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Tag: Faith

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.
16

Understanding The Time and Season You're In

Understanding The Time and Season You're In

Understanding The Time and Season You're In!

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8(NKJV) - To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted; A time to kill, And a time to heal; A time to break down, And a time to build up; A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing; A time to gain, And a time to lose; A time to keep, And a time to throw away; A time to tear, And a time to sew; A time to keep silence, And a time to speak; A time to love, And a time to hate; A time of war, And a time of peace.

My wife and I frequent a Caribbean restaurant near our home in Metro-Atlanta where they sell some of the best Jamaican food. Sometimes, after an early morning workout, we would buy ackee and saltfish for breakfast. Ackee is a West African fruit that became the national fruit of Jamaica and it's delicious. However, there's an interesting fact about ackee that's relevant to today's blog. Ackee can only be eaten at the right time. Until it's fully ripe, it's poisonous and can put you in a coma or even kill you. It doesn't matter how hungry you are, how much of a rush you are in or how desperate you are, you cannot enjoy ackee until it's ripe.

Today, The Lord wants to teach us a valuable Kingdom principle. Many important things in life are time-dependent. They cannot be rushed. They cannot be manipulated. They cannot be forced. They only happen when they're supposed to happen. It doesn't matter what you do, certain things won't happen until the time is right. Even if you find a way to force them to happen early, they won't happen right.

For instance, the full-term of a human baby in the womb is targeted for nine months. If a mother wants to have a natural child-birth under normal circumstances, she has to wait until that time for the baby to be delivered. If she simply gets tired of being pregnant after two months she can't decide to give birth on her own schedule because premature child-birth comes with serious health risks. She has to understand where she is in the pregnancy and act accordingly for the sake of her child's life. In the same way, when the time comes for certain things to happen, there can be no delay, they must happen. At the end of nine months, ready or not, when a baby is ready to leave the womb, the mother typically has only one logical choice; push.

1 Chronicles 12:32(AMP) - Of the tribe of Issachar, men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do, two hundred chiefs; and all their relatives were at their command;

Do you understand the times like the tribe of Issachar? Do you know what season you are in? What has God called you to do in this season? Are you doing it? Your answers to those questions could explain your success or failure in life. Do you know that if you do the wrong thing at the right time or the right thing at the wrong time you will fail? Yes, it's crucial to know what your purpose is but it's even more crucial to know when is the right time for your purpose. If you don't get both right, you won't succeed. Yet, understanding times and seasons in God's Kingdom is not that straightforward.

In Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, King Solomon taught one of the most simple, yet profound life lessons in The Holy Bible. There is a season for everything and a time for every purpose "under heaven". Pay close attention to the last two words because that's where God wants to reveal some gems of wisdom today. What did he mean by "under heaven"? Don't the same rules that govern time on earth apply in heaven? Nope! Time is a natural construct created by God for natural things. The heavenly realm operates under its own set of rules which govern eternity and they supersede our concept of time.

Psalm 31:15(NKJV) - My times are in Your hand; Deliver me from the hand of my enemies, And from those who persecute me.

God holds my times in His hand; not my time (singular), but my times (plural). Over the weekend, I attended the ministry school graduation of my wife, Angel, where she received her Masters in Ministry. In the opening remarks, one of the school's founders, Tim Scott, talked about four dimensions of time;

1) Chronos (Greek) - Linear, sequential, chronological time; the time that's captured by clocks and calendars.

Genesis 1:1(NKJV) - In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Daniel 8:19(NKJV) - And he said, “Look, I am making known to you what shall happen in the latter time of the indignation; for at the appointed time the end shall be.

Chronos time has a precise beginning and a precise end. As long as we are on the earth governed by the systems of the earth, we must submit to the laws of chronos time. Certain things must happen before other things can happen. Time is what it is. I can't speed up time and make a minute happen any faster than 60 seconds. I can't slow time down and make a minute last longer than 60 seconds. I can't gain time nor can I lose time. I can't control time. I can only control what I do with it. One of my favorite college professors said that time is our only non-renewable resource. Once it's gone, it's gone and we can never get it back. Nothing can be done to compensate for lost time. We can only learn from our mistakes and do better with the time we have left. Yet, that's just one dimension of time. There's so much more.

2) Set Time - A time that's appointed, like the time set on your alarm clock; the moment ordained by God for something to happen; it's non-negotiable and cannot change.

