Note to Self: I am His!!!

Fact: There are days when I question, “am I saved enough?” This isn’t because I’m not secure in my salvation, but moreso due to me looking at how others respond to God or what they consider the things of God. I’m​ not into “churching” aka being in church for the sake of being in church(powerless services, conferences, and etc.). I don’t observe Jewish holidays, and I don’t care to be so “deep” in the things of the Spirit that I fail to love in my pursuit of this knowledge. As I start to focus on what others are doing, I begin to think simply loving Him and loving others is not enough. Then these two verses come to mind, and I get back on track:

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12, 13

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”- John 13: 34,35

He provides me with the will to do what pleases Him, and ultimately that is to love Him and others more. Sometimes the reminder is needed that I am His and his love flowing through me proves it. Thanks for reading!-Charity Israel

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Nuggets from Noah: The Perks of Living in an Ark

This reflection was written July 8, 2016 in one of my journals. Today I was reminded of it. I was encouraged all over again. I pray it encourages you:

Today I felt led to read the story of Noah (Genesis 7:9-17). While reading, I tried to rush through it assuming I knew everything there was about Noah. The Holy Spirit, said “slow down and read all of it.”  As I started to take my time to read, I recognized the time it took for Noah’s world to return to its regularly scheduled programming (i.e. no animals, no living in an ark, and etc.). It took well over a year for things to return to “normal.” It took 40 days to flood the earth and over a year to restore the land.

As I read this story, I started to see my life. I too have been in an ark, a place of protection during the flood of life.  It is as if all that was good, honest, and true were permitted to remain while every lie, deception, past mistake, and negative mindset were left out of my ark. The world as I knew it was being destroyed around me; and I was forced to be by myself as things from my past were being drowned by the torrential rains of God’s love, truth, forgiveness, and grace. It was cold and dark, but I was never alone. Being in similar situations, I assumed it would not take as long to get out the ark. However almost 7 ½ months later, I am still in the ark. Things are slowly returning to normal, and the sun is starting to shine again. It is not quite time to come out, but I have more hope that the doors will be opening soon.

I must retract my statement about Noah’s life returning to normal. Nothing was normal about Noah’s life after leaving the ark. In the beginning of the story, he had just a piece of land to call his own. Now, he had the world as his possession. He already had authority as the patriarch of his family; but he obtained dominion over the earth upon leaving the ark. His family had been entrusted with replenishing the earth for the glory of God. He went into the ark as a servant, and he left it as a Ruler. He went into the ark following commands, but he left it free to do what his heart desired.  Noah was a completely different man a year or so later after being in the ark. He had become wiser; skilled at taming animals; and a great strategist dealing with the issues that arouse on the ark. Noah’s patience was perfected while waiting to be released from the ark. He became a master at caring for creation. He developed a deeper understanding of God while enduring the flood. Building the ark proved God to be a provider. Living in the ark proved God to be a protector and sustainer of His creation.

 Today you may be in what appears to be the greatest storm of your life. Having gone through a few storms, you assumed God would have responded by now. However, you do not know what is being prepared beyond your limited view of the situation. God is developing a place where you can thrive, have dominion, and enjoy His creation. Take a lesson from Noah and wait on God. Allow God to handle what is outside of your power, and you tend to what you can fix. Allow this time to perfect your love and skills. Let the truth of God’s love for you assure you that this time will not last forever.

