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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Reflections of Gratitude in 2012

Happy New Year
As an adult I often reflected on childhood accomplishments some were exciting while others I wish could be erased from memory.  Today, I ponder 2012, how grateful I am of God’s blessings:

- A home to rest my head
- A job
- Good health

Many families faced evictions and no place to live.  No matter how mundane the job I am blessed because unemployment and his first cousin – poverty and homeless – have visited someone’s door today.  Decent health has covered me while others less fortunate are forfeited an opportunity to basic medical care.

As we live from day to day, it would be great to say there are no traumatic times – no sorrow or sadness – but that would be a lie.  Our mind’s mirrors projects an image of everything good and bad. But what should resonate into memory are God’s blessings.

Reflections of 2012

Looking back over the past 362 days our nation experienced calamities, the loss of celebrities, friends, family, and the unknown. There were occurrences that did not turn out as anticipated – jobs, family matters, or life.  As sorrow filled hearts and despite the outcome God still found favor by providing us with one more day of life! The key to a joyful life is to be thankful and praise God during the good or bad times. What reflections of gratitude do you have?
  • Name 365 blessings - one for each day of the year
  • 12 - one for each month of the year
  • Learn to count your blessings one by one and praise God for them all

 Shining bright in 2013

The dawning of 2013 will rise up soon. How are you preparing for a phenomenal year? 
  •  Write down goals
  •  How do you plan to get there
  • Who can you help reach their goals

                Regardless how much rain has fallen remember it did not last always.  Recant the sunny days in 2012 and may they shine bright like a diamond in 2013.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Remembering where God has brought you from

Submitted by: Carl F. Hunter II, M.Div  
 And God spake all these words, saying, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.  Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Exodus 20:1-3 KJV

Surviving your feelings

On any given day life can get the best of us. We can be anywhere on the emotional barometer because folks, situations, or circumstances don’t produce the byproduct that we desire. We might be feeling the burdens of life are just too much for us and we want something outside of ourselves to pacify us or put some cut on the self-destructive thoughts that are oppressing our spirits.

Many of us just have a problem with surviving our feelings, which at any given time have no basis, but in the moment it seems very real and insurmountable. In fact, the feelings blind us from seeing God’s presence and deafen our spiritual ears from hearing God’s voice. Most importantly, we suffer from a type of amnesia that keeps us from remembering where God has brought us from.     

Shema Affirmation
Anxieties of life

In the Jewish tradition The Shema is said in the morning and at night. The Shema is an affirmation of Judaism and a declaration of faith in one God. It is something that keeps them in touch with “Who they are,” Whose they are”, and “Where he has brought them from”. We tend to forget that at the most inopportune time.

Fear is your bondage

  • What would happen if our response in the midst of the storm was not panic, fret or despair, when the undertow of life wanted to consume?

  • What would happen if our response to the storm was to hold on to the life preserving reality of the fidelity and faithfulness of God?
Mental bondage

  • What would happen if “you” could remember, just for a moment, where GOD has brought “YOU” from?

  • Would you move past the giants that are oppressing your spirit and then you open the door for the manifestation of “HOPE” – which is fertilizer for faith.

  •  When faith overtakes your F.E.A.R. (False Expectations Appearing Real) then you are able to move from a state of panic to a state of praise.
Free from bondage

If you are in a place where life seems to be getting the best of you, I ask you to first: Take a deep breath and exhale. Second, take a moment to remember YOUR Egypt – YOUR HOUSE of BONDAGE – and where God has brought you from. Now, that you have a point of reference, “Will the God of your understanding see you through what you are currently going through?”

Pray this with me: In the name of Jesus, in my current state Lord I’m going to trust in you for my deliverance. In the midst of my current condition, I am going to hold you to your promise “that you will never leave me or forsake me”. In Jesus Name, AMEN


About the writer:
Reverend Hunter is an Itinerant Elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church and a graduate of New Brunswick Theological Seminary. Reverend Hunter is a frequent contributor to The Soul’s Remedy. His prior submission are entitled "Remembering Where God Brought you From"  and “There isGreatness In You”. Reverend Hunter is a father and a grandfather, and resides in New Jersey.