Psalm 102:13(NKJV) - You will arise and have mercy on Zion; For the time to favor her, Yes, the set time, has come.

Psalm 105:17-22(NKJV) - He sent a man before them—Joseph—who was sold as a slave. They hurt his feet with fetters, He was laid in irons. Until the time that his word came to pass, The word of the Lord tested him. The king sent and released him, The ruler of the people let him go free. He made him lord of his house, And ruler of all his possessions, To bind his princes at his pleasure, And teach his elders wisdom.

There was a set time for Joseph's dreams to come to pass. Until then, he went through some trying times. In fact, The Bible says that The Word itself tried and tested him. What does that mean? When God gives you a prophetic Word about your future, that Word will challenge you all the way until it happens. It will challenge you to keep going. It will challenge you to stay focused. It will test your faith. It will try your patience. It will keep you on your toes knees. So what do you do while you wait for your Word to come to pass at its set time?

Galatians 6:9(NKJV) - And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

Keep doing good. Keep praying. Keep serving. Keep obeying God. Keep worshiping. Keep walking in God's Will. Don't give up. Don't lose heart. Don't get tired. Don't be weary. Stick it out until your due season comes because those who sow and care for their crops while they develop will reap when harvest time comes around. You can't force your set time to come ahead of God's schedule so all you can do is be faithful to God long enough to see it happen during your lifetime. As the psalmist said in Psalm 27:13(NKJV); "I would have lost heart, unless I had believed That I would see the goodness of the Lord In the land of the living."

John 7:1-9(NLT) - After this, Jesus traveled around Galilee. He wanted to stay out of Judea, where the Jewish leaders were plotting his death. But soon it was time for the Jewish Festival of Shelters, and Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, where your followers can see your miracles! You can’t become famous if you hide like this! If you can do such wonderful things, show yourself to the world!” For even his brothers didn’t believe in him. Jesus replied, “Now is not the right time for me to go, but you can go anytime. The world can’t hate you, but it does hate me because I accuse it of doing evil. You go on. I’m not going to this festival, because my time has not yet come.” After saying these things, Jesus remained in Galilee.

Jesus knew His "set" time and refused to let His brothers talk Him into getting ahead of His Father's schedule. The time had not come for Him to reveal Himself to the masses so instead of going to the festival He stayed home. That's the perfect example of how we should apply our understanding of our "set" time. If you know that your time has not come for something, don't get ahead of God. How can you be so sure? First, listen to God's Voice. If He doesn't tell you it's time to move, it's not time to move. Second, look for God's open door. He won't ask you to do something without first opening the door for you to do it. When He opens the door and tells you to walk through it, it's your "set" time. Until then, wait.

3) Fullness of Time - The time when something is complete, like the time when a baby is ready to be born; it marks the successful end of a process and varies depending on the exact duration of the process.

Galatians 4:3-5(NKJV) - Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden God set in motion a plan of redemption that spanned thousands of years. It started with the first animal sacrifice by God Himself. He killed an innocent animal and used its skin to cover Adam and Eve's nakedness. He called for sacrifices from Cain and Abel. He broke the curse on the earth because of Noah then washed it clean with a flood. He brought Isaac, the son of Promise through the seed of Abraham, the Hebrew nation through Jacob, salvation from famine through Joseph, freedom for slavery and the advent of the law through Moses. This plan unfolded until it ended in the fullness of time with Jesus Christ, the innocent lamb of God, dying on The Cross for all sin. Jesus didn't just die because the time had come, He died because the process was complete. That's why on The Cross He could say with confidence, "It is finished!"

Hebrews 10:35-36(KJV) - Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.

You only receive the promise after you have done the Will of God. However, there's no guarantee that you'll receive it immediately after. That's why you have need of patience. The fullness of time depends on what you do but it doesn't only depend on what you do. There are many other corroborating factors that must be in place. We can only see things from our narrow perspectives so we may believe the time is right for something because we're ready for it to happen. The Most High God, on the other hand sees it all and has to ensure that all things are working together for our good and the good of everyone else involved. When all things are in place in the fullness of time, the promise will come to pass.

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.

Before I get to the final dimension of time, The Lord woke me up to write this blog at our 3:00 AM set time (his favorite time to speak with me) and revealed another dimension of time that I will address now.

4) Cyclical/ Seasonal Time - The moment when certain things take place after regular intervals of time; the sun sets and rises in one day; spring, summer, fall and winter repeat in one year.

