Monday, August 31, 2015

God's Grace is a Way of Life

God's Grace is a Way of Life
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them--yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. (1 Cor. 15:10)

We all talk about God's Grace but how many of us truly understand just what we are really saying and truly understand what that means? How many of us know all there is to know about grace? How many of us take the little things for granted? How many of us believe that we are where we are in life based upon how hard we've worked to get to where we are? If you believe that, then we really need to talk!

We need to understand that it was not our doing, but only God's Grace! By God's Grace, we are able to be here today. Grace has the ability to change us, reshape us, strengthen us, encourage us, soften us and the list goes on. In all of our stuff, God is gracious and merciful by not giving us what we truly deserve. His grace is nothing other than Unmerited favor. We did absolutely nothing to receive his grace nor could we ever do anything in order to receive God’s grace.

So, what is grace? Grace is a free gift. It is a free gift from God! Just because He loves us!

We cannot work for it. We cannot negotiate it. We cannot earn it. We do not deserve it. We cannot manufacture it for ourselves. It can only come from our God of grace and He gives it to us completely free.

Do you all remember being taught about grace using an acrostic? Grace is: God’s Redemption At Christ’s Expense.  That’s cute and catchy but to really comprehend what grace is, we have to understand who God really is. In Hebrew the word for God is EL which simply means one with strength, with might, with power, is great and is strong.  Some names of God we as Christians sometimes use ; Elohim, our creator who is mighty and strong, El Shaddai our God Almighty or El Elyon, our Most High God.

Because of what happened in the Garden of Eve, sin entered our being and we were separated from God.
This was never in His plan for us to be separated from Him at any time. The only way to cover our sins permanently would be for Him to offer His Son, Christ Jesus as a living sacrifice. We were reconnected to God by the bloodshed of His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ. The cost of our redemption was indeed very costly! Our redemption is the greatest portion of grace given to us by our Loving Father! God’s Grace! Hallelujah!

The extent of God’s grace is endless and it’s probably not even humanly possible to understand just how big and how deep and how wide His grace truly is! It is not because we have been good but only because He is good! 
God pours out grace on each of us every day! We are like little spoiled children because we think it is always of our own doing.

The daily grace we receive comes in many types, many forms. In other words, we receive our daily portion of grace based upon how God sees our needs at that time. God tailors His grace to meet our needs. Praise God for His Grace!

God loves all of us dearly, whether all of us acknowledge Him or not and He therefore provides grace to all of us. This form of grace is known as Common Grace. We can find an example of Common Grace in Matthew 4:44-45 says “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
Common grace takes the form of things we take for granted such as the earth and what we get from it such like precious stones and various metals. Like natural gas and oil. Even the makeup of our bodies, like our immune system to fight off germs, our skin which is self-repairing! (God designed us this way!)  What about our senses, we can smell the roses, we can feel the touch of a new born baby, our spouse or significant other? Things that we don’t even think about! God’s Common Grace, is provided to
allow us to partake in His creations for our enjoyment and for our benefit!  Common Grace! Don’t take it lightly!

Ephesians 2: 8 says: “For it by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” In order words, our ransom was paid in full on Calvary in order for us to receive the gift of salvation!  Jesus went to the cross on our behalf, we were able to take off our old selves and become new again in Christ all because of His saving grace! Because
Hallelujah! Saving grace!  This is something to shout about!  God saved us, simply because He loves us and He forgave us!  But wait! There’s more! Not only can we thank God for His saving grace, because immediately after we were saved, His grace started to work on us to purify us and sanctify us! God’s sanctifying grace which is His Holy Spirit that lives inside of us is always putting us in check, pointing out our sins, prompting us to confess our wrongdoings and repent. It is up to us to be obedient in order for the work of sanctification and purification to continue working in us! Just remember, Ephesians 1:6 tells us “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.” Let us never sell ourselves short by walking in disobedient because it delays the purification process that God has started. Praise His Holy Name for His Sanctifying grace!

Has anyone ever experienced that grace, having your needs met right unexpectedly, at the time you are at the end of your rope? Not knowing if you should tie a knot and hang on of just let go?

How many of you saw Tyler Perry's movie, "Good Deeds"?  Tyler Perry played the part of a very successful business man who was about to get married but found himself drawn to the night housekeeper of the building he worked in. The housekeeper was a single mother, working, struggling to provide for her daughter which became impossible. She and her daughter lost their home and lived in her car. She lost her babysitter for not having the money to pay. Children services caught wind of this and the mother was forced to be separated from her child.
Having witnessed the child being taken away, Tyler Perry becomes very concerned for the well-being of the mother and the child. He asks her to allow him to help her and she was filled with pride like so many of us however, she wanted to be reunited with her daughter, so she agreed to allow him help her. Never in her wildest dreams did she imagine, someone would provide a place of her own to live so that she could regain custody of her daughter. She wondered why this man was so generous and kind to her, something she had never experienced before. James 1:17 tells us that “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights.”  When we at the point of giving up, God steps in and tells us the same thing, “Let me help you. He tells us “I am  Jehovah Jireh, your provider. I can and will supply all of your needs.”  God already knows what we are in need.
God is a God of provisional grace!

