Asking for Help

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In Exodus 17, the people of Israel were attacked by the army of Amalek in the wilderness.  Moses told Joshua to get some men and lead them into battle against the Amalekites.  During the battle, Moses stood on top of a hill and held up the staff of God, the same one used to part the Red Sea, to give the Israelites the advantage on the battlefield.  As long as he held the staff up, the Israelites would have the advantage.  However, if he lowered his arm or held the staff down, the Amalekites would have the advantage.

When Moses was too weak to hold the staff up, Aaron and Hur first sat him down on a large stone.  They then stood on each side of Moses and held his hands up.  As a result, Joshua and the Israelites easily defeated the army of Amalek in battle.

There are two lessons to learn from this story.  One of them is that if we have a loved one like a friend or family member that we know is struggling with something, we should assist then with what they’re struggling with.  If we see someone we know walking down a long road, we should ask them, “do you need a ride?”  There are a lot of proud people out here, so even if they don’t ask for help, if we know they need help, we should try to assist them anyway unless they adamantly refused it.

Which brings me to my second point: if we are struggling with something and deep down, we know that we need help, we shouldn’t be afraid to ask someone for it.  In the Bible, it never mentioned if Moses asked Aaron or Hur for help when he was struggling with the staff.  I believed he did, since he’s asked for Aaron’s assistance numerous times in the past, and that their survival was at stake if he failed to keep the staff up.

Likewise, if you needed some money to get some food for your kids, or you need a ride to a job interview, please don’t let your pride stop you from asking a loved one for help.  A lot of us have a habit of assuming that people will not want to help us when we ask for it, or that we will become a burden to someone helping us.  We need to get that kind of thinking out of our head.  Chances are, you will probably find more people that would love to help you in your time of need than those that would decide to not help you.  So, we must not let our pride stop us from asking someone for help when we really need it. 

In closing, if we are to be successful in this world, we need to first pray to God for assistance with the battles we face in life.  Secondly, we should be like Aaron and Hur and help our fellow man and woman whenever we see them struggling with something.  That way, we all will have favor in God’s eyes.

Fulfilling Your Dream

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Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.

Proverbs 16:3

When we have dreams or goals that we want to accomplish, we must take the proper steps to make sure that it happens.  If you start something with the mindset that you will complete you goals quickly or that it be easy to accomplish, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.

Habakkuk 2:3 says, “For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.”  Waiting does not mean that we shouldn’t do anything until our vision manifest itself.  If we do that, then our vision will never come.  Waiting means that if we put in the work and the time, eventually our goals, our dreams, and our vision will surely come.

For example, if a teenager desires to be a professional basketball player one day, they will have to do a lot more than just shoot the ball at the rim.  They must consistently work on their shot.  They will have to shoot the ball numerous times within a day every day, until one day they see most of their shots go in the rim, and that they’re confident enough to make a shot, even in a high-pressure situation.

They will have to dribble the ball with both hands whenever they get the chance every day, until it becomes second nature to them.  They will have to go to the gym and workout. They will also have to learn the game of basketball; how to set and avoid screens, how to move without the ball, how to effectively pass the ball, and how to follow the coach’s game plan.

I’m not claiming to be an expert at basketball; but there are young men and women that accomplish this goal by putting in this kind of work, even though the chances of them making it to the pros are astronomical.  If that’s the case, then what is stopping us from accomplishing less complicated goals like starting a business, getting a degree, or running a marathon?  I believe that if we ask God for strength, put on paper a well thought out plan, put in the work, and stay the course, eventually we’ll fulfill the vision we set out to accomplish.

Power of the Spirit

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Anyone that knows the story of Samson knows that he was blessed with incredible strength.  This was first revealed in the book of Judges when Samson and his parents went to Timnah to meet a girl that he wanted as his wife.  In the vineyards of Timnah, he was confronted by a young lion.  Judges 14:6 in the Amplified Bible describes what happened next:

And the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and he tore the lion as he would have torn a kid, and he had nothing in his hand; but he did not tell his father or mother what he had done.            

According to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo website, an average lion stands at approximately four feet tall at the shoulders and can weigh between three hundred and thirty to five hundred and fifty pounds.  They “have strong, compact bodies and powerful forelegs, teeth and jaws for pulling down and killing prey.”  If you’ve seen a lion on television killing either an antelope or water buffalo, you know how ferocious and vicious they are in their attack.  Yet Samson, a man, easily killed a lion with his bare hands.          

Judges 14:19 described once again how tough and formidable Samson was by attacking the men who manipulated his wife into giving them the answer to his riddle.  It states:

And the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he went down to Askelon, and slew thirty men of them, and took their spoil, and gave change of garments unto them which expounded the riddle…       

          He killed thirty men by himself!  If you think that was impressive, later on he killed a thousand men with only the jawbone of a donkey.

          Samson and his parents believed that the source of his strength was his hair. He eventually shared this secret with Delilah, a woman that he loved.   He did not know, however, that she was secretly working for his enemies.  One night, when he was asleep, she brought a man into their room to shave Samson’s head.  This allowed his enemies, the Philistines, to capture and blind him.  They then placed him between two pillars inside the lords of the Philistines’ temple so their people could mock him.

