Let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and ‘no’ be ‘no.’

For such a long time, my character has always been that of an extremely cautious and kind person. There is nothing wrong with that, but there has to be a balance. I’ve always been someone who is extremely careful not to offend anyone with my words and at times, I haven’t been firm with my answers. While it is good to measure your words to not offend, the truth is, it is inevitable to offend no matter what you do. I think many Christians today believe that being kind, means saying “yes” to everything people ask or say. While on the contrary, Jesus doesn’t want us to be that way. He wants us to be salt. He wants us to be steadfast and unshakable. He wants us to be firm on the rock. He wants us to not be double-minded. Shall I go on?

I’ve learned so much in this season and God continues to chisel my character. And the way I know this, is due to the countless opportunities I’ve had where my flesh wants to say ‘yes,’ but instead I listened to God and said, ‘no.’ There truly is a blessing in disguise when you’re firm in your answers and you don’t beat around the bush. Take for instance yesterday, I purchased something at a store and the cashier asked me if I had an in-store credit card. I automatically said no and proceeded to take out my card to pay. She looked at me, asked me another question, and I kindly said, “I don’t want to open one, thank you.” Before, I guarantee you, I would have answered all of her questions and considered the “discounts” and all the gimmicks, and finally said ‘no.’ This my friends is what I call, character development. Even in the smallest things, we need to learn how to have a straight firm forward answer. Not only will it save us time, it will save us from future headaches. Can I get an amen?

Below are some reasons why having a firm loving character can really produce good fruit in your life.

#1  You don’t waste time. Believe it or not, if you’re firm with your answers. You won’t have to repeat yourself. It’s that simple and people will simply have to understand your conviction. For example, if someone comes up to you with a different doctrine that does not preach Jesus Christ, you must remain firm on your faith. It’s good practice. “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” 1 Corinth 16:13 and “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.” Matthew 7:24 

#2  You’re secure in your identity. “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”- John 8:59. When the Pharisees heard Jesus speak in this manner, they were offended. With good reason, He was declaring Himself God. You see, Jesus knew his identity and He was not about to compromise the truth in order to get these men to follow Him. So many times we compromise our decisions, just to please people. Jesus was our prime example of having a firm identity. Our identity is in Christ Jesus. You know who you are and because of that, you can get yourself out of unwanted situations. The door of escape is always there.

#3  You establish healthy boundaries. Having a firm character allows you to love God above all, love yourself, and love your neighbor. It’s all tied together. When we stop pleasing man, we gain authority in Christ. We serve people, but we’re not called to be slaves nor to be intimidated by their faces. Galatians 1:10 says, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

#4  You prevent future problems. Many times in my life, I’ve been quick to answer and I haven’t taken the time to process the possible outcomes. Thankfully, God has worked everything out for my good, even my hasty decisions. And while God’s grace is sufficient to help you endure any future problem, why not prevent them before they happen, by making wiser choices. “Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God.” – Ecclesiastes 5:2 

#5  You’re respected. You’ve probably been around someone who always commits to something, says they will show up, but never does. That unfortunately builds a bad reputation and people will no longer believe or listen to what you say. Hopefully that isn’t you, but if it is, today you’re going to turn that around for good. The reality is, if you’re someone who has firm character, people will respect you whether they like you or not. They know your word is accountable and true. 1 John 3:18 – “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”

Grace and peace!

Tares be gone?

Most of our lives, we spend it protecting ourselves and building impenetrable walls. And for good reason, we’re not always surrounded by people that want or have the best intentions for us. However, here is what I’ve come to understand about what Jesus intends for us to learn when we’re surrounded by such people. He doesn’t want us to build walls or pray that they go away, He has a much bigger goal to accomplish in you my friend. Today, I would like to introduce to you to those tares, which will indeed be a necessary ingredient with your walk with God.