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Saturday, December 22, 2012

The power of the tongue…As a man thinks

The words of our mouth
Death and life are in the power of the tongue and those who love it will eat its fruit Prov. 18:21

Negative thoughts

Why debate with anxiety? Why contemplate negative thoughts oppose to positive? Why sigh, cry, or speak pessimism over life.  Better days are ahead – I think – yet uneasiness lingers and worry blankets the mind like a pending storm.

How many of you speak damaging words in your life? Believe it or not negative (positive) words manifest life – As a man thinks so is he.  We proclaim defeat by the words we speak.

Speak life not death

Both my parents were hospitalized due to illness. Halfhearted statements spoken by callous doctors contributed to an accelerated demise.  What we choose to communicate will affect us or others. 

It’s unintentional but we unconsciously speak failure to ourselves through conversation with friends. The continuous unleashing of burdens, and unfairness of life, increase the dismal outlook currently faced. A defeated spirit destroys people. Learn to speak positive even in a negative situation. For as he thinks in his heart, so is he… Proverbs 23:7.  

Choose words wisely

If your heart is filled with doubt, disappointment, or betrayal it becomes challenging for a person to speak positive affirmations into existence.  Appose to “I guess this is what my life suppose to be” recite “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Change your mindset and what you speak – over time a joyous attitude will supersede a cynical one. It is not over as long as God in the middle of your situation.

Sing and praise through the storm
Freedom of speech can be detrimental. Proverbs – the book of wisdom – depicts just how powerful the tongue is.  The tongue has the power of life and death, those who love it will eat its fruit Proverb 18:21.   The strange fruits are the destructive words uttered from our mouth.

The power of the tongue

God’s love and his written word can resolve looming problems.  When facing difficult times speak and pray about your pains. But once they have been released and placed on God’s alter leave them.  

When you awake each morning declare victory speaking abundance not failure. Use the power of the tongue to replace heartaches with a voice of praise, thanksgiving, joy, and peace. Learn to use the power of the tongue to encourage with uplifting affirmations. In return you will win in the end because God restoring vitality

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

It Doesn’t Have To Make Sense Right Now

Submitted by: Lisa Hetzel

waiting in despair 
“Why is this happening to me?  What am I supposed to do?  How am I going to get through this?”   I have cried these questions so many times.  I waited  for a gold embossed, hand delivered, Charlton Heston Moses moment.  It did not come.  I did not hear any made for TV soundtracks inspiring me to keep going.

God surprised me anyway.  Somehow, in the very quiet moment between my fear and faith, I felt the urge to let it all go.  I gave up looking for the rationale for my circumstances.  “Okay, Lord, I’ve tried to do it all on my own.  Here’s my life, my hopes, my dreams, my fears.  Would you please take me and lead me?  Would you help me rest in you?”

That’s all that I had to ask.   The rest is a story of peace.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

It’s time for action… Living for God during troubled times

Tears of sadness - Newtown, CT
Image Yahoo news
Sadness in America

Over the past few years society has encountered too many massacres. In less than seven days America is grappling with two mass shootings – Clackamas, Oregon and most recent Newtown, Connecticut.  Everyone is consumed with overwhelming grief and far too many people dying.

There are no words to express how heart-broken I am or the haunting feeling of parents loosing children. The world is  grieving over a senseless act committed by a troubled man would snuff out lives of innocent children and adults – including his mother.

People are searching for answers, reasons or causes. We extrapolate – was he mentally ill, should there be gun control or was it family issues. Each could be the cause. 

It is all in the bible

But as a Christian the bible forewarns us to be sober and vigilant because the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he can devour 1 peter 5:8.  The bible also tells us to be strong in the Lord and put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the devil’s schemes Ephesians 6:1.

Facing the Devil

What can be done to combat future encounters? Do we bury our heads in the sand and hope it goes away, do we study people who appear spiritually lost or Implement new laws?

