“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” ~Matthew 20:16 CSB
In the book of Matthew Jesus tells the parable of some vineyard workers. A landowner goes out early one morning and finds individuals to work his land for an agreed price of ‘one denarius’. The landowner went out later at nine in the morning and saw others standing around and offered them the same money for the same work. He did this again at noon, three and five o’clock in the evening.
When ‘quitting’ time came, the landowner told his foreman to call everyone in to get paid. He said in verse 8 to pay them, “…their pay, starting with the last and ending with the first.” Those that were hired at five o’clock being paid the same wages did not sit well with those who had been hired in the morning and worked the land all day in the burning heat. They began to complain to the landowner about being paid more because they were hired first. The landowner simply told them, that they had agreed to work for the amount they received. The landowner also said that it was his money and that he had a right to be generous with it. “So the last man will be first and the first will be last.”
Tony Evans says in his Commentary Bible: “Through this story Jesus was teaching that God is both fair and generous. While the Jews expected better treatment from God because of their background as God’s people, the Gentiles would be objects of His compassion as well.”
Salvation was always in place for God’s chosen people. Because of Jesus Christ, that same salvation has been made available for everyone. If you are one that has just started your journey in Jesus name, do not compare yourself to someone that has been in the Word all their life.
The bible says in Romans 10:9 “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” This is the beginning of the same wage in salvation from God and His gift of a unique, custom made blessings for all of us. Like the landowner, God is fair and generous with His gifts. Accept them and be forever grateful for the awesome God we serve.
May God continue to bless and keep you grounded in faith and love on your journey in Jesus name.
“So let us keep the Feast, but not with the old bread made with yeast. The yeast I’m talking about is hatred and evil. Let us keep the Feast with bread made without yeast. Let us keep it with bread that is honesty and truth.” ~1 Corinthians 5:8 NIRV
I used to tell my son, “Do this son and you will get that.” “If you do as we say, we will do this for you.” I came to find that as he grew older, he ‘did’ when it was appropriate for him and when he was reminded. I changed the game when I stopped telling him to do, what he already knew what needed doing.
My son went through a period when nothing went his way. He would ask and get turned down. This happened until the day he realized that until he did the right thing, he would not receive a reward. I waited for the opportunity for him to do right all by himself. And when he did, without being told, I rained down praise on him. The first time it surprised him because he wasn’t expecting praise or reward. But when he was rewarded on doing something completely on his own, he made it a point to do better more often.
This is what happens to us from time to time. When we feel we are in that ‘loop’ in life. That ‘loop’ when things just aren’t going the way we want. We may pray and it seems our prayers are not being answered. Then, we realize, God has asked us to do something and we haven’t. We may be putting it off by saying, “I’ll do that tomorrow Lord.” “Lord you know me, I’m stubborn...you made me that way. I’ll do better one day.” Well guess what, it will be ‘one day’ when your prayers will be answered.
Do right on your own. This is all God is asking us to do. Obedience is hard because its an action we have not put into practice. But it is now time we did. God will do all the rest, the healing, the guiding and as far as our path, it has already been laid out. The victory has already been won. We just have to receive it by being obedient.
The Feast, (life), is going to continue. Now that you know better, through God’s Word, it is time to do better. It’s time to live (life) without the ‘yeast’, without the ‘…hatred and evil…’ and now live (life) with ‘…honesty and truth…’ When you do, you will receive your reward, just as we reward our children when they get it and do right on their own.
May God continue to bless and keep you as you continue your journey in Jesus name.
“They answered Him, “Allow us to sit at your right and at your left in your glory.” Jesus said to them, “You don’t know what you’re asking...” Mark 10:37-38 ~CSB
In this text, James and John ask Jesus for the chance to sit next to Him in heaven. Clearly with Jesus’ reaction the two are asking for a couple of 'seats' that are way beyond their reach. Jesus tells them in verse 40 that those seats are not His to give. James and John were aspiring for positions that were possibly meant for others, clearly thinking of themselves.
On our journey in Christ, we must be careful as we live in the blessings that God grants us. We do become good at what we do. We become great at what we are passionate at, but we must remember that as we live in God’s will, we must be ready to stay focused on the path He prepared for us and not lose focus in preparing our own paths and get distracted. In other words, we may become great doctors, lawyers, or educators, but as huge as that may be to us and others around us, they may be just tools God will use in you to bless others he places in your path.