Now biblically speaking, in the parables of the tares, in Matthew 13:24-30…Jesus distinctly refers to tares as sons of disobedience, in other words, people who are not followers of Christ. But I’ve also come to understand that in life, there will also be people like tares (disobedient Christians), who look like wheat, act like wheat, but are double-minded and will be tossed like the waves. In my personal experience, I’ve learned to identify Christians who are tares. Not saying they’re bad people, but they’re people who do exactly what tares know to do – absorb you and distract you. Okay, so what do we do about it and what does God say about this? In the parable we see how the workers of the field were worried and asked if they should gather the weed up. The owner of the field is very wise to tell them to wait until the harvest is ready, and not uproot the weed or else the wheat will also perish. The day of judgement will be that day of separation. But until now, we have to learn to live in the world and not be of it. The same goes with the people we surround ourselves. Jesus wants us to learn to walk alongside people who are like tares, but He wants us to be wise in how we relate to them. Tares and wheat grow together, but wheat bears fruit, tares are always (spiritually) dry. What we need to be careful with is making sure that we create healthy boundaries and do not allow these people to dry us up spiritually.

I used to believe that praying for the tares to go away would solve all  of my problems, but instead, the Lord highlighted to me that the tares in my life will always exist. Tares of all types and sizes will appear in my field, and in different seasons. People will come and people will go, and I will have to learn how to navigate this life with them in my field. I have to accept that some people will never change, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t or that I will let them influence me. I also learned that I have a godly responsibility in creating clear boundaries and let my ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and my ‘no’ be ‘no.’ This is how we create healthy boundaries and form our  godly character. Be imitators of Christ.

If you recall, Jesus chose His 12 disciples, but yet there was a tare with Him all along – ladies and gentlemen, his name was none other than Judas. It was necessary to have this tare alongside Him. Jesus demonstrated what it is like to walk alongside people who don’t have the best intentions for you. Satan will always attack you, either through people or through circumstances, but we need to remember that the fiery darts will always be launched, but they won’t ever prosper. God Himself will make sure you are not destroyed. Today, I encourage you to observe the tares that are around your life and ask God to give you the discernment on how to interact with people who are tares. Ask God to help you endure the process, to form your character, and to help you understand what God wants to do in your life and in theirs. Lastly, ask God to remove them from your life in His perfect timing. Next time you see a tare near you, don’t be quick to remove it, let God remove it for you when the harvest is ready and you’ve matured in character.

God bless you!

 

Jesus rebukes misleading appearances

By Jennifer Moreno-Flores

As I continue to follow the Lord Jesus Christ daily, I learn more and more about what type of character Jesus wants to produce out of us. He wants us to examine ourselves daily to remove any ashes we may have in our lives. Jesus spoke a lot about misleading appearances and rebuked the Pharisees and Scribes countless times. Imagine what he would say of those in position of authority in the church today!

Brothers and sisters, appearances are deceptive. Someone may look very spiritual outwardly, but that does not always mean they bear GOOD fruit. In the following verse I allude to below, shows Jesus cursing the tree for its misleading appearance, which suggested great productivity without providing it. Jesus used this as a lesson to show how Israel was spiritually hypocritical and fruitless!!

“The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.” (Mark 11:12-14)

This is a prime example of the error we make as followers of Christ; we look at pastors and leaders in the church with the idea that they are perfect and sinless. That isn’t the case, each one of us has a personal walk with Jesus Christ and there are ashes we are ALL getting rid off. As you grow in your relationship with Christ, you learn that it is only Jesus who walked this life sinless and He became sin for us, so that we wouldn’t pay the penalty we EACH deserve. Not one of us is righteous, but it is by the grace of God who justifies us through Jesus that makes us righteous.

Jesus said “But you, do not be called “Rabbi”; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren.”- (Matthew 23:8) Jesus warned the people that they should not imitate the Scribes and the Pharisees, but only to respect their place of authority because it is ordained by God. As followers, we should always remember that we are all brethren and that one should not be exalted above others by positions that we hold in the church.

All of us should be primarily concerned of cleaning both the inside and outside of our hearts. Jesus requires us to do both and not just appear righteous outside. “Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” (Matthew 23:26)

May the Lord continue to bless you and transform you according to His image. And may have grace over one another. In Jesus’ name Amen.

