track him down and get on his team, then follow him around until you get the anointing. It's hard work but it's worth it. It's a simple spiritual father/ son exchange. It's the Apostolic path to succession. The spiritual father chooses the spiritual son upon whom he will bestow the anointing on his life and the spiritual son chooses to serve the father from whom he would like to receive the anointing. The end!

Hence, the man with the biggest church or most explosive anointing will get the most people to serve as armor bearers, leaders and junior ministers because many of them believe that they will one day walk in the same anointing. I don't blame them because that's exactly what I thought for many years. It's also what I was taught for many years. Yet, there were many sons of the prophets in the days of Elisha and Elijah but only Elisha received Elijah's anointing. Nevertheless, Elisha out-served them all. So again, Elisha earned the anointing and the rest of them did not. It's an open and shut case. You serve, you get the anointing. You don't serve, you don't get it. You're either in or you are out. It makes complete sense. Well, almost...

We know that Elisha served Elijah so that's an easy one. We then know that Gehazi did not properly serve Elisha so he didn't get the anointing. So, it looks like Elisha died without intentionally passing on his anointing. Actually, in 2 Kings 13:21, a dead man was thrown into the same tomb as Elisha's bones and the remnant of the anointing on his bones was enough to raise the man from the dead. If I was preaching a sermon, I would say that if Gehazi had done what was right, he would have been able to raise the dead man instead of Elisha's bones. I would then stop there because it's a simple message. It encourages all people to serve in their local churches and leaders to pass on what they have so others could be just like them. However, nothing's ever that simple.

Luke 1:13-17(NKJV) - But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

How did John the Baptist receive the spirit and power of Elijah the same way Elisha received it? Thousands of years had passed and The Bible doesn't clearly depict a direct line of succession that can explain it. In fact, once we get to Elisha's servant Gehazi, we don't know where to go from there. Yet, generations later, another prophet was born with the same anointing and no clear path to getting it. How do you explain that? If you try to use the servant-hood approach you'll reach a dead-end. It makes sense for Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and Ephraim, Elisha and Elijah, Naomi and Ruth, Jesus and the disciples, Moses and Joshua, Paul and Timothy, etc. but it won't work here. Hence, there must be more to the transference of the anointing than servant-hood. It definitely has precedence in scripture but it does not present the complete picture. Here's what really happened with Elijah and Elisha.

1 Kings 19:16-21(NKJV) - Also you shall anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi as king over Israel. And Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place. It shall be that whoever escapes the sword of Hazael, Jehu will kill; and whoever escapes the sword of Jehu, Elisha will kill. Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.” So he departed from there, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he was with the twelfth. Then Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle on him. And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah, and said, “Please let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” And he said to him, “Go back again, for what have I done to you?” So Elisha turned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen and slaughtered them and boiled their flesh, using the oxen’s equipment, and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and followed Elijah, and became his servant.

Let me ask the same question that I asked earlier. After reading this scripture, let's see if you change your answer. Why did Elisha receive the anointing on Elijah's life? Did he earn it by serving Elijah? No! Did he inherit it because he was a member of Elisha's family? No! Did Elijah choose Elisha as the person to receive his anointing? No! Did Elisha choose Elijah as the person from whom he wanted to receive the anointing? No! When Elijah quit on God, God told Elijah to anoint Elisha as the prophet who would replace him. In other words, like a good boss, God told his disgruntled employee, Elijah to empower and train his replacement, Elisha before leaving the company for good.

Neither of them had any input in the decision. It was a God idea! Yes, the scripture says that Elijah threw his mantle on Elisha. It also says that Elisha destroyed every remnant of his former life to become Elijah's servant. However, all of that only happened after God in his sovereignty made the decision that Elijah needed to pass the anointing to Elisha. That decision and only that explains what happened. Everything else followed. Elisha didn't serve Elijah so that he would be chosen to receive the anointing, Elisha served Elijah because he was already chosen by God to receive the anointing.

What is the anointing anyway and why is it so valuable? In the Old Testament, the word "anointing" is translated from the Hebrew word "mishchah" and in the context of this discussion, represents the ointment used to consecrate individuals who are "set apart" by God for a special purpose. In the New testament it is translated from the Greek word "chrisma" which in the context of this discussion represents the special endowment of the Holy Spirit. Other words that can sometimes be used in the right context to represent the anointing are grace, gift, power, supernatural ability, mantle and empowerment. Now let me share a personal experience with the anointing.

It's been one week since we buried my grandfather, Dr. Levi Duncan in Trinidad and Tobago. He was 93 years old and left behind a ministry legacy that remains untouched by anyone else in the history of Trinidad and Tobago. He finally received his heavenly promotion and joined his Heavenly Father for eternity. However, he left something behind that The Lord knows we still need right here on earth; The Anointing. During the funeral, my father, Apostle Emanuel Vivian Duncan and uncle, Apostle Joseph Vernon Duncan, stood on the pulpit and declared that the mantle from grandfather would fall on whomever chose to receive it that day. I knelt before the altar with my wife, Angel by my side and opened my heart to receive from The Lord. Initially, it built slowly then suddenly I felt the rush of God's Spirit rising in my heart to a level that was overwhelming.

As waves of God's glory shot through my body I started crying out to God. I didn't serve my grandfather. I barely even knew him. How can I get that anointing? It doesn't work like that. I didn't know what to do with it. I didn't earn it. I didn't fully understand what was going on anyway so I kept talking to God but God said nothing. He just released the anointing. He didn't need my input. He just needed my willingness to receive. The decision to pass on the anointing was not my decision. It also was not my grandfather's decision to pass on anything. It was God's decision. God chose Isaac over Ishmael according to Genesis 17:16-21. He chose Jacob over Esau according to Romans 9:13. He chose Ephraim over Manasseh according to Genesis 48:8-20. Each time, God went against the norm in deciding who would be next to receive a particular anointing. It was not the father's choice. It was not the son's choice. It was God's choice.

Based on my understanding, my grandfather led at least four different churches during his time of active ministry. Three of the churches are in Trinidad (Toco, Curepe and Chaguanas) and one is in the US (Plainfield, NJ). Apart from the churches he personally led, there were countless others that were birthed out of his ministry. Many of which are led by individuals who today refuse to acknowledge any connection to him and some of which chose not to honor him by even showing up to his funeral. In fact, I don't know if he ever personally laid hands on his successors and passed on what was on his life. Some of these churches are led by pastors who were appointed by denominational boards, others are in place because they won elections from the church membership. Nevertheless, they figured out what to do and did it.

What's missing in all of this is a proper understanding of the anointing. Yes, you can do what it takes to get control of someone's ministry. Yes, you can use your connection to a man of God to build your own following and become "successful". Yes, you can receive another man's financial, spiritual and social assistance to become "great" in the ministry. However, what you cannot do is walk in his anointing if God did not decide that you are supposed to receive it. That's the missing link. Elijah took his mantle and struck the water in the Jordan river so that it parted in two, then he and Elisha crossed over on dry land. After Elijah was taken up to heaven, Elisha returned to the Jordan river, took the same mantle that Elijah dropped and struck the water asking, "Where is the God of Elijah?" The water parted again because He was right there. Elijah may have left for heaven but the God of Elijah stayed with Elisha on earth.

Acts 19:11-17(NKJV) - Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them. Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.” Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. This became known both to all Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.

The seven sons of Sceva did exactly what Elisha did. They mimicked the person they saw walking in a particular anointing. However, there was a difference. While Elisha had the anointing he saw on Elijah, they didn't have the anointing they saw on Apostle Paul. Hence, while Elisha could part the Jordan river just like Elijah, they could only attempt to cast out an evil spirit just like Apostle Paul. Elisha called on the God of Elijah and He answered. The seven sons of Sceva called on the God of Apostle Paul and He didn't answer. Instead, the evil spirit answered and beat them mercilessly. What separated the two was not only their relationship with the person who walked in the anointing they desired. The distinguishing factor was their relationship with the God of the person who walked in the anointing they desired. Elisha knew the God of Elijah but the Seven Sons of Sceva did not know the God of Apostle Paul.

