The God-Assigned Duty of Hospitality

Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined .~ Titus 1:8

Our senior pastor shared that as far back as we can look into the history of God’s people, one of our God given duties is hospitality. The deliberate act of simply welcoming people into our personal space through our deeds, resources, and words. This is affirmed in Leviticus 19:33–34. Romans 12:13 tells us to pursue hospitality not just during holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries. And not only with those we know… In Hebrews 13:1–2, we are encouraged to show hospitality to strangers… for in doing so we might entertain angels unaware. Therefore, as Christians, it is our duty to develop the perpetual attitude and habit of hospitality.  

The motivation to practice hospitality comes from knowing that the ultimate act of hospitality was when Jesus Christ died for us. When we engage in hospitality, we share God’s refreshing joy and amazing grace. We pour into others… shimmering rays of hope and love that comes from Jesus Christ. We thereby, become lovers of what is good, upright, holy, and disciplined as we embrace the spiritual gift of hospitality.

But, how do we activate the spiritual gift of hospitality?

.Glad that you asked.

Without grumbling (1 Peter 4:9), we can practice hospitality by lifting our hands to help, opening our hearts to care, and sharing our homes to feed or shelter someone. There are perhaps as many ways to show hospitality as there are people in need of our generosity. Here are a few biblical examples:

Luke 5:1-11, Ezekiel 18:7, Isaiah 58:10, & Matthew 10:42… feed the hungry

James 2:15-17, Luke 3:11, Matthew 5:42, & Proverbs 19:17… share with those in need

Exodus 17:12, 1 Thessalonians 5:14, Isaiah 35:3, & Hebrews 12:12… lift up the weak

Matthew 25:35-40, Philippians 2:4, Galatians 6:2… help lighten someone’s burden

Therefore, one day we too may avow hospitality… as stated in Psalm 37:25-26… I once was young and now I am old, but I have never seen the righteous abandoned or their descendants begging for bread. For, every day I am generous, giving freely, and my descendants are blessed.

God Bless… I am Wiley’s granddaughter.

You’re Valuable to God

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.~ Luke 12:6-7

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One morning, I saw a bird. The regal fowl leisurely strolled along as it pecked in dew covered green grass along the side of the road. Warm golden sunshine shimmered on the horizon. The cars in front of me and behind me seemed less distracting. The tranquil scene embraced me. Serenity and admiration of God’s wondrous handiwork soothed me as I sat stuck in a minor traffic jam. Rushing to work, suddenly appeared less urgent. I became filled with a sense of God’s mindfulness towards His creation.

The next morning, while driving on that same stretch of road… there were over a dozen birds… all engaged in a carefree stroll as they feasted… Oblivious to my gazing eyes.

“Did the first bird tell the rest of the birds where food could be found?”

“Did the other birds see the first bird enjoying breakfast as they flew overhead?”

“Which bird, among them, is the one that was here yesterday?”

So many questions raced through my mind as I stared out of my car window. Then… I thought, “Take out your cellphone and snap a photo”—to late—traffic began to move again and my attention returned the rules of the road.

There is something to be learned here… I am sure. Not one bird was acting aggressive or demanding that the other birds leave because he saw it first. Not one bird seemed interested in where the other birds were pecking. The each peacefully laid claim to their spot in the grass without interference from the other. Did each bird feel worthy to enjoy the fruit of the land?

Luke 12:24 encourages us to… Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!

Wow! How much more valuable are we than birds?

It is of utmost importance that you see your value…your worth—not in a prideful or self-achieving—nor superior grandiose kind of way, but as a needful child of God… who is not dependent on what she is or can do… but on who God is and what He can do for her and through her.

Watching the birds reminded me that God is a provider. His provisions are sufficient… if you humble yourself in God’s love then you will begin to see your true worth. You are so valuable to God… that Jesus came down from heaven to save you.

God Bless… I am Wiley’s granddaughter.

Facing Giants in God’s Strength

Sooner or later, we all face giants. By giants, I’m referring to an overwhelming problem or issue that physically drains us and leaves us mentally exhausted. A giant could be fear, sickness, pride, guilt, shame, debt, envy, lust, or gluttony. It could be a feeling of unworthiness, insecurity, doubtfulness, or helplessness. Giants… block our prosperity.

Metaphorically speaking, often these giants drag us into battle kicking and screaming or speechless from sheer terror. But that’s not how the word of God tells us to face our giants (Isaiah 41:10).

So how should we face giants?

