Lending vs. Giving

One thing I learned in life is to never “lend” something to a person that you aren’t willing to count as a lost IF that item is never returned to you by the borrower… That goes for money, video games, clothing items, novels, Tupperware, office supplies, power/gardening tools, etc.
 
I learned this the hard way. I have lent out so many valuable and priceless possessions that I have never gotten back. But I’m getting to the place now where if someone asks me to borrow something (especially money), I know how to say NO, you may not borrow. I do not have it to lend.
 
And even in the case where I am able and willing, I would rather just let them have it (if I can afford to sacrifice it) as opposed to only letting them borrow it. Reason being, when I lend something out, I expect to get a full return, but if I don’t get it back (especially in a reasonable and timely manner), my heart becomes susceptible to being offended, unforgiving, easily angered, impatient, regretful, distrusting, etc. And I don’t like feeling that way toward a person.
 
But when I decide to just let the person have the item, I don’t have to worry or stress about anything and my heart is free. Now if they choose to return it back on their own accord, then cool, but if not, I’m not tripping over it because I released them from that expectation. I’m learning how to appreciate and protect my belongings, but at the same time, learning not to be materialistic, idolatrous or too attached to anything in this world. For my true treasure is in heaven.
 
As I was having devotion one day, I came across these two scriptures, which was like a confirmation to everything I’ve been experiencing.
 
Matthew 6:19‭-‬21 NLT
“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”
 
Luke 6:34‭-‬36 NLT
“And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return. “Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.”
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The Other Prodigal Son

How many of you have read or heard of the story of the Prodigal Son? It’s a famous parable in the bible about a son who strayed away from home, spent his wealth in wild living, but later returned back home after he came to the end of himself.

The reason why this parable came to my mind is because on some days–when I’m at church sitting behind my apostle on the stage during service (as the reader)–I would look out at the congregation, and I would see a lot of missing faces. People who may have backslidden, left the church prematurely without receiving their impartation, or those who have denounced the faith altogether. Then on some other days, I would see some of those same people return–broken, humbled, ready to get back in the process. The Lord began to deal with me on this observation, and I felt a strong impression on my heart that he not only wanted to minister to me about this issue, but that he wanted me to share it with the body of Christ as well.

Take a moment out to go over the story for yourself. The reference scripture is Luke 15:11-32.

Here are some key things that I noted as I read the story:

Vs. 11-12

  • An estate is the net worth of a person at any point in time alive or dead. It is the sum of a person’s assets – legal rights, interests and entitlements to property of any kind – less all liabilities at that time. The issue is of special legal significance on a question of bankruptcy and death of the person. (i.e. inheritance.)
  • Notice that it was the younger son who wanted his half of the inheritance. The fact that it was acknowledged that he was young could imply he was too immature to take the inheritance at that time.
  • The son demanded his father give him his inheritance. He wanted to establish a life of independence from his father.

Vs. 13-16

  • Squander means to waste something in a reckless or foolish manner.
  • When you don’t earn or work hard for something, it can be easy for you to depreciate or devalue it. But when you have genuinely paid the price for the anointing or for your add-ons, usually through suffering, obedience and perseverance, you will be more appreciative of it.
  • The story says that after the younger son wasted his wealth and all that he had, there was a severe famine in the land. He was in a place of desperation, willing to do anything to survive, even if it meant selling himself to the services of someone else or eating pig food.
  • Sin will have you doing some crazy things. It will cause you to become a slave, when you were meant to be a son. It will cause you to be in bondage, when you were meant to be free. It will cause you to be broke when you were meant to be rich.

Vs. 17-19

  • Sometimes, God will give you what you want, allow you to experience the fleeting pleasure of your sin, and then allow you to go through hell because of your sin, just to let you know that what you wanted is not what you needed, or that what you wanted, you were not ready for it yet.
  • Then, God will dry up your situation so you can come to the end of yourself and back to him. You’ll never come to God if you are in a place of self-sufficiency.
  • When you are ready to repent and come back to God, it will be evident because you will be in a place where you are willing to humble yourself of any and all pride and/or rebellion, and give up whatever title, identity or reputation you think you had, in order to just be back in the presence of God again. You will realize that without him, you are nothing and can do nothing. He is the air that you breathe. He is the source of life. He is your provider, protector, deliverer, keeper, redeemer, etc.
  • Never feel as if you can’t come back to God, or that your sin is so great that you cannot be forgiven. Understand grace: (Titus 2:11-13 says, “For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from EVERY KIND OF SIN, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.”) Jesus forgives us from every kind of sin, even the ones that you feel are unpardonable.