          Notice in the Bible that in almost every instance before he uses his strength, it says that “The Spirit of the Lord came upon him.”  My interpretation of this is that his hair had little impact on his physical strength.  The real source of his strength came from God. 

          Samson, blinded, with his hands on the pillars of the Philistine’s temple, prayed to the Lord for strength to destroy his enemies.  Judges 16 says that he pushed against the pillars with his hands and asked the Lord, ‘“Let me die with the Philistines.’  And the temple crashed down on the Philistine rulers and all the people.”   It then says that, “he killed more people when he died than he had during his entire lifetime.”

          Each time Samson used his enormous strength, the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him.  I believe that the real source of his strength was not his height, his muscle mass, what he ate, or even his hair.  Even though each played a part in it, the real source of his strength came from God.  It came from the Spirit; the Spirit is what gave him the ability to destroy his enemies and protect the people of Israel.

Quid Pro Quo

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And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgement now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.

-2 Peter 2:3

There has been alot of talk on the news today about quid pro quo. What is it exactly, and is it a bad thing?

Quid pro quo is defined in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “something given or received for something else.” You can break it down as literally meaning “this for that.” Sometimes, quid pro quo can be a good thing. Getting your kids to clean their room in exchange for letting them stay up for an extra hour or taking them somewhere they want to go on the weekend is a good example of this.

However, there are times when quid pro quo can be a bad thing, especially within politics or within the criminal justice system. A person using their position to get someone to do something unethical in order for them to receive a favor is one example of this. Another example would be for a court to let someone who commit ten murders go free in exchange for their testimony against someone who committed five murders and other crimes. This kind of “tic-for-tac” may be justified within the legal system, but morally this is not justified, especially in God’s eyes.

Romans 16:18, in regards to those who manipulate others, says that “for such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.” When we are doing something for people in exchange for something, we have to ask ourselves two questions: is what they are asking of us is unethical and is what they are asking of us leading us away from the glory of God? We must also ask ourselves if what we are asking of someone is unethical or immoral. I believe that when two people are about to do favors for each other, they should have a thorough discussion about what they want and ask themselves if what they are asking for is wrong? By having a open dialog and keeping your thoughts aligned with the scriptures of the Bible, you will know that what you are asking for and what you are willing to give will be blessed under the glory of God.

Running the Race

In 1 Corinthian 9:24, Paul said, “Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize?  So run to win!  They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.”  Basically, what Paul is saying is that we should never give up doing what God has called us to do.  Sometimes it seems like we are never going to complete the goals that we set out to accomplish.   We might believe that the process will take too long to complete or that the work in front of us will be too hard.  However, whenever there’s an enormous goal in front of us to complete, we should focus more on the steps toward completing that goal than on the goal itself.

Paul elaborated further on his race analogy by saying, “So I run with purpose in every step.”  In order to walk or run, you have to focus on your steps until the task at hand becomes second nature.  Likewise, you have to focus on the process, the steps that you have to go through, in order to complete your goals.  You can’t rush through or skip some steps; you have to completely focus on the steps or else you will stumble in the process.

I believe that if we follow Paul’s advice about discipline, training, and focus; we will have all the motivation we need to fulfill our God given purpose.  The next time you feel like giving up, like what you’re doing will not amount to anything, just remember Paul’s advice and know that an eternal prize (heaven) awaits you.

Christianity and Prosperity

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There are people that say that linking Christianity with prosperity is blasphemous. In a way, I can understand why some people feel this way. You have televangelist that preach prosperity, but they mostly do this by twisting the scriptures to get their congregation to give them as much money as possible. Then they use this money to live a luxurious lifestyle. They are proud of it too, often labeling what they preach the “prosperity gospel.”

I, however, do not label it as such. I simply see it as the Gospel. But, in my opinion, I do not see anything wrong with using the scripture to teach prosperity. I am not contradicting myself; what I’m saying is that the Bible do have many teachings about prosperity. However, they’re not about just giving away money for a “blessing.” In Mark 10:29-30, Jesus said, “Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, and lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.”

I’ve witnessed preachers that only preached about just suffering for the Lord’s sake until you die, then you can receive eternal life in heaven. But, in the above scripture, Jesus clearly said that, “but he (or she) shall receive an hundredfold now in this time…”

However, he did say, “with persecutions.” Prosperity will not just be handed to you. You have to work hard to receive the things that will sustain you and your loved ones. You will be slandered and despised by people that are envious of you. Some people may even scheme against you to take away what you’ve worked so hard for.

If those people desire what you rightfully deserve, all they have to do is a few things. Believe that Christ is the Son of God and that he died for our sins, and study and practice the teachings of the Bible, especially the Ten Commandments. In John 10:10, Jesus said, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy; I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” You can live abundantly in many aspects of your life. There is no twisting of scripture here; this is a direct quote from Jesus.

