For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. ~ Ephesians 2:8-9

There are days when you walk out into the bright sunshine… embraced by a cool breeze.  And as you look around, you realize the struggle is real. Then you smile. Because so is God’s grace—that unmerited favor that you don’t deserve—but received just the same. Hallelujah!

So you shake of the cares of life—counting your blessings. Thanking God for deliverance from enemies, afflictions, and adversities—dangers seen and unseen. Knowing that you’re blessed—able to do all things through Jesus Christ. You have God’s daily guidance, forgiveness, and preservation. You’re a joint heir with the Son of God (Romans 8:17).

You see God’s love in every action towards you. You bloom in the shade. You build castles in the sky. You turn lead into God. You call things that are not into existence. You take nothing and make it into something. You watch God moving heaven and earth to save you when you can’t lift a finger to save yourself. God’s only Son assures you that He will never leave you (Hebrews 13:5-6).

Yes… the struggle is real. But so is God’s grace. Set your sail in the wind and dream big. Be amazing. Be outstanding. Succeed when you should fail. Lead when others think you should follow. Take what’s wrong and make it right. See the good in the bad. From ashes beauty comes. You have all you need, to be everything you need to be… to be your best each day (Isaiah 40:31).

God bless… I am Wiley’s granddaughter.

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. ~ Philippians 4:13

There’re many causes of failure. Sometimes failure results from something you did or didn’t do. There’re different kinds of failure. Failure can be serious and painful—other times stupid and embarrassing. Failure can be fleeting or have lifelong consequences. But rest assured, failure will happen at one time or another—if you try to do anything. Frederick Douglass said, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.”

Sometimes, I think of failure as an unwelcome spiritual struggle. That prepares you to succeed later—when the rewards are greater. Remember Abraham, Moses, David, and Peter all experienced epic failure—before each went on to great success. From them you can get insight into overcoming failure, when you:

  • acknowledge your failure and refuse to hide behind excuses,
  • confess any sin to God when sin is involved in the failure,
  • scrutinize what led to the failure to avoid taking those actions again, and
  • put the failure behind you and move ahead (1 John 1:9; Phil. 3:13).

In other words, stop complaining about the failure. Take responsibility… Forgive yourself and others… Analyze the failure… Change direction if necessary… Formulate a new plan… Do a reality-check of your plan according to God’s word… Then execute your plan.

Remember, you can recover from failure. You don’t have to wallow in failure when you know where your help comes from. Though you must sometimes journey through failure on your way to success. The secret is to take courage, embrace the struggle, and continue on.

This is when you grow in God’s grace! Realizing that failure is a step on the road of life. Walk through the failure… Success is just up ahead!

God Bless… I am Wiley’s granddaughter.

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. ~ Matthew 6:24

I’d been trying to grasp the unsettling idea for months. A faint, vague notion floating in and out of my mind. It felt like trying to separate oil droplets from water with a toothpick. Or struggling to recall a dream that I no longer remembered. But today, the idea came into sharp focus. And it caused me to search the Scriptures. Grappling with the question, Why do Christians seem to seek the devil for their blessings?

The question itself troubled me at first. I wanted to unthank it. But, I’d already perceived this image of self-proclaimed Christians—bowing to baal—in hopes of receiving gifts. Selling their arrogant souls for silver and gold… power and fame. Some sell so cheap… they get bought by vain flattery.

My biblical search took me to familiar places that spoke of the blessings of God (Philippians 4:19; James 1:17; 2 Corinthians 9:8). I read about moral degeneracy and societal decay (2 Timothy 3:1–4). How schemers embrace corruption and greed (2 Corinthians 11:13-15; 2 Peter 2:15). However, I was taken to an unexpected place.

I was led to Elijah. Specifically, 1 Kings 19:18. I was shown Romans 11:4. I came to realize that there’s still godly men and women among us—courageous leaders and holy shepherds. Those who God has set aside for His purpose in this time—so I need not worry. I need only call on the name of Jesus.

There’s no need to be dismayed by what is seen or heard. Nor a need to feel alone in the hope that things will get better. Keep kneeling in prayer! Keep being faithful! Keep doing good works! And watch as God pour out His blessings upon His children, which shall surpass anything that baal can offer.

In love and kindness… Seek to be named amongst the thousands… knowing that God’s got this in control.

God Bless… I am Wiley’s granddaughter.

For I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul. ~ Jeremiah 31:25

When weather conditions are just right. Each blade of grass sparkles with tiny droplets of water that seems to come from out of nowhere. Seeing dew in the early morning sunshine, reminds me of the refreshing power of God. That unmerited favor—from living water—that can refresh our exhausted souls.