Noah received new instructions upon leaving the ark, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth.” (Genesis 9:2) Initially, he was restricted by what could go into the ark. Once Noah was released, he was given permission to produce as much as he could for as long as he could. Authority is given to those who submit themselves to God’s will during the time of a storm. I pray you will be found submitting yourself to God’s will while in your storm. There is something God is working inside of you and outside of the ark. Yield to the process and watch God keep his promise of protection and provision. You’ll be released from the ark at the perfect time. Thanks for reading!-Charity Israel

 

 

 

 

Ask for Help: Tips on Surrendering to the Will of God

” Teach me to do Your will. For you are my God; Your Spirit is good. Lead me in the land of uprightness.”-Psalm 143:10

I truly believe this verse should be the prayer of every Christian. Our hearts should long to know and to do God’s will. We should desire to know His plans for our lives. We should long to fulfill those plans. This longing is admirable, but we should at  some point in our spiritual journey  go from simply desiring His will to submitting ourselves to His will. Here a four ways to ensure that you are doing just that:

1.Recognize Your inability to do God’s will outside of His help. The first sentence in this scripture indicates one man’s recognition of needing God’s help in order to do His will. As I was studying, I came across a beautifully written description by  MacLaren’s Expositions that helps illustrates this point :

We may learn from this prayer, then, that practical conformity to God’s will can never be attained by our own efforts. Remember all the hindrances that rise between us and it; these wild passions of ours, this obstinate gravitating of tastes and desires towards earth, these animal necessities, these spiritual perversities, which make up so much of us all-how can we coerce these into submission? Our better selves sit within like some imprisoned king, surrounded and ‘fooled by the rebel powers’ of his revolted subjects; and our best recourse is to send an embassy to the Over-lord, the Sovereign King, praying Him to come to our help. We cannot will to will as God wills, but we can turn ourselves to Him, and ask Him to put the power within us which shall subdue the evil, conquer the rebels, and make us masters of our own else anarchic and troubled spirits. For all honest attempts to make the will of God our wills, the one secret of success is confident and continual appeal to Him. A man must have gone a very little way, very superficially and perfunctorily, on the path of seeking to make himself what he ought to be, unless he has found out that he cannot do it, and unless he has found out that there is only one way to do it, and that is to go to God and say, ‘O Lord! I am baffled and beaten. I put the reins into Thy hand; do Thou inspire and direct and sanctify.’

If we are ever going to do the will of God, we must recognize that it can only happen with His help.

2.Surrender your free will to God’s will.  The interesting thing about God is that He does not typically force His way on people. In his kindness, He has given us “free will,” and our free will often conflicts with His. This is why the Psalmist plea of asking God to “teach me to your will” is so important. It is by asking to be taught that he simultaneously surrenders his own free will and submits himself to God. The moment we ask for God’s help is the moment we surrender all that we know and yield to what He is willing to teach us.

3.Know Who God is. After praying that God teaches him, the psalmist points out, “Your spirit is good.” By this phrase we come to understand why the psalmist was able to surrender his will. His understanding of God’s goodness made surrendering to His will the only proper response. The goodness of God compelled him to trust God with his life, and it should compel us to do the same.

4.Know where God leads. After acknowledging God’s goodness, the psalmists then cries out, “Lead me in the land of uprightness.” This gives the psalmist a measuring stick of whether the places his feet trod are God’s will or his. As he pursues what is right He can rest assure he is being led by God. God will rarely lead us to a place that His goodness and righteousness cannot be found. For the most part, he leads us beside quiet streams. When we are committed to doing life His way righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost is our portion.

If we truly desire to surrender our lives to God, we must be like the psalmist and recognize we cannot do it without Him. We must drop all of our pride and ask God for help. We have to be convinced of who God is so that in the moments He requires more than we would like to give, we trust what we know about Him over our desire. I will not pretend that a life of surrender is not difficult at times. It can be excruciatingly painful in those moments you would prefer to do things your way. However, his grace is sufficient and he helps those who ask for it. My prayer for us all is that we would drop our pride and lift our hands in total surrender to the purposes and plans of God for our lives. He is ready to lead us when we are ready to surrender.