Genesis 8:22(NKJV) - “While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, Cold and heat, Winter and summer, And day and night Shall not cease.”

Spring comes after winter. If you're tired of winter, you can't force spring to come any faster, you have to wait for it. That's just the way it is and there's nothing we can do about it as long as we're "under heaven". We are also subject to cyclical time. When the sun rises, it's morning time and when the sun sets, it's evening time. The sun won't set in the morning or rise in the evening. That's how time works and we're bound to it. Certain things don't happen unless the season is right for it to happen.

Psalm 1:1-3(NKJV) - Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.

You can only bring forth fruit in the season designated for that fruit. A revelation of that will change your life for the better. It will help you to curb your expectations to match the season of your life. It will save you from disappointment and frustration. It will cause you to focus your energy in the right direction. There's a season to sow and a season to reap. If you sow during your planting season you can be confident that you will reap in your harvest season. There's a season to work and a season to rest. If you work during your resting season you won't make it through your working season. There's a season to start certain things and a season to end them. There's a season to go to certain places and a season to leave them forever. Since there's a season for everything, you're always in the season for something. What season are you in right now?

5) Kairos (Greek) - Right, critical, opportune time; the time when God breaks into the natural realm with His supernatural power and authority demonstrating His Sovereignty.

Joshua 10:12-14(AMP) - Then Joshua spoke to the Lord on the day when the Lord handed over the Amorites to the sons of Israel, and Joshua said in the sight of Israel, “Sun, stand still at Gibeon, And moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.” So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, Until the nation [of Israel] took vengeance upon their enemies. Is it not written in the Book of Jashar? So the sun stood still in the middle of the sky and was in no hurry to go down for about a whole day. There has not been a day like that before it or after it, when the Lord listened to (heeded) the voice of a man; for the Lord was fighting for Israel.

What really happened that day? Did Joshua's words stop the sun from moving? One of the most basic lessons we learn in classical mechanics is that, as it relates to the earth, the sun is not moving. It's the earth that's moving. What about the moon? Did it stop moving? Did the moon's lack of movement affect the force of gravity or the tides? Do you understand the collateral impact that a situation like that would have had on the earth? If the earth stopped rotating for several hours so that the sun was directly above the battlefield what happened on the other side of the earth? Were they in darkness?

Obviously, this situation defies all logic and cannot be explained using natural phenomenon. What if there's a Kingdom explanation for this? God inserted His supernatural power to save Israel and took control of natural time. His Kairos time was imposed upon earth's chronos time long enough for His people to defeat their enemies. God also overrode the reality of cyclical time, stopping the earth's daily movement because it was the set time for Israel to defeat the Amorites whose wickedness against God and His children reached its fullness of time.

Kairos time has no limitation or schedule and is not subject to any laws. It's the time that represents God's sovereignty. It's the time when God imposes the power of infinite eternity on finite time. Whenever He feels like breaking into a situation with His power, He will do so. He created time and can do whatever He pleases with it. Any time is a good time for the Kairos time of God.

Case Study: Moses and the Children of Israel

Exodus 2:11-14(AMP) - One day, after Moses had grown [into adulthood], it happened that he went to his countrymen and looked [with compassion] at their hard labors; and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his countrymen. He turned to look around, and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. He went out the next day and saw two Hebrew men fighting with each other; and he said to the aggressor, “Why are you striking your friend?” But the man said, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you intend to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and said, “Certainly this incident is known.”

In Exodus 2:11-14, we read the account of Moses killing an Egyptian to save a Hebrew slave. At that point, he was 40 years old. He did it out of compassion for his people but it didn't work out the way he thought it would. To Moses, it seemed like a good chronos time because any time is good to be free from slavery. Yet, it wasn't God's Kairos time because God did not break in and help Moses free his people in response to the actions of Moses. It wasn't the set time for freedom because we read in Genesis 15:13(AMP); "God said to Abram, “Know for sure that your descendants will be strangers [living temporarily] in a land (Egypt) that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed for four hundred years."

The Hebrews had to be enslaved for 400 years and would not be free any earlier than that. It also was not the fullness of time because look at the response of the Hebrew man when Moses told him to stop fighting his brother. He obviously wasn't ready and neither was Moses. Their freedom would only happen after a process and it was a threefold process. Moses had to go through a process in the wilderness with God for 40 years. After that, Egypt had to go through the process of 10 plagues. Most importantly, the Hebrews had to finish their process of learning to trust God for their salvation and freedom. Unfortunately, for most of them, even though they made it out of Egypt, they didn't make it into the Promised Land because they never completed the process. Sadly, even though they made it out of Egypt, they died in the wilderness and their fullness of time never came to enter the Promised Land.