In the Bible, refreshing water has both physical and spiritual meanings. Cool refreshing water (Proverbs 25:25; John 4:14; Judges 15:18-19; Isaiah 44:3) revives us when we’re weary. It replenish us when we’ve done our best and still fall short. Restores us when we’re defeated. Renews us when all our strength is gone. It’s important to remember that refreshing water comes through the love of Jesus Christ.

So, if your soul is thirsty. If you need the healing power of living water, recommit yourself to draw closer to your God. Be still and fellowship with Him. Take time to stop and smell the roses covered in morning dew. Stand in awe of all that God has provided for your benefit.

Then enjoy the peace and contentment that only God’s love brings. Knowing that the living water has refreshed your soul.

God Bless… I am Wiley’s granddaughter.

Sometimes we feel wounded, discouraged and defeated. Things happen that cause us to tremble within the deepest parts of our souls… where only God can see and give comfort. In times like those—we learn—from Isaiah 61:3 that God gives beauty for ashes.

In biblical times, it was customary for people to sit in ashes. Or cover themselves with ashes to express their grief over a tragedy (2 Sam 13:19), sorrow over a public disaster (Esther 4:1), or heartache connected to their own repentance of sin (Jonah 3:5-7). Ashes were linked to pain, loss and suffering—linked to the struggles of the flesh.

Today, we still find hope and encouragement in Isaiah 61:3. God is still just and merciful. He forgives, heals and restores. Beauty for ashes is God’s promise that He delivered us from our troubles through Jesus Christ. So, we can break-free from our fears, sorrows, worries, and false conclusions about ourselves and others. We can overcome our struggles!

What an amazing exchange? God takes the ashes of sorrow, pain, despair, hurt and tears… then gives us the beauty of joy, healing, peace of mind, prosperity and blessings. Let’s trust the report of the Lord and watch beauty come from ashes.

God Bless… I am Wiley’s granddaughter.

But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen.~2 Peter 3:18

God reveals himself in ways that defy set patterns, customs or denominational boundaries. He shows up and shows out at His will. There are days when His presence overflows in our lives. It’s as though our spirit leaps for joy inside our physical body. And we feel invincible—connected to the true vine (John 15:1). That’s when we know… that it’s God and He’s making His presence known. This can be expressed through a supernatural event, a quiet personal experience, or a confirmation from others. It’s that place in time… where we flow in harmony with the cosmos and everything seems to work for our good.

We can only imagine… that’s how the Hebrew boys felt when they walked in—and—out of the fiery furnace (Daniel 3:1-25). Moses must have believed in the power of God as he crossed the Red Sea (Exodus 14-32). Ruth probably smiled as she gleamed the leftover grains from the field (Ruth 2:2). When David faced the giant with a rock and slingshot… surely, he recognized who God is (1 Samuel 17).

In a moment of knowing… the woman at the well, most likely understood (John 4). Another woman knew that she just needed to touch the hem of His garment (Matthew 9:20). Thomas declared “My Lord, My God” (John 20:24-29). Saul had a change of heart and became Paul on the Damascus road (Acts 9). Peter and Andrew heard… when Jesus called (Mart 1:16-18; Matthew 4:19).

When God reveals Himself and we recognize His presence—we are restored, renewed and repositioned. Through His amazing grace and favor, it’s in that space in time—with irrefutable confidence—we perceive ourselves to be embraced in God’s love… right here on earth… because we know—Who—we know.

God Bless… I am Wiley’s granddaughter.

Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.~James 1:3

Temptation is an attraction for… or a desire to do something—especially something wrong or unwise. No one can say… they have never been tempted. Biblically speaking, 1 John 1:8-9 tells us that when we say… we have no iniquity—we deceive ourselves. Yet, when we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our faults and to purify us from our unrighteousness.

Battling temptation is familiar to most Christians. Although, we’ve been set free from the wages of sin, it doesn’t mean we live without struggling against sin. However, it does mean that we know when to repent. Because we recognize:

  • We have a real enemy that seeks to destroy us… So, we must be sober and vigilant (1 Peter 5:8).
  • We are not alone in our temptation–no matter whatever it is–others are struggling too…. For temptations are common to men and women (1 Corinthians 10:13).
  • We are able to resist temptation and obey God… When we keep our mind stayed upon Him (Romans 8:5; James 4:7).
  • We must examine our temptations and struggle against wrong tendencies… Therefore, provisions to do wrong are not made (Romans 13:14; Ephesians 6:11).
  • We continuously pray for God’s help… Being watchful to avoid temptations (Matthew 26:41).

