Sin

Warning Signs

dangerAt times you can feel sickness sneaking up on you. Your nose gets stuffy. You sneeze once or twice. Your back starts aching.

Before you know it, your body is under a full-blown attack trying to combat germs. You’re downing medicine, taking time off work, and spending more time in your bed than you’d like.

At times we can see sin sneaking up on us too.

We start talking to some guy who we know is no good. We buy the tub of ice cream knowing that the whole thing is going to get inhaled as soon as we get home. We grab hold of a juicy piece of information and can’t wait to gossip about it with our friends.

We know that nothing positive can come of our behavior. Yet we choose to ignore the promptings of the Holy Spirit. We choose to step in front of our spiritual help and direct our steps the way we want instead of how God wants.

We figure that we can change that no-good man. We justify our gluttonous behavior. (We’ve had a bad day…We deserve to indulge!) We won’t share our hot news with everyone, telling one friend isn’t that bad.

Before we know it, we have fallen prey to sin. We’re dealing with drama in our personal lives. We are fighting weight gain and disease. The gossip we’ve spread backfires and brings negativity into our own lives.

And then we want to cry out to God for deliverance.

There are now medicines on the market that are supposed to ward off sickness before you get seriously ill. When you notice your first “warning sign”, you can pop a pill to prevent the illness from fully taking over your body.

As Christians, our spirits can always be healthy if we take in the spiritual guidance of the Holy Spirit. He sounds the alarm to guide us away from sin. He knows things about people and situations that we could never obtain. The Holy Spirit is always leading us down paths that are for our ultimate good. We can be completely safe, blessed, and full of joy if we align our lives with His will.

Far too often, however, we choose to ignore the “warning signs” of impending sin and the corroborating promptings of the Holy Spirit. We choose to turn a blind eye to poor choices. We rationalize sinful behavior.

The Bible explicitly tells us: Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. (1 Thessalonians 5:19 NLT) Yet, every time we ignore God’s voice, we are doing exactly that. And every time we suppress the Holy Spirit’s warnings, we fall into the ditch of sin. Every time, we get snared by the enemy. It is inevitable.

Don’t keep ignoring the “warning signs”. Don’t stifle the Spirit. Step back and let the Lord lead. Allow Him to help you navigate your life. You will avoid so many pitfalls and benefit far more than you would if you participated in the fleeting pleasure of sin.

Dear Daddy,

Help me to always listen to the Holy Spirit even when I want to do my own thing. Open my spiritual eyes and ears to the signals that You send to guide me through life. Help me to stand firm through the devil’s temptations, knowing that what You have for me is better than anything the devil could ever offer. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to heed the “warning signs” of sin! I EMPOWER you to stand firm throughout temptation and resist the ploys of the enemy. You are already EMPOWERED by the Holy Spirit who leads you into all truth. You can resist the devil and have him flee from you!

 What are some ways you can heed the Holy Spirit’s warning and stand firm through temptation?

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Tiara Wilkinson just released her first book “Days of Purpose & Destiny” which is available on Amazon and Kindle. You can find more information at http://www.daysofpurposeanddestiny.com. Tiara also serves as the Youth Leader and on the Pastoral Care Team at Christ Worship Center in Riverdale, Illinois. Her favorite passage of the Bible is Psalm 27 which reminds us that the Lord is our strength, so we have no reason to fear anything.

Sin, Word of God

7! Seven! Sevyn!

*SINGS* Do you know what today is? It’s my anniversary!! It’s so ironic that I’m able to write on the day I got saved! On March 26, 2007 (Also, my sister’s birthday, Happy Birthday, Angel!) I looked at my dad and said, “I’m going to go up there.”

I’m excited about this seventh year, seven has always been my favorite number and for some reason on my seventh anniversary of being saved I thought of the seven deadly sins. I’m a bit older, a bit wiser and battled with each of the seven sins and I wanted us to do this fun exercise together! Below are my personal notes. So let’s go!

IDENTIFY: Identify what triggers the sin
VISIT: Find a semi- easy Scripture that you can always carry with you in your heart and mind when the sin arises
REMEMBER: Find something you can always recall to your memory to get you in order.

WRATH

IDENTIFY: There are five untouchable people in my life – my parents, my nieces and my sister. The quickest way to see my wrath is to talk about them.
VISIT: Daniel 2:12, “This made the king so angry and furious that he ordered the execution of all the wise men of Babylon.”
REMEMBER: It’s cliché but happiness is a choice and you can’t have things outside of your control have you killing what’s wise in the world. Take a step back and think about the little things in life that make you happy. Look at the person as a person. They are human and make mistakes. Listen to a favorite song or look at a baby’s picture. Those two do the trick for me.