Don’t avoid the battle (Deuteronomy 20:4)

In Jesus name, call on God and pray for His power. Then attack the giant. Don’t justify it. Don’t excuse it. Say what it is and realize that you can’t defeat it in your own strength, but you can—in God’s strength.

Show up prepared for the battle (1 Samuel 17:47)

The battle belongs to God. David told Goliath that it’s not by sword or spear that God saves. You must realize who’s in charge of the battle.

Be not afraid (Romans 8:31; Zephaniah 3:15)

Look at your giant in the light of God. Know that if God be for you, He’s more than the whole word against you.

Be wise when considering others opinions (1 Samuel 17:28-30)

When all is said and done—no one else can fight your battles—you alone are accountable to God for the choices you make.

Know your weaknesses and your weapons (1 Samuel 17:38-40)

When you realize who’s fighting against you—and the weapons available to you—then you can actively defeat your giant and receive the prosperity God has for you.

Understand the rewards of winning (Deuteronomy 8:18; Psalm 35:27)

The reward is God manifesting what He intended for you to have… before the giant stood before you.

Give thanks and own your victory (2 Timothy 1:14; Deuteronomy 20:4)

Acknowledge with praise the God-given ability you received as a gift from the Holy Spirit who lives within you.

Though it’s true… we all face giants. It’s also true that in God’s strength… every giant can be defeated.

Forgotten Wisdom: Aesop’s Fables

As I embrace Black History Month—my ancestors—people of color. . . I’m honored by their creativity, ingenuity and sheer perseverance. And while I orientated myself in place and time, Aesop’s Fables came to mind.

My brothers and I were often enchanted by stories that our mom told involving some ants and a grasshopper, a fox and some grapes. Coded meanings spoken by magical creatures that brought moral messages to those who would hear. Lions and wolves struck fear and courage in my heart long before I went to kindergarten.

But, imagine my delight, when I learned that a Black man had spoken those words centuries ago. How amazing it is that his words and identity survived to teach me. . .  to inspire me. . . to show me wisdom through moral and spiritual lessons.

For it’s generally accepted that Aesop, a slave and storyteller, lived in ancient Greece during the 6th century. He is believed to have been an African, possibly from Ethiopia. A Black man in ancient times, telling universal truths with words that even a child can understand reveals an image of a wise person. Take the story, The Lion & the Mouse, where the moral is that A kindness is never wasted, which was true in Aesop’s time, is true now, and will be true in the future.

I’ve always enjoyed reading Aesop’s Fables. Maybe it’s because my mom created an awareness for the nuances of learning through parables. Or maybe it’s the unique ability that the stories have to show a person’s beliefs, character and actions. . . and then masterfully show them consequences of such.

I picked up my cell phone. . .  called my daughter and shared my passion for the fables with her.  Then I asked if she’d read Aesop’s Fables in school. She told me that she didn’t think so. Guilt washed over me. I don’t remember sharing Aesop’s Fables with her when she was a child. Not in a real intentional way. . . like my mom did. . . Have we forgotten the wisdom found in Aesop’s Fables?

With a little persuasion from me, we read a few together and discussed the moral of each fable. It was an enjoyable experience. Which goes to show that the young and not so young can see the wisdom in Aesop’s Fables.

It’s my goal to re-read all the fables during the month of February and consider their relevance for living today. I invite you to join me in this quest.

God Bless. . . I am Wiley’s granddaughter.

Who Are The Peacemakers?

Who are the peacemakers? Without conflict… there’d be no need for peacemakers. But, we’re unlikely to always avoid strife…  so there must be peacemakers. Ignoring problems or pretending everything is okay when in fact it’s not—doesn’t make one a peacemaker. Who does Jesus call the peacemakers?

Let’s look at the word peacemaker. It’s a compound word composed of two very common words… “peace” and “maker.” Shalom is the Hebrew word for peace. Often used as a greeting, such as “hello” or in departure much like “goodbye”. It’s a term associated with health, harmony, prosperity, and completeness. Shalom denotes perfect welfare, tranquility, fulfillment, free of trouble, and liberation from all that blocks contentment.

The term “make” comes from the Greek verb poieó—meaning— “to do” or “to make”. It’s a word of action, energy and initiative. It denotes that peace must be made. And that peace rarely happens by chance or accident after a conflict. It’s worth recalling that peace in the Bible is always based on justice and righteousness. For where justice prevails and righteousness rules…there also is peace.

Taken together, “peace” and “makers,” describe people who actively pursue peace. This includes a pursuit of more than the avoidance of strife… or merely seeking to appease those in disagreement. A peacemaker doesn’t try to accommodate wrong. But rather enforces the blessedness of God by producing a right solution in each situation.

