Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Gotta Say Something! - Flashback

As we prep for Christmas for the next few days I want to share a few choice writings from the past...
     Joel 1_3 – “Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation.”
       Now is the season to make ourselves very vocal about the reason for the season. I have noticed that there is an increased insertion of the greeting of “Merry Christmas” this year than I have heard in quite a while. And I am tickled pink and exuberant about it. For years it seemed that to be politically correct we usurped saying “Merry Christmas” for a more bland and ‘safe’ “Happy Holidays”. We did not want to insult anyone who was not a Christian or who did not celebrate Christmas in the traditional sense. Well I never stopped saying Merry Christmas, even if it might have offended others, that is not my charge, my feeling is that I am blessed to know that Jesus wrapped himself in the frailty of human flesh to navigate this tumultuous world as a babe in swaddling clothing; to endure the harshness of constant travel to evade those who would cause him harm; to live out his adult life being misunderstood, lied on, denied and forsaken….all because of his love for me. And some think that to make them comfortable I am going to deny “Merry Christmas” for the milk-toast, lack-luster greeting of a blanketed holiday cheer – No Thank You!!! I will shout it from the rooftop – I gotta say something and that something is MERRY CHRISTMAS! Jesus is the reason for the season.

Every day is a good day; it is up to us to make it a GREAT day! Be blessed! Rev. Dr. JoAn

Monday, December 17, 2018

Same Song

Mark 8:36 –“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?”
     In the early 1990’s the rap group Digital Underground released the song “All Around the World Same Song”. While the lyrics are ubiquitous one or two lines really always resonate in my memory of Tupac Shakur as he pronounced:
     “Get some fame, people change, wanna live they life high
Same song, can't go wrong, if I play the nice guy
Claimin' that they must have changed now that we came strong...I remain still the same, why Tu'? 'Cause it's the same song”

     As we fast approach the ending of this year with anticipation of the New Year we must be mindful that things come and go but we must be true to the new creature that God has created within us. When we confess Jesus as our personal Savior, we become new creations and in this newness we must continue to grow nearer to God and further from the wiles of the world. We live in this world but our hearts and minds must be stayed on Jesus.
      No matter what comes up as ‘new’ or ‘improved’ in the world it really is just the same old song. Same old things just repackaged, glittered-up and presented as the next best thing. We must remain the same in our pursuit of God’s Kingdom and stay true to our desires to please him and we do this by loving him deeply and sincerely. Remember the reason for this season and love God with your whole heart.
      Every day is a good day; it is up to us to a make it a GREAT day! Be blessed! Rev. Dr. JoAnn

Friday, December 14, 2018

Godly Obedience - Be Consistent

        We conclude this week with our look at characteristics of Godly obedience by being "consistent". This simply means to keep at it until God gives you release. God knows the precise timing of the work he has purposed through us and we must not allow circumstances to sway us off course through distractions; or to abandon our post because we are bored or tired. 
       One of the most devastating influences which causes us to lose our momentum and leave our tasks undone is being overwhelmed. As long as we are operating in the strength that God provides we can push on until completeness; but when we operate in our own strength we quickly tire and become prey to the devil's constant whispers and suggestions to slow down or give up.
     Remember how happy you were when you started that job? You were so on fire because you needed to work, you had bills and responsibilities; and as I like to say -" I enjoy sleeping and eating indoors"; so it was wonderful being employed and you thanked God. He opened that opportunity not just so you could pay bills but so that your spirit could do a work for him in that environment. But something happened... you stopped abiding in him and tried to work it by your own ability and now you are frustrated. 
       Nothing really changed... the boss is still as crazy as they were day one; the bus or car ride is still the same distance; the early days or late night shifts are still just as dark. The main change is how you operate in the arena where God has placed you. Don't carry yokes that are too heavy and fight battles that are not yours. Continuously operate in the strength of God and you won't break down or give out.
      Every day is a good day; it is up to us to make it a GREAT day. Have a great weekend. See you Monday- Be Blessed! Rev. Dr. JoAnn

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Godly Obedience - Be Exact

In continuing our look at characteristics of Godly obedience, today we highlight trait #2 -which is to be "exact" in following the commands of God. Just look at the works of the Earth's design and the mathematical precision of the heavens; it is evident that our God operates through a system of creative order. He does not throw things to chance but utilizes "Divine Order" in creating and appointing.

Read the story of Achan in Joshua 7 and see why precision and exactness in following God's desires is crucial for those who love him and aim to please him. The children of Israel were given specific instructions of how to handle the spoils of war and one man's decision to "do it his way" caused the death and destruction of thousands. We are all a part of the building of God's kingdom and the action of one effects the lives of others. When God tells us how to do something, where to do something and when to do something it is for a specific reason and he expects and requires that we be obedient and trust him. Don't worry if it seems strange to your carnal intuitions or perplexing to those around you. When God told Joshua to have the people walk around the city of Jericho he didn't say ..."do it until you get tired"... he gave specific instructions. And if you listen to God carefully he will guide you also. Do it the right way! Be exact.