GREED

IDENTIFY: I’m usually greedy when I feel I won’t have enough.
VISIT: Mark 12:41-44,Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”
REMEMBER: Sometimes in this economy it’s hard to give up extra money or food or clothes to people in need because you may feel you are a person in need. Often times, I reflect on what I do have or what I don’t need. This winter every time I walked into my house I was so thankful for heat and there were many days I walked in my house, stopped and prayed for people who were homeless in this weather.

SLOTH

IDENTIFY: I’ve been called a perfectionist. I’ve been called a Type A personality but somewhere in the Book of Dene’ people seem to skim over the word “lazy.” I later redefined for professional reasons as, “effectively able to restructure processes for a more efficient time management system.” I find if I overbook myself I end up feeling really drained.
VISIT: Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”
REMEMBER: You are the light of this world don’t burn yourself out nor hide yourself under blankets.

PRIDE

IDENTIFY: I take pride in what I do, who I am, how the world sees me and in my lineage. You may perceive me as someone trying to be perfect because that is the standard I try to live by. The issue is when the perception of self is out of touch with reality such as when I start comparing my status, which is only by the grace of God, to other people’s status.
VISIT: Proverbs 16:18, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”
REMEMBER: Humble yourself before the Lord humbles you. Just as God uses you He can use someone else. Don’t be like Saul.

LUST

IDENTIFY: I never thought I struggled too badly with lust until someone told me lust is conceived in the mind and it wasn’t just for sex but for objects. That really blew my mind! I started realizing I had to watch what I watch. I noticed some movies, television shows or music made me lust for sex or objects so I just stopped watching them or I watch in moderation.
VISIT: James 1:14-15, “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.”
REMEMBER: Watch what you watch. One small taste of something can bring forth destruction. One hit and you’ll get addicted. That’s with food, sex, clothes – anything.

ENVY

IDENTIFY: I usually find myself envious when I lack understanding. Why is she there and I’m still here? What did he do to deserve that, when I always see him out doing everything under the sun, and I’m committed to you? Yet, I’m still lacking.
VISIT: Ecclesiastes 5:19,Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil–this is a gift of God.
REMEMBER: Wealth can be a fluid definition. If you are envious of someone’s wealth of knowledge, wealth of relationships, or wealth of health remember we are all human and just as you are looking at someone for what they have, they are looking at something you have. Be thankful for your gifts and your cross.

GLUTTONY

IDENTIFY: I’ve struggled with gluttony for a long time – in food and beverage. I’m a very social person so I’ve tried to change social events include activities instead of sitting around a table or at a bar. Let’s go shopping, walking, to the gym, to get coffee anywhere but where I would over indulge in food and drinking!
VISIT: 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.”
REMEMBER: There’s more to life than indulgence. The more you consume the less you have to offer back to the world as a resource. 

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for never leaving me when I deserved to be left. I thank You for our relationship and Your commitment to me. Thank You for love. Thank You for family. Thank You for this beautiful life journey you entrusted me with. I give You all of the glory, honor and praise. Hallelujah to more time together, more time to explore, more time to conquer the greatness You’ve instilled in me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, if you have not done so, I EMPOWER you to accept God as your Lord and savior. Invite Him into your heart, your mind, your life and your being. Find someone in your life who has (or reach out to the Empowermoments team) and talk to them. Ladies, if you are saved don’t get complacent in your relationship. Keep exploring and stay in peace. He paid for you to live there!

Which sin on this list was/is the toughest one for you to overcome? How do you remember?

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Ms. Dené B. is a student of life who enjoys human studies and social media. She graduated from Loyola University Chicago where the motto is “Preparing People to Lead Extraordinary Lives,” She took her education and school spirit to heart and now is a young adult striving to live an extraordinary life while helping others achieve the same. One of her go to scriptures is, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV).

Accountability, God's Provisons, Obedience, Sin

But It Looks So Good!

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. (Genesis 3: 2-6 NIV)

I imagine that it wouldn’t have been so easy to tempt Eve if the fruit on that tree was dull, bruised and rotten.  Notice, I didn’t say apple.  The Bible doesn’t specify what type of fruit it was, but I digress.  If the fruit wasn’t aesthetically pleasing, she probably would’ve given the serpent the “yuck face” and went on about her merry way.  But that’s not how the enemy tempted her.  The scripture tells us that this fruit was “pleasing to the eye.”  With our sight the enemy tempts us to disobey God.  He tempts us with that “thing” that we know we don’t need, but it looks so good to us.  As a matter of fact, many times that “thing” appears when you are vulnerable.  Otherwise, it wouldn’t have the same value.  It wouldn’t look soooo good.