Vs. 20-21

  • And when you come back, God will not be there to judge you, condemn you, treat you with contempt, reject you, or say to your face, “I told you so.” Just like the prodigal son’s father, God will be there with compassion, joy, and affection, to receive you unto himself again. He’s happy that you came back home. Even the angels in heaven rejoice over a sinner who repents. (Luke 15:10)
  • The bible says that while the prodigal son was still afar way off, the father ran to him. It doesn’t take much to cause God to acknowledge you in your backslidden state. It doesn’t take much for him to receive you again. It doesn’t take a lot of religious works to get back in right standing with God. It doesn’t take any works, actually. As soon as you have a turn of heart, he sees that.

Vs. 22-24

  • God wants to clothe you in the best robes. In the bible, robes are given in symbolism being clothed in righteousness, or being in a position of purity, holiness, or honor. (ref. Isaiah 61:10,  Revelation 7:9, Esther 6:7-9) When you come back to God, you are restored. You never lose your sonship. You are a son as long as you have the blood of Christ. You just lost your position. But your position can be restored. When you come back to God, all things are made new again.
  • The ring that was placed on the prodigal son’s finger represented affection, authority and inheritance. (ref. Genesis 41:42–Pharaoh gave Joseph a signet ring.) (ref. Esther 8:2–The king gave Mordecai his signet ring.)
  • The sandals placed on the prodigal son’s feet also represented wealth. In bible times, only servants and slaves were barefoot. It was symbolic of destitution and poverty.
  • Remember, the younger son had already wasted all of his inheritance. The inheritance he was receiving now was the prime inheritance (of his older brother). God can restore everything that you thought you lost when you backslid, and give you even more. He can restore the years that were lost.

Vs. 25-32

  • The oldest son was in the field (working, serving).
  • He heard that there was rejoicing and celebration over his brother’s reconciliation.
  • His countenance changed. The sins in his heart were exposed:
    • The sin of hostility. (He became angry).
    • The sin of stubbornness and being inhospitable. (He refused to go in to see his brother).
    • The sin of entitlement and self-righteousness. (Bragging about his works and comparing his life to his brother.)

How many of us are serving in the field (ministering to the lost), devoted to being in the Father’s house (going to church faithfully), slaving for the Father (slaves of Christ), yet we look at others with contempt who have backslidden or left the church, and think more highly of ourselves because we aren’t the ones outside the church living wildly committing what we consider to be “Big Sins” (clubbing, fornicating, in gangs, etc). Yet deep in our hearts are hidden sins. (Hostility, stubbornness, hostility, self-righteousness,
etc. may seem small to us, but they are big issues to God. They are carnal and ungodly.)

If I had to give this bible study a title, I would call it “The Other Prodigal Son.” Because you don’t have to be outside the church to be in a backslidden state. You can be in the house of God, praising him you’re your mouths and honoring him with your lips, but your hearts are far off.
We may have undealt with sins just like the older son. Prodigal means reckless or wasteful. How many of us have been reckless or wasteful with our spiritual life, or devotional life? Wasting time with porn or masturbation. Wasting time by being slothful and lazy instead of being about our Father’s business. Wasting valuable time doing fruitless things, when you can be utilizing that time by being in your word or in prayer?

I found myself in that place. I was the other prodigal son. I almost never miss a church service. I slave for the things of God. On every Sunday, I’m at church for 8:30 a.m. intercessory prayer, 9:30 a.m. discipleship class, 11 a.m. service and 6 p.m. service. On Thursday nights, I’m there for bible study. I attend men’s meeting every 1st Friday. I attend street ministry every 1st and 2nd Saturday. And I’m at leadership meeting every 3rd Saturday. Any church that my pastor is asked to be a guest speaker at, I tag along in support of him. But as my apostle mentioned one bible study night, we can be devoted to church or be devoted to the pastor, but not devoted to God.
Though I was doing these things, I was being wasteful and reckless, spiritually. Not feeding my spirit man unless I was in church. I figured I do enough for God at church. I hear enough word at church. Enough of it to get me through the week. I was content with my cooperate devotion and wasn’t catering to my  personal devotion. And in doing so, I was being weakened and allowing room for my flesh to thrive. I found myself backsliding and indulging in behaviors that I once professed deliverance from. Someone once told me that “7 days without prayer makes one WEAK.” I was definitely being weakened. But as I began to see myself decay spiritually, and I saw the pigs pin I was in (wallowing in the filth of my own sin), I came to the end of myself. And I realized that I have to be like the younger son. I have to come back to my Father, realizing that I can not make it without him. Then I have to allow him to put me in right position again; Restore my authority; Walk in my sonship again; And not beat myself up because of my screw ups; But to remember that God is a forgiving God and is happy that I came back home.