For example, my career is law enforcement. I have twenty plus years in that field and as much as I may think that it's my life’s work, I have grown to realize that it is just the beginning of what God has planned for me. As a patrol officer I answered calls on a daily basis. Answering those calls required me to listen to various versions of the same incident in order to gather facts and bring solutions to the problems.
Listening to story after story, hour after hour and day after day, I learned to develop the skill of ‘effective listening’. This skill is now carried on to the calling God has blessed Yolanda and I with as we strategize with couples strengthening their marriages. As much as I have done in law enforcement: patrol officer, flex officer, school resource officer, precinct, and homicide detective; God took all of that and shaped the tool of ‘effective listening’ for His purpose in my life.
Don’t get ahead of God. Don’t even ‘want’ what God doesn’t want for you and lastly don’t try and set yourself up for a position you think will be great for you, (like James and John). That position you are setting yourself up for may not be for you; and it is definitely not better than the position God already has set up for you.
Don’t ask for ‘seats’ that are not for you, instead, prepare yourself for the position God already has set up for you and you alone. You can’t even imagine how great a position it is.
May God continue to bless and keep you under His guidance and love as you continue to journey in Jesus name.
“Don’t fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul, rather, fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28 ~CSB
The news and social media have shown you what to be afraid of: the pandemic, the elections, riots, protesting, police brutality, they have all taken a front row seat to everyday crime and murder. Wow, what a scary thought.
It seems we live our lives waking up everyday wondering what bad news we are going to hear next. And when we hear someone tell us to go to church and pray, we find a new group of people that will bring up other religions to replace everything God has put in place for our lives. Chaos from all sides. We are allowing ‘fear’ to control everything about our way of living and thinking.
We listen to the negative in the news and social media instead of giving God His time. We try to take control over situations that are well out of our understanding instead of leaning toward our trust in the Father. God, the source, the light, Jehovah, Yahweh, the Most High, not only has control, but has already laid out the plan for our lives.
And in case anyone missed it, He sacrificed His Son for all who have sinned and fallen short of His glory. The resurrection of the Son is the victory for the Kingdom and the defeat of the devil. That means that all that is going on around us is futile compared to our eternal salvation. God did not give us a spirit of fear, but if you must err to the side of caution, then lean toward fearing the one, “…who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell…”
God is bigger than anything social media puts out. God can heal any suffering and pain caused by this world. “Don’t fear those who kill the body…” Look up to and trust the Father who, through the Son, defeated death and has given us everlasting life!
May God bless and keep you covered as you continue to walk in Jesus’ name.
“For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, so that you won’t grow weary and give up. 4 In struggling against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” ~Hebrews 12:3-4 CSB
This past year has taken us through some extremely hard times. The struggle was and is still real. But I keep moving because I remember what God is capable of. I realized that He loves us so much that the sacrifice of His Son is my point of reference to His power. It is His power that will get all of us through everything the enemy is trying to take from us, including our hope.
My references begin at the point in my life where I had no control over my alcoholism. I was headed for divorce, destruction, and death. As I studied God’s Word daily, I was able to confess my sins and through a motorcycle accident I was created new in Christ! This was my beginning.
My livelihood was spelled out when my Father in Heaven blessed me with the gift of faith. His Word seeds my spirit with the knowledge of Christ who suffered before me. God is telling us through the writer in Hebrews that we should always consider the suffering Jesus went through. He went through everything first so that we could see the strength of our own endurance.
Because Christ was humiliated, beaten, crucified, then resurrected from the dead, He has given all of us, who believe in Him, hope that eternal life exists for us as well. He lives in us and is the strength we need so that we, “…won’t grow weary and give up…” no matter what we go through in this world.
Tony Evans says of verse 4 in his Bible Commentary, “…we had not resisted to the point of blood shed—that is, we may have experienced significant difficulties, but we are still alive! And if we are still here, God is not finished with us!”
Through Jesus we see that there is victory at the end of our struggle. Through Jesus we see we must trust God in guidance and strength to get there. And get to victory we will because that is God’s plan for us in our lives. His will is set in our purpose, given to us by Him for the fulfillment of the Kingdom. The enemy doesn’t want you to know this because he wants you to quit. But tell the devil, it is too late, God has already told you, you are His child, and His will is your mission!