Remember, Jesus realized that His disciples weren’t able to fight temptations on their own.  So, He urged them to appeal to God in prayer. For God is our defense against all temptation. God has absolute control and can guide us through every deceitful situation. Trusting that God hears us… we know that His power can deliver us according to Matthew 6:13.

Also, Hebrews 2:18 tells us that Jesus understands and is able to deliver us when we’re being tempted. Therefore, we must not fear temptation… though we must flee it. For it is in the struggle, where we learn how to be strong.

God Bless… I am Wiley’s granddaughter.

And the LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name. ~ Exodus 33:17 

The other day, I was doing research for an educational brief that I’m writing. I came across many good resources and practices. However, one practice stood out. It spoke to the inclusive power of greeting students by their names. Research affirmed the benefits of asking students for the correct pronunciation of their names—if needed—then correctly saying it when talking to them.

Wow! What a simple act—that means so much. Calling someone by their name explicitly avow… I see you. I know you exist. And I respect you.

This reminded me of a young woman who spoke passionately about how important her name was to her. She shared that her name had been changed when she was adopted as a child. As an adult, she now had her birth name tattooed on her body, in honor of her identity… her ethnicity… her heritage. It reminded me of a physics professor, who called me Amelia for an entire semester… instead of by my name. It reminded me of a friend, who claims that when her husband calls her name, she feels giddy, happy and loved.

In John 10:3, Jesus said, “…and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.”  Jesus also told His disciples, “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine” (John 10:14). What an amazingly wonderful precious comforting thought? Jesus knows my name!

We’re not a number, a symbol or an abstract idea… out there… somewhere. We’re the King’s kids—embraced within His glorious loving fellowship and protection.

As one of His own… we can agree with the Psalmist. We know our God’s name (Psalm 91:14). We know His name… Elohim… Jehovah… El Shaddai… He is Omniscient… Omnipresent… Wonderful Counselor… Provider… We know He’s Holy… Just… and True. We need not feel insignificant or afraid… if someone forgets to call us by our names. Cause in victory… we hear His voice. Tenderly… He calls to us by name. We are His and He is Ours.

God Bless… I am Wiley’s granddaughter.

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. ~ Ephesians 4:29

Words can communicate infinite meanings. Whether through sign language, written, or in braille… But especially when spoken—words have spiritual energy. Words are powerful! Isaiah 55:11 states, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it (NIV).

Words can encourage or discourage. Words can cause fear, anger, sadness, joy, disgust, shock, trust, hope, peace, comfort or anticipation. Words can teach, heal, harm, inspire, help, hinder, humiliate, destroy, guide or restore. Words can validate dreams or disrupt hopes. Words can break a heart or cause it to rejoice. Life and death is in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21).

So, use words with caution. Choose words courageously, intentionally and wisely. Speak in love. Speak life. Speak hope. Speak faith. Speak healing. Speak good—positive, uplifting, and reassuring words. Being careful… not to limit… or hurt yourself and others with words.

Use your words to affirm that you’re who God says you are! Speak into existence your inheritance.  I am blessed. I am favored. I am healed. I am beautiful. I am wealthy. I am an overcomer. I am _____. You complete the sentence with the word(s) of your choice. Remember everything began with a word (Genesis 1:1-31).

With words, our thoughts become reality. So, choose the very best words to create the very best reality. Know the power of your words. Acknowledge misfortunes and problems… but speak less of them. Speak more of God’s goodness, favor, and grace. Speak of your heart’s desire. Give thanks for things that have yet to come to past… as though they were. Speak spiritual wondrous words in your life and in the lives of others…. and watch God change things.

God Bless… I am Wiley’s Granddaughter.

He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. ~ Matthew 28:6

A simple object—the nail—shows just how powerful Jesus’ death on the cross was for us.  Crucifixion is one of the most painful and excruciating forms of punishment leading to death ever contrived. Jesus’ arms were stretched wide and His feet crossed. Nails… Made of heavy, tapered, square shaped iron about 5-9 inches long were used. One nail was driven in each of His wrists (not as most paintings portray in the hands) and one nail through His feet. In agony Jesus hung His head and died for us.

Jesus paid the ultimate price for our sins through three massive rugged nails! Nails that spiritually meant the difference between heaven or hell, sin or forgiveness, sorrow or joy, life or death. In the Old Testament, Jesus is represented as a unique nail fastened by God in a sure place for a glorious throne (Isaiah 22:20-25). In the New Testament, Jesus wasn’t overcome by men… but laid down His life (1 John 3:16). Everything that matters was made or broken by the will of God on the cross through the nail.