I've seen and heard pastors preach like Bishop TD Jakes. They walk like him, talk like him, they even hold the mike like him. However, it doesn't matter what they do, they do not have the same impact that he does. While they may be able to mimic his preaching style what they lack is his anointing. I've seen people try to preach like Pastor Creflo Dollar. They dress like him. They crack his jokes. They talk about wealth. Yet, their words don't have the same power because what they lack his anointing. I've heard singers try to lead worship like the great worship leaders of our time or prophesy like the great prophets of our time. Yet, they don't have the same impact. What they lack is the anointing. God makes the decision concerning who gets which anointing and when. First, you have to be anointed, then you can do what God has called you to do at the level that He has called you to do it. The people you see walking in power have the anointing and they didn't get it from a person, they got it from God.

1 Corinthians 12:27-31(NKJV) - Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.

The Bible states that you can earnestly desire the best gifts. I don't know what anointing you desire. Are you amazed by the grace of God on your pastor's life and want to see it in your own also? Do you want the gifts of healing and the power to cast out devils like my grandfather? Do you want to prophesy like my father? Do you want to evangelize the world like Billy Graham or do miracles like Benny Hinn? Do you want to teach like Ravi Zacharias or preach like TD Jakes? What anointing did you come for? None of them own the anointing on their lives and it's not up to them who gets to walk in it. So even if you never had the chance to meet them, that doesn't exclude you from receiving what God placed on their lives. However, there's a price.

The anointing is a free gift from God but walking in it is expensive. Elisha paid the price to walk in the anointing on Elijah's life. God picked Elisha to succeed Elijah but Elisha had to walk away from everything he knew to receive it. The disciples received the same Holy Ghost who rested on Jesus but most of them paid the same ultimate price that Jesus eventually paid for it. Now let me ask you a direct question. What anointing do you desire? If God chooses to give it to you, are you willing to pay the price? Hopefully, you already made that decision before showing up in God's presence. My mind is made up. I came for the anointing. Did you?

1 Peter 4:10-11(NLT) - God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.
4

An Attitude of Gratitude

An Attitude of Gratitude

1 Thessalonians 5:18(NLT) - Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving Day in the US. Regardless of the questionable history of the occasion itself, it has become a day for family, fellowship, food and most importantly, gratitude. Why is it so important to be thankful? For Christians the answer is simple. It's the Will of God. That's right! It is God's Will for those of us who belong to Christ Jesus to be thankful in all circumstances. What does that mean? God expects us to do more than just respond naturally to circumstances. If that was the case, He would accept thankfulness and gratitude when things are good but complaining and murmuring when things are bad because that's natural. He wants us to go beyond our natural tendencies to respond to circumstances and proactively decide to be thankful in spite of our circumstances.

Colossians 4:2(AMP) - Be persistent and devoted to prayer, being alert and focused in your prayer life with an attitude of thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is an attitude which means it is a choice. It's not just any choice, it's a very important one. Everyday, you can choose to be thankful for what you have or choose to complain about what you don't. You can choose to be thankful for what is going right or choose to complain about what's going wrong. It's all about perspective. For example, if a glass has water up to its halfway point, some would say a pessimist sees the glass as half-empty and an optimist sees the glass as half-full. May I suggest one more.

A thankful person is grateful to have water in the glass in the first place especially if that person knows what it is like to have an empty glass and be thirsty. That's the attitude God wants us to have. Yet, that's not even what Colossians 4:2 is all about. In that scripture, Apostle Paul emphasizes the important role that an attitude of thankfulness has to our prayer life. He said that not only must we be persistent and devoted to prayer, alert and focused in our prayer life, we must do it with an attitude of thanksgiving.

Philippians 4:6-7(NKJV) - Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

This is a popular scripture that demonstrates the power of prayer. Instead of being anxious and uneasy about anything in life, we must take everything to God in prayer. However, that's not all. There's a small detail we can't overlook. We must do it with thanksgiving. Don't just pray, but pray with thanksgiving. Since we know now that thankfulness is God's Will, it should not be that hard to understand why He wants us to be thankful when we pray. If we're going to ask God to do something for us, the least we could do is be appreciative of who He is and thankful for what He has already done. Only then, can we access the supernatural peace which comes from God to guard our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus from doubt, fear and confusion.

Luke 17:11-19(NKJV) - Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.”

Ten men cried out to Jesus for deliverance from leprosy and all ten men received their healing. Without question, they must all have been extremely happy about what they received from Jesus. Yet, only one thought about saying thank you. What's the difference? Nine of them only cared about what Jesus could do for them while one cared about Jesus. Though similar, those two perspectives are quite distinctive and Jesus took notice. First, he asked for the rest of the men who were healed. Jesus then made a prophetic pronouncement over the one who returned to give God glory.

Jesus knew that leprosy was not the only problem he had to deal with. Years of leprosy caused the men to be outcasts from society, potentially costing them their livelihood, family, assets and even their good name. So while nine men only received healing from leprosy, the one man who chose to be thankful received wholeness in every area of his life. If that wasn't worth a simple thank you, I don't know what is. Yet, it's still not simple enough for some people.

2 Timothy 3:1-5(AMP) - But understand this, that in the last days dangerous times [of great stress and trouble] will come [difficult days that will be hard to bear]. For people will be lovers of self [narcissistic, self-focused], lovers of money [impelled by greed], boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane, [and they will be] unloving [devoid of natural human affection, calloused and inhumane], irreconcilable, malicious gossips, devoid of self-control [intemperate, immoral], brutal, haters of good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of [sensual] pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of [outward] godliness (religion), although they have denied its power [for their conduct nullifies their claim of faith]. Avoid such people and keep far away from them.

These are the last days and many people are simply ungrateful. In some areas of Western society, there is so much prosperity and opportunity that there's a generation of people growing up who feel entitled. They feel like they deserve to get what they want. Life is just supposed to hand them the best just because they are human beings and for no other reason. Even worse, they want what they see others enjoying without considering the cost of earning it themselves. It's all part of our materialistic, greedy, self-centered culture. It's so hard to please people these days because regardless of what they have, they want more. Personal satisfaction and gratefulness to God is just too much to ask.

This passage of scripture put ungrateful people in the same category as people who are selfish, greedy, boastful, arrogant, unholy, profane, brutal, reckless, conceited and much more. How about that? I always thought that ungratefulness was bad but I didn't know it's that bad. Well, it is... It's so bad that the Apostle Paul says to avoid such people and keep far away from them. It sounds harsh but it's good advice. Ungrateful people are toxic and if you hang around them long enough they'll infect you with their ungratefulness and change your attitude to match their own. Hence, follow the advice of the scriptures and stay away from them.

Psalm 95:1-2(KJV) - O come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.

Psalm 100:4(NKJV) - Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.

It's a good thing to be in God's presence. The scripture says in Psalm 16:11 that in God's presence is fullness of joy and at His right hand, unending pleasures. It also says in 2 Corinthians 3:17 that where the Spirit of The Lord is there is freedom. It then says in Matthew 18:20 that where two or three are gathered in the name of Jesus, there He will be among them. Yet, what it says about God's presence in Psalms 95 and 100 should be considered alongside these other wonderful scriptures. If you want to enjoy the benefits of God's presence, come before His presence with thanksgiving! Don't show up complaining. Don't show up murmuring. Show up with praise and thanksgiving. He's done enough to deserve it! Gratitude is a choice, so choose it today.

2

God of the Open Door

Psalm 25:4-5(NKJV) - Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day.

Options... options... options... life is full of so many options. What career should I choose? Where should I go to school? Where should I work? Who should I marry? Should I even get married? What church should I join? Where should I live? What should I do with my free time? What should I do with my life? What should I do with my talents? What should I do with my money? Those are some of the biggest questions we need answers for. Yet, on top of those big life questions with existential significance, there are many more smaller questions we have to answer everyday of our lives. Why? It's because life is about choices and the choices we make define the lives we live. How do you know which option is God's choice for you?