 

 

 

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The Inclusivity of the Gospel

For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved!”-Romans 10:13

Before you freak out, this is not my Coming Out Speech in support of  The Gospel of Inclusion. This is my little exhaustive list of what the Apostle Paul meant by the word “everyone” in Romans 10:13.  I believe this scripture reveals the love, equality, and mercy of God to mankind. Everyone is welcomed to receive salvation if they so desire it. There are no prerequisites.  There are no background or credit checks. Your I.Q is not taken into consideration. Your family history does not keep you from it. Your past is not held against you. Everyone means EVERYONE.

It does not matter if you are liberal or conservative. It does not matter if you are a democrat or republican. It does not matter if you are voting for Trump or Clinton. It does not matter if you watch Fox News or CNN. Salvation is yours if you call on the name of the Lord.

It does not matter if you were once a Satanist. It does not matter if you grew up in a Muslim home. It does not matter if you were once a Buddhist. It does not matter if you were once a Five Percenter. It does not matter if you were a Voodoo priest or priestess. It does not matter if you were Wiccan or you worship St. Lucia. Salvation is yours if you call on the name of the Lord.

It does not matter if you enjoy telling little white lies or large white lies. It does not matter if you have found yourself to be a thief, gossiper, and a cheater. It does not matter if you have had an abortion. It does not matter if you have a proclivity towards pedophilia, pornography, homosexuality, or bestiality. It does not matter if you are murderer, rapist, or what most consider  to be the lowest of humanity. Salvation is yours if you call on the name of the Lord.

I will admit it took me a while to be comfortable with the idea that everyone can receive salvation. It was only a problem because in my humanity I considered some sins greater than others; but in His divinity, God sees them all the same. He provides the same remedy for every sin we will find ourselves entangled in, and that is SALVATION! God never intended salvation to be so complicated. It has always been a matter of simply confessing Jesus as Lord and Savior of your life; and anyone who believes and confess is a recipient of this wonderful Salvation. It is available to “EVERYONE WHO CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD!” Let us stop making Jesus so unattainable to people. Let us keep the Gospel message as simple as Jesus made it in John 3:16, “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”(New Living Translation) It really is as simple as believing in Christ and confessing him as our Savior. I pray that will be the Gospel we share with others. It is really the only one worth sharing!-Charity Israel

 

 

Photo Credit: http://billypenn.com/2015/08/04/the-pope-in-philly-how-many-people-could-actually-fit-on-the-ben-franklin-parkway/

The Blessing of Confession

PhotoGrid_1469807035387Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.”-Psalm 32:5

For the last few days I have been meditating on this scripture; and reflecting over the many times in my life that I wanted to live in rebellion rather than experience redemption. I remember the countless times I tried to justify certain thoughts, behaviors, and motives. I can recall the plethora of times that I lingered in sin a little longer than I should have and the consequences that accompanied such dumb life decisions.

Once I started to get serious about my relationship with God honesty became a requirement for it to function properly. As I began to spend time in prayer and studying scripture, sin was not so easy to commit or leave unconfessed. The magnitude of His love compelled me to tell the truth about me. I could no longer pretend that the life I was living was one that pleased Him. I had two options: to live a lie and remain outside of his presence or to start confessing so that I could fully enjoy His presence. Like the psalmist I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.”

I John 1:9 tells us “if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” As I did this I began to experience freedom from guilt, shame, and public opinion of my past. Assurance in God’s forgiveness produces freedom. However, we will NEVER know that freedom if we choose to remain in rebellion and unconfessed sin. We will spend our time trying to justify our actions to ourselves and to those around us. Even worse we will become reprobate and sever our relationship with God. He never leaves us, but we will leave Him as we allow both shame and pride to keep us from confessing what we have done. One of the most cunning weapons of the enemy is to convince us that we have done too much wrong to receive the love and forgiveness of God; and I am here to tell you that as the “Father of Lies” that is one of his greatest lies!!!

The Truth of the matter is “God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation.” (Rom. 5:8,9) There is no sin, outside of blaspheming the Holy Ghost, that will keep you from the forgiving grace of God. If he sent His son while we were in sin, surely any sin we have committed is forgivable if we are willing to confess it. Do not allow the enemy of your soul or even yourself talk you out of receiving the freedom from guilt that is made available to us through confession.