  • The nail of sin (Isaiah 53:4-5; 2 Corinthians 5:21)
  • The nail pierced (Psalm 22:16; Zechariah 12:10; John 19:37)
  • The nail fastened (Isaiah 41:7; Jeremiah 10:4)
  • The nail freed (Hebrew 9:12-14; Colossians 2:14)
  • The nail of forgiveness (Luke 23:34)
  • The nail of loyalty (Luke 22:42; Matthew 16:24)
  • The nail of love (John 18:37)
  • The nail of proof (John 20:25)
  • The nail of freedom (Exodus 21:2-6; Colossians 2:13-16)
  • The nail of holiness (Zechariah 14:20)
  • The nail of faith (Judges 4:17-24)
  • The nail of righteousness (Ecclesiastes 12:11; 2 Corinthians 5:21)

Jesus saw beyond the painful nails piercing His flesh to the hammer-holding hands yet un-cleansed (Luke 23:34). He saw those He came to save—who were yet in sin. So, He transformed the nails… into everything that we need. When we surrender… we know that Jesus is able to keep us (2 Timothy 1:12) … He has risen! Therefore… we can live because of His nails.

God Bless… I am Wiley’s granddaughter.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. ~ Psalm 23:1

One of my favorite books, God is More Than Enough by Dr. Tony Evans, describes explicitly why we need not be afraid… when we trust God. The scriptures referenced below are from Psalm 23:1-6 (NIV).

The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. In this verse… David, the Psalmist, uses the Hebrew word for Lord, which is Yahweh—God’s formal name. Declaring that God is right now present as his shepherd… the One who cares for him and provides everything that he needs.

He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters. This describes the normal nature of David as a member of Yahweh’s flock. Safe and protected in His care, forgiven from all anxieties. David is confident of the freedom to enjoy all the simple pleasures that makes up his life—the freshness of the meadow, the coolness of the stream—he feels satisfied beyond his own capacity.

He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. When David is exhausted and weary, Yahweh renews his strength and leads him in the paths of righteousness, pleasantness and peace. So that David can magnify Yahweh’s name as a gracious and merciful God.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.  When in the midst of dangers, deep as a valley, dark as a shadow, and dreadful as death itself, David will not give way to his fears. He will trustingly rely upon the Word and promises of God… persuaded that His grace shall comfort him.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Yahweh supplies David with plenty, and a variety of provisions and comforts. While his enemies seeing, envying, and fretting over it—cannot hinder it. With aromatic ointments, David enjoys an abundant portion—signified by his cup overflowing.

Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. David has God’s favor. And due to the blessed and comfortable effects of it, justifiably concludes that God would continue to show him favor. Thus, David rest assured that he shall constantly enjoy the loving commune of worshipping and praising God in his sanctuary—now and in the future. For the divine goodness and mercy that has been following David all the days of his life… would surely follow him into the house of his heavenly Father forever.

As sheeps in the care of Jesus Christ, we know that He will seek and protect those that belong to Him—no matter where they may stray (Luke 15:1-7).

God Bless… I am Wiley’s granddaughter.

For the LORD your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality nor take a bribe. ~ Deuteronomy 10:17 (NIV)

February is Black History Month or National African American History Month. A time to emphasize the wealth of knowledge passed from generation to generation. An occasion to remember the men and women, who are worthy of celebration. Some whose contributions were ultimate sacrifices—because they had a dreamed. Others who continue the dream—who promote the legacy. Working for a better life for African Americans… for all Americans… for humankind.

As a child of about seven, I remember reading with misty eyes. A story about a little boy who would sneak beside the chimney’s fire—late at night with a tattered primer—because he wasn’t allowed to learn to read. Back then… I couldn’t comprehend why a child was denied the right to read. I was a child and I loved to read. That’s one of my earliest memories of African American history.

So, I feel the passion of Frederick Douglass’ words, “I set out with high hope, and a fixed purpose, at whatever cost of trouble, to learn how to read” (Douglas, 1845, p.29). For a long time… I thought about those words every time I would read something. I understand “an expression of feeling…found its way down my cheek” (p.12) because I feel empathy every time I read Douglass’ autobiography. His words move me with compassion, understanding, and gratefulness.

Frederick Douglass wrote with clarity—eloquent, discerning and expressive—a testament to God’s grace. Hope that took a slave to freedom. Faith that turned illiteracy to literacy. And God’s favor, which flowed in the harshest of circumstances. A remarkable man who experienced an extraordinary journey. A man determined, courageous and inspiring—unapologetically who God created him to be.