As soldiers for Christ we know what needs to be done.  It is time to come together on one accord – when two or three come together in Jesus name God promises to hear and answer request made in line with his will.  1 John 14-15.   Jesus gives a sense of His presence when groups of people pray for a common cause. It is time for a prayer vigil.

Time to Pray
I am calling upon each of you to join me in prayer beginning Sunday, December 16, 2012.  For the next seven days let us pray twice daily for:  

  • Healing of grieving families
  • The Newtown CT. community
  • The Healing of this land/world
  • The Holy Spirit to cover us all
  • The saving of souls

2012 massacre timeline

The devil’s master plan is to seep into the minds of his prey ultimately reeking havoc on society. This year alone we witnessed sixteen such devious schemes killing 88 and mentally scaring others. These grim schemes of death are perceived as flesh and blood in nature but they are not.  We are wrestling against principalities and powers, against the rulers of darkness and spiritual host of wickedness Ephesians 6:12. The war is not ours but we are the valuable prize Satan seeks to conquer.

February 22, 2012 – NorcrossGeorgia, man kills five at Korean spa.

February 26, 2012 – JacksonTennessee, gunmen fire into a crowded nightclub killing one injuring others.

February 27, 2012 – Chardon Ohio, classmate opens fire killing three students.

March 8, 2012 – Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, gunman opens fire in hospital killing two and many wounded.

March 31, 2012 – Miami Florida, gunman kill two mourners at funeral home.

April 2, 2012 – OaklandCalifornia, former Oikos University student kills seven.

April 6, 2012 – TulsaOklahoma, two men go on shooting rampage killing three.

May 29, 2012 – SeattleWashington, man kills five in coffee shop

July 9, 2012 – WilmingtonDelaware, several gunmen killed three at soccer tournament.

July 20, 2012 – AuroraColorado, James Holmes enters The Dark Knight Rises movie and killed twelve and injured fifty-eight.

August 5, 2012 – Oak CreekWisconsin, a man enters a Sikh Temple shooting six.

August 14, 2012 – College StationTexas, three killed at Texas A&M University.

September 27, 2012 – MinneapolisMinnesota, a former worker kill five employees.

October 21, 2012 – BrookfieldWisconsin, husband shots wife and three women in spa.

December 11, 2012 – ClackamasOregon, a 22-year-old man opens fire on crowded mall killing two.

December 14, 2012 – NewtownConnecticut, Man opens fire on Sandy HookElementary school killing a total of 28.

The Devil is already defeated

We are reminded in 2 Chronicles 7:14 if God’s people will humble themselves, turn from their ways and seek him, God will heal this land.   

The Devil is already defeated.  We all must realize the power we posses by speaking in Jesus name – Satan must flee! Let us begin this journey by doing our part to stop the violence in our communities in the name of Jesus. Through prayer glorifying and praising God healing can begin!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Who would have guessed?”

Submitted by: Pastor Paulette Harper Johnson

Street Life
JOSHUA son of Nun sent two men secretly from Shittim as scouts, saying, Go, view the land, especially Jericho. And they went and came to the house of a harlot named Rahab and lodged there. Joshua 2:1

Woman in Focus: Rahab

God chooses unlikely 

God uses unlikely people to further His cause. In this story Rahab is a harlot. She would absolutely not have been chosen by men to be in the lineage of Christ. But her courage and attitude to protect the two spies did not go unnoticed by God. She recognized that the two spies had many things going for themselves: they served the God of heaven; she saw that the hand of God was on them and she heard of all the miracles that were performed by their God.

When the king of Jericho inquired of the whereabouts of the two spies she emphatically denied knowing their whereabouts - sending him on a wild goose chase.

There was something she needed from the two spies. She wanted her and her house to be spared and saved. Rahab wanted her act of kindness to be acknowledged and not go unnoticed.

As the story progresses the two spies and Rahab make a covenant or an oath between themselves. The oath guaranteed that her household would be saved at the time of God’s judgment on Jericho.