God sent Christ so that we could have the opportunity to have a relationship with Him if we so desire it. Do not let the moments of slipping or even falling into sin keep you out experiencing the beauty of having a relationship with the Creator of the universe. He gave us an anecdote for renewing our relationship with Him after we have fallen prey to the sin and our selfish desires. Confession is the key, and it is a blessing to those who will humble themselves and tell God the truth. I pray from this day forward you will choose to confess instead of cover up. You will never have peace inside until you reconcile your relationship with the One who made you, and confession makes it possible. I pray you will find the time to do it.-Charity Israel

Dear Christian: Listener Beware of Periscope Preaching

pulpit-preacherJesus Christ  the same yesterday, today, and forever. So do not be distracted by strange, new ideas. Your strength comes from God’s grace, not rules about food which, do no help those who follow them.-Hebrews 13:8,9

Let me start this post off by saying, “I come in peace, love, and hair grease!” This blog is in no way taking a shot at anyone who claims to be an apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher. However, I do write this as a warning and encouragement to those who are in these positions and to those who aspire to be in them.

In a world that is fixed on finding the new trend, new face, new word, and etc. we as ministers must be careful not to follow behind them. We cannot allow our desires to be trendy, relevant, or popular to take us away from the never changing Truth of the Gospel. Here are some things we should be checking before we choose to subscribe to a Periscope Preacher or become one:

  1. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. His story does not change and the way he becomes our Lord does not change. If someone is presenting another Jesus other than the one our Bible teaches UNSUBSCRIBE. If someone is suggesting that you should do more than Romans 10:9 to be saved you should UNSUBSCRIBE.
  2. Do not be attracted by strange, new ideas. If your new revelation cannot be supported by anything found in Genesis through Revelation, please discard of it. We do NOT need it in the body of Christ! Everything we teach or preach must have its’ roots deeply embedded in the word of God. The bible is complete and your ideas outside of it are not helpful to the Body of Christ. To those listening, if there is never a Bible verse mentioned from the mouth of the man or woman of God you are listening to UNSUBSCRIBE. If you find their message more appealing to your pride, vanity, and temporal things that don’t encourage you in your walk with God, UNSUBSCRIBE. There are a lot of people using Jesus as their get rich or popular real quick scheme. Please do NOT assist them in their madness.
  3. Your strength comes from God’s grace, not from rules about food, which do NOT help those who follow them. As a Christian if you are unfamiliar with the concept of God’s Grace I would encourage you to get to know what it entails. It is a beautiful gift from God that saves us from sin and enables us to refrain from sin. The grace of God is what gives us strength to live righteously. If a person is suggesting that you have to do anything more than live in the grace that God has provided UNSUBSCRIBE. Ephesians 2:8,9 reveals it is grace alone that saves us, and there is nothing we can do besides having faith in God to keeps us saved. “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” If a person is suggesting anything differently, UNSUBSCRIBE. Our salvation, our righteousness, our sanctification, EVERYTHING comes from God and do not allow anyone to have you thinking it’s all done by your strength. Our boast should be in the Lord and not in us.

I hope this blog was received in the love that it was written. Social Media is a great platform to get the Gospel of Jesus Christ out. However we must make sure that our messages always line up with the word of God. It is not just the litmus test for life, but it should be the way we filter through messages that will honor Him, ourselves, or some false teaching. I hope this will help you filter through what is worthy of your time and attention. Have a Marvelous Monday and thanks for reading!-Charity Israel

 

Photo Credit: http://www.considerup.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/pulpit-preacher.jpg

 

 

Forgive Them!!!

