Fear Not!

Written by Guest Blogger -Lisa Sexton, Founder and Executive Dir., All Things Possible Medical Fundraising http://www.allthingspossible.org

I’ve been hearing a lot about fear lately. It’s mainly from people who know of Jesus but don’t really know Him. Fear is not of the Lord; it’s a weapon used by satan to tear us down. Fear is the opposite of faith.

My prayer is that this evil COVID-19 and the fear that accompanies it will change people, resulting in their looking up to Heaven for help and hope.

It has brought out fear in so many. These days of being stuck in our homes are perfect times for people to start reading the Bible and talking to God. Those simple conversations are known as prayer. Prayer leads to a relationship with Him. That relationship will hopefully result in turning your life and future over to our Lord. The relinquishing of your life to His control is a rebirth and a demonstration of faith. Faith brings the peace we all need during times like these. Click on video below to read God’s commands and promises in Isaiah 41:10.

Post Resurrection Reminders

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has risen from the grave!  Not long after, He appears to His disciples who were shut-in behind closed doors in fear of the Jews. He reminds them as found in John 20:19-23, “peace be unto you…as my Father hath sent me, even so I send you…receive ye the Holy Ghost…Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins you retain they are retained”. I call these words “Post Resurrection Reminders”. Do you not agree that we all need reminders?

Peace  – Jesus is reminding the disciples of what He told them in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you, not as the world giveth, give I unto you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”  Peace is being calm and fearless despite what we see or hear because we know God and trust His Word. Jesus is alive, He rose victorious over death and the grave so we do not need to fear death or disaster.  God’s purposes will not be thwarted and He promised to always be with us.  This reminder is very relevant as we navigate this season of the global COVID-19 outbreak.

Bear Witness – He then reminds them of His Words in John 15:27, “…ye shall bear witness because ye have been with me from the beginning”. The disciples were eyewitnesses of Jesus’ three-year earthly ministry.  Today’s crisis can be the Body of Christ’s finest hour if we zealously show and tell Jesus and share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the world.  Disastrous times inspire creativity.  I coined a phrase a few years ago, “getting the gospel out by every available means”.  I congratulate the Body of Christ for the innovative ways they are using to preach the gospel, pray, and serve during this season of social distancing.  People need hope, are curious about Christianity, and God is drawing the lost and backsliders.  As God’s laborers, let’s go forth to reap this ripe harvest!

Receive Power – Jesus reminds the disciples of His promise in John 14:6 “I will pray the Father and He shall give you another comforter, that He may abide with you forever.” He then breathes on them to receive the Holy Spirit. On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit made a spectacular entrance in the earth, baptizing 120 men and women in the Upper Room. This empowerment for miraculous service and victorious living was manifested that day in the birth of the New Testament Church with 3,000 souls. Jesus is soon to come and we His servants must operate in the power of the Holy Spirit as His vessels in the end-times.  We need fresh refillings analogous to putting gas in our vehicles’ empty gas tanks.

Forgive – Lastly, Jesus brings back to their remembrance His words from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:14, “If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. ” Remit means to forgive or cancel. When we choose to not forgive others, God will not forgive us either.  Like Jesus, we will suffer persecution for our faith. As He modeled on the Cross, we must forgive and continue to love all as we serve the purposes of God.

We give thanks to God that Jesus rose from the dead and that His words are eternal. His post resurrection reminders are just as relevant today as they were back then.  Though we are currently shut-in in obedience to the law of the land, let’s not cower in fear. Instead let’s be at peace, bear witness, receive and operate in the power of the Holy Spirit, and forgive others. Let’s continue to be flexible, be content and not lament as we continue to serve God in new ways during this abnormal period.

I , too, have a reminder for you.  Always remember, that Jesus said in John 14:3, “… if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also”.   That’s the Christian’s blessed hope that Jesus will come back to personally escort us to Heaven!  No one knows when He will come but let’s be ready and continue to occupy til then.  Hallelujah!

A Week to Remember

Have you ever had a week that started out good but went from bad, to worse, to horrific, to devastating, and then back to good? This is what Jesus experienced the week before His death on the cross. Christians call the week leading up to Easter/Resurrection Day, Holy Week or Passion Week. I call it Celebration Week. It is the Christian high holy season, a week of special Christian worship services and events to celebrate and commemorate Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.