Recently, I had the opportunity to make some extra money doing something that is almost second nature to me.  Although I knew what I would be doing was unethical, the large sum of money that I could make appealed to me.  All I could think of was using the money to get some items I wanted for my house and my closet.  I had already gone window shopping in my mind.  I would also be helping someone and in turn they would be “helping” me.  Since I knew I probably couldn’t do the task alone, I solicited one of my close friends to help.  I figured she could use the extra money too.  That’s when that still small voice spoke to me and said with great clarity, “But, why? Why are you doing this? Do you not trust me? Have I not supplied all of your needs? If you take this, you will miss out on the greater that I have in store for you.”  I wrestled with this all day.  Was it really God?  Wasn’t this an opportunity?  I knew better.  I knew that God would never support dishonesty and disobedience to His will.  Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. (James 1:13-14 KJV)

What was this “greater” that God was speaking of?  Was I willing to risk what God had in store for me for something that in comparison would be so miniscule?  I decided it wasn’t worth the risk, but I didn’t fully release it.

She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. …The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” (Genesis 3:6,12 NIV)  Less than a week later, the opportunity was withdrawn and I felt such a heavy weight lifted.  I decided not to partake; however I was still involving my friend in something that we both knew was wrong.  I rationalized in my own head that if God didn’t want her to do it, surely He would talk to her.  I ended up telling her how God spoke to me and she compared my action of passing the assignment to her to a child who gets admonished for doing something or being told no, so they tell their sibling to do it instead.  She was right.  When God told me to let it go, I was supposed to completely let it go.  However, I am glad that I serve a merciful God because in the short time since this happened I can see how God is blessing me with that “greater.”

Money isn’t always the subject of temptation.  Many of you may face temptation in a variety of ways. You made a commitment to take care of your temple (body); yet, everywhere you turn there are the most delectable desserts and scrumptious entrees.  You’ve been single for quite some time or maybe your husband isn’t showing you the right attention, but now that conversation with that smooth talking brother makes you tempted to engage in behavior that you know is unpleasing to God.  That food has never looked and smelled sooo good.  That brother that you met was your “ideal” man.  He smelled good, talked a good game, made you laugh, comforted you, and was quite handsome too.  Remember, if it didn’t look good, it wouldn’t be tempting.  Don’t miss out on what God has in store for you because you choose to temporarily satisfy your flesh or “help” God supply your needs.

Dear Daddy,

Forgive me for inserting my nose where it did not belong.  You have told me that You would supply my needs and give me the desires of my heart.  In James 4:7, You told me to resist the devil and he will flee… Help me to resist temptation as I put all of my trust in You.  Lord, I trust You completely.  Daddy, I know that even Your Son, Jesus, was tempted of the devil and He said, “Thou shall not tempt the Lord thy God.”  If we are Your children and are following Your commandments, we have the power to speak that to the enemy too.  Thank You for being such a gracious and merciful God, willing to forgive us even when we falter.  Daddy, I love You.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Today I EMPOWER you to resist temptation.  If you are engaged in anything that you know is not pleasing to God or is in direct conflict with the instruction that He left for your life, let it go.  Do not miss out on the abundance God has for you because you have decided that “it looks so good,” and just this one time won’t hurt.

Have you found yourself struggling with temptation? How do you deal with it?

Read a related EmpowerMoment: Sensory Trickery

Please click here to vote for EmpowerMoments in the 2012 Black Weblog Awards!

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Ms. Chancee` Lundy lives in Washington, DC and is an entrepreneur as she is the co-owner of Nspiregreen, LLC, an environmental consulting firm. She is also a dedicated daughter, sister, friend and community servant. She has used her gift of public speaking to lead workshops across the globe speaking to crowds as large as 10,000 people. Her guiding scriptures this week are Philippians 4:11-13 “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengthened me.”

Character, Prayer, Sin

The Key to Prayer

How important are your prayers? Do you care if your prayers are not just heard, but that they are answered? Any person who desires heard and answered prayers should continue on. Many can agree that the Word of God gives assurance. The Word is also filled with many promises. In fact, the Word promises, “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” (James 5:16 NLT) What does the prayer that gets results looks like? That was my question to God; how can I get results?

His response was not what I was looking for, but was the only way I could see results in what I pray for. What He told me was not that I needed to pray louder, longer, or memorize more scriptures. He told me this through His Word. If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. (Psalm66:18 NLT) I had stuff in my heart. I was holding on to unforgiveness. I was complaining silently because things were not going how I wanted them to go and to Him these things were sins. I needed to be set free from these things before He could hear my prayers and answer them.