The easy answer is to say that the option you should choose is the one that lines up with God's Word. That's a great answer but it works best if the choice is between doing what is clearly morally right and doing what is wrong. God's Word will always tell you to do what is morally right. Yet, moral or ethical choices aren't the only ones we have to make. What do you do when you have to choose between two options that are morally right or morally neutral? Which scripture is going to give you the answer? This option also works if you can find an example in The Bible which either closely matches your situation or can be related to it. However, what do you do when your circumstances are not easy to match with specific scriptures?

Isaiah 30:21(NKJV) - Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” Whenever you turn to the right hand Or whenever you turn to the left.

The next easy answer is to say that God will tell you which option to choose. I like that answer because it is the right one. However, how does God speak to you? What did He tell you this morning? How did He say it? For the last five confusing situations where you needed to make important choices between options that were morally neutral or good, how did God tell you what to do? Are you sure it was Him? Do you still wonder if you made the right choice? Hindsight is 20-20, so you should know by now if at least some of your older decisions were right or wrong.

I'll be honest with you. God talks to me all the time. I'm thankful He does but that's not the whole story. Sometimes, I can hear what He's saying with total clarity but other times I can't and that's a problem. It's not good enough for God to speak. I have to hear what He's saying too. It's especially difficult to hear His Voice when people around me who also hear from God provide conflicting perspectives on the same situation. It's not good enough to be religious about it and act like you always know what God is thinking. Let's get real. Yes, God has all of the answers. We just don't always know what they are. Hence, we need a consistent and reliable way of getting answers from God even when we're struggling to hear His Voice. Hence, the subject of today's blog; "God of the Open Door".

Revelation 3:7-8(NKJV) - “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”: “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.

For over two decades, God has shown me what to do in the simplest of ways. He opens the door to the path He wants me to take and closes the door to the path He doesn't want me to take. When faced with some of the most difficult choices in my life, my prayers have remained largely consistent. "Lord, open the door you want me to walk through and close the doors you don't." Even though life presents us all with choices, I like narrowing mine down by the process of elimination. I know it works because I can look back over my life at a track record of good decisions that were only possible because I chose the doors God opened for me and gave up on the ones He closed. It's a remarkably simple approach but it's worth a try.

In the Old Testament, the names of God were directly related to revelations of God's character. When God provided a lamb for Abraham in place of his son, Isaac, The Bible says in Genesis 22:14(KJV); "And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen." When the Angel of The Lord visited Gideon and commissioned him as the savior of Israel in the midst of their oppression by the Midianites, The Bible says in Judges 6:22-24(KJV); "And when Gideon perceived that he was an angel of the Lord, Gideon said, Alas, O Lord God! for because I have seen an angel of the Lord face to face. And the Lord said unto him, Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die. Then Gideon built an altar there unto the Lord, and called it Jehovahshalom: unto this day it is yet in Ophrah of the Abiezrites." So when God showed me how to make good decisions in the midst of confusion by noticing the open door, He revealed Himself as "God of the Open Door".

Psalm 37:23-24(NKJV) - The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him with His hand.

If God orders our steps, He won't order us to keep butting our heads against doors He has purposefully closed. He would order us through the doors He has purposefully opened. My engineering career is a perfect example. Since the day I graduated with my BS an MS degrees from Morehouse College and Georgia Tech it's been an interesting journey. When I was in graduate school God opened the door for me to get my first job then after 12 years the door started closing. Since I'm a creature of habit, I watched the door closing and the walls closing in around me but did nothing about it. Then after months of inaction, God did the following to me.

Job 33:14-16(NLT) - For God speaks again and again, though people do not recognize it. He speaks in dreams, in visions of the night, when deep sleep falls on people as they lie in their beds. He whispers in their ears and terrifies them with warnings.

When I wouldn't notice the God of the Open Door, He transformed into the God of the Terrifying Dream and got my immediate attention. Since then, my career has been on autopilot. Each step I take now is away from closing doors and through open doors. God hasn't terrified me with dreams about my career lately so it looks like He's satisfied that I'm getting the point. I've stopped trying to force things to work that just aren't working anymore. Things that are past their season have become the closing doors in my life. When the door is closing, it takes tremendous human effort just for it to stay open because I'm on my own. Yet, the more I do to prop the door open, the more the door closes. Eventually, I have to accept that it's not what God wants and He's the one closing the door. Fortunately, God never closes a door without opening another so if a door is closing, it's time to look around for the door that He's opening.

All of us don't have the special ability to hear God's Voice in every situation. However, all of us can see if a door is closing and another one is opening. God has guided me this way for two decades and for the last few days He's been stirring my heart to share our special arrangement with you. Now is the time to ask yourself the tough questions. Have you been trying to keep a door open that door is closing? Have you been ignoring the only open door because you don't want to walk through it for whatever reason? Your success or failure in life is based on the choices you make. A life that's defined by forcing open closed doors is always going to be hard. It's not worth it trying to swim against the current when God is in the current. As my father says; "The worst place to be is where God was." When the cloud moves, even if you're comfortable where you are, pick up your tent and move with it.

Acts 26:14(AMP) - And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice in the Hebrew dialect (Jewish Aramaic) saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick [repeatedly] against the goads [offering pointless resistance].’

I won't challenge Floyd Mayweather to a boxing match, Usain Bolt to a 100m dash nor Michael Phelps to a swimming race of any length. Why? I'll lose! It's pointless. Then why would I, in my right mind, think it makes any sense to resist God? If He opens the door and says go right, why would I go left and try to force open a closed door? Because he offered pointless resistance, Saul ended up being knocked off of his high horse by Jesus (pun intended). Jacob would not stop wrestling with God so he ended up with a disjointed hip in Genesis 32:24-25. Jonah tried to go to Tarshish instead of Nineveh so he ended up at the brink of death in Jonah 2. What will be your story?

I invite you to get to know Jesus as the God of the Open Door. Unlike many of us, He is very decisive according to 1 Samuel 15:29. He knows exactly what He wants to do and He knows what's best for you. Even if He's promised you things that you are not seeing right now in your life, He can be trusted. Focus your energy on the opportunities He has placed before you. Don't waste energy stressing about the opportunities you did not get. Set your sights on the doors He has opened. Don't be distracted by the doors He has closed. In this season of your life, He closed them for a reason. Now is not the time for that. It's the time for something else. Something He wants you to have. Something He's placed before your eyes. Something on the other side of the open door... something good. Get up and take it. It's yours.

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May 7, 2018 Posted by admin in angels

An Angel Visited Me at My House Last Night!

Acts 2:16-18(KJV) - But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:

I woke up just after 3:00 AM this morning angrily shouting; "Satan, I rebuke you in the name of Jesus." Thank God he didn't resist and left in a flash. However, so did my desire to sleep. Hence, today's blog. 🙂 What was strange is that I actually heard voices outside after I woke up. I looked out the window and two of my neighbors who only recently moved in across the street were talking in their porch facing the direction of my house. Yes at 3:00 AM in the still of the night they were standing up in their porch talking! I don't know what that's about but it's too much of a coincidence for me to ignore. A few minutes later there was silence again. I looked out the window and they were gone. Now that I know who they are, they are about to get a prayer drive-by with some machine-gun tongues; "Brrrrratatatatat!" More on that later.

Hebrews 13:2(KJV) - Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

This blog is about my angel. He came to my house last night and this time we actually talked. For what it's worth he also finally told me his name. It's Michael. I know what you're thinking. Like Michael, the archangel? I don't know about that part. That's exactly what I thought when he first told me but I didn't ask him so I'll make no assumptions. He's Michael, the angel. That's what I do know. What's unique about this encounter is that he came to my house for the first time to talk to me like that. In addition, this is the first time he didn't give me a message about the ministry. He came to tell me something personal.

Psalm 34:7(NKJV) - The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, And delivers them.

Psalm 91:11-12(NKJV) - For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.

I know by faith that angels are always there because I believe Psalms 34:7 and 91:11-12. Yet, the last time I actually saw one I was still a teenager attending college. In the space of about two years one appeared to me 3 times. He came to my aunt's basement and took me to heaven to show me where I fit in world history. Another angel met me on the side of the road outside of World Changer's Church International and told me God will take me to the nations. That angel appeared in the form of a woman in the passenger seat of a car.