God knew of her needs and had pre-arranged how she would receive the help she needed through a chosen vessel to work on His behalf. What an experience to be the beneficiary of God’s provisional grace!  Say Provisional Grace!

Provisional grace and Miraculous grace are very closely related. We see and witness God performing miracles every day. When there is absolutely no explanation for something occurring or not occurring can only be the miraculous power of God!

I met a young woman on Sunday whom experienced God’s working power, His Miraculous grace very recently.
I will not say what the situation was, because that is her testimony to share but it was one of those “Wow! Look at God!” moments! Jehovah Ropha!  God our Healer!

Praise God for miraculous grace interceding on our behalf!
It cannot be explained! It cannot be denied! It is only God’s grace!

Grace is a way of life! Many of us feel that our sufferings seem to be endless when actually our sufferings are only momentarily when we weigh them against what we will experience in the realm of glorious eternity. Listen, if God is going to use us, you can best believe that we are going to suffer. Don’t take it personal. The good news is God will sustain us while we are going through the fire! Sustaining grace! Yes, we will go through trials and suffer much pain,
but our Bible tells us in Hebrews 4:16 “Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need!”

When we look back over our life and everything that we have ever been through or still in, do you know why you are still standing? Do you know how you still have sanity?
You are still standing in spite of you losing that job and now wondering what will happen to you and your family;  in spite of your worrying about that wayward child causing you sleepless nights because you see them going down the path of destruction;  in spite of the what the doctors are telling you that you have cancer and it is in the last phase;  in spite of it being only the 5th of the month, money is gone and there’s still 25 more days left in the month! In spite of all that; God continuously pours out His sustaining grace on every one of us! Remember what
our Bible tells us in 1 Peter 5:10 “And after you have suffered a little while, The grace of God, who has called you to is eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you!” Praise God for His sustaining grace! Every one of us should be running around this church right now praising Him for His Sustaining Grace. During those times of trials and suffering, we can have comfort in knowing from God’s Word, 2 Corinthians 12: 9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  This is why we have not fainted during our sufferings. This is my testimony! You may now see my glory but you don’t know my story! Praise God for His sustaining grace!

Grace is a way of life! Say Grace is a way of life!

There’s more about God’s grace! The magnitude of God’s grace is immeasurable!  Ephesians 1: 13 -14 says “When you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed in Him, you were also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. Want to know what I just said?  I just said our God has secured us from sin! Our salvation has been locked and secured by His Securing Grace! We have been saved by the blood of the lamb, we have been sanctified by the Holy Spirit and we have been justified by His grace! It is good to know that we can have relief in knowing our salvation is Secured by His mercy and His grace!  Grace is a way of Life!

So far we know that we all share common grace just because God is a Loving Father who loves all of us. We know that we have been saved by His grace, sanctified by His grace, our immediate needs are met by His provisional grace. God is a miracle worker and extends miraculous grace making a way out of no way. We have comfort in knowing that by God’s sustaining grace, we are still standing when it felt like we were carrying the weight of the world on us and we could have lost our mind, and we can be assured that our salvation has been secured by God’s beloved son, Christ Jesus. But there is still more!  We all have been given spiritual gifts by our loving Father.
Those gifts were not given to us just to have, but for the sake of serving others. 1 Peter 4:10-11 tells us that “each of us should use whatever gift we have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”

It goes on to say “if we speak, we should do so as one who speaks the words of God and if we serve, we should serve with the strength God provides, so that God will be praised through Jesus Christ.”  In other words, don’t kick a sister while she is down! As stewards of God, we have been given the gift of Serving grace and we are to use it blessing others, paying it forward for the purpose of glorifying God, not ourselves.

God’s grace is freely given and we have 2 options of how to live our lives. We can choose to accept anything and everything that happens to us as being our ‘destiny’ or we can choose knowing and understanding God’s grace, God’s divine assistance, unmerited favor and why we need it in our lives. His grace has been given to keep us from sinning. Yet, when we do sin, we can ask for forgiveness and God grants us tender mercies! Although, don’t think because God provides grace to us, that it is a greenlight to sin! Don’t get it twisted!

God’s grace is a way of life! 

·       By his saving grace, we have been saved from the wages of sin which is death.

·       By his common grace, we live in the midst of all that He has created for us to enjoy!

·       By His grace, we have been sanctified!

·       By His grace, we have received His Holy Spirit that lives within us which justifies us!

·       we least expect it.

·       By His miraculous grace, He still performs miracles everyday. Miracles which cannot be explained