On the first day of the week, Jesus rode triumphantly into Jerusalem on a borrowed donkey as told in Matthew 21:1-11. This is representative of His Kingship. The crowds cut tree branches and shouted “Hosanna.” Christians now celebrate this event on Palm Sunday. This story reminds us to guard against superficial worship of the Lord as shown by the same crowd later that week crying out “crucify Him.”

The second day of the week, Jesus curses an unfruitful fig tree, teaches parables and on future events, condemns Jewish leaders, and the woman with the alabaster box anointed His feet for His burial. Also on this day, Judas agrees to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, the price of a slave.

The Bible is silent about what took place on the third day of the week. Perhaps Jesus may have been in Bethany with His Apostles.

On the fourth day of the week, Jesus ate His last supper with the 12 Apostles and taught them servitude by washing their feet. In the Garden of Gethsemane, He prayed the prayer of consecration three times, teaching us that it is not about us but about the Father’s will for our lives. Jesus was also arrested. In the modern world, this day is Maundy Thursday.

The fifth day of the week was very eventful. Jesus was brought to Caiphas and Pilate, tried by Jewish and Roman authorities, disowned by Peter, and Judas kills himself. Jesus was beaten and crucified on the Cross at Calvary on Golgotha’s hill for mankind’s sin. Darkness veiled the earth for three hours and then He was buried in a borrowed tomb. We now call this day Good Friday.

Though Jesus was suffering, bleeding, and dying on the cross, He was still serving and communicating. He uttered seven words or phrases. Firstly to His Father Jesus requested, “forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Secondly to one of the thieves hanging next to Him, Jesus pronounced, “Today, shalt thy be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). Thirdly to His mother and John, Jesus said, “Woman behold thy son…Behold thy mother” (John 19:26-27). Fourthly He inquired of His Father, “My God, my God why has thou forsaken me” (Mark 15:34)? Fifthly Jesus uttered to His perpetrators, “I thirst” so that they would later get the revelation that He was fully God and fully man (John 19:28). In His sixth word, Jesus declared, “It is finished” (John 19:30). I believe He was speaking to the Trinity. To God the Father, those words communicated His assignment was finished. To Himself, God the Son, those words expressed relief that He had fulfilled His purpose. To God the Holy Spirit, those words advised it was almost time for Him to descend. In His seventh word, Jesus proclaimed to His Father “into thy hands, I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46).

On the sixth day of the week, Jesus lay in the tomb all day.

On the seventh day of the week, Jesus arose from the dead with all power in His hands. We celebrate Easter/Resurrection Sunday on this day.

Jesus began this week in triumph, was then tested, tried, experienced a tragic death, and buried in the tomb. Lastly, He arose triumphant over death and the grave.

We thank God for Jesus’ victory. The probability is slim that we will ever have a week like the one Jesus had.  But like Him, we, too, can endure life’s troubles, trials, and tragedies and arise in victory. Let’s decree and declare daily, “praise be unto God because He always causes us to triumph in Christ.”

God is Jehovah Nissi!

In Exodus 17 Joshua totally destroyed the Amalekites.  God instructed him to record this victory because He would perpetually defeat them in battle.  So in verse 15, Moses built an altar and called it, Jehovah Nissi.  This name means the Lord is our Banner.  Whenever the enemy comes against us mightily, God’s banner over us is love and protection.  Knowing God is Jehovah Nissi, allows Christians to depend on Him for victory.

I began to feel sick last week but kept up my normal busy pace.  Consequently, I developed a full blown upper respiratory illness that required me to seek medical attention. Thank God for my faithful prayer warrior princesses from across this nation who I texted from the ER and they covered me in prayer.  Sometimes we can be so sick, we don’t feel like praying so it is imperative to have prayer partners. Being weak in body, I stayed in bed for most of this week and had a steady diet of the media’s COVID-19 coverage.  The spirit of panic and fear tried to attack me to weaken my faith. We must be careful what we allow to come repeatedly through our ear and eye gates. Today was the first day, I felt better so I got out of bed, returned to my daily habit of spending quality time with God in the Word and in prayer.  I prayed specific prayer points and did spiritual warfare against this dreaded outbreak. Consequently, my faith has been strengthened and I now have peace that passes all understanding.