Deuteronomy 8:1-3(NKJV) - “Every commandment which I command you today you must be careful to observe, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers. And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.

The "set" time for freedom from slavery was 400 years. The Chronos time for entering the promised land was 11 days. They had chronos time and God's set time on their side but they still didn't see the promise. Why? They didn't reach the fullness of time because they didn't complete the process of mental and spiritual transformation in the wilderness in 11 days or even 40 years. Hence, they never experienced God's Kairos time and died in the wilderness. While God was dealing with the Children of Israel as a group, He was also working on Moses as an individual.

God worked with Moses in 40 year cycles. At 40 years old he felt a sudden compassion for the Hebrew slaves and killed an Egyptian. It was not the "set" time for their freedom so he ran into the wilderness where he spent another 40 years before God showed up to call him back to Egypt. He returned at 80 years old and that time, The Lord was with Him. When Moses was done in Egypt not only did every first born in Egypt die, their entire army was drowned in the Red Sea and the Children of Israel were set free. Forty years after that, at the age of 120, Moses finally saw the Promised Land. Unfortunately, he couldn't enter because he didn't do so 40 years before. He wasn't weak, sick or impaired but he died at 120 at the end of his "chronos" time.

Times Are Changing!

Daniel 2:20-22(NKJV) - Daniel answered and said: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, For wisdom and might are His. And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise And knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, And light dwells with Him.

Amos 9:13(AMP) - “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “When the plowman shall overtake the one who gathers the harvest, And the one who treads the grapes [shall overtake] him who sows the seed [for the harvest continues until planting time]; When the mountains will drip sweet wine And all the hills shall melt [that is, everything that was once barren will overflow with streams of blessing].

The Lord said through Pastor Tim that we are entering a season when all dimensions of time will occur simultaneously in our lives. This is how The Lord showed it to me this morning. Think of your times as 5 intersecting circles with one spot at the center where all 5 overlap each other. There's a koinonia or union of times that takes place when enough "chronos" time has passed, God's set time for your favor has come, you've been through your processing and it's your fullness of time, it's your season for breakthrough and God supernaturally breaks into your life with His miraculous power. In that moment, all natural laws will be suspended. You will reap where you did not sow. What should take years will happen in a moment. God will turn back the clock and restore all that was lost. God will open doors that should never open under natural circumstances. God will heal diseases that became progressively worse over the years. God will perform miracles.

So what now? When is the right time for you to see God's promise come to pass in your life? Well, it depends on your definition of time. Understand the time and season you're in. You can't stop, speed up or slow down chronological time so accept that the clock will keep ticking. You can't control God's "set" time so submit to God's schedule of events for your life. However, you need to know where you are in your season and you need to do what God has called you to do for this season. Only when you complete what you should be doing in your current season will you be able to enter your next season in the fullness of time. Also, only when you're doing what God has called you to do for this season will you be rightly positioned for your "set" time for His promise. Last, but definitely not least, the only overriding factor on all time is God's Kairos time. It can happen whenever God chooses and when it comes, it will be right on time. It is my prayer that you're ready for God to break into your situation right now!

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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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The Power of His Resurrection

Philippians 3:7-11(NKJV) - But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

As I prepare to preach this Resurrection Sunday at The Body Church, I've been mulling the significance of this scripture. In our current sermon series, Vision 2018, we've come to the part where we're dealing with "The Power of God" and the role it plays in our personal and corporate church growth. I don't consider it a coincidence that what God wants to say to us this Easter Sunday is directly in line with what He's already saying to us in this sermon series. So today, I'll introduce Sunday's message in this blog.

Apostle Paul's primary desire was to know Jesus Christ. He put that desire above everything else in his life including his personal accomplishments and self-generated righteousness. He then elaborated on the specific aspects of Christ that interested him the most. He wanted to know Christ in two main ways; the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings. Why? So that the same victory Jesus Christ attained over death would also be his portion. In other words, through Christ's resurrection, he would receive his own resurrection.