I encourage you all. Whether you are still in the church in a backslidden state or if you are just coming back to church from a backslidden state–Let’s come back to our Heavenly Father.

Can you relate to being a prodigal son or the “other prodigal son”? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.

How I Found My “Good Thing”

In 2010, I ended a significant relationship of two years with someone whom I thought would be my wife. After coping through the devastating heartbreak, I made a prayer to God: “Lord, here is my heart and the key that goes to it. I give it to you locked. Please don’t allow my love to be awakened again before it is time.” I told God that if it was his will for me to get married, that I didn’t even want to choose my wife. (I tried to choose on my own, and it was an epic fail.) So I left it completely up to Him to add on to me whomever He saw fit, whenever He saw fit. I didn’t tell God what my ideal wife was—I didn’t give Him a list of preferences.

That same year is when I met Deborah. I found out we went to the same church: One Body In Christ In Love Ministries, in Miami Gardens, Florida. I never really noticed her before. We were only acquaintances and may have spoken here and there after service. Eventually, after getting her associates degree at Miami Dade College, she transferred to my school, Florida International University, to pursue her bachelors. During this transition is when we started to see each other more often.

Deborah and I became avid members of our church’s college outreach ministry called “Go Get Cain.” Consequently, we spent a lot of our free time evangelizing with each other on campus. It was only then that she began to stick out to me. Seeing her serving God was a big attention grabber for me, because I loved girls who loved Jesus. I would notice how she labored for the Kingdom through prayer, fasting and evangelism. I admired her because she had a humble spirit and a heart of worship. But even then, I never developed any desire to pursue her as a wife. I only saw her as a sister in Christ who was becoming a close friend.

Fast Forward: Over 2 ½ years later, on May 1, 2012, I had a dream that revealed Deborah and I would be getting married, and when I woke up from my dream, I heard God audibly speak to me and he said, “THIS IS YOUR WIFE. FOR I HAVE GIVEN HER UNTO YOU.” I jumped up out the bed and in disbelief, I decided to just ‘hang the dream up in the closet’. I didn’t want to reveal the dream to Deborah prematurely or out of season, in fear of scaring her off or causing her to think I was crazy. (Heck, I thought I was going crazy.) So I kept it to myself until I felt led to talk to her about it. Meanwhile, every time I would see her at church, I would hear the Spirit of God confirm to me, “This is your wife.” “I have given her to you.” “You are going to marry her.” “She’s the one.”

No matter how many times I tried to ignore it, rebuke it, reject it or suppress it, the voice kept getting louder and louder in my head. The Bible teaches that faith comes by hearing, and by hearing the word of God. I eventually decided to receive the word that I believe God was giving to me. I knew by faith that Deborah was going to be my wife.

However, I didn’t want to pursue her only based off of a dream I had, though, because I knew that according to Ecclesiastes 5:3, dreams and imaginations can sometimes conjure themselves up based on the many cares in our lives. So I asked God that if it was indeed his will for us to be together, to give me more confirmations, which I received several of. (I’d rather take my time and be sure, than to rush into it and make a mistake.) So for the second confirmation, I told God, “If this is the wife whom you have chosen for me, then open a door of opportunity for us to discuss the topic of marriage.

So one day, on June 12, 2012, about a month after I had the dream, Deborah and I were texting, and we innocently sidetracked from our conversation and somehow got on the subject of marriage, and it freaked me out because it happened so randomly. Then, in the middle of us texting, I felt the unction of God to follow up and pursue her. Nervous, I backed out and told God, “No. This can’t be happening! I’m afraid to pursue her. What if she rejects me?” Then I heard the Spirit of God speak to me and say, “PURSUE AFTER HER. IF I HAVE GIVEN HER TO YOU, SHE WILL NOT REJECT YOU, FOR MY BLESSINGS CANNOT BE REVOKED.”