Rather than panic like the world, Christians must trust and remember that God, Jehovah Nissi, will again protect us as He has through other personal attacks, national tragedies, and world pandemics.  We must also use wisdom and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.  Let’s plead the blood of Jesus over our personage, property, and possessions and decree and declare God’s Word over ourselves, our family, neighbors, enemies, community, etc. Let’s acquire accurate information from reliable sources, protect ourselves and others by correctly washing our hands constantly, be intentional in not touching our face (an unconscious habit for most of us), and wearing a mask to protect others if we are sick, etc.  It is my hope that daily spiritual disciplines for Christians and hygienic practices become second nature for individuals and companies of the world going forward.

Let’s remember that God is Jehovah Nissi!  This world pandemic affords the Body of Christ opportunities to minister practically and spiritually to those who are either lost or weak in their faith or have not yet learned who God is.  Let’s offer prayer to those who are in a panic, have been positively diagnosed, and for families who are grieving a loss as a result of COVID-19.  Let’s lend our support to senior citizens.  Let’s show the world the love of God.  Let’s lead the lost in the following sinner’s prayer: 

Dear God, I ADMIT I was born with a sin nature and cannot save myself.  I BELIEVE Jesus is your Son who died on the cross for my sins, was buried, and arose from the dead.  I CONFESS Jesus as my Savior and Lord.  Thank you for saving me and filling me with your Spirit, in Jesus’ name, AMEN!

After leading someone in the Sinner’s Prayer, reassure them that if they prayed sincerely from their heart that God has saved them just that fast.  Encourage them to run tell someone they just got born again and saved from their sins.  Let them know you are praying for God to lead them to the Bible-believing and teaching Church of His choice where they can grow in the grace and knowledge of our Saviour an Lord.  Tell them to email me at info@belindarstokes.net to request information to help them in their new Christian journey or click on https://belindarstokes.net/prayer-requests-2/ to submit a prayer request.

Truly God’s harvest is extremely ripe during this global crisis so He needs you as a labourer!

God is Jehovah Shalom!

The opposite of peace is distress, worry, or discord.

Got peace??? Need peace??? Want peace???

News flash, God is Jehovah Shalom, the Lord Our Peace!

Click https://bit.ly/390cJuJ to hear “It Is Well with My Soul.”

God is a Trinity - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!
God the Father is the God of Peace. (Romans 15:33) 
God the Son is Our Peace. (Ephesians 2:14) 
God the Holy Spirit produces the fruit of peace. (Galatians 5:22)

Peace and love! #shalomandagape

Love Has Everything to Do With It!

Today is February 14. America is celebrating Valentine’s Day, a day of love. It was named after one or more early Christian martyrs named Valentine. On this day, eros, romantic love is expressed in many ways and some couples get engaged or married. In recent times on this day, people also express their love to their children, parents, and friends.

What is love? Love is an action word, not a feeling. When you love someone, you want to help meet their needs—tangible and intangible. God is love and met mankind’s greatest need–salvation by sending His son Jesus to die for our sins.

One of my former pastors asked everyone at church the question “Who you love”? He wanted you to say you loved him. Who are we to love? In addition to loving God, we are to love…
• family members
• neighbors
• friends
• strangers
• enemies
• all people

Our love for one another must be real, without conditions, kind, tolerant, and sacrificial. Love can be hard work. Let’s give mercy and grace because no one but God is perfect. Let’s be good listeners when people talk so we can hear what they need and provide it even when it requires a sacrifice of our time, talent, and treasures. I heard someone say, “Love does not hurt.” Let’s not hurt those we love but instead be forgiving, compassionate, and kindhearted to them.

Walking in love creates a win-win situation. Our giving of love produces a harvest of met needs, blessings, happiness, relief, comfort, thanksgiving, and rejoicing for the recipient. As the giver of love, we feel blessed to be a blessing.

May our Lord Jesus Christ increase and flourish our love for one another!

The Revelation of Who God Is (Part 1)

Have you ever heard the expression, “it’s not what you know but who you know”? Some may say this statement is no longer true because we now have 24/7 access to information through the internet.

News flash, I have a revelation for you!  Everything in our world is changing. Information, cultures, and people change constantly. Only God is unchanging and is the most important one for us to know!  I’m going to share three ways God reveals Himself.