Testimony: How I met Jesus Christ…

By Anonymous

I know that I have wanted to share my beliefs with you for a while now but I haven’t been able to for whatever reason… circumstances, or maybe just fear. But I am ready now, the time has come, even if it is only written.
You and I are seekers; seekers of the truth of who God is and what that means for us in our lives. Well, I have found the truth and my search is over. JESUS CHRIST IS LORD!

My search had brought me to all kinds of healers, psychics, reiki masters, those who use crystals, yogis… I remember leaving them feeling inspired but never fulfilled; until I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior on Mother’s Day 2013. Since then, my life has significantly changed. The Lord reveals truth and wisdom in me every day, at least when I am open and accepting of it. My spiritual discernment is way more fine-tuned than it once was.

The Bible refers to Satan as “the father of lies,” (John 8:44). Since “(Jesus) is the way, the truth, the life and no one comes to the Father except through (Him),” (John 14:6), then any spirit claiming a name other than Jesus is ultimately spreading lies. The enemy will say and do anything to keep you from the truth; this the raging war between good and evil. The unbeliever is deceived by these lies because they often sound appealing and even enlightening. But in the believer resides the Spirit of the Most High God and the truth of God’s word is written in their hearts. They are not as easily deceived; yet are still afflicted by these demonic spirits and lies in the form of spiritual warfare, physical pain, and even disease.

False wonders performed by the spirits of Satan are mentioned throughout the Bible; in the Old Testament during the exodus of Egypt and more often in the New Testament concerning end times prophesy:

“For false christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect,” (Matthew 24:24).

We see these possibilities all the time in modern society in the form of miraculous healings, witchcraft, the New Age movement… Satan has power, don’t forget he used to be an angel of the Most High God until his pride and jealously got him kicked out of the Kingdom of Heaven. He now lurks the earth, preying on sinful humanity to build up his army until the Great Day of the Lord. Satan may have power, but Jesus has authority and DOMINION.

He tells us that one day, “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of the things in heaven, and things in the earth, and things under the earth; and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is LORD, to the glory of God the Father,” (Philippians 2:10-11). But, as one of my favorite children’s song states, “still the greatest treasure remains for those who gladly choose you now.”

So why do I believe? On the day that I gave my life to Christ, He gave me His Spirit. He lets me know what is wrong, and shows me what is right. I may not always choose the right thing, but I know in my heart what it is. (Sometimes my mind gets in the way!) His love and mercy keeps letting me try again. One day I will be judged and I know that my only salvation is in Him!

He says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you,” (Deuteronomy 31:6).

What I know in my heart is the truth. I see the fruits of Him in my life every day. He answers my prayers, even the ones I don’t even know how to pray. He wills Himself in my life because I gave it to Him. He is faithful. He is merciful. He is righteous.

I have believed in the lies before. They are what lead me to the truth because I was seeking the truth. “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart,” (Jeremiah 29:13). We are all spiritual beings. There is so much more to life than what meets the surface. We see so much pain and suffering. Life took me to a place where I couldn’t go any further on my own, and that is where I found Christ. That is where He is, at the end of you.

“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it,” (Mark 8:35).

I practiced yoga for years and while I enjoyed what it did for my body, the spirituality of it conflicted with my faith. Yoga teaches students to become attuned with the god from within. But we must name God, know Him and invite Him into our lives. Yes, the Holy Spirit lives in me but only when I humbled myself to the point to say that I was nothing without Him! To claim that we are our own gods is blasphemous. Who other can claim all of creation? There is a True Creator, “the Maker of Heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them- He remains faithful forever,” (Psalm 146:6). He deserves our faith, our praise for He is our Creator, our Savior, our Provider, our Protector, our Beginning and our End. He was and we became. He spoke life and it came to be. He is Power, He is Beauty, He is Majesty, He is Glory, He is LOVE.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” (Hebrews 11:1). I invite you to have your eyes opened.