At first glance, it seems quite simple. Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, so that those of us who were once dead because of sin, can receive life through Him. That life manifests itself through instant spiritual renewal at the point of salvation. It is then followed up by physical resurrection on The Last Day (not before) when Jesus returns to earth. For those who die before that day, the resurrection is literal. Yet, for those who are still alive, their natural bodies which are subject to death and are already in the process of dying will be changed to immortal, glorified bodies similar to the one Jesus received. It also means that those who are in Christ will not experience eternal death which is separation from God. Yet, there's more.

John 11:1-7, 11-15, 20-27(NKJV) - Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that he was sick, “He stayed two more days in the place where He was.” Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” ... These things He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.” Then His disciples said, “Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.” However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him.” Now Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house... Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

After Lazarus died, Mary and Martha were distraught. First, they were devastated by the loss of their beloved brother. However, what made it worse was that Jesus knew Lazarus was sick, had the power to do something about it and never showed up until after Lazarus was dead. Interestingly enough, Jesus revealed to His disciples that He did that on purpose. It was actually Jesus' intention to let Lazarus die first so that He could raise Lazarus from death (sleep) and glorify God through it. As demonstrated in their conversation, Martha exposed the outer limits of her faith in the power of Jesus. First, she believed that Jesus had the power to heal so if Jesus had arrived on time Lazarus would have been saved. Then, she believed in The Resurrection at The Last Day. At that point, all believers would rise again so even though Lazarus was dead He would live again eventually.

The only thing she didn't believe was God's power to do anything for someone after physical death and before The Resurrection. In other words, she didn't fully understand The Power of His Resurrection. So, to teach her and the rest of us a valuable lesson about His true power, Jesus orchestrated the perfect demonstration. His main goal was to redefine The Resurrection as a person (Himself) and not an event that takes place on The Last Day alone. Hence, wherever He was present, so was His supreme power over death. He also used the opportunity to explain that belief alone gives anyone access to His power. Those who believe in Him as The Resurrection and die before The Resurrection will live again and those who believe and are alive will not die.

Obviously, we can apply His statement to The Last Day when we are assured that The Resurrection of all believers will take place. Yet, Jesus was clear that He was not just talking about The Last Day but He was talking about any time before then. He then proved it by raising Lazarus from the dead after three days and subsequently raising Himself (Jesus is God) from the dead after three days. Let me reiterate something you may have missed. Those who believe in Him as The Resurrection are able to tap into the Power of His Resurrection. Why do I say that? Whether we know it or not, belief in The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is crucial to our salvation. It's even included in the main scripture we quote for salvation.

Romans 10:9-10(NKJV) - that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and “believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved”. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

To become a Christian you don't just believe in Jesus as a prophet, a Rabbi, a miracle worker, teacher or an overall good guy. You can't even simply believe that Jesus was born and died for your sins. You have to believe in His Resurrection. In other words, you have to believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead to be saved. No Resurrection, no salvation! It's that simple. Essentially, The Power of His Resurrection is the power that gives us salvation. Since Jesus is The Resurrection, when you believe in Jesus you believe in His Resurrection from death on the cross and also your Resurrection from death on The Last Day. What you should also believe is that His Resurrection has the power to affect your life between those two events. In fact, because you believe in Jesus Christ, The Power of His Resurrection is active and alive in you now the same way it was available for Lazarus to defeat death before Jesus even died on The Cross!

1 Corinthians 15:12-19(NKJV) - Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.

Our salvation is all about The Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It's because He lives, that we can live again. It's because He lives that we can face death with hope of life everlasting. It's because He lives that sin has been defeated forever. So, as we commemorate the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ this weekend, let us remember how important this is to our existence as Christians. The good news of the gospel does not end with Jesus dying for our sins but continues with Him rising from the dead to totally defeat it. Not only did He pay the price for our sins but by rising from the dead He defeated the power of sin. He had His cake and ate it too. He paid for sin with His death, then rose from the dead and took His life back once the debt was paid. We should be clear about what that means for us on The Last Day. Now let's talk about what that means for us right now.

Romans 8:9-11(NKJV) - But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

The Spirit of Christ lives in us which means The Resurrection lives in us. Yes, our physical bodies are subject to death but the life-giving power of His Spirit lives in our physical bodies right now. Hence, all of the power we need to rise from the dead on The Last Day is already inside of us. It's the same power which raised Christ from the dead. It's also the same power which raised Lazarus from the dead. It's the power of The Holy Ghost and The Power of His Resurrection. What can we do with this power? Possibly, anything. We just have to believe. And what do we have to believe? Whatever we see in His Word that applies to us.