God reveals Himself through His Creation.  God created the heavens and the earth.” Psalms 19:1 says “The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth His handywork.” If you live in a part of the world that has four seasons, you can greatly value the variety of God’s mastery. Have you noticed that every Fall, leaves appear on trees, no two are identical, and they subsequently fall to the ground?  I would venture to say that yearly you prepare for Winter climate by taking out your sweaters, coats, and boots. Spring brings balmy temperatures, Easter lilies, and other beautiful flowers. In the Summer, simmering weather affords opportunities to enjoy outside venues and activities–swimming, picnics, barbeques, camp grounds, and amusement parks.

God also revealed Himself through the Bible.  In Psalm 40:7 God says, “Lo, I come: in the volume of the book, it is written of me.” Genesis to Revelation reveals who God is–His names, words, character, attributes, acts, etc. Esther and Song of Solomon are the only two of the 66 books of the Bible where you won’t find the word “God.” Yet, His existence and presence are implied.

God has also revealed Himself through His son Jesus.  Has anyone ever said to you, “you act like your Father”? Jesus said in John 14:9, “he that hath seen me hath seen the Father.”  Apostle Paul told the Colossian church that Jesus is the image of the invisible God.  Jesus’ words, life, and works reveal God the Father to us.

Now that you know three of the ways God reveals Himself, I encourage you to pay closer attention to creation, to the Scriptures, and to Jesus to gain a greater knowledge of God. The more we learn about God, the more we will learn about who we are in God.

Stay tuned, next time we will talk about how to get to know God!

TIS THE SEASON TO CELEBRATE THE BIRTH OF JESUS!

Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus.  December 25 is not the day He was born but the date chosen to celebrate His birth. Jesus’ exact date of birth is unknown. Christmas is a Holy Day, not a holiday.  But when we look at how Christmas is celebrated, do we see many holy things or activities?

The symbols we see in abundance are Santa Claus, reindeer, snowmen, and Christmas trees.  Rarely can we find holy symbols of Jesus’ birth that remind us that Jesus is the reason for the season.

A popular activity in the Christmas season is attending multiple parties. Friends, family members, jobs, clubs, groups, and organizations you belong to host Christmas parties. Is Jesus the guest of honor at these parties?

Is the main activity of the season going to church or giving our talent, time, and treasures to those who really are in need?  No, it’s buying gifts for everyone we know—family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, clergy, the mailman, the garbage man, cat, dog, etc., mainly with credit cards, hoping for reciprocation. From Black Friday to Cyber Monday this year, billions were spent online. In today’s uncertain economic climate, does our discretionary income allow us to meet regular financial obligations and buy gifts for multiple people at the same time? New flash, if you buy items at a sale price but have to pay credit card interest on your purchases, you probably are not saving any any money!

Are we really celebrating the birth of Jesus?  Do we celebrate a loved one’s birthday by buying gifts for everyone we know and giving or attending several parties for them?  A loved one’s birthday is usually celebrated by giving that person a gift, taking them out, or giving or attending one birthday party in their honor!

There’s nothing wrong with giving. God is a great giver.  He gave us Jesus so that we can have eternal life.1 He gives us all that we need 2and when Jesus went back to heaven, He gave us the Holy Spirit.3 We were created in God’s image4, therefore, we, too, have the capacity to be great givers.

Since we are celebrating the birth of Jesus and freely giving out gifts, shouldn’t we give Jesus a gift? What will you give Jesus this Christmas?  We can give to Him by giving to one other.  God has given each of us talent, treasures and time, which He expects us to give and share.5

Everyone has something they can give and share with others.  God has given every believer at least one special ability. 6  We can use our God-given abilities to be a blessing to others. Some sing, some prophecy, some teach, some preach, some have a special ability to heal or help others, some to show mercy and compassion, and some to lead.7 God has also given us treasures, talents, and time to share with one other.8

How and to whom should we give?  The Bible declares we should give willingly9 and cheerfully 10 to those who are poor, 11 those who ask,12 those who cannot reciprocate,13 and to our enemies.  Giving to an enemy turns him into a friend! 14

Let’s put Christ back into our Christmas celebrations by giving to those who are in need. Let’s bring joy to those in institutions by visiting and singing Christmas carols!  Let’s teach the story of Jesus’ birth to children in our neighborhood!  Let’s give gifts to a homeless family! Let’s donate money to a charity instead of having a grab bag at work!  Let’s babysit for a single mother who cannot afford a sitter! Let’s take a senior citizen, handicapped, or an ill person shopping or to the doctor!  Let’s invite friends, neighbors, or co-workers to go to church with us!  Let’s invite a one-parent child to a show this Christmas season!