Listen to this conversation recorded by David in Psalm 66:16-20: Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what he did for me. For I cried out to him for help, praising him as I spoke. If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer. Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw his unfailing love from me. David, the “man after God’s own heart” had stuff in his heart, but once he confessed those things and allowed God to free him, he got answered prayers.

What have you been praying for lately, that has not yet been answered? Is there any unforgiveness, doubt, hatred, self-pity, lovelessness, or revenge lurking in your heart? The only way to know is to allow the Father to search it because He said, “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.” (Jeremiah 17:9-10 NLT)

Dear Daddy,

I thank You for Your love. Father, I ask that the love that You have for me would cause me respond in repentance. Lord, I don’t have time to waste so I give my heart to You asking that You would search it and free me from every sin that would cause Your ears to be deaf to my prayer. I thank You for grace and hearing my cries. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

I EMPOWER you take some time out today and allow the Lord to search your heart. Just as a home inspector searches a house for a home buyer and finds everything wrong with the house, let the Spirit of God do that for you on today. Yes, it will hurt, but your prayers will begin to be answered according to the Father’s will.

How do you maintain a clean heart or are you in need of a prayer partner to pray with you today for your heart? Please share your thoughts or needs below.

Please click here to vote for EmpowerMoments in the 2012 BlackWeblog Awards!

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Mrs. Lisa M. Purnell-Marshall is happily married to the wonderful and inspiring Antoine L. Marshall. She is the proud mother of two gorgeous girls. Her voice is one of the leading and authentic voices for breast-feeding, especially for the African-American community and Generation Y. She currently works inside of her home and plans to become a professional licensed lactation consultant in 2014. She and her family are members at Spirit of Liberty Church located in Markham, IL. Embracing the love that God has for her, Lisa labors to live an acceptable and pure life through the leading and keeping of the Holy Spirit so that her attitude, words, and actions attract the glory of God. In her free time she loves receiving manis and pedis. Her favorite promises that she find comfort and reassurance in are: Psalm34:19: “A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all” and Luke 6:38: “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Attitude, Back To School Series, Direction/Guidance, Evangelism, Grandparents, Growth/Maturity, Mentor/Mentee, Obedience, Sin, Submission/Surrendering

Back to School: Rebel Without A Cause

School has begun for most students across the world so EmpowerMoments is featuring a series entitled “Back to School”.  Read each day as our writers share stories and learned lessons from their school-related experiences.  Come and get on our EmpowerMoments school bus!

Growing up I was a bit more than your average “church girl”: Sunday – Regular Service, Tuesday- Choir Practice, Wednesday- Bible Study, Thursday- Prayer Meeting, Friday – Teen Ministry, Saturday- Junior Usher Board Meeting. I could quote scripture all day and was known as the over achiever in Sunday School. I wasn’t a member of just any church. I was a member of an Apostolic (Pentecostal) church; one that had many rules and standards: zero makeup, no jewelry, and no pants for women. While I was in elementary and middle school these things were okay for me. Sure I was teased about always being in church and the fact that I never wore pants, but I believed wholeheartedly in what I was doing. Furthermore, my grandmother made me and there was no questioning of her rules.

Then came the summer of transition. I was a 14-year-old bona fide teenager and headed for high school. I started “smelling myself” and questioning this strict regimen. I began secretly changing clothes when I left home so that I could wear pants and even got some lipstick. Boys entered the picture and the late nights began. My attitude completely changed and I became resentful of the life that I was forced to live. See I grew up in the house with older brothers and male cousins and they weren’t subjected to this harsh life, so one day I decided no more. My grandmother came to wake me up for church and I responded with a loud, “I’M NOT GOING!” The blow up was big and I defiantly stood my ground letting her know that no switch, belt or any other form of correction was going to change my mind. (Of course I said all of this after being chased out of the house to the front yard.) Eventually, she decided to let it go and this was the beginning of my “emancipation” from church slavery into the street life and academic failure.

And he said, A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. (Luke 15:11-13 KJV)

Thus began my journey as the Prodigal Daughter. At the young age of 14, I made a decision to stop making church a regular part of my life and dropped all of the strict standards that I was beholden to. I began to hang out until 3:00am, go to the nightclubs and started drinking. Although I would hang out with guys, I would not have sex and I would never smoke marijuana. For some reason in all of my rebellion those things were off limits. In my own mind, my behavior was okay because this is what my brothers did, I was staying out of “real” trouble and I wasn’t pregnant. My first semester in high school was the pits. I loved school and was quite studious; however, I kept getting in minor trouble that came with major consequences. Tardies to class (from staying out late) landed me in the Student Adjustment Program (SAP). SAP was like in school suspension but this is where “bad” kids were sent: fighters, people who disrespected teachers, and low performers. This was not my crowd. I was in Honors classes and participated in extracurricular activities even with my wild ways so how did I end up there? Originally I was sent for 3 days but then I got in trouble while in the program and landed an extra 40 days. WHAT?!! I got out of the program and was sent back AGAIN. It was difficult to keep up with my class work especially since this high school material was so new. I received my first set of BAD grades. To this day I never forget those grades because they made the difference in me graduating in the top ten in my class and coming in at #13. I felt like I was stuck in a downward spiral but at the same time I was hesitant to give up my new life.

Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6 KJV)

One day I overheard my grandmother mentioning to someone that she was contemplating sending me to reform school. Wait a minute! In my eyes reform school meant jail and I, my friends, was not jail material! It was as if a light bulb went off. God showed me how my rebellious living could shape the path of my life. I thought about my brothers, who unfortunately had served time in the juvenile detention center and jail, and I was determined that would not be my life. I was in the valley of decision regarding my life. I could learn the lessons from them without experiencing the path they were on.

While it would be years before I became a regular attendee at church and I never quite went back to the strict religious standards, I picked my Bible back up and began to study His word. I practiced self-discipline. I dove into my schoolwork, got heavily involved in school and community activities where I could make a real difference and joined athletic teams. That experience my freshman year in high school shaped so many others. It helped me avoid situations later in life. I was determined that I would not be a failure and disappoint the woman who worked so hard to provide for me or my heavenly Father who protected me while I was in the streets. I would no longer be a “rebel without a cause.”

Dear Daddy,

I am sorry that my rebellious living brought so much pain to those who gave their all to support me.  Thank You for saving me from myself. If it wasn’t for Your mercy and Your grace I would not be the person I am today. Lord, I am grateful for the training that I received as a child, the mentors that You sent me and the epiphany You gave me regarding my life. God, I ask that You help me share my story and be a beacon of light for other young women. Thank You for taking the time to come after this one lost sheep. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to look back over your journey and be grateful that you are not where you could have been. If you are on a path that leads to destruction, I urge you to consider your ways and ask God to reveal the best path for your life. Lastly, I want you to think about one young woman that you know who could use your guidance. Make a decision today to get involved and be a beacon of light for her. 

As you look back over your life, were you ever a rebel without a cause? Share your story with us.

Read a related EmpowerMoment:  The Night We Almost Died

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Ms. Chancee` Lundy lives in Washington, DC and is an entrepreneur as she is the co-owner of Nspiregreen, LLC, an environmental consulting firm. She is also a dedicated daughter, sister, friend and community servant. She has used her gift of public speaking to lead workshops across the globe speaking to crowds as large as 10,000 people. Her guiding scriptures this week are Philippians 4:11-13 “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

Encouragement, God's Love, Growth/Maturity, Honesty/Truth, Self-Control, Sin, Spirit of Religion

Emotions Make You…

Is it okay to feel overwhelmed?  To feel overworked, but still poor?  To feel so tired your feet and back are sore?  Do you wish you had someone to walk through it with you and hold your hand?

Can a Christian be mad?  Regardless of it all, am I supposed to always be glad?  Is it alright for people to do me wrong and sometimes I want to respond with a fight, or am I supposed to turn the other cheek and move on with my life?

Can a single Christian be lonely in the city? God is a constant sense of company, but is it wrong to want someone else to adore me?  What if I lose the fight with these sexual desires called lust?  If I act on these cravings, am I no longer worthy of God’s trust?  If I give into sin is that the end?

Everything that I mentioned in the above passage has to do with emotions or physical actions.   Does being a Christian make you no longer human?  The answer is ‘no’.   It is okay as to feel, even as a Christian.  We attempt to mask our feelings behind a facade of Bible verses and silent curses.  We want people to think that we are always trusting in the Lord and never have a fear; however, that is not my reality.

“Listen to my prayer, O God. Do not ignore my cry for help! Please listen and answer me, for I am overwhelmed by my troubles. My enemies shout at me, making loud and wicked threats. They bring trouble on me and angrily hunt me down. My heart pounds in my chest. The terror of death assaults me. Fear and trembling overwhelm me, and I can’t stop shaking.”  (Psalm 55:1-5 NLT)

Even in the Bible there are many instances of feelings of hurt, sadness, anger, pain, lust, fear, and many others.  However, God loved them all regardless of these things.  It is okay to know that God will love you too regardless of your momentary downfalls.