According to Jesus, the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6 KJV), peacemakers are those people who actively work to reconcile people to God and to one another. For peacemakers:

  • have integrity,
  • listen without taking sides,
  • love based on Jesus’ model of forgiveness,
  • pray for wisdom, guidance, understanding, and courage,
  • recognize deceit and honesty,
  • allow ethical principles to inform their decision-making, and are
  • fruitful by glorifying God with just and right results.

Matthew 5:9 (KJV) tells us that Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. May we be the peacemakers—this Holiday season—as we seek peace on earth and goodwill towards all.

 God Bless… I am Wiley’s granddaughter.

A Thankful Heart

I once went to church with a lady, who during service would stand up and give thanks to God for allowing her to see another day. In my immature state of mind, I would think, “…that’s the same thing you said last week”. Now let me put this in context, other members were testifying about a prayer that was answered or a blessing that was received—something that was new news. But over 90% of the time—this member stood up—and told us to “taste and see that the Lord is sweet… and He’s allowed her to still be here”.

Years later, I now believe that church member had a thankful heart. She knew God for more than a gift giver of things. She knew Him as the keeper of her mind, body and soul. Psalm 9:1, tells us to give thanks and tell of the Lord’s wonderful deeds. And the most wondrous deed of all is that we’re still here. Because from here… we can move forward.  We can grow in the grace and favor of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Wrapped up in the cares of life, it’s not always easy to nature a thankful heart. Yet, this is the very thing we’re required to do in order to see God’s will accomplished in our lives. So, let us:

  • Counts our blessings (Psalm 103: 2-5) 
  • Celebrate the mighty deeds of God (Psalm 9:1; Psalm 107:8; 1 Samuel 2:1-2)
  • Appreciate our uniqueness… not comparing ourselves to others (I Samuel 18:8;Galatians 6:4)
  • Constantly avoid complaining(Philippians 2:14-15;Exodus 16:8)
  • Cultivate a heart of contentment (Psalm 50:23)
  • Demonstrate a generous heart towards others (2 Corinthians 9:11-12)
  • Value our resources  (Mark 8:1-10; Luke 22:17-19)
  • Give praise for the good times, happy times, and sad times—we can learn from them all (Hebrews 13:15; Psalms 100:4; Psalm 138:4-5; Psalm 138:6-7)
  • Praise God for His love (Psalm 138:1-2; 1 Thessalonians 5:18)
  • Know that being thankful can change circumstances (Acts 16:25;Psalm 138:3)

Having a thankful heart fills us with an attitude of gratitude. We no longer, think that we deserve to have everything. Or that all things should go the way we want them to go. We lose that feeling of entitlement and gain the wisdom of thankfulness. With a thankful heart, we see the good and positiveness in life and focus on that. We quickly turn away negative thoughts that come into our mind… because we now see who keeps our mind, body and spirit.

We celebrate God, life and others. As the lady who stood up in church—we too—recognize the power of a thankful heart. It leads to overflowing joy because we delight in the Lord of lords!

God Bless… I am Wiley’s granddaughter.

 

In His Presence

There are days, when regardless of the circumstances of life, you feel God’s loving embrace. You snuggle up in fellowship with reverence, thankful for forgiveness and hopefulness—praising Him for what isn’t as though it was. In Acts 13:22, we’re told that David was a man after God’s own heart. You wonder, “Is this how David felt?”  You consider… “What is this that the sovereign God should be mindful of little O’ me?”

Then you remember… Matthew 10:29-31 tells us that we’re in our Father’s care. He is so mindful of us that He knows the very number of hairs on our heads. And we need not be afraid because we’re precious to Him. We’re God’s masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10). He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things He planned for us long ago (Ephesians 2: 10).

So, you revel in God’s grace and mercy. Gazing up at a beautiful blue sky…  you desire to be like David… Knowing that David was:

  • Kind—2 Samuel 9:3
  • Humble—Psalm 62:9
  • Reverent—Psalm 18:3
  • Respectful—Psalm 31:9
  • Trusting—Psalm 27:1
  • Loving—Psalm 18:1
  • Devoted—Psalm 4:7
  • Grateful—Psalm 9:1
  • Faithful—Psalm 23:6
  • Obedient—Psalm 119:34
  • Repentant—Psalm 25:11
  • Promise Keeper—1 Samuel 18:7
  • Gracious—2 Samuel 9:7

As God swath’s you in His presence… you realize that you don’t have to feel God to know He’s there. You’re aware that you must live by faith (Romans 1:17), because it is impossible to please God without it (Hebrews 11:6). However, you leap for joy within your spirit because you feel the presence of God.