Mark 9:23(NKJV) - Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”

Mark 16:15-18(NKJV) - And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

Luke 10:18-20(NKJV) - And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”

Like Martha said to Jesus in John 11, every Christian believes that we will defeat death on The Last Day and rise again in The Resurrection. However, what do you believe God can do for you today? What are the outer limits of possibility in your life? If you can believe, all things are possible for you. You can defeat demons, serpents, poison, sickness, criminals, accidents, disasters or any other agent of death on earth today. You just need to have the faith! How does faith come? By hearing and hearing by The Word of God. Saturate your mind and heart with God's Word until you believe what's written in it. Then everything you believe will become possible in your life.

What's the extent of The Power of His Resurrection in your life? Whatever you believe in His Word!

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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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Ask Donnell: Is All Secular Music Bad?

We received the following question from Nahom;

"Hello to the reader of this email. I am a teenage boy that has a question about secular music and I would preferably want Donnell Duncan to answer this email. Donnell, I recently viewed one of your Ask Donnell videos, the one about secular music. To be specific, you were answering the question, "Will I go to hell for listening to secular music?". Your answer was that secular music feeds the flesh, and that there is a war between the flesh and the spirit, the one who gets fed more wins. To be clear I did not ask the question that you answered in the video, I'm here to ask you a question based on your answer. Donnell, aren't you aware not all secular music is bad? Secular music is any music that is not used for worship. There is much secular music that is sinful and feeds the flesh, but there is also much that glorifies God. Music is an art. Are you saying that any art that doesn't mention God or Jesus is sinful or feeds the flesh. For example, "See You Again" is a widely known song that was a huge hit in 2013. It has over 2 billion views on Youtube! It is secular. It is about an actor (Paul Walker) and his death that left many close to him sad, including co-star Vin Diesel. The song is about remembering the beautiful friendship between Vin and Paul, and how Vin can't wait to see him again in the Pearly Gates. However, again, it is not gospel, it is secular. But this song certainly does not feed the flesh! Or does it? Please respond if possible, thank you!"

Nahom, thanks for your question. I posted the video above so that the people reading will know what you're referring to. I just took the time to watch it again to remind myself of exactly what I said. Now that we're on the same page, I'll get straight to the point. I know I didn't get into much detail in the video which is probably why you still have questions so I'll take the opportunity now to give you a little more information. First, let's be brutally honest.

Some Christians want to do whatever they feel like and if they can justify their choices it makes it so much easier. People who are called to preach The Word of God have a choice. We can tell people what they want to hear and not disappoint them or we can tell people the truth and not disappoint God. Sometimes, the truth and what people want to hear happen to be the same thing and we love those occasions. However, sometimes, the truth is not what people want to hear and those are some of the most difficult times for ministers of the gospel.

1 Corinthians 6:12(NLT) - You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything.

Here's the good news. Like I said in the video, your choice in music does not determine your eternal destiny. Your acceptance or rejection of salvation by grace through faith in the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross determines your eternal destiny (Romans 10:9,10). Therefore, there is a whole lot of freedom in Christianity. I know Christians who enjoy drinking alcohol, listening to secular music, hitting the clubs, etc. and that's their decision. None of those activities are specifically forbidden in the scriptures. Yet, The Apostle Paul made a great point in 1 Corinthians 6:12 when he said that yes, you may be allowed to do those things but are they good for you? If you say they are. How exactly are they good for you?

If you hear a secular song you like and bob your head to it you're not going to hell but because you like it, does that mean it's good for you? In 2017 when Christian music comes in every genre at the highest level, listening to secular music is a choice and it's one we don't really have to make. There is nothing we lack when it comes to music in the Kingdom of God that forces us to have to look elsewhere for something good to listen to. Nevertheless, it's similar to eating junk food. You know it's not good for you but you eat it because you like it. One cheeseburger and a side of fries with a large coke won't kill you but eat it every day for one year and see what happens.

John 8:31-32(NLT) - Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 17:15-19(NLT) - I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to this world any more than I do. Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth. Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth.

According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, the word secular means "worldly or temporal" and secular music is music that is not overtly spiritual or religious. Is secular music good for you as a Christian? Does listening to it promote holiness unto God or separation from the evil in the world? Let's use your example. I agree with you that Wiz Khalifa's song "See You Again" is quite inspirational. You mentioned that in it, there is an assumption that they will see Paul Walker again at the pearly gates. My honest question is which pearly gates?