Dear Daddy,

I come before You asking You to give me control over my feelings and emotions.  Please allow me to remember that it is okay to feel, but how I react on these emotions is the key.  Give me the strength to be able to walk away from certain situations and help me to keep You at the forefront of my life.  I pray for the ability to let go and know that when I feel overwhelmed You have my back!  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you today to EMPOWER yourself!  There will be days when you feel like you want to quit, but GOD will be your constant source of encouragement.  I EMPOWER you to come to terms with your emotions and not try to hide them.  Embrace your feelings, have a moment, then move on and put it behind you.

Have you too been overwhelmed by life and your emotions?  What are some things and emotions you have to release into God’s hands today?

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Ms. Sherita Shelton currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee.  She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master’s in Professional Counseling and is currently pursuing her counseling license.  Sherita works as a therapist and case manager for children as well as adults.  She facilitates groups for single women and offers mentoring and individual counseling for her clients.  Sherita’s favorite Bible verse is Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lot not on your own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

Attitude, Children, Growth/Maturity, Relationships, Salvation, Sin

Time Waits For No One

In 11 days my son will be starting kindergarten. I’m trying to figure out where time went. I remember him doing karate kicks in my belly. Now in just a few days we will be holding hands as I walk him into his kindergarten class. He’s super excited and I’m excited that he’s growing up and experiencing life as a big “little” boy. At this point he is blind as to what the real world is about. We shield our children from this because we want them to focus on being happy and feeling loved. Even at the young age of 5, it’s important for my son to understand who God is. He should understand that he can trust God, and that the blood of Jesus has set us free.

As I teach my son what my mother taught me, it makes me realize how the corruption of this world made me lose track of how to trust God and believe that He will do just what He said He would do. Instead, I wasted precious time leaning on my own understanding, worrying, breaking God’s heart with my sins and not believing in His word. I’ve heard my pastor say, “An idle mind is the devil’s playground.”  This is so true. That’s why it’s important for us to keep our hearts and mind on Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. (Philippians 4:8 NLT)

I see how quickly my son is growing up before my eyes and I want to do nothing but experience and cherish every moment with him. I can’t help but to think that is what God sees in us. He sees us growing with Him or growing away from Him. God’s grace is succifficent, but God will not wait forever for us to get it together. Time waits for no one. And since you don’t know when that time will come, be on guard! Stay alert. (Mark 14:33 NLT)

Watching my son grow I understand how important it is for our relationships to continue to be strong. For my father in Heaven, my relationship should be unconditional. God is so good to me, to my family and all of my friends. I love God so much. Although I’ve made some mistakes, He loves me like no one else. If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. (1 John 1:9 NLT)

Dear Daddy,

I love You and I’m grateful for Your grace and mercy. You’ve been with me through the good and the bad. I know You’re not through with me yet, because You are shaping me to be more than I can imagine. Thank You for Your guidance and Your love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you to believe that today is the best day of your life, cherish it and do not waste time. God is waiting on you because He loves you just that much.

Are you certain that if your number was called today, you would be ready to go home and live with God?

Read a related EmpowerMoment: You Must Click Submit Before the Deadline

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Ms. Hassanah White is a dedicated member of Faith Walkers Church in Birmingham, Alabama where their motto is to “Walk it out by Faith.” She also serves as a member of the Praise Dance Ministry. Hassanah is a true professional in the realm of marketing and customer service. She’s a proud mother of a very energetic little boy named Jaden. Hassanah believes laughter and prayer are the best medicines for any situation. Her favorite scripture is Hebrews 11:6: “And without Faith it is impossible to please GOD, because anyone who comes to Him must BELIEVE that He exists and that He REWARDS those who earnestly seek Him.”

Conviction, Growth/Maturity, Sin, Speech

If You Want Something to Grow, Keep Feeding It!

I was looking at my daughter and wondering “How did she grow so fast?”  I couldn’t believe the clothes she wore last month are now too small.  I said to myself, “Self, the reason she is growing so fast is because she eats all the time.”  It felt like I had a revelation.  If I keep feeding her at this rate, her clothes will be too small again.

I know you are wondering where I am going with this.  Well, I thought about the sins in my life.  You know sin—an act, thought, or way of behaving that goes against God’s law or teachings, especially when the person who commits it knowingly.  I thought about gossiping.  No, I do not tell other people’s business, but I used to love to listen to a good story.  At first I thought listening was innocent until someone started gossiping about my business.  I quickly became convicted and started telling people I didn’t want to hear it but they couldn’t understand why not. Take lies and what is false far from me. Do not let me be poor or rich. Feed me with the food that I need. (Proverbs 30: 8 NLT)

I started to pray and ask God to take gossiping away from me and remove it from my ears. I asked God why people wouldn’t stop calling me with gossip and He asked me “How many times have people called and you made yourself accessible to listen to the gossip?”  “You kept eating and so they kept feeding you.”  Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind. (James 3: 5-7 KJV)

Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose. (Proverbs 18: 21, MSG) I choose to feed life!