You take a deep breath, and be still (Psalms 46:10). Then you call His name… Jesus… Bless this day for the calmness of my soul (Acts 4:12).

God Bless… I am Wiley’s granddaughter.

The Echoes of Our Actions

We’ve often been told—think before you speak—and it’s not always a good idea to speak all that you think. We’re complex individuals… grappling with complicated situations that can distort our view of right and wrong. When that happens, we need to know where our help comes from (Psalm 121:2) and be willing to call upon Jesus(Acts 2:21). For our thoughts can travel to God and return with a reply faster than a flash of lightning can dance across the sky. So, whether we need to act quickly or have time to wait… there is enough time to consult with God.

Therefore, we should check our attitudes, consider our motives, and guard our actions to avoid undesirable results. We don’t have to believe that God wants us to choose the lesser of two wrongs. It’s not taught in Scripture that we face situations of impossible ethical conflict—where every choice—we can make is the wrong choice! Not readily knowing the right choice doesn’t makes it okay to pick one that we know is wrong. Just because our minds can’t conceive the right thing to do in the moment—doesn’t mean that a right answer don’t exist.

It is not wise of us to run ahead of God and try to exert our will above His will. Nowhere in Scripture are we told to do wrong—in order to achieve right. Nowhere in Scripture do we find men and women of faith compromising their integrity in an attempt to get their blessings from an ungodly source.

This way of thinking… this way of speaking… and this way of acting… contradicts the message of Jesus Christ, according to Hebrew 4:15. And goes against the promise of 1 Corinthians 10:13, which tells us that God will always provide a way of escape. We must be careful with our thoughts and intentions… as they will become actions that echo louder than who we say we are.

God Bless… I am Wiley’s granddaughter.

Embracing Uncertainty

“When we embrace uncertainty, it can be very liberating. If you can accept the uncertainty, it allows you to live life every day.” Victor Gospodinoff

My mom passed away last year—not from breast cancer though—she was a breast cancer survivor for over 15 years. I so miss her. Today, I remembered her funny little characters that she often drew when I was a child.

Stick figures… my brothers and I called them! Sketches of people, young and old… who always… And I do mean always! Had their hands and feet curled up. Smiling faces from the pages with no lips and triangles for a body. Those amazingly simple drawings that I cherish. 

Not as Good as Mom’s Stick Figures Were… But Such Fond Memories Still!

Adoringly, I drew a stick figure—a modest likeness to my mom’s—I’ll admit. But close enough! Through a kaleidoscope of memories, I took off the breast cancer pen that I was wearing and placed it next to the stick figure on the sheet of paper. For a few long solitary seconds, my mom’s love embraced me in warm nostalgias. I heard her inspiring voice, talking as we often did. We were deep in conversation on our way home from one of her radiation treatments.

We were talking about what a blessing the young man was that gave her the treatments. Since, mom didn’t drive, I had to take her to each appointment. This was a task that I eagerly accepted. But my mom was concerned, because I worked out of town. And would have to use a half day of sick leave, each time… 5 days a week… during the 7- or 8-weeks  that she needed to do to complete her treatment.

The young man overheard my mom talking about hoping that I would have enough sick time to finish her treatment….  He then told me to bring my mom for her treatments at 6:15 in the morning, if that would help. He was willing to come to work and hour early… That way my mom could get her treatment. And I could get to work on time without having to take any sick leave.

“God will always put people in your path to help you,” I can hear my mom saying. I can still see the expression of joy and relief on her face in my mind’s eye, because of the young man’s act of kindness. Each day, she got up early and bravely faced uncertainty with determination. Until she was told by the doctors that she was cancer free—I love you mom… now and forever.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month—a time to focus on spreading the word about steps women can take to detect breast cancer early. Along with opportunities to support breast cancer research…

Whether it’s illness, concerns over your children, financial woes, challenges on the job, love or a lack thereof… be encouraged in your time of uncertainty. You’re not alone according to Isiah 30:21.

Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.~ 3 John 1:2

Walking through Failure to Success

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.” Continue reading “Walking through Failure to Success”

An Awesome Exchange: Beauty for Ashes

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.

Continue reading “An Awesome Exchange: Beauty for Ashes”

Struggling with Temptation

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.

Continue reading “Struggling with Temptation”

You Know My Name

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.

Continue reading “You Know My Name”

The Power of Our Words

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).

Continue reading “The Power of Our Words”

The Nails of Jesus Christ

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.

Continue reading “The Nails of Jesus Christ”