Then the last time I saw an angel, he came into my 8:00 AM Statistics and Probability class at Georgia Tech during the 1999 summer session while I was falling asleep. That morning he just stood next to me saying nothing. God told me he was just there like personal security to keep an eye on things. He had nothing to say but I got the message. Since then, no encounters like that have come to my mind. I do remember last night distinctly wondering why God didn't encounter me like that any more. I just thought it to myself and it happened a few hours later.

Mark 4:15(NKJV) - And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts.

What's interesting is that during that season of my life, the angel of the Lord was not the only one who paid me a visit. Satan also visited me a few times. He actually came to my bed in my aunt's basement also. He didn't say anything but he brought this oppressive darkness that made it hard for me to move or even breathe sometimes. God reminded me of that a few minutes ago. Back then I didn't know what to do but scream out to Jesus for help. This time was different. As I said earlier, I rebuked him without thinking about it and he left immediately. I won't bore you with the rest of the details but remember this. When God shows up with a Word for you, Satan will come immediately to try to take it away. Don't ever let him do that!

Now why did God send angels to visit me so many times? I can't tell you I fully understand why but I do have an idea. Since those visits I started this website, preached countless messages, wrote 6 books and started a church with my wife. God used those angelic encounters to propel me forward in ministry. Now He's doing it again. Obviously, it's a signal that a new season has started. Even the enemy knows it because he came back again trying to stop it. I wish he wouldn't but it's not my choice. When there's a shift in the spirit realm, he takes notice and tries to get in the way. That's why he got himself rebuked this morning.

Genesis 28:11-19(NKJV) - So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep. Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And behold, the Lord stood above it and said: “I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.” Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!” Then Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put at his head, set it up as a pillar, and poured oil on top of it. And he called the name of that place Bethel; but the name of that city had been Luz previously.

In this account of "Jacob's Ladder" we are given a vivid picture of angelic activity. My father explained one time that the angels seen by Jacob were ascending from earth into heaven then returning from heaven to earth. In other words, they were already on earth to start with. They just went to heaven to get some stuff to bring back to earth. I know that the moment Jacob had his dream was not the moment the angels showed up. It was the moment God opened his eyes to see what was already going on. In the same way, I believe God's angels are always with us but last night he opened my eyes to see Michael.

When Jacob had his dream, he was in a period of transition. He had just received the blessing from his father Isaac and was following his father's instructions to find a wife. He was also running for his life from his older brother Esau who promised vengeance for losing the blessing. God showed up to reassure Jacob that He was was with him. Even though Jacob already received the blessing from his father, God confirmed everything that was said and added even more.

Why after almost two decades would the Angel of The Lord return to me like that? I'm in a period of transition myself. If you want to know the details, add me on LinkedIn. I plan to update it later this week. Now as I sit to write this blog The Holy Ghost is reassuring me that everything the angels told me as a teenager is about to start happening. That's why he returned. It's time!

(to be continued)

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Fear Not! Don't Let Fear Rob You of God's Promises!

Exodus 3:7-8(NLT) - Then the Lord told him, “I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress because of their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians and lead them out of Egypt into their own fertile and spacious land. It is a land flowing with milk and honey—the land where the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites now live.

Exodus 3:16-17(NLT) - “Now go and call together all the elders of Israel. Tell them, ‘Yahweh, the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—has appeared to me. He told me, “I have been watching closely, and I see how the Egyptians are treating you. I have promised to rescue you from your oppression in Egypt. I will lead you to a land flowing with milk and honey—the land where the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites now live.”’

Exodus 13:5(NLT) - You must celebrate this event in this month each year after the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Hivites, and Jebusites. (He swore to your ancestors that he would give you this land—a land flowing with milk and honey.)

In the midst of oppression in Egypt, the Israelites still had hope. For hundreds of years, they knew that The Lord had promised them a land of their own. Over and over, God said they would be given a land flowing with milk and honey. Over and over He reminded them of their heritage. He spoke to them through His prophets. He spoke to them through His Sovereign Voice. He empowered them with His words to take their eyes off the pain and suffering of their present and fix their eyes on their glorious future. His words were not ambiguous or mysterious, they were clear. There was a specific place set aside for His people and the location was set in stone.

Even though the land would be beautiful. God made no pretensions about the challenge ahead. The land was not vacant. It was already occupied by the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. Yet God kept promising the Israelites that the land would be their own. He just left out one minor detail. How! How exactly were the Israelite people supposed to inherit someone else's land? Were the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites going to simply agree to give their property to the Israelites and walk away in peace? Most likely not! Nevertheless, after hundreds of years of anticipation, the time finally came for God's promise to be fulfilled.

Exodus 33:1-3(NLT) - The Lord said to Moses, “Get going, you and the people you brought up from the land of Egypt. Go up to the land I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I told them, ‘I will give this land to your descendants.’ And I will send an angel before you to drive out the Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. Go up to this land that flows with milk and honey. But I will not travel among you, for you are a stubborn and rebellious people. If I did, I would surely destroy you along the way.”

Finally, it was D-Day! The Lord told Moses to get up and possess the land. Think about it! God had already miraculously delivered them from Egypt with plagues like they've never seen before. Then He opened The Red Sea and caused them to walk on dry land. Then He fed them with manna from heaven. Miracle after miracle after miracle God proved Himself to His people. He is God Almighty! He can do anything! He destroyed Pharaoh's army with His mighty hand! Nothing can stand in His way! If anyone should have believed in God's ability and willingness to act in their favor, the Israelites should have.

On top of it all, God didn't even want them to fight for the land. He specifically promised an angel would go before them to drive out the Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. Not an army of angels! Not a few angels! Just one! In other words, six different armies were no match for one angel so God didn't need to waste any time sending more than one. Of course, at the same time, He commented about the stubbornness and rebellion of the Israelites. He knew the limits of His patience and they were close to the end of it already. If He went along with them to capture The Promised Land He knew He would kill them in an instant if He heard one more word out of them. So, here's how the story unfolded.

Numbers 13:1-3, 17-20(NLT) - The Lord now said to Moses, “Send out men to explore the land of Canaan, the land I am giving to the Israelites. Send one leader from each of the twelve ancestral tribes.” So Moses did as the Lord commanded him. He sent out twelve men, all tribal leaders of Israel, from their camp in the wilderness of Paran... Moses gave the men these instructions as he sent them out to explore the land: “Go north through the Negev into the hill country. See what the land is like, and find out whether the people living there are strong or weak, few or many. See what kind of land they live in. Is it good or bad? Do their towns have walls, or are they unprotected like open camps? Is the soil fertile or poor? Are there many trees? Do your best to bring back samples of the crops you see.” (It happened to be the season for harvesting the first ripe grapes.)

God's first instruction to Moses was to send out leaders from among the people to generate a scouting report. However, Moses also gave the scouts precise instructions concerning what to look for. He wanted a clear picture of what they were up against. There's no way to prove that God told Moses to get all of those details but that's what he asked for anyway. I guess Moses was being realistic. Let's give him the benefit of the doubt. He wasn't questioning God's promise to them but he sent the men to explore the land just like God had requested. So, the spies went out and the people waited.

Numbers 13:21-24(NLT) - So they went up and explored the land from the wilderness of Zin as far as Rehob, near Lebo-hamath. Going north, they passed through the Negev and arrived at Hebron, where Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai—all descendants of Anak—lived. (The ancient town of Hebron was founded seven years before the Egyptian city of Zoan.) When they came to the valley of Eshcol, they cut down a branch with a single cluster of grapes so large that it took two of them to carry it on a pole between them! They also brought back samples of the pomegranates and figs. That place was called the valley of Eshcol (which means “cluster”), because of the cluster of grapes the Israelite men cut there.