intercessorForgiveness is one of the greatest jewels of the Christian faith. It is what God graciously extends to us through Jesus Christ, and it our Christian response to others. Intercession is also a jewel. God in his kindness was often times willing to forgive a nation because of the prayers of one person (Exo. 32:32, 34:7-9; Deut. 21:8; Ps 79:9; Isa 2:9; Dan. 9:19; Amos 7:2) Throughout the ages, people have selflessly stood in the gap for those who had no desire to please God. They have been a saving grace to our human race, and all their prayers are appreciated.
In the Old Testament, we find that those being persecuted by pagan nations often prayed for the destruction of their enemies. They did not just pray for their destruction, but they fought many battles to ensure it. In the New Testament, however, there is a new response to those being persecuted by their enemies; and that is praying that they are forgiven. Many of us would not consider forgiveness as a form of intercession. We do not consider it intercession because we often focus on the offense instead of the proper response to it. We often let the hurt fester, and we adopt it as a new chip on our shoulder to stay angry at the world. It is the bitterness from unforgiven offenses that operates as a toxin in the Body of Christ (Heb. 12:14, 15). In the New Testament, we discover the proper response of an Intercessor when the offense becomes a physical attack instead of a spiritual one. We must forgive, and that forgiveness becomes an intercession for those who attack us.
There is leader in the Bible who used forgiveness as a form of intercession. This man led a small core group of 12; fed over 5,000 people with two fish and five loaves of bread; and he gave up his life so that everyone would have an opportunity to know God. This man is named Jesus. It was Jesus who spent his life exemplifying what it meant to love God and your neighbor only to be, at the end of it, wrongfully accused and sentenced to death. It was Jesus, who while visiting one city, heard the crowd shouting “Hosanna, Hosanna!” one week and chanting “crucify him!” the following week. It was Jesus, the one who healed the withered hand and crippled feet, who had to have his hands and feet secured to a cross by nails. It was Jesus, the one possessing eternal life, with his last breath uttered these words in Luke 23:34, “Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.” Jesus who had every right to be upset, offended, furious, and betrayed made his last words an intercession. I would assert that if Jesus was praying “Father forgive them,” that he had already forgiven them (us) in his heart. He made an “allowance for our offenses” as Paul admonishes each believer to do in Colossians 3:13, “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” Jesus showed us by example how we should respond to those who would love nothing more than to see us dead, FORGIVE THEM.
In the book of Acts chapter 6 and 7, we find the story of a man named Stephen. The bible described him as “a man full of faith, the Holy Spirit, grace, and the power of God. He performed amazing miracles and signs among the people.” (Acts 6:5, 8) He was loved by the brethren and hated by religious leaders because of his wisdom and the Holy Spirit in him. These men conspired against him and found people to lie on him. Their lies led to Stephen’s arrest and a meeting with the Council (vv. 6:9-7:53). It was during this meeting that he spoke only what the Spirit told him to say. His words of truth made those living a lie furious. Out of their anger, they drugged him outside of the city and began to stone him (vv. 7:54-58) This man who was obedient to what the Holy Spirit asked of him was now facing death by the hands of those claiming to know God. His response to their actions was a prayer. Acts 7:59, 60 says, “As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 He fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that, he died.” Stephen like Jesus interceded on behalf of his murderers so that their sins would not be counted against them.
As intercessors it is important that we are found, even in the face of death, interceding for our offenders. It should be the desire of every intercessor that all come to know God, including those who hurt us. The story of Jesus and Stephen proves that we can be completely in the will of God and have to suffer persecution. They show us that the very people we are called to help may bring us the greatest harm; but we must forgive them. In our humanity, holding an offense will always be justified, but our call to “live according to the Spirit” nullifies that human right (Rom. 8:5). The life of an intercessor will present us with moments to be greatly offended; but we have to be wise intercessors and keep “allowances for offenses” in stock. The enemy would love nothing more than to hold you hostage, from you assignment, by the offenses you refuse to let go. Effective intercessions are those wrapped in love, grace, and forgiveness. Reinhold Niebuhr says “Forgiveness is the final form of love.” It is my prayer that if any of us are found having to surrender our life for this great Gospel that our last prayer would be, “Father forgive them!”