Then I told God that before I pursue her, I needed just one more confirmation. So, a few hours later, my mom picked me up from work and when I got in the car, she randomly asked me, “Hey son. How is your future wife doing?” Mind you, I have never had a conversation with my mom about what was going on. So I asked her what prompted her to ask such a question, because I was actually pondering about the idea of marriage right before I got in the car. Then she responded, “I have no idea what led me to ask that question. But if you were thinking about marriage before I asked you, then just take it as a confirmation.” After that third confirmation, I knew that God was leading me to get married to Deborah.

When I got home from work that evening, God released me to call Deborah on the phone and share my revelation with her. To my surprise, God had already dealt with her about me being her future husband. He revealed it to her 2 ½ years earlier when we first met. Her confession became the final confirmation I needed. 2 Corinthians 13:1 says, “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.” Within those 2 ½ years that she knew, she waited patiently for me to pursue her. She never enticed me, seduced me, or gave me any hints or clues. When I inquired of her as to why she never told me that she already knew, she answered, “It was not my job to tell you. The Bible says, “When a man finds a wife, he finds a good thing–not when a woman finds a husband.”” To read her side of the story on how she knew I would be her husband, visit her blog post here.

After praying to God together, seeking counsel from our spiritual leaders, and then getting permission from our parents, we received all of their blessings. Then, after receiving specific instruction from God in another dream, we got engaged at our church on July 21, 2012. Our two-year engagement process was quite the experience and I learned as much about myself as I did about her during that season of our lives. Our wedding day on June 28th, 2014 was simply incredible. To watch our wedding video, click here. Having been married for three years today, I am truly learning what it means to love my wife as Christ loves the Church. I know that God has a great purpose for our lives, and that our marriage will be used for the purpose of ministry and to build up the Kingdom.

Having been in several failed relationships in my past, God had to teach me how to build my relationship upon the rock, which is His Word, and not on the sand, which is my emotions and my flesh. When we allow God to choose our spouse for us, He gives us someone whom He knows has a heart that reflect His own; someone who is mature in the Spirit and who has the love and the anointing to handle marriage. God also taught me that it is possible to be unequally yoked with another believer. Just because you are both Christian doesn’t mean you should marry each other. God wants to make sure that our spouse is compatible with the assignment He placed on our lives.

Lastly, I learned that storms (or trials) are going to arise in everyone’s relationship—whether we do it God’s way or our own way. However, when we build our relationship God’s way, a storm may beat up against our home, but because it’s built on a strong foundation, it will not be destroyed. Only what God joins together, will no one or nothing be able to separate. I’m blessed because I know my marriage is ordained by God.

Inviting Jesus to the Family Reunion

TESTIMONY!

Earlier this month, on Sunday, June 18th, I attended the 3rd day of my family reunion. It was held at C.B. Smith Park in Pembroke Pines, FL. This year’s reunion was different. It wasn’t just for my family (on my mom’s side), but for family and friends. So there were many people there whom I have never met and did not know personally.

Half way through the evening, it was time to eat and everyone gathered underneath the huge pavilion. My aunt, who hosted the reunion, singled me out, of the hundreds in attendance, (knowing that I am a minister) to come pray over the food. So as she gave me the microphone, I stood in front of everyone and said a quick prayer over the reunion, those in attendance, and over the food, then sealed the prayer in Jesus name.

After I stood in line for my food, I sat at one of the picnic tables to eat. Then a woman  walked over to my table and asked me if I was a pastor. I told her no, I’m not a pastor but I am a minister. Then I inquired of her to know why she asked. I figured she assumed I was a Christian because I prayed over the food. Lol. But she told me no. It wasn’t only because of my prayer that she discerned I was a believer, but primarily because of the presence I carried with me. She told me that as soon as I arrived to the reunion and stepped on the scene, there was a shift in the atmosphere. She felt an anointing coming from me. She said that out of all the people in attendance, she felt a spirit of humility and peace coming from me. I was like wow. Then she proceeded to tell me her whole life story, and asked me what church I go to, etc. We talked for a min.

After our conversation was over and she walked away, I went back to eating. But then someone else approached me. It was a young man. He walked up to the table and whispered in my ear that my prayer really touched him. He said he was posted up in the back of the pavilion during the prayer, and when I opened my mouth to pray, and mentioned the name of Jesus, he felt something prick him in his heart and he grew convicted. He told me that although I was only praying over the food, he felt power come from me as I prayed, and he said he wished I would have made the prayer a little longer, because he was really in need of prayer.