Did the scriptures really say the men returned with a cluster of grapes so large that it took two men to carry it on a pole? Have you ever seen that many grapes in one cluster in your entire life? How did that even stay on the vine? What kind of vine is strong enough to hold a cluster of grapes so large that a grown man cannot hold it on his own? Well, they were definitely in the right place. That was The Promised Land. God promised them a fertile and spacious land so that's exactly what they should have expected. Just like God said, the promise stood right before their eyes. Yet, forty days after God, through Moses, first sent them to spy out the land, this is what actually happened.

Numbers 13:25-33(NLT) - After exploring the land for forty days, the men returned to Moses, Aaron, and the whole community of Israel at Kadesh in the wilderness of Paran. They reported to the whole community what they had seen and showed them the fruit they had taken from the land. This was their report to Moses: “We entered the land you sent us to explore, and it is indeed a bountiful country—a land flowing with milk and honey. Here is the kind of fruit it produces. But the people living there are powerful, and their towns are large and fortified. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak! The Amalekites live in the Negev, and the Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites live in the hill country. The Canaanites live along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and along the Jordan Valley.” But Caleb tried to quiet the people as they stood before Moses. “Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said. “We can certainly conquer it!” But the other men who had explored the land with him disagreed. “We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!” So they spread this bad report about the land among the Israelites: “The land we traveled through and explored will devour anyone who goes to live there. All the people we saw were huge. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak. Next to them we felt like grasshoppers, and that’s what they thought, too"

Large Fruit? Check! Bountiful country? Check! Milk and honey? Check! Powerful people? Check! Giants? Check! God specifically said in Exodus 33:2(NLT); "And I will send an angel before you to drive out the Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites." Why were the ten spies surprised to find Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites living there? For hundreds of years, God said they would be there. While the Israelites were still slaves in Egypt God prepared their hearts for this moment. He told them what lay ahead. Nothing was new! All Moses had to say was, "Thanks for the report, God promised an angel to drive them out. Let's see what He does now! Let's get out of this wilderness and go get our Promised Land!"

Unfortunately, after being born into slavery they had a very low self-esteem. So not only did they feel like grasshoppers when comparing themselves to the giants. They projected their low self-image upon the giants and assumed that the giants looked at them as grasshoppers. Yes, they were physically free from slavery but their minds were still in bondage. They were handed everything as slaves. They were completely dependent on their Egyptian masters. They had no fight left in them, even though they didn't have to lift a finger. Unfortunately, you probably know how the story ended. Here's a reminder.

Numbers 14:1-10(NLT) - Then the whole community began weeping aloud, and they cried all night. Their voices rose in a great chorus of protest against Moses and Aaron. “If only we had died in Egypt, or even here in the wilderness!” they complained. “Why is the Lord taking us to this country only to have us die in battle? Our wives and our little ones will be carried off as plunder! Wouldn’t it be better for us to return to Egypt?” Then they plotted among themselves, “Let’s choose a new leader and go back to Egypt!” Then Moses and Aaron fell face down on the ground before the whole community of Israel. Two of the men who had explored the land, Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, tore their clothing. They said to all the people of Israel, “The land we traveled through and explored is a wonderful land! And if the Lord is pleased with us, he will bring us safely into that land and give it to us. It is a rich land flowing with milk and honey. Do not rebel against the Lord, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land. They are only helpless prey to us! They have no protection, but the Lord is with us! Don’t be afraid of them!” But the whole community began to talk about stoning Joshua and Caleb. Then the glorious presence of the Lord appeared to all the Israelites at the Tabernacle. And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? Will they never believe me, even after all the miraculous signs I have done among them? I will disown them and destroy them with a plague. Then I will make you into a nation greater and mightier than they are!”

Numbers 14:29-32(NLT) - You will all drop dead in this wilderness! Because you complained against me, every one of you who is twenty years old or older and was included in the registration will die. You will not enter and occupy the land I swore to give you. The only exceptions will be Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. “‘You said your children would be carried off as plunder. Well, I will bring them safely into the land, and they will enjoy what you have despised. But as for you, you will drop dead in this wilderness.

What would make a group of former slaves one step away from their Promised Land long for slavery again? What would make them turn on their leader just because he did exactly what God instructed? What would make them forget a promise that kept them going for hundreds of years under the worst conditions right on the brink of its fulfillment? Fear! After running behind a dream all of their lives, with the finish line in sight, they lost their composure and panicked! My God! They waited so long, so long. Their parents died waiting... their grandparents died waiting... their great-grandparents died waiting and God finally delivered. Yet, instead of celebrating God's promise, they simply panicked!

God told Moses that they didn't have to fight. An angel would clear their enemies out of the land. Why were they even thinking about dying in battle? What battle? Joshua and Caleb begged them not to disobey God. Please, people, don't stop at the end of the journey! They waited for so long to get there. How could they miss their chance? Come on! Moses and Aaron fell on their faces in complete agony. Joshua and Caleb tore their clothes and pleaded with the people to not be afraid. Yet, The Spirit of Fear that controlled them during slavery still controlled them during freedom. You see, that's how masters control slaves. They do it using fear. That's how ten security guards can keep one hundred prisoners in check. Fear! It's impossible for them to stop all of the prisoners if they fought back and it was impossible for Egypt to control one million slaves without fear.

So how did God prepare them for this moment and why should they have been ready for the challenge? Here's what God had said to make sure they didn't become victims of fear when the time came for them to possess the land.

Deuteronomy 11:8-12, 22-25(NLT) - “Therefore, be careful to obey every command I am giving you today, so you may have strength to go in and take over the land you are about to enter. If you obey, you will enjoy a long life in the land the Lord swore to give to your ancestors and to you, their descendants—a land flowing with milk and honey! For the land you are about to enter and take over is not like the land of Egypt from which you came, where you planted your seed and made irrigation ditches with your foot as in a vegetable garden. Rather, the land you will soon take over is a land of hills and valleys with plenty of rain— a land that the Lord your God cares for. He watches over it through each season of the year! ... “Be careful to obey all these commands I am giving you. Show love to the Lord your God by walking in his ways and holding tightly to him. Then the Lord will drive out all the nations ahead of you, though they are much greater and stronger than you, and you will take over their land. Wherever you set foot, that land will be yours. Your frontiers will stretch from the wilderness in the south to Lebanon in the north, and from the Euphrates River in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. No one will be able to stand against you, for the Lord your God will cause the people to fear and dread you, as he promised, wherever you go in the whole land.

What a prophetic Word! God told them ahead of time that the people would be greater than them! He warned them to obey His commandments and if they did so, He would drive the people out. Can you believe that? Before the spies even scouted the land, they all knew what to expect. Why on earth were they so afraid? God told the Israelites that the people occupying the land were greater and stronger than them. Yet, He said they would take over the land. What else was God supposed to do or say? He told them what to expect. He choreographed the entire situation. Occupying The Promised Land was nothing but a formality.

What is it about fear that can put a sudden end to God's plan? Why is fear so powerful? Fear is not a feeling. Fear is a Spirit! The Israelites met it in Egypt during slavery as Pharoah used it to rule them then it accompanied them out of Egypt! It's an oppressive, over-powering, selfish, illogical, evil spirit. You can't reason with fear. You can't explain fear away. You can't work your way around fear. You can't expect mercy from fear. You can't fight fear with positive thoughts. You have to cast it out like you would cast out a demon!

I woke up yesterday morning and The Lord spoke to me. He said, "Don't let fear and intimidation rob you of my promises!" He also led me to the scriptures using the journey of the Israelites as the perfect example. Once I started studying I realized it was time to return to the blog and articulate the truth for whoever is willing to listen. This blog is not about the Israelites. It's about us! Don't look down at the Israelites because they're no different from any of us. We are the Israelites. We are the people who receive prophetic word after prophetic word after prophetic word, year after year after year and still panic when the time comes for God to deliver His promise.

God promised you a raise but when He opens the door for you to further your education by returning to school or completing certification exams you panic. God promised you a promotion but when a vacancy presents itself you're too scared to apply because you're intimidated by the new responsibilities. God promised you a successful business but when it's time to take a risk by leaving your comfort zone to invest in your business you panic. God promised you a spouse but every time it looks like a relationship is getting too serious and you risk a broken heart, you panic. God promised you so much but it's much easier to dream about God's promises and talk about them than it is to get up and claim what's yours when the time is right.