Can’t is Killing Your Dreams!!!

This morning I woke up thinking about the phrase “I can’t.” I thought of how it is often the first thing we say when our thoughts suggest we do something greater with our careers, talents, agility, and etc. Then, I considered how it tends to be an automatic response to any request that would require us to do something beyond what we know we are capable of doing. Finally, I thought about how insulting those words could be to a God who made it possible for you to do anything. For the sake of clarity, I am not suggesting anything ludicrous like becoming the first human fish; but I am saying you CAN do those things you desire that presently appear impossible. Here are five things you CAN do contrary to your upbringing, present circumstances, and in spite of  your inner pessimist:

  1. You can become wiser. Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” According to the Bible, reverencing the Lord is the founding principle for acquiring wisdom and knowledge. Once you are in sync with the One who knows all things, believing you can actually do anything does not sound too far fetched. He has all the answers, and He knows how to get them to you. Do not be intimidated about going back to school or starting a new business venture. You have God, everything else can be learned through a book or taught by a teacher.
  2. You can become successful. Deuteronomy 8:18 (NLT) says, “Remember the Lord your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful…” In this verse Moses is reminding the children of Israel to be mindful of where their success comes from so that they will never take credit for it. If you want success, make it a point to never forget who makes it possible. Once you understand who is your source of success, there will not be a need to compromise your integrity to gain more of it. You simply seek the source for ideas, and give your all to making them a reality in your life.
  3. You CAN get access to great people. Proverbs 18:16 (NLT) says, “Giving a gift can open doors; it gives access to important people.” If you want to come before “great” people keep a gift with you. Whether your gift is tangible or one given to you by your creator, have something to present!  Extend your hands with something to give, and you will be recognized.
  4. You CAN endure anything life throws your way. The Apostle Paul informs us in Philippians 4:11-13,”…I have learned in whatever state I am in, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Paul gives the anecdote for enjoying success and enduring sorrow in this life: JESUS CHRIST!!! If you want to get the most out of every experience in life take Jesus with you. By the time this life ends, you will not be disappointed because He is our Great Hope!
  5. You CAN be saved.  Choosing whether or not to accept God’s gift of love to you will have an eternal effect on your life. Allow me to give you some insight into making life’s most important decision. In Mark 10, a rich young ruler becomes discouraged by what is required of him to inherit eternal life. He is asked to give up all he owns and give it to the poor. He chose his wealth and walked away. As followers of Jesus watched and probably empathized with the young man  they asked, ”  ‘Then who can be saved?’ 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”’  It is GOD ALONE who makes our salvation possible. This is also the reason why salvation is offered to everyone. Regardless of one’s race, religious background, socioeconomic status, past sins, criminal record, and etc., God will accept you. He is not intimidated by your past transgressions; and he is not offended by your past doubts and declarations of Him never existing. If you desire salvation, YOU CAN HAVE IT!!! Simply pray this prayer or one similar to it:

    God I receive your love gift of Jesus Christ dying for my sins. I repent for everything I have done that displeased you. I thank you for your forgiveness, and I confess you as Lord and Savior of my life. Thank you that I am now a citizen of your kingdom in Jesus name. Amen #welcometothefamily

For the Christian, CAN’T should be removed from our vocabulary.  As it pertains to being successful, YOU CAN! As it pertains to obtaining wisdom, completing your degree, and starting a business, YOU CAN! YOU CAN get through the divorce, unemployment, and the death of a loved one. YOU CAN be forgiven of sin, free from condemnation, and walk in your purpose. YOU CAN love again, marry again, and be completely accepted. You are the child of an amazing God, so you can do amazing things. STOP talking yourself out of what you are capable of doing. God is your strength, and there is no failure in Him. Your success is inevitable, go for it! #YESYOUCAN