The Bible says we will be blessed when we give.15 God has promised we will receive when we give.16 When we give to the poor, God considers it a loan to Himself and He says He’ll repay the loan and will bless, deliver, and protect us.17

Since Christmas is the celebration of Jesus’ birth, what will you give Jesus to celebrate His birth?  The greatest gift you can give Him is your heart.  It’s easy as A, B, C.  If you have not accepted Jesus as Saviour and Lord, please pray the following prayer sincerely from your heart! 18

Dear God,

Thank you for loving me and giving me the greatest gift of all, your son Jesus.  I ADMIT that I am a sinner and need a Saviour. I BELIEVE Jesus died on the cross in my place for my sins.  I CONFESS Jesus as my Lord and Saviour.   Thank you Lord for saving me!

Welcome to the family of God!  I pray God will lead you to a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church of His choice where you can fellowship with other Christians, grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and discover God’s purpose and plan for your life!

1 John 3:16 2 Phil. 4:19    3 John 14:16 4 Gen. 1:7 5 Luke 12:48b Rom 12:6-8 7 Eph. 4:11-12 8 Luke 6:38   9 1Chron 29:9 10 2 Cor. 9:7 11 Deu. 5:11 12 Matt. 5:42 13 Luke 14:12-14 14 Prov. 25:21-22 15 Acts 20:35b 16 Prov. 11:25 17 Ps. 41:1-3 18 Rom.10:9-10

Thanksgiving is a Key Discipline for Christians!

Body of Christ, let’s remember that physically we are in the world but spiritually we are in the Kingdom of God.  Thanksgiving is a gigantic part of the Kingdom lifestyle.

Gratitude is a feeling but thanksgiving is an action. Thanksgiving is expressing to God the gratitude that is in our hearts. We express it to God through prayer, song, and bringing sacrificial gifts to Him. When we fail to express thanksgiving to God, we take God’s favor, grace, mercy, and blessings for granted.

Let’s remember to continually express the gratitude that is in our hearts to God for…

  • the body and blood of Jesus when we celebrate Communion
  • daily blessings (soteria, Greek word for salvation includes forgiveness of sin, healing, deliverance, guidance, provision, protection, and preservation)
  • the possibility of having the abundant life
  • grace, mercy, favor, and help
  • the Word of God
  • the local church
  • our spiritual gifts and the opportunity to serve Him and man
  • the privilege of prayer 24/7
  • the fact we will live eternally with God the Father and Jesus
  • the empowerment and leading of the Holy Spirit
  • the love and support of family and friends
  • all things and in all things

The season that the world calls “the Christmas holidays” begins the day after Thanksgiving. Let’s remember God commands us to overflow with thanksgiving to Him and that Jesus is the reason we celebrate Christmas.  As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, let’s give thanksgiving to God for salvation, the greatest gift the world could ever receive made available through God’s Son Jesus!

Express Your Thanks

In the past few years, I’ve noticed many children and some adults have a spirit of entitlement. This causes them to fail to express thanks. My Mom taught her children the significance of giving thanks. She said “be thankful for anything someone does for you—big or small—because people don’t have to do anything for you. “

Thanksgiving is giving thanks to God and to people for what they have done. We express our thanks to God and to people because God is the source of all our rewards and often works through people. God and people expect and are blessed when we do.

When we thank and praise God, He blesses us with His presence, power, and provision, resulting in joy and strength. People respond to our giving them thanks with thanksgiving, happiness, and gladness.

Someone I know always responds “I’m thankful” when you ask “how are you”. Her response blesses and motivates me to reflect on my reasons to be thankful. Now my response to the question how are you has also become “I’m thankful”.

As Jesus passed through Samaria and Galilee, he encountered ten lepers. They asked asked Him to have mercy on them. He instructed them to go show themselves to the priests. En route to the priests, they were cleansed of leprosy. I’m sure they all were grateful but only one of the ten returned and gave thanks to Jesus.

A church hymn’s refrain says:

Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your blessings, see what God hath done;
Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.

Unlike the nine lepers, let us count our blessings and express our thanks for them.