Why You Must Say No To Fear!

1) Fear didn't come from God!

2 Timothy 1:7(NKJV) - For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

If fear didn't come from God, you know who it came from. Hence, you need to give him back his stuff. God gave you power, love, and a sound mind. Those are good gifts which you should keep. The enemy gave you fear. When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, they opened the door for The Spirit of Fear to enter their lives. When God showed up to converse with them, here's what Adam said for the first time in Genesis 3:10(NKJV), "So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” There was no such thing as fear in the human heart until sin entered. Now, we have to remove it from our hearts.

2) Fear can't coexist with God's Love!

1 John 4:18(NKJV) - There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.

Fear will torment you like the devil in hell. God's Love, which is perfect is the only antidote to fear. You have to believe with all of your heart that God loves you and will never let anything bad happen to you (Romans 8:39). You have to believe that He has your best interest at heart (Romans 12:2). He is looking out for you. His thoughts are good toward you (Jeremiah 29:11). His plan is excellent. You have to believe that He orders your steps (Psalm 37:23). He has given you power over all the power of the enemy and nothing shall be any means harm you (Luke 10:19). You have to believe in God's Love for you!

3) Fear will block you from God's Promise!

Hebrews 10:35-36(NLT) - So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.

The Israelites had zero confidence in God's Word to them even though God said the same thing to them over and over. As a result, they never received His promise. Only Joshua and Caleb were given the opportunity forty years later to take the next generation of Israelites into The Promised Land. Fear took their confidence away and blocked them from God's promise. Don't let that happen to you. Patiently endure for as long as you need to until you see what God said. It's impossible for you to receive all that God has promised if you don't have confident trust in Him. It's your confidence in God's Love and in turn, His Word that positions you to be on the receiving end of His rewards. No confidence, no promises!

Final Words: Prayer Must Replace Fear!

Philippians 4:6-7(NKJV) - Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

If you want to be delivered from the torment of fear, you must first recognize that it's from the devil. Fear is not simply a part of being human. It's a part of being fallen! You then have to embrace God's Love. His perfect Love will cast the fear out of your heart. Then, you can open your mouth and pray with confidence. Be thankful to God for what He has already done for you and ask Him for what you really need. Only then will His peace replace the torment of fear. His peace is also beyond logic and reasoning. However, His peace will give you freedom while fear will keep you in bondage. Do not fear! You've waited too long to see God's promises fulfilled in your life. When God does what He says and places the answer to your prayer in front of you, you must be courageous enough to get out of your comfort zone and retrieve what's yours.

Mark 5:36(NKJV) - As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, He said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not be afraid; only believe.”

Do not be afraid; only believe!

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Ask Donnell: What's The Bible's Position on Wealth, Riches and Luxuries?

We received the following question from Nahom;

"Donnell, what do you think about luxuries? A rich person should definitely use their money to help those less privileged/poor. Like donating to charity. But does that make it bad to buy a luxury car for example? As long as they don't put it over God and aren't materialists, is is it okay?"

Nahom, thanks for another great question. The relationship between Christians and money can sometimes be a complex one. On the one hand, King Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 10:19 that money answers all things, but then a few thousand years later Apostle Paul said in 1 Timothy 6:10 that the love of money is the root of all evil. In the same way, Jesus said to use money to make friends in Luke 16:9 but in Matthew 19:23, He said it's hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. So what are we to think? Which is it? Is it good to be rich or is it bad? Should a rich person enjoy their money or should they give it all to the poor? The answer is, it depends. 🙂 Let's dig in a little deeper.

Enjoy the Fruits of your Hard Work!

Ecclesiastes 3:9-13(NLT) - What do people really get for all their hard work? I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.

It's a good thing to work hard and enjoy the benefits of your hard work. Solomon described the fruits of your labor as gifts from God. For instance, if you like eating at nice restaurants and you can afford it, dress up nice, order whatever you want and take a box home with you when you're finished. There's nothing to be ashamed of. God has given you the strength, ability, and favor to generate enough revenue to maintain a particular lifestyle.

It Can't Be All About Money!

James 4:1-3(NLT) - What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.

Some people will never be rich and God will see to it that it does not happen. It's not that God doesn't want people to be rich. It's that people whose priorities are in the wrong place won't get His help to be rich. They can help themselves or the devil might help them get money but God won't. When people's motives are wrong, God doesn't get involved in helping them to do wrong. His main concern is not our money. His main concern is our hearts.

Luke 12:13-21(NLT) - Then someone called from the crowd, “Teacher, please tell my brother to divide our father’s estate with me.” Jesus replied, “Friend, who made me a judge over you to decide such things as that?” Then he said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.” Then he told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’ “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”

Nowhere in this parable did Jesus condemn the rich man for being rich. That's an important observation because some people don't get that. Being rich is not a bad thing. The bad thing is when the riches consume your entire life. That's what happened to this rich man. He was a fool to make his money his priority instead of building his relationship with God. He could have had both but he chose one, the wrong one.

Though it's Good To Have Money, Money Can't Have You!

Mark 10:17-25(NKJV) - Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not defraud,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’” And he answered and said to Him, “Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.” Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

The rich young ruler did not have money but money had him. Jesus knew that and put him to the test. Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell everything and give the money to the poor not because that's what every rich person is supposed to do but to prove a point. What point? That it's hard to trust in riches and also trust in God. When Jesus told the rich young ruler to get rid of his money, Jesus was asking the young man to trust Him. Unfortunately, he could not. That's the same test Jesus put the twelve disciples through in Luke 9:1-6 and the seventy disciples in Luke 10:1-12. He asked them all to leave their money behind and trust Him to provide for them on a missions trip. They all did it and guess what happened? In Luke 22:35-36, they were free to get their money back.

Mark 10:28-30(NKJV) - Then Peter began to say to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You.” So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life.

When Jesus asked the rich young ruler to give up his money, it was really an opportunity. After the rich man had already left, Jesus explained to the disciples what the man had just missed out on. He promised that when people sacrifice anything they have for His sake or the gospel, He would multiply their seed and give it back to them as a harvest both in the time that they live on the earth and for eternity.

Get Your Priorities Right and God Himself will Give you the Money!

2 Chronicles 1:7-12(NLT) - That night God appeared to Solomon and said, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!” Solomon replied to God, “You showed great and faithful love to David, my father, and now you have made me king in his place. O Lord God, please continue to keep your promise to David my father, for you have made me king over a people as numerous as the dust of the earth! Give me the wisdom and knowledge to lead them properly, for who could possibly govern this great people of yours?” God said to Solomon, “Because your greatest desire is to help your people, and you did not ask for wealth, riches, fame, or even the death of your enemies or a long life, but rather you asked for wisdom and knowledge to properly govern my people— I will certainly give you the wisdom and knowledge you requested. But I will also give you wealth, riches, and fame such as no other king has had before you or will ever have in the future!”

Solomon never asked God to be rich. He asked for wisdom to help people. It was God who decided to give him wealth, riches, and fame. In other words, it was God's Will for Solomon to be rich. If it was up to Solomon, the wisdom to rule God's people would have sufficed. That was God's decision.

Psalm 112:1-3(KJV) - Praise ye the Lord. Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, that delighteth greatly in his commandments. His seed shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the upright shall be blessed. Wealth and riches shall be in his house: and his righteousness endureth for ever.

The Word of God is replete with promises like these for those who choose to fear God and delight in His commandments. God did it for Abraham, Solomon, David and many others and He can do it for you too. Yet, it's hard for some people to accept God's blessings of wealth and riches. That's fine. It's not for everyone so if a person doesn't want it, they don't need to have it. However, if you are faithful to God and He chooses to reward you in that way, enjoy it. It is His Will for you to have it.

Riches Come with Social Responsibility!