Prejudgement of people

How many times have we overlooked someone because we have judged them wrong? We look at the outward condition of a person and immediately cast them aside not realizing that God looks within a person’s heart.  Rahab's outward condition did not merit her to even be considered as one who would be chosen to be in the lineage of Christ. But God chooses people not based on their current condition but He chooses them based on what He can do with and through them.

Emotional Breakdowns

Such as the case with me, let me ease your wondering minds, I was not a harlot but people sure did right me off. When I was going through my trauma I almost had an emotional breakdown. Making right decisions was something that was difficult to do.  There is a thin line between insanity and sanity and believe me I was walking a tight rope. Trying to figure out why things were happening to me and the bigger question, why God was allowing me to go through all this mess. 

God need everyone

God did not look at Rahab sordid, unattractive life but He looked at someone the world tossed aside and used her in such a way that He framed her great deeds in the book of Hebrews 11:13. I’m so very thankful to the way my life has turned out, would I have chosen this route for myself? Probably not, but God saw something in me that was worth saving.

I can now share, using pen and paper, the great deeds that my father has done for me.

That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works. Psalms 26:7

Devotional Reflections from the bible
Copyright 2012

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Part III - When all else fail Put God first… A Praying relationship

When all else fail - Read
In everything you do put God first and He will direct and crown your efforts with success. Proverb 3:6

When all else fail

What is true and tried the world has turned away from it – God’s written word. We conger up schemes hoping to persuade God and when Pimping God don’t work we become surly and give up.

Between 1990 and 2006, apathy was my name. All decisions and financial investments crumbled. My self-centered prayers Edged God Out – ego – and I blamed God for my failures.  When He did not reply hopelessness manifested. I was ready to cash in all my chips. “Lord how long will this misery last?” I justified my actions by questioning God. Man’s faith waivers in the darkest hour.

When all else failed I finally put God first. The ah-ha moment came after studying this familiar verse – seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you Matthew 6:33.

Stumbling blocks

True understanding was lost because my focus was not on God they were on:

TreasuresJobs, money, material things – Matthew 19-21

Ego – focus on self not submitted to be in God’s will – 2 Corth. 8:5

Selfish – ­committed work to self and not to God – Proverb 16:3

Lack of faith – doubtful

For where your treasure is there will be your heart also Matthew 6:21.

God does listen

Though I was a Christian my heart/treasure was not on God. Attempting to do all things through ‘me’ that strengthened me – man’s power is limited.

One dreary cold Sunday morning after praying a selfish prayer the Holy Spirit spoke.  You ask me to do all these things in my Son’s name yet you stopped attending church, worshiping and praising my name. You cannot do these simple actions yet you ask much from me.

This profound message changed my perspective – it is not about me but about God.  Over time I put God first, prayer focus changed, and faith increased. Today, God is first and He has directed me. He has crowned my efforts with success.

Steps to a better prayer life

Steps to success

The foundation of developing a positive prayer life and relationship with God begins with prayer – praying for others, praising God and Worship. As I implemented each step from my three part series on prayer God begin to move - sometimes swift and other times as he saw fit. 

Part I - Unanswered Prayers… When God refuse to hear  - Seven deadly sins which cause unanswered prayers


 Part II - Pimping God for Seven minutes …Do You Know How to Pray? - Hustling and bargaining with God


Don't give up

When all else fails don’t give up. Whatever storm you may be facing I encourage you put God first.  Seek God’s will (not yours) through prayer, study his word and watch him begin to move in your life!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Origin of Christmas Bells

Submitted by: Steven Sawyer

Jingle Bells
Christmas Bells

One of the more pleasant sounds we enjoy at Christmas time is the tinkling of Christmas bells.  The little metal music makers adorn Christmas trees, mantles, wreaths, Christmas cards and other Christmas decorations.

You can hear them peal from church steeples. Or ambiance department stores and malls feature bells ringing softly from speaker systems for their shoppers. Sometimes you can hear bell choir concerts in mall food courts, airports, and other places where large crowds gather at Christmas. 