May God bless and keep you covered in His strength, love, and protection as you walk in Jesus name.
“Then your children will be taught by the Lord, their prosperity will be great...” ~Isaiah 54:13 CSB
As Christians we pray every day, either in thanksgiving or praying for our needs. But there are times where we become weary in certain situations and we exhaust every means of finding a solution except prayer. When we look to other ways other than prayer, our actions may bear the fruit of those decisions.
For example, raising our children. As parents we tell our children all the time things like:
Don’t fall into frustration because that will lead you to negative decisions. When it comes to our children, instead of seeding direction in them, we push them away with our anger and negative responses. We allow them to search for peace in others, and in turn the world will fill those voids in them. These voids should be received from God through us as parents.
Ask God, in prayer, “God, please allow me the wisdom, guidance, and strength to raise my children according to your will. I believe and receive your will for my life as a parent to my children that you have blessed me with. Please seed in them, though me, the guidance they need to follow the path you have chosen for them.”
Allow God the controls of your position as parent and then watch the Lord work miracles in your family. He will do this because you are His family, and He loves you so very much. May God bless and keep you covered as you continue your journey in Jesus name.
“…My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me, Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26:39 ~CSB
When I made the decision to join the Army it seemed like a great idea at the time. But when I stepped onto that base at Fort Jackson, so many regretful thoughts ran through my mind. We got in late, so after feeding us they put us down for a night's rest. I found myself in a room with 60 or 70 other men I did not know. Metal bunk beds lined up in rows in an open barracks. I started thinking, “What have I gotten myself into?” But what kept me going was that my goal was bigger than my fear of the unknown. I was twenty-five years old, married with two children and at a point in my life where the jobs I was working just didn’t pay the bills and limited the food for my family. The Army was going to give me a better chance to take care of my family. Their provision was more important than me wanting to change my mind about my current situation.
I think we all go through a time in our spiritual journey where we come to a point of weakness and fear in our lives that attempt to make us quit. But we must not forget that God has us on our journey for a reason. The bigger picture is His will for our lives.
In the scripture above, Jesus knows exactly what He is about to endure. The humanity in Him was seeking an alternative path, “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me.” But He knew it was not about Him. In Matthew he prayed the same prayer three times, and you can see in verse 42 that He surrenders to God’s will in His mission, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.”
In Luke 22:43 after saying this the scripture says, “Then an angel from heaven appeared to Him strengthening Him.” Jesus knew how and when he would die, but He knew that His death on the cross would cancel our ‘sin debt’. His resurrection would be for our salvation. The victory was a blessing worth more than the pain and suffering. This is what we must see, God is bigger than our problems, fears, and pain. There is a victory in blessings beyond what we are going through.
My time in the United States Army not only allowed me to provide for my family but it opened doors of opportunity for me to have a career and move forward in God’s mission for my life. As we live in the image of Christ, we must trust in the Father’s will for our lives. We too must drink the cup that is before us as it will lead to a blessing in victory for the kingdom of God.
May God bless and keep you covered in His strength, peace, and love on your journey in Jesus name.
“But Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand on the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” ~Luke9:62 CSB
A husband and wife should have the type of relationship where they trust each other’s judgement, no matter how the other feels about the decision being made. For example, in my walk in Christ, I know that the Father will grant me wisdom and guidance through my daily digestion of food from His word. This wisdom and guidance, because He has anointed my marriage, will also come from Him through my wife as she has surrendered and committed to His will as well. The Lord may bless me with a vision for our mission in one situation and He may bless my wife with a vision for another.
In the process of coming to a solution, I may not be comfortable with what is brought to the table so I will lay out my concerns. My wife will then either consider my concerns and agree with me or she will share the ‘conviction’ of her vision. It is this ‘conviction’ that comes from the Spirit. It is my relationship with God and my trust in Him that I release my concerns and follow His will in the vision He gave my wife.
A husband and wife work well together when they rely on God first. When they give God their concerns and receive His ‘conviction’ for the direction in their lives; whether that ‘conviction’ comes from the husband or the wife, they receive from God that it is meant for both to follow without reservation.
In the scripture above Jesus was traveling and encountered several individuals that said they wanted to follow Him but were not willing to make the commitment. One said in verse 61, “…I will follow you, Lord, but first let me go and say good-bye to those at my house.” This leaves room for a family member to talk him out of going or the individual to rethink his decision to follow Jesus.