1 Timothy 6:17-19(NLT) - Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life.

Again, Apostle Paul reiterates the earlier message of Jesus concerning trust. Rich people should never trust in their money. Their trust should be in God who is the one who gives riches for our enjoyment. They should enjoy their money and they should use their money for good. They should give to others and store up treasures in heaven. That's their social responsibility. If God blesses you with riches, that's what you need to know.

Giving Money to the Poor is not Always the Answer to Everything

John 12:1-8(NKJV) - Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead. There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him. Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who would betray Him, said, “Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it. But Jesus said, “Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial. For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always.”

King Solomon said in Proverbs 19:17 that when you give to the poor you lend to God and God will pay you back. However, some people have turned giving to the poor into an excuse for telling rich people what to do with their money. Why did you buy that expensive car? You could have given the money to the poor. Why do you own a private jet? You should have given that money to the poor. Why is your house so big? You should have given that money to the poor.

Unfortunately, like the example in John 12, people who criticize the spending practices of the rich aren't always doing so because they care about the poor. They do so because they are jealous. How do we know that? Ask them how much of their own money they give to the poor. It's God's Will to give to the poor but it's not God's Will to try to put a rich person on a guilt trip about their charitable giving because you are jealous of their money. It's their money. If you believe the poor need to get money, you give it. Leave other people's money alone.

Acts 3:6(NKJV) - Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”

Give people what they need. Sometimes, what they need is not money.

The timing of your inquiry could not have been better. I have a new book coming out on January 1st which addresses the role of finances in God's Kingdom. It's called "The Fish with the Coin in Its Mouth". You can click the link to find out more. It's available now for pre-order on Amazon. Check it out!

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Decatur Community Workshops: Real Estate Investing Highlights

Are you interested in becoming a real estate investor? Any questions? Flip or rent? Commercial or residential? Financing options? Location, location, location? Big mistakes to avoid? Learn the basics of real estate investing in this free workshop and get your questions answered.

This video provides highlights from our recent workshop "Real Estate Investing". This event was a production of Decatur Community Workshops. It was hosted at The Body Church, 3009 Rainbow Drive, Suite #142, Decatur, GA 30034.

Our faith-based group hosts monthly workshops in the Decatur area that are free, interactive and open to the surrounding community. Topics include leadership, personal finances, investing, professional networking, career advancement, real estate, grant writing and many more. We are open to suggestions and are always interested in welcoming new people. If you love to learn new things especially for free, this group is for you. For more info, visit www.meetup.com/decaturcommunityworkshops

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Answering The Call of God

Answering The Call of God

1 Samuel 3:1-10(NLT) - Meanwhile, the boy Samuel served the Lord by assisting Eli. Now in those days messages from the Lord were very rare, and visions were quite uncommon. One night Eli, who was almost blind by now, had gone to bed. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was sleeping in the Tabernacle near the Ark of God. Suddenly the Lord called out, “Samuel!” “Yes?” Samuel replied. “What is it?” He got up and ran to Eli. “Here I am. Did you call me?” “I didn’t call you,” Eli replied. “Go back to bed.” So he did. Then the Lord called out again, “Samuel!” Again Samuel got up and went to Eli. “Here I am. Did you call me?” “I didn’t call you, my son,” Eli said. “Go back to bed.” Samuel did not yet know the Lord because he had never had a message from the Lord before. So the Lord called a third time, and once more Samuel got up and went to Eli. “Here I am. Did you call me?” Then Eli realized it was the Lord who was calling the boy. So he said to Samuel, “Go and lie down again, and if someone calls again, say, ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went back to bed. And the Lord came and called as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel replied, “Speak, your servant is listening.”

If you were sleeping and suddenly heard a voice call your name in the middle of the night, what would you do? Now put yourself in Samuel's shoes. He had no idea what was going on. As the scriptures outlined, it was rare for anyone to receive a message from The Lord at that time so he didn't have much of a reference point. Hence, his response was appropriate. In fact, his journey to hearing God's Voice clearly is indicative of what we all experience. Like Samuel, it takes us a couple times before we can comfortably discern God's Voice from everything else around us.

It took Samuel 4 times to recognize The Voice of God. Yet, more importantly, it took Eli 3 times to realize that it was God's Voice speaking to Samuel all along. Samuel was justified for not knowing God's Voice but Eli, the high priest, had no excuse. Maybe that further explains why the first prophetic Word Samuel ever received was a warning of impending judgment from God for his mentor and spiritual father Eli. If you read the preceding chapter you would also realize that Samuel was not the first prophet to warn Eli. God sent a prophet earlier to tell Eli basically the same thing. Since it didn't really work then, God had to repeat Himself which is never good.

Isaiah 6:8(NKJV) - Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”

I remember the first time I "heard" the Voice of God. It was during a Sunday morning service at Divine Encounter Fellowship in Arima, Trinidad. I was 17 years old and a group of us had responded to an altar call. We were on our faces in prayer before The Lord when suddenly I felt something shift in my consciousness. My eyes were closed and instead of seeing complete darkness I could see the stars as though I was deep in outer space. I then felt this overwhelming sense that God was calling me into the ministry. I couldn't articulate what He said to me because I actually didn't hear anything. I just felt something all over me and I knew it was God. So in response I told The Lord yes in whatever way I knew at that time. I didn't know exactly what I was agreeing to but I knew who I was in agreement with. As you can see, the rest is history.

Matthew 22:1-4(NLT) - Jesus also told them other parables. He said, “The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a king who prepared a great wedding feast for his son. When the banquet was ready, he sent his servants to notify those who were invited. But they all refused to come! “So he sent other servants to tell them, ‘The feast has been prepared. The bulls and fattened cattle have been killed, and everything is ready. Come to the banquet!’ But the guests he had invited ignored them and went their own way, one to his farm, another to his business. Others seized his messengers and insulted them and killed them. “The king was furious, and he sent out his army to destroy the murderers and burn their town. And he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, and the guests I invited aren’t worthy of the honor. Now go out to the street corners and invite everyone you see.’ So the servants brought in everyone they could find, good and bad alike, and the banquet hall was filled with guests. “But when the king came in to meet the guests, he noticed a man who wasn’t wearing the proper clothes for a wedding. ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how is it that you are here without wedding clothes?’ But the man had no reply. Then the king said to his aides, ‘Bind his hands and feet and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ “For many are called, but few are chosen.”

In this parable like most others by Jesus, the King represents God. In addition, the specially invited guests represent His chosen people Israel and the people from the street corners represent the Gentiles. Salvation was first offered to the Jews and the bulk of them rejected it so God offered it to the entire world. It may not have been a good thing that the Jews turned down God's invitation but it was a good thing for the rest of us because that's how we got invited into God's Kingdom. Nevertheless, it's easy to read a parable like this and think; "Who in their right mind would reject the call of God? What could be so important in your life that it could be worth turning down a personal invitation from God?"

Well, think about it! The VIP guests had other things to do. They had things to take care of at home or work. They had money to make. They had their own dreams to pursue. They just didn't have the time to stop living their own lives to respond to The King. They weren't necessarily bad people, they were just busy people. Of course, that doesn't include the group who killed the messengers. Of course, none of us would ever do a thing like that. Now would we? Not so fast! How many prophets have spoken God's truth into the lives of Christians who are sitting on the sidelines and got totally shot down? "Beloved, God says you need to.... Ummm... no thank you. That's not God."

Romans 11:29(AMP) - For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable [for He does not withdraw what He has given, nor does He change His mind about those to whom He gives His grace or to whom He sends His call].

What about you? Do you remember the first time God spoke to you? If yes, what did He tell you? Do you remember the day God called you to serve in His Kingdom? If yes, what have you done? Did you do what He said? Did you read The Book of Jonah? He thought that he could get away from God's call on his life by going in the opposite direction. God sent him for a swim with the fishes. God might be long-suffering and patient but He doesn't forget His call on someone's life. Have you tried to run away from God's plan? If you think you're just not going to do it and things are just going to work themselves out you're in for a big surprise.

Even if you've never heard God's call you have received God's gifts. Guess what? His gifts were given to you for one purpose and that's to carry out His call. If you don't think you're called by God, your gifts will disagree with that notion. The mere presence of natural or spiritual gifts in your life means God has a purpose for you and its directly connected to the use of those gifts. So even a person's inability to hear from God is not an excuse for not answering the Call of God. The gifts He's put into each of us speak to us on behalf of God telling us what He expects of us. They point us in His direction.