God Bless… I am Wiley’s granddaughter.

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:13

There are times in life when we look around… and those we depended on to encourage us are gone—in need of encouragement themselves—or just not helpful. What shall we do then? Let us remember David’s reaction when he faced difficulties. As David looked around him, he saw nothing but discouragement and despair. No one to encourage him, so… David encouraged himself in the Lord his God (1 Samuel 30:6).

In that moment… when we ask ourselves, “Is it gonna be all right?” On the day, we feel stressed out—thinking we’re too young or too old to accomplish our goals. In that hour, when we hope trouble don’t last always because it seems like every time we get up—we get knocked down. Feeling desperate, afraid, and alone… no one to call on. In times such as those—we must encourage ourselves! Remember Paul and Silas (Acts 16:25) and the wise Elihu, who reminded Job that God gives songs in the night (Job 35:10).

We must turn to our faith and seek God (Psalm 13:5; 1 Samuel 30:8, Philippians 4:6 & 8; 1 Peter 5:7; Ephesians 2:18). Listen to God’s voice and follow (John 10:4; John 10:27). Pray our worries away (Philippians 4:6-7; Isaiah 26:3; 2 Corinthians 10:5; Psalm 105:4). Believe God’s Word and rejoice (Psalm 13:5-6; 1 Samuel 30:9; Psalm 28:7-8; Psalm 56:3; Psalm 42:5; Psalm 16:11; Psalm 105:4; Numbers 6:25; Philippians 4:13 Colossians 1:13-14). Meditate on God’s goodness and His promises… give Him our praises (Psalm 13:6; Psalm 22:5; Psalm 40:1-3; Ephesians 1:3; Ephesians 5:1).

Through praise and worship, in our prayer closet… we find joy and change our focus. We see the situation in a new light. We gain a closer relationship with God, through Jesus Christ. We come to realize that our situation is not strange. We know many others who have come before us and survived… prospered and grew in grace and favor. By God’s mercy, we will too. We will overcome… with testimonies worthy and strong. Hallelujah! We know how to encourage ourselves in the Lord.

God Bless… I am Wiley’s granddaughter.

In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: ~ Ephesians 1:11

God uses our strengths, weaknesses, heartaches, successes, failures, and experiences to shape our hearts and minds… In order to bring us closer to him and prepare us to fulfill our calling. For a calling is a specific part of our purpose—born out of faith and conviction. Like Paul (Acts 9:15), we too… can hear the call of God. A call that may seem great or small. A call that can affect the life of a single person… or change the world for everyone. A call that is not limited to influential leaders, the educated, the rich, or the famous.

God can call anyone—who need only answer and obey. A courageous, wise, and caring man or woman of faith, can be transformed from ordinary to extraordinary. As he or she personifies the will of God. A man or woman answering the call knows that he or she isn’t self-sufficient because a call requires God’s guidance from beginning to end.

On Monday, January 15, 2018, we pause to acknowledge life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. A man who advanced civil rights using the strategies of nonviolence and civil disobedience based on his Christian beliefs.

Dr. King’s I Have a Dream, If vs Though Faith, When Jesus Becomes a Reality (Sermon Jam), Overcoming Discouragement, and Love Your Enemies, along with many other speeches  show his courage, wisdom, and faith.

Thank you, Dr. King. May we remember the dream… as we journey along this way.

God Bless… I am Wiley’s granddaughter.

Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. ~ Mark 9:23

Scientists estimate the probability of you—being born you—at about 1 in 400 trillion. The chance of you winning the Mega Millions lottery… 1 in 259 million. Those are amazing odds. Yet, here we are… and for those who play the lottery, someone will win. We are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) and none of us are here by chance (Jeremiah 1:5).

For when the mountain seems too high to climb and the task seems impossible. Whether you’re praying for a breakthrough in your personal health… the health of a family member or friend. Or you’re desperately seeking God’s guidance and wisdom because you don’t know which way to turn. Maybe you’re praying for love, peace, and happiness. Perhaps you need a financial blessing. Possibly you’re worried about getting divorced or being married. It could be the salvation and protection of your children that keeps you up at night.

No matter the circumstances you’re facing… keep a godly perspective. Even our challenges serve a purpose (Peter 4:12-13). Continue to pray and trust God, through every situation… because if you can stand the pull… He will pull you out. According to Oswald Chambers, God “will tax the last grain of sand and the remotest star to bless us if we will obey Him”.

So, if things seem impossible—the task unattainable… find wisdom in the words of Nelson Mandela, “It only seems impossible until it’s done.”

God Bless… I am Wiley’s granddaughter.