My assumption is that the writers of the song believe that they will meet in heaven one day especially since almost everyone believes that they are going to heaven. That's so beautiful and believe me, I love the way that sounds especially after Paul's untimely and tragic death. I wish I can meet everyone I've ever seen on earth in heaven. However, let's be brutally honest. Is that the truth? You know the answer.

The Psychological Power of Music

Have you ever gone somewhere and there was music playing in the background, then left the place and the music you heard kept playing in your mind? Do you know why as children we are taught to memorize things using music? Think about how you learned the alphabet. A...B...C..D...E...F..Geeee... Do you remember the tune? Growing up in church we learned the books of The Bible in a song. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, Acts and Epistle of the Romaaaans, 1st and 2nd Corinthians.... Do you know why? Some scholars posit that music has the power to take a message past your conscious mind directly into your subconscious. In other words, music helps me to get information deep into my brain without having to try as hard.

Have you ever heard a song and it instantly took your mind back to a different place or perhaps it brought back the memory of a past relationship, stirring up old emotions and replaying old experiences? That's the power of music. One song can change the trajectory of your entire day. Here's a quote from a report on NPR based on the book, "The Power of Music" from researcher Elena Mannes; "She also says scientists have found that music stimulates more parts of the brain than any other human function. That's why she sees so much potential in music's power to change the brain and affect the way it works."

Simply put, music changes your brain. That's why experts have said that the smartest kids listen to classical music. Have you ever seen the printed score for classical music? It's very complex so from a young age, children who listen to classical music gain an advantage in their mental development. When you're angry, acoustic instrumental music can soothe your nerves. When you want to get hype for a sporting event, loud rap or rock music can get you excited. When you're sad, you can curl up on the couch with some ice cream and some sad R&B or country music and feed your depression.

Some people listen to music and it makes them violent while other types of music stir up sexual desires. Music is the soundtrack of life so whatever your life experience, there's music to match it. If you want to get a message to your brain, music is the easiest way to deliver it. That explains why it's so much easier to remember a song than it is to remember a written paragraph from a book. It could be the same number of words but you can only repeat the words of the song without trying to memorize it. On the other hand, you will easily forget the paragraph even if you just finished reading it.

The Spiritual Power of Music

1 Samuel 16:23(NLT) - And whenever the tormenting spirit from God troubled Saul, David would play the harp. Then Saul would feel better, and the tormenting spirit would go away.

Do you know that every religion, cult, form of witchcraft or spiritual practice includes some form of music? Very few people truly understand the power of music. Do you know that the power of God can be released through music? The anointing of God that was on David flowed through his music and brought deliverance to Saul from demonic torment. When a man or woman of God under the influence of The Holy Spirit sits down to write a song that's based in the truth of God's Word and then delivers that song through music the power of God is released. You can simply listen to certain songs and instantly feel the presence of God. You can sit under the ministry of a true minister of music and instantly sense the rumbling of the Holy Spirit in your heart. Like it did for Saul, God can use music to set you free.

Proverbs 4:23(NLT) - Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.

If you know that music has the power to change your brain and affect your spirit would you put that power in the hands of people who are not submitted to God? Do you trust Wiz Khalifa with your brain or your spirit? Maybe he's a great guy but do you believe that he cares enough about you that he would ensure that he only delivers the truth through his music? I can agree that not all secular music is bad if there was a clear definition of good or bad. What defines good or bad secular music? We know that God is not in it or else it would not be secular music, so we can leave God out. What exactly are we left with if God's not in something?

Is secular music good if there are no lies, cussing or sexual references in it? Is a good song good because it talks about love? Even if it talks about love, is it the true love we know from the scriptures or do they have their own definition of love? Is it good because it talks about current issues? Maybe if Tupac didn't cuss, his music would be good because he talked about issues in the streets? Is music neither good or bad because there are no words? What about instrumentals? It's easy to judge words but if you remove the words, does it matter anymore? Is there such thing as a secular instrumental song or instrumental Christian music? What makes it Christian or secular, if it has no words? Now let's go deeper. If we remove all the words from a song, does it matter where the music came from?

Titus 1:15(NLT) - Everything is pure to those whose hearts are pure. But nothing is pure to those who are corrupt and unbelieving, because their minds and consciences are corrupted.

Matthew 7:17-18(NLT) - A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit.