Every day is a good day; it is up to us to make it a GREAT day! Be blessed! Rev. Dr. JoAnn

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Instant Obedience

Deuteronomy 26:17-"You have declared today that the Lord is your God, and that you will walk in his ways, and keep his statutes and his commandments and his rules, and will obey his voice."
       As a child I played the piano for my Sunday School class devotional period and one of my favorite songs was “Trust and Obey”. For the remainder of the week I want to share a few chief characteristics of Godly obedience. First of all when we are obedient our response must be "instant". Don't dillydally. drag your feet and procrastinate. Take lessons from Jonah and Abraham- do the assignment when it is given. Jonah had his own agenda and even though God made it plain what he was supposed to do, how to do it and where to do it- he bucked and did not respond right away- he fled.
      On the other hand Abraham (at that time called Abram) believed God and even though he was given few details he responded and set out on a journey that set the course of blessing and salvation in motion. He did not know where he was going or even how God would manifest the promises given to him but he got up and got to "stepping". 
      Today I encourage us to be instant in our response to God. If you waver because you are uncertain that what you are feeling is "truly" from God- ask you him! Tell him YES and ask for clarity- but respond. God is not the author of confusion; he may not give you every step or detail but his peace will allow you to operate in surety; that's how you will know you are on the right path.
     Every day is a good day; it is up to us to make it a GREAT day! Be blessed! Rev.Dr. JoAnn.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Turn Back!

Luke 17:15-19: “And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.”(KJV)      

      Of the ten lepers cleansed by Jesus, only one turned back to give thanks and in doing so he was made whole. The other nine were indeed healed but purely by the grace and mercy of Jesus, despite their ingratitude. The thankful man was not only healed but Jesus made him whole. Nothing lacking; nothing missing. His wellness was because of his faith. He got the cake and the icing too. I think I like the fact that God sees my heart and rewards me for my faith which is pleasing to him in comparison to receiving grace gifts where I give nothing to God.
      On-going, God is providing for us and if we take our eyes off of the things that seem to be going wrong, we can channel enough of our consciousness to be thankful for the many things that are going right. The devil always wants you to shift away from the positive to dwell on the negative. Don’t do it. It isn’t worth it and it takes you down a rabbit hole of despair and potential depression.
      The lepers might have wanted an instant healing, but it happened as they were walking toward the priests – who knows maybe they were so focused on what was wrong and anticipating relief later that they didn’t even realize that their healing was in their walking. One did…and he turned back and gave thanks. Don’t be so focused on your problems or what might even seem to be a solution that you miss the healing and the opportunity to turn back and give thanks.
         Every day is a good day; it is up to us to make it a GREAT day!  Be Blessed! Rev.Dr. JoAnn

Monday, December 10, 2018

The Tempest

Psalm 107:24-25 (NIV)- “ They saw the works of the Lord, his wonderful deeds in the deep. For he spoke and stirred up a tempest that lifted high the waves.”
      As we enter the holiday season, the weather in all parts of our country is shifting into ‘winter mode’. Here in Atlanta over the past week we have seen temperatures flux from mid-70s to low 40s; with intermittent rains and leaf-blowing winds.
     Across the country we see forecasts of increased rain, snow and potential storms in many areas. Emergency protocols are being reviewed, provisions are being stockpiled and people in potentially affected areas are preparing for the worse.
     With the potential for devastation always threatening, it is essential for people of faith to remember that all things…yes ALL things… are under the watchful eye and control of God. Not every bad or problematic condition is of evil invention or the after clause of some returning bad karma. As our scripture for today indicates the wonder of God happens in all aspects of life on planet earth. The same hand that can produce a storm will quiet it. We may not understand why stifling dust storms, blinding blizzards, torrential rains, tsunamis, or earthquakes could be signals of a just and powerful God; but our faith tells us that these occurrences are not times to mourn and complain, but to humble ourselves and draw nearer to God in prayer. Every storm is a call to trust God and rely upon his sovereign grace and perfect will.     What storms do you see brewing on your horizon? What troubles do you see looming just ahead? If God has given you foresight to see the potential for trouble, use these forewarnings as a time for prayer and quiet reflection. Don’t’ always ask God why the storm is coming or why you have to go through the storm. Praise him for the fact that he will not allow you to go through the storm unaware or alone. There is always a lesson in the storm. There is a blessing in the storm. So a storm can provide the right impetus to let us focus on the real importance …life itself. .      So as the storms are approaching from all directions, let us pray for the safety and well-being of our country-men, neighbors, families and friends; and at the same time, let us praise our God; for in his mercy these storms will bring him glory if we know how to ride it out! Your own personal storms will bring God glory if you just let go…let God do what he does best…and ride it out! No murmuring…no complaining….just praying!     Every day is a good day; it is up to us to make it a GREAT day! Be blessed! Rev. Dr. JoAnn