Tony Evans says in his commentary, “To all who want to have it both ways—being the Lord’s disciple and maintaining control of their own lives—Jesus insists, “you have to get off the fence and follow me. You must not allow even family relationships to override loyalty to Me.”
We must have total trust and surrender to God for everything in our lives. God will allow great things for you if you just seek Him first, above all other people and situations. He has been good to Yolanda and me because we follow Him first. Whether I get it from Him or she gets it from Him, when we receive His will, we both get it. And so will you.
May God continue to bless and keep you on your journey in Jesus name. Amen
“A person’s heart plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps.” ~Proverbs 16:9 CSB
When I graduated from High School and began my journey toward college, I chose Political Science as my major. At 19 years old I decided that I was going to become either a lawyer or go into politics. At 19, with the aspect of becoming a college student in my face, I had to make the decision of what I was going to do for the rest of my life and begin that educational training.
Speaking for myself, I had no clue what career I wanted to pursue. But I made the decision anyway. Many things changed on that journey. After three years, I fell short of graduating from college. I became a father my junior year. Eventually I joined the military and after seven years as a U.S. Army Aviation Soldier, I transitioned from that to becoming a Metropolitan Nashville Police Officer.
Wow, what a transition from my original decision! After giving you about the last 31 years of my life, career wise, you can see that my plans changed drastically. It seems I may have had some plans in my heart, but where did they actually take me?
Eight years ago, I gave my life to Christ. I’ve learned in the Word of God that He has already prepared our paths. What I did, was attempt to prepare my own instead of surrendering to His will for my life. This meant receiving the directions for the path He prepared for me.
But look at what God did for me. Even though I made decisions in my life without His guidance, He took what I thought were my setbacks and turned those results into tools for Him to use for my purpose. As confused as I was about my career, God showed me that, falling into the military then law enforcement, that I was a servant to His people.
And when the time came and He revealed Himself to me, I was ready to surrender and commit to His will for my life. That will of His would be for the kingdom. It doesn’t matter what decisions we have made in our lives. It doesn’t matter what we have done. Along with God’s forgiveness, He is still ready to take all our ‘results’ and turn them into tools that He will use for our purpose.
This year don’t set your goals without God’s direction for your life. Today, spend time in prayer. Praying in thanksgiving for wisdom to hear His voice on your journey. We must be a part of His plans for our lives, not us asking Him to be a part of ours. “…the Lord determines our steps…” not us. And when we receive this, we will begin to move in a direction already established by the Father.
May God continue to bless and keep you covered as you journey in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ Amen
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“Anxiety in a person’s heart weighs it down, but a good word cheers it up.” ~Proverbs 12:25 CSB
Yolanda and I face many challenges in our ministry in the marriage community. We talk to couples all the time teaching strategies on how to overcome obstacles on the journey through marriages. There are times when these sessions end with question marks.
We may not hear from a couple we were working with. We ask ourselves, “Did we do this right? Are we doing God’s will in our ministry work?” And then we get our answer. We either hear from that couple or at least one spouse from that couple and they say, “We are still in prayer for our marriage, but I am better because the strategies I’ve learned from the two of you, have given me a better relationship with the Lord. And it is through Him I am strengthened.”
That was the Word of God through one He seeded through us. We care so much about the couples we talk with that it weighs heavy on us the future outcome of their marriages. But we had to learn that we have to be in position to provide the ‘good Word’, where God is the only One who can seed the healing of ‘cheer’, hope and strength.
As we journey on in our Christian lives it is important to remember that the more we are given knowledge from God about Him and His power, it becomes our duty to pass on that wisdom to those that are ‘weighed down’. Yes, even when we ourselves are weighed down; we still stand as a light for others to provide the hope that God has given us to pass on.
And then one day, God will reveal to you the fruits of your labor in the name of the Son. And in doing so, He will lift what weighs you down. Trust Him to do what He said He would do. And be proud and honored that He chose you for such a mission in hope.
May God keep you close in His protection and provide you the strength and wisdom you need as you continue your journey in Jesus name, Amen
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Authors Billy & Yolanda
This is the place where we share our heart through God's Word in faith that will inspire and empower you to live in peace.