Take lies and what is false far from me. Do not let me be poor or rich. Feed me with the food that I need. (Proverbs 30: 8 NLT)

After God’s response to my question, I quickly began to focus and think about positive things in my life.  I thought about my ministry and how I needed to keep feeding it so it can grow.  I thought of my employment and how I needed to keep feeding it so it could grow.  I thought of my marriage and how I need to keep feeding it so that it can grow.  I thought of so many parts of my life and what I could do to make them grow.  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29: 11 NIV)

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for forgiving me when I sin and fall short.  Thank You for teaching me what to feed and what not to feed.  Continue to guide my words and thoughts so that they can grow and be prosperous.  God continue to give me the discernment to know when I am straying away and feeding things that are not of You.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you to feed what you want to grow!  Stop wasting your time and energy on things that are not of God and things that will not prosper you.  Feed positive things and people and watch them grow in your life!

Share with us some positive things you too are going to feed!

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Mrs. Keviyona Ray is an ordained minister and co-pastor of The Christ For All People International Church. She is passionate about sharing the word of God with everyone she encounters. As a professional, Keviyona is a teacher for Chicago Public Schools. She loves her ministry of teaching and changing children’s lives. She is a devoted wife and mother of a wonderful daughter. Two of her favorite scriptures are Jeremiah 1:5: “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations” and Proverbs 29:18: “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.”

Death, Sin

A Walk With The Dead

This year my Father’s Day was different, life changing, and uncomfortable. My husband, our girls, my in-loves, and I took a visit to the cemetery to visit my father-in love’s grave. Let me warn you that I was all the way uncomfortable and sad in the car riding to the cemetery because I knew that this would be a time of tears and I have never walked in a cemetery. When we arrived at the cemetery, we did not find his tombstone right away so we decided to break into groups and look. I instantly became uncomfortable as I thought of how I would be walking on top of dead people.

As my husband and I searched for his father’s tombstone, we both couldn’t help but to glance at the others along the way. We saw infants, toddlers, children, teens, young adults, middle-aged adults, and elderly adults. Neither group settled the uncomfortable feeling I had. I continued to think how I was walking around a whole lot of dead people, the earth under my feet didn’t even feel normal, and this was a first time experience for me.

As we continued to walk, I uttered loudly, “Walking with dead people just doesn’t feel right”. We all laughed, but the Spirit began to witness to my Spirit,It is not supposed to.” We finally found my father-in love’s tombstone and had a moment of reflection. We all began to dwell on how precious life was, how short it is, and how when you truly cross over nothing matters anymore (you’ll even let people walk all over you).

On the ride back home, I kept thinking about what I said, and the Word of God came to me. For out of the abundance of your heart your mouth speaks. (Paraphrased from Luke 6:45 NKJV) This is what the Holy Spirit witnessed and downloaded into me: “Sin brings death. Are you still in your sin? Just as you were uncomfortable being around dead people, how do you think I feel when you’re in sin and not being fruitful? So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:11 NLT) After hearing that I had to examine myself and realize I was in sin. Even though I was fruitful in many areas of my life, there were other areas of sin I was well alive to and should have been dead too. I found myself being prideful in my knowledge and not easily forgiving others, but forgiving others with condition. Those are sins and I had to confess them, receive Jesus’ forgiveness, and depend on the power of the Spirit to be confirmed. I prayed and asked the Holy Spirit to always make me aware when my life is like a cemetery to Him.

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for being a patient and long suffering Father. I thank You for giving us Your Holy Spirit. I thank You that He leads us to truth and conforms us to the image and child that You desire. I pray that You would search our hearts. Let us know of the sin we are in so that we may confess and turn back to You. Oh how we need You! Our lives need not to be like cemeteries, but should be like delivery rooms, bringing life into every life we come in contact with as well as bringing life into this dark world. Father, let our allegiance be with You and Your word and not our flesh and this world. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

I EMPOWER you to search your heart. Any sin that you find confess it, receive the work of the cross, and the forgiveness of your sins so that you would bear the life that the Father desires you to have!

How do you maintain your worship to God?