Wanting to capitalize on an opportunity to share the good news of Jesus Christ to him, I asked him if he would like for me to pray with him individually and he said he would like that a lot. So, not wanting to cause a scene or draw attention to myself, I began to look around the park for a place I could pray with him in private. And he said why do we have to go somewhere in private. He was not ashamed to pray in front of everyone. Then he said we can pray right here, right now. So I was like ok then. Let’s get it!

So I began to lay my hand on him in the middle of the park, and pray over him and speak life over him. Then I asked him if he wanted to accept Jesus as his Lord and savior. He seemed hesitant to answer because he didn’t know if he was ready to get saved. He was afraid of possibly messing up and disappointing God. But I explained to him the grace of God, the mercy of God and the love of God. And how walking in sanctification is a process that God would patiently walk with him through and that the Holy Spirit would work in him to get him to the place in God he needs to be. After breaking down the gospel of Jesus Christ to him, all he kept saying was “Wow.” “I never knew that.” “That’s powerful.” “That makes sense.” After he appeared to understand what he was getting himself into, I led him to confess the Lord Jesus with his mouth and to pray to accept Jesus into his heart. Then I prayed for him to be filled with the Holy Ghost.

After I prayed for him, his aunt, who also claimed to be saved (a deaconess at her church) walked over to us in amazement. “WHAT?” she said. “You managed to get HIM saved? He’s been in and out of church for the longest. Lukewarm. My nephew has some real mental issues, and even receives a check for it. Because of his condition, everyone in our family pretty much gave up on him. But to see him willingly give his life to Christ today is amazing!”

I was so ecstatic to be used by God so unexpectedly. I am glad I was ready in and out of season to give an answer for the hope I have in Christ Jesus. And I was also amazed to know that someone was able to randomly see my light and humble countenance and attribute it back to God.

To God be all the glory for the lost soul that was drawn back to his Heavenly Father and received salvation! May he be kept, and may God be faithful to complete the good work that was started in him!

Love Has Expectations

Some people believe that God loves them ‘just the way that they are’ (perceiving that He completely accepts and embraces their current lifestyle–whatever it may be–and doesn’t require for them to change any of their ways).

But I believe that God loves us way too much to allow us to remain ‘just the way that we are’ (in reference to our sinful nature), especially if He knows that the way that we are is contrary to, and against His will for our lives. I believe that God loves us enough to equip us and empower us to rise above who we are (or who we’ve become in our fallen state), in order to develop us into everything that he’s created us to be, in Him, since the foundation of time!

The fact that God wants us to change the way that we are is not to take away from the fact that His love for us is unconditional. Because it still is. God loves us regardless of who we are or what we do. But at the same time, His love for us is not absent from His expectations of us.

Remember, God is not only Love, but He is also our Heavenly Father. And any loving father would have a set of standards and expectations when it comes to his children’s behavior and lifestyle choices. Why? Because the child is a representation, or reflection of its father. And since God is our Father, He wants us to represent Him well. That’s why He requires us to be holy as He is holy. #YouCantJustLiveHoweverYouWant #LoveHasExpectations

Hacked

If you haven’t noticed, there’s a lot of spam going around on Facebook. And many times, we can easily get frustrated with the person from whose page we are receiving the spam. Sometimes, we may get so mad at the person, that we send them a message and vent our frustration to them, or we unfriend them, or even block them. But we oftentimes forget that it’s not our friend who’s spamming us on purpose. It’s a hacker, who has somehow gained access to their account.

In the same manner, we may be inclined to get mad at people in our personal lives because of their lawless behavior or because of how they mistreat us. We get so offended by them, that we retaliate or cut the person out of our lives completely. But we forget Epheaians 6:12 which lets us know that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, authorities, rulers of darkness and evil spirits in the heavenly realms.” In other words, it’s not the person who we are dealing with, but a demonic spirit that is operating in their life. A spiritual entity which influences, or even possesses them. A spirit which has gained access into that person’s life through a door that they left open. (When you don’t guard your heart, you give leeway for sin to creep into your life, and when you practice sin and don’t repent, you give demonic spirits legal access to your life.)

Let’s not be so quick to retaliate against people when we notice them acting unseemly. Let’s discern whether or not they are being demonically influenced (aka hacked), and if so, let’s pray and fast that spirit/hacker off of them. Spiritual warfare is real, people.