Find a place where your gifts can be developed and eventually used in God's service. If you can't do it where you are right now, find somewhere else. You can either stay where you are and use your gifts outside of that place or go to a place where you can use your gifts. Whatever you do, answer God's call on your life. He is never going to change His mind regardless of what you do. The only thing that changes is that the longer you wait, the less time you have to do the same thing.

Romans 12:4-8(NLT) - Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

Each person in The Body of Christ has unique gifts which accompany specific functions. When you see The Church as a body you will realize how important you are, not just to God but to the rest of us. Do you know what it's like to be missing a body part? Even if all of your body parts are present, do you know what it's like when you have body parts which don't function properly? Now consider every Christian who is out of place and not doing what God has called them to do. Consider the impact their lack of function has on the rest of us. They handicap God's body by not fulfilling their roles. Are you one of those people? Are you the malfunctioning foot that's caused us to limp along for the last five years? Are you the missing finger that has made it hard for us to grasp what God has asked of us? Is it you? If it's not you, do you know who it is?

1 Corinthians 12:12-27(NLT) - The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit. Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.” In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.

We're all in this together. When I answered the call of God on my life it was not just about me, it was about you. When you consider the call of God on your life, it's not just about you or your family, it's about the rest of us in The Body of Christ. We need you to do what God has called you to do and we need you to do it now. God is calling your name. Go ahead and say yes! Until we all do what we are called to do, The Body of Christ is not functioning at its full capacity.

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The Life-Giving Power of a Prophetic Word from The Lord

1 Thessalonians 5:20-21(NKJV) - Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good.

Prophetic words are powerful. Last Sunday, my father-in-law introduced me to the prophet at his church, Bethel Christian Fellowship in Rochester, NY. With very little small talk, he looked into my eyes and began revealing God's heart to me with complete precision. It blew my mind and warmed my heart in a way that I really needed. Nothing he said was new, but he confirmed and affirmed what God had already been doing in the lives of Angel and I. He confirmed God's call on my life and reminded me of its importance to The Kingdom. He affirmed the gift of teaching I received from The Lord. He reminded me of the prophetic mantle. He encouraged me to keep writing books. He was concise. He was direct. He was precise. It was amazing.

John 6:63(NKJV) - It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.

When someone speaks a prophetic Word from the heart of God, those words are "spirit-words". They are life-giving. They revive you. Two weeks ago, Angel and I were guests at the 11th anniversary celebration of Christ United Church in Loganville, GA. It's one of the most prophetic churches in the area. The guest speaker was Apostle Ann Marie Alman of People of Destiny Ministries in Brooklyn, NY. After the message which in itself was life-changing, she walked right up to me and began to prophesy. My goodness! What a Word from The Lord! She encouraged us concerning The Body Church and affirmed what God was doing in the ministry and personally for the two of us. Only The Lord knew how much we needed to hear that.

Isaiah 50:4(NKJV) - “The Lord God has given Me The tongue of the learned, That I should know how to speak A word in season to him who is weary. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear To hear as the learned.

Why am I talking about this today? Because prophecy is real and I am a living testimony of how real it is. In your lowest moments, when you feel tired and worn out from the challenges of life, a prophetic Word from The Lord changes everything. There are people on this earth who have been called by God to speak His Word of Life into others and you need them in your life. I grew up in a household of prophets and almost took it for granted that The Lord spoke to us all the time. We didn't fast and pray for 40 days and 40 nights to hear from The Lord. We just listened.

I woke up this morning at 3:00AM and knew that The Lord wanted to speak to me. Not just that. He wanted to speak to you through me. Let me encourage you. If you have a prophetic gift, there are weary people waiting to hear God's Voice and they need to hear it from you. There are people sitting next to you at work, school or church hungry for a Word from God's heart. If God gave The Word to you, He expects you to deliver it. Do not be afraid. Be who God has called you to be.

1 Corinthians 14:1, 24-25(NKJV) - Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy... But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all. And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you.

Several years ago I sat in a Wednesday night service and watched a young man walk in off the street. He said that he was looking for a church and saw the sign so he came in. The prophets in the house began speaking into his life with such precision that he was completely overwhelmed. He fell to his knees in tears and worshiped God. By the time they were finished, his life was changed forever. It's been about five years since that night and now he's a vibrant part of the ministry. He got married about a year later and his wife is also a major part of that ministry. They had a baby last year and God continues to work wonders through their lives. That's the power of a prophetic Word from The Lord.

2 Corinthians 13:1(KJV) - This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.

The bottom line is this. God is speaking but not everyone can hear Him for themselves. That's one reason why He raised up prophets. Another reason is for Him to confirm what He's saying to those who do hear His Voice. In other words, we all need prophets. Those of us who cannot hear from God need to know what He's saying and those of us who can hear from God need confirmation. If you are called to be a prophet, prophesy. If you are in need of a Word from The Lord, find a place where God speaks through His prophets. Don't make decisions without hearing from God first and receiving confirmation.

2 Chronicles 20:20(NKJV) - So they rose early in the morning and went out into the Wilderness of Tekoa; and as they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper.”
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Ranking The Miracles of Jesus

When they had come to Capernaum, those who received the temple tax came to Peter and said, “Does your Teacher not pay the temple tax?” He said, “Yes.” And when he had come into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers?” Peter said to Him, “From strangers.” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for Me and you.” Matthew 17:24‭-‬27 NKJV

This is a sneak peek from the new book; "The Fish With The Gold In Its Mouth" is a continuation from yesterday's blog entitled, "The Fish With The Gold In Its Mouth (Sneak Peek)".

How many times have you heard teachings like that in your local church? How many books did you read about it? If you’re anything like me, not many I would assume. Yet, it was a sermon many years ago from my father, Apostle Emanuel Vivian Duncan, entitled, "The Fish With The Gold in Its Mouth" which first piqued my interest.

Growing up listening to my father preach shaped my perspective toward The Bible. I was always fascinated by his penchant for unearthing deep, life changing revelation out of seemingly innocuous scriptures. Like everything else Jesus said, this miraculous story is loaded with life changing principles with eternal significance. Nevertheless, before we go much further let’s put this in context.

Throughout the New Testament we read about the exploits of Jesus. In Matthew 4:23-25, He healed every sick person out of a multitude regardless of the nature of their diseases. In Mark 6:33-44 He multiplied five loaves and two fish to feed five thousand men in addition to women and children. In Matthew 8:5-10, He healed the centurion's servant with a word. A few verses later, He simply touched the hand of Peter's mother in law and she was instantly healed.

Again, in Matthew 15:32-35 He multiplied seven loaves and a few fish to feed another four thousand men in addition to women and children. In John 11, He raised Lazarus to life after he was dead for at least three days. These are just a few random examples which illustrate the caliber of miracles Jesus performed while He walked the earth.

Hence, in the grand scheme of things it is understandable why this account in Matthew 17:24-27 of Jesus directing Peter to catch a fish with money in its mouth to pay taxes doesn't get that much attention. Think about it. If the Academy Awards had a category for the miracles of Jesus this one would not even get nominated. It's just not on the same level in terms of dramatic effect. If measured only by the number of lives impacted perhaps feeding the five thousand would win the award. Or if measured by the level of impossibility, bringing Lazarus back to life would be the winner.

To be continued...

Do you want to write a book? Many people do, but very few are able to get it done for various reasons. Let that not be your story. Learn tips and tricks for effectively putting your thoughts on paper in a cohesive, continuous manner. Work with a group of other writers who share the same goal.

Join our club at Coffee Shop Conversations. We'll be working together on our books this year. Bring your ideas, share it with the group and let's help each other write our books. Say goodbye to writer's block. If you're stuck, we'll help with ideas to move the book forward. Once the books are complete, we'll learn how to get our books published for free. You just saw a sneak peek of the book I'm working on during Coffee Shop Conversations.

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