Read a related EmpowerMoment: Living Saved Is An Inside Job

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Mrs. Lisa M. Purnell-Marshall is happily married to the wonderful and inspiring Antoine L. Marshall. She is the proud mother of two gorgeous girls. Her voice is one of the leading and authentic voices for breast-feeding, especially for the African-American community and Generation Y. She currently works inside of her home and plans to become a professional licensed lactation consultant in 2014. She and her family are members at Spirit of Liberty Church located in Markham, IL. Embracing the love that God has for her, Lisa labors to live an acceptable and pure life through the leading and keeping of the Holy Spirit so that her attitude, words, and actions attract the glory of God. In her free time she loves receiving manis and pedis. Her favorite promises that she find comfort and reassurance in are: Psalm34:19: “A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all” and Luke 6:38: “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Accountability, Character, Righteousness, Sin

Better Check Yourself

I have been reading Leviticus and I must admit that it is not one of my favorite books of the Bible. I found myself once or twice nodding off while reading the book. I even raised an eyebrow and thought how meticulous the Israelites, under the Old Covenant, had to be when presenting an offering or sacrifice and their selves ceremonially clean to God. As I neared the end of Leviticus, I asked God, “Why am I reading this?”

It was then while reading Leviticus 21:16-18, the light bulb came on or shall I say the Holy Spirit answered my question. “Don’t come before God any kind of way.”

You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart form the nations to be my own. (Leviticus 20:26 NIV)

I should constantly examine myself and my walk with the Lord. Test me, O Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind. (Psalms 26:2 NIV) I should also check how I approach God in my prayer, praise and time with Him.Every time I read the Word or pray, my phone rings. Although I am actually better at this and I rarely answer it now, I would interrupt my time with God and answer it. Excuse me God; I know this is Your time and You come first, but something has come up is what I’m saying to God. As always, I should have sent the caller to voicemail. After talking to the person, I would go back and try to talk with God and it wouldn’t be the same. There are times when I have come before the Lord not only with my prayer requests, but with daydreams, thoughts of what I have to do, and a Santa Claus list.

Can you identify with this? Do you, like me, read the Word while lying down, ignoring God telling you to get up. God knows and you know too that you will fall asleep if you don’t get up. Have you rushed prayer or shortened your praise? Your breakthrough or answer could have been that very next minute. How many times have we come before God with unforgiveness, bitterness or an unwillingness to obey?

God wants His people to realize that although we are under the New Covenant, He still wants us to be holy. It was not an option then and it is not an option now. God wants His people to be holy, undefiled and without a blemish as He is. Does that mean we, as believers of Christ, will never sin? No. But we should hate sin as God does and not be mastered by it. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. (Romans 6:14 NIV) We are not perfect but we should be cultivating a perfect heart, one that is full of God’s love as well as undivided towards God. We should be maturing spiritually, seeking God’s presence and obeying His every command. Our love and desire for Him should outweigh our love and desire for the world. Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. (James 4:4b NIV)

Let’s be attentive to how we present ourselves to God:

  • Come correct. Confess your sins and repent sincerely. Have a pure heart, an uncluttered mind and make your petitions before God with the right motives. Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:22 NIV)
    When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. (James 4:3 NIV)
  • Have the Fear of the Lord. God doesn’t want you to be intimidated or shaking in your boots. Come boldly before the throne of grace with respect, reverence and honor of our God!
  • Acknowledge who He is; glorify Him and praise His Holy Name!
  • Come with His Word. Get to know God through His Word. Saturate in it and obey it. Speak His promises back to Him.
  • Have a forgiving heart.
  • Bring humility and your undivided heart. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. (Proverbs 3:34 NIV)
  • Be consistent and come expecting!

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for Your Son Jesus being our scapegoat and for sacrificing Himself that I may have salvation, mercy and an eternal inheritance. Thank You for reminding me that I am to respect You, honor You, love You wholeheartedly, obey You and be mindful of Your Presence and Power. You are an all consuming fire! You are the Only Wise God, Pure and Holy. You are a Jealous God! Thank You for the New Covenant and help me to keep my part of the covenant. You are Worthy and a Covenant Keeper! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, today I EMPOWER you to check yourself. Your relationship with God requires you to look good on the inside FIRST! Let God purify you and consecrate you so that your reflection resembles His Son. Be ye holy as He is holy!  Ask God to show you how He sees you as you are reminded to check yourselves.

How have you been presenting yourselves to God? What changes do you believe you need to make?

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Ms. Tannika Moore loves the Lord and loves to write! Besides writing poetry or editing written work for family and friends, she currently works for NEIU Educational Talent Search program. She help assists Chicago public high school students with their reading, writing, etc. as well as helps them consider and prepare for college. She, like many of her students, is the first of her family to graduate from college. She earned a Bachelor’s of Arts in English-Professional & Technical Writing. God, the Creator and Great Father has also created her to be a Compassion Person and Encourager and so she loves to encourage people according to God’s Word and help them to see, think and become better thru her support, actions and writing. Her favorite scripture comes from Philippians 1:6, For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you shall perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.