There are too many scriptures to quote about prosperity for this article, but I hope that you get the point. You can find scriptures about this subject in Genesis all the way to Revelations. I have everything I need on this Earthly plane, and it’s largely due to learning the scriptures of the Bible and applying them in my life. So, if you don’t believe what I’m saying about the Bible teaching prosperity, I implore you to open it up and see for yourself.

Truly Rich

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I want to reflect on the Bible verse Proverbs 10:22. It states that, “The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.” The scripture makes me realize what God has blessed me with. He has blessed me with life, family, a home, transportation, and good health, among other things. I’m quite sure that you can think of something the Lord has blessed you with too.

The scripture says that God’s blessing will make you rich. All of the blessings I’ve stated above could and in a way have made me rich, either financially or spiritually. God has given each and every one of us the ability to become rich.

The scripture ends by stating that, “He addeth no sorrow with it.” The Amplified Bible ends the verse by saying, “and He adds no sorrow with it [neither does toiling increase it]. You do not have to kill yourself or rip people off to become rich or financially stable. All you have to do is use the available resources at your disposal and the abilities that God has blessed you with (like reading, communicating, and creating) to make a difference in other peoples’ lives. That is how you become truly rich.

Life is Still Good

Image having everything you ever wanted.  Let’s say that what you had was a big house, a spouse with kids, nice cars, perfect health, and friends and family that cared about you.  You would have probably said to yourself, “Life is good.  I am living the good life and things can only get better.”

However, things do not get better for you.  Your health has taken the turn for the worse, you are behind on your bills and the collectors are threatening to take the things you worked so hard for away, and the person you thought loved you and would always be with you is now leaving you.  Now, you think that life is not so good after all.

I am here to tell you that life is still good, and just because we have some setbacks, it does not mean that it’s not.  In fact, that is a part of life.  We have our high points, and we have our low points.  The reason that you have to know that life is still good is because you don’t want the way you think about a negative situation cause you to make it worse.

What I mean is that we can easily think that things don’t matter anymore because of the bad things that happen to us.  We could become alcoholics, drug addicts, and lash out at the people around us because of our situation.  Those actions can make the bad situations we are already going through even worse, and we must not let that happen.

For every sunny day, there’s a rainy day.  And after the rain is gone, we get the sunny days again.  So, we have to be patient while we are going through the bad times and know in our hearts that things will get better.  You do not want to end your life badly knowing that you had the power to make things better.  It all results in how we think.  So, just know that whatever you are going through, know that live is still good.

Spread the Love

I’ve noticed that there’s a lot of negativity in the air. You may have noticed it too, whether at the workplace, on the road, or at the stores you shop at. And if you follow the news, you’ve probably noticed it in politics too. Just to be clear, there’s always been negativity from some of the people around us. However, currently it appears like there is a lot more of it.

I have even noticed it among my fellow Christians, and I believe that this current negativity exist for two reasons. The first reason is that it seems like it’s not as many people living by Christian principles than it use to be. The second reason is because for the ones that are Christians, they are not as focused on the number one aspect of Christianity, and that is love. As a result, we are currently seeing a lack of love in the world.

In order to get people to be more loving, love has to be preached, taught, and practiced more in the churches and in our institutions. In the Bible, John said, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God…Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:7-8). If we are to become better people, we have to love others as much as we say we love God.

Furthermore, Jesus said to follow the commandment “love your neighbor,” but he also said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who prosecute you” (Matthew 5:44). However, it seems like people today still desire to get back at the people that did them wrong. The Old Testament law “an eye for an eye” in this day and age will only cause more hate and death if we decide to follow it. “An eye for an eye” can apply to something as simple as you talking bad about someone because they talked bad about you first. And even that can escalate into something violent. Only by “loving your enemies” can you de-escalate a situation and create an loving environment.

So as Christians, when we interact with people, we should have love on our minds as well as on our hearts. We should find reasons to say something nice to people and find opportunities to help someone in need. We should also forgive the people that did us wrong in the past. Only by following the Christian principle of love can we pave the way for a better future.

False Prophets

“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?

Matthew 7:15-16

We have all seen them. They wear expensive, designer clothes, drive around in luxury cars, and walks around with the biggest smile on their face that you would ever see on a person.

They fool many, however they sometimes give you clues regarding their true nature. You might catch them being too friendly or loving with a person of the opposite sex. Every Sunday, you notice that they’re preaching a sermon about paying the tithes or what you have to “sacrifice” to receive a blessing from God. You may notice the arrogance in their demeanor and how they negatively conduct themselves away from church. For them, it seems like having the title of reverend or pastor makes them superior than the average person.

No, your senses are not deceiving you. You may be looking at a false prophet, whose only purpose in life is to obtain profit and status.

Now does that mean that every preacher that wears nice clothes and have nice things are false prophets? Absolutely not, but you should question their behavior if they are living like millionaires and their congregation can barely pay their bills.

My point is this: the preacher cannot help you live your life, however they can give you the tools (their knowledge of the Bible) to help you survive and get the resources that they have access to. So if your pastor is telling you “Jesus will provide for you if you pay your ten percent” and you are constantly struggling to pay your bills and put food on your table, you should consider finding another church.