Many Christmas songs include lyrics with or about bells such as Silver Bells, Jingle Bells, Ring the Bells, Carol of the Bells, Jingle Bell Rock, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's classic, I heard the Bells on Christmas Day.

Bells and the atoning of Christ

Bells are an integral part of worship and celebration at Christmas. They remind us of the atoning blood of Christ that cleansed us from all unrighteousness. We find the origin of their significance in the Day of Atonement performed once each year by the High Priest in the Holy of Holies in the Temple of God.  When the High Priest entered the temple he wore elegant robes and expensive materials--garments made by skilled craftsmen especially (and only for) the day of atonement.

Bells in the Bible

High Priest Blue Robe
The Bible says that bells were a part of the High Priests sacred garments, “Make the robe of the ephod entirely of blue cloth, with an opening for the head in its center. There shall be a woven edge like a collar around this opening, so that it will not tear. Make pomegranates of blue, purple and scarlet yarn around the hem of the robe, with gold bells between them. 

The gold bells and the pomegranates are to alternate around the hem of the robe. Aaron must wear it when he ministers. The sound of the bells will be heard when he enters the Holy Place before the LORD and when he comes out, so that he will not die. Exodus 28:31-35.

Christmas Bells and Christ

As the High Priest walked around in the holy of holies, sprinkling blood on the mercy-seat, the priests and people outside the Holy of Holies heard the sound of the bells and knew that the High Priest was performing his sacred duties to atone for their sins.  When we hear Christmas bells today, we can remind ourselves of the sacrifice our High Priest, The Lord Jesus Christ, made on the cross to atone, once and for all, for all our sins like the High Priest did once a year.

God is good and perfect. Who knew, besides Him, that the small bells sown into the hem of the high priest's garments for the Day of Atonement would become such a beautiful part of our Christmas celebration?

We celebrate the birth of Christ at Christmas. But the next time you hear the beautiful sounds Christmas bells make, think of Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross that atoned for all our sins.

In Jesus' precious name
Steven Sawyer

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Part II - Pimping God for Seven minutes …Do You Know How to Pray?

Part II

It came to pass, that as He was praying one of the disciples said Lord teach us to pray as John taught his disciples Luke 11:1-4

Pimping God
Most Christians cannot pray to God seven minutes.  Being honest, there was a season I could not either. There was a preoccupation with me, myself, and I.  Yet, when the going got tough I was first in line hustling and bargaining with God.  “Lord I will do this if you do that.”

What is prayer?
People don’t know how to pray. We are a society filled with greed. Anxious, impatient and want what we want now.  We wish or rub lanterns and hoping Jesus pops out - poof! That is not prayer.

·        Prayer is communication with God
·        Prayer is an action – praying without ceasing Thes. 5:17.
·        Prayer is supplication – not being anxious  Philippians 4:6
·        Prayer is NOT vain repetition – stop babbling Matthew 6:7

I don’t know how to pray
how to pray
There was a woman who was learning how to pray.  She started with prayers she knew – The Lord’s Prayer and The 23rd Psalms. On her daily commute she prayed two Lord’s Prayers and three 23rd Psalms. Her petitions were about God and not self. In return her life was filled with joy and closeness with God. Jesus told His disciples enter your closet and pray in secret Matt.6:6. After entering your private closet your prayer can be as simple as reciting the Lord’s Prayer.

What to pray for
As my understanding and relationship matured in Christ so did my prayer life. Opposed to egotistical prayers I started giving thanks for everything – life, health, home, job and family. I graduated to praying for the sick, shut-in, friends and strangers. Most important I sought God’s will and welcomed the Holy Spirit into my life.

Dear Christian, there is no set amount of time required to pray but if you are not giving God seven minutes make the time. If your prayers are self-absorbed it time for a paradigm shift! Give Thanks to God because he is good in all things!
Dear Father God, help me to become more conscious of giving you thanks, praise and less selfish desires. Help me to grow spiritually and conform to your will. This I pray in your son Jesus Christ name – Amen.


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