The music we listen to comes from the heart of the person who created or delivered it. If the person's heart is pure the music is pure. If the person's heart is corrupt, the music is corrupt. We cannot get good fruit from a bad tree or bad fruit from a good tree. Hence, not only are the words important, the music is also important because it's an expression of the person who created it. When a person creates music, something leaves them that comes from within them and when we listen to their music what left them enters us. Hence, it's important to know what we're allowing to leave another person's heart and enter our own.

Here's another excerpt from the book, "The Power of Music" from Elenna Mannes; "Daniel Bernard Roumain, a young cross-genre violinist who is known as DBR, thinks one reason music is so powerful is that sound actually penetrates our bodies: "You know when someone says that a piece of music 'touched me' or 'moved me,' it's very literal. The sound of my voice enters your ear canal and it's moving your eardrum. That's a very intimate act. I am very literally touching you, and when you speak to me, you are literally touching me. And then we extend that principle to the sound of a violin.""

Do you know that the music which brought deliverance to Saul had no words in it? So, even though words are powerful, there's also power in the music itself. The power in the music comes from the person who created it and the person delivering it. When a Christian with a heart that's pure before God produces music, the music itself is pure and you can feel it. That's why certain Christian artists always minister to our souls. That doesn't mean they'll go platinum or become popular but we know that whatever music they deliver has God all over it. The same level of influence can also come from secular music.

2 Corinthians 2:11(KJV) - Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.

It's easy to believe that as long as the words of a secular song sound positive, it's great music for Christians to listen to. Maybe it is, maybe it's not. Who wrote the song? Who wrote the music? Who played the instruments? What spirit was in control of the process? Were there spirituous liquors involved? Was it marijuana? Did they do heroin or snort cocaine before they hit the studio or in some cases, while they were in the studio? My point is that secular artists don't have to answer to God so we are trusting that they would not allow the enemy to influence them while they create music. That's a very risky proposition. Regardless, nobody can stop you from listening to secular music. It's your decision. Just remember the power of music.

5

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.

6

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.”
4

Money in The Bible?

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 the third and final sneak peek from the new book; "The Fish With The Gold In Its Mouth" and is a continuation from yesterday's blog entitled, "Ranking The Miracles of Jesus".

Ironically, while I write this introduction, it's tax season in the United States of America where I reside. For some people it's a season of celebration because they are guaranteed a return for overpaying during the year but for others it's a season of angst because they owe the IRS and know they'll have to pay. Maybe that's the reason why I chose to write on this topic right now. I need to call on Jesus, throw a hook in the Chattahoochee River in Georgia and hope I catch a fish with some gold in its mouth so I can pay the IRS. As the saying goes, "He did it once, He'll do it again." I’m just kidding or maybe I’m not.

On a serious note, the purpose of this book is to unlock valuable nuggets of wisdom concerning God's Kingdom particularly in the area of finances based on the life and teachings of Jesus. Yet for some people the obvious question that comes to mind is what exactly do any of the teachings of Jesus have to do with money. The short answer is a whole lot. The long answer is this book. He spoke about money more often than many of the more popular topics we remember Him for. A quick search of the New Testament shows money being mentioned 88 times compared to hell which is mentioned 17 times or homosexuality which is mentioned twice.

In fact, Jesus included financial principles in His parables of the Kingdom of Heaven. In Luke 19:11-27, Jesus shared The Parable of The Minas in which He drew a direct comparison between financial management and Kingdom responsibilities. Consider the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30 or The parable of The Unforgiving Servant in Matthew 18:21-35. If you didn't know it already, those talents were not referring to dancing or singing but money.

Then in John 2, directly following His first miracle of turning water into wine at a wedding, we read that Jesus went into the temple in Jerusalem and dismantled the “flea market”. He threw their money on the floor, turned over their tables and ran them out of the building with the help of a whip in His hands. It’s not by chance that money played such a prominent role whether positive or negative in the ministry of Jesus.

Additionally, an important point to note is that money is not just a side issue in the rest of the scriptures either. On the one hand, Solomon, the wisest man to ever live outside of Jesus said in Ecclesiastes 10:19 that money answers everything. On the other hand, Apostle Paul, who wrote most of The New Testament said in 1 Timothy 6:10 that the love of money is the root of all evil.

Including the word “all” in both scriptures demonstrates the impact that money has on our lives. As an entity of its own, money is neither good nor bad. It answers all things yet loving it is the root of all evil. That irony underlines why we need a balanced understanding of God’s perspective on money. May God’s wisdom guide us through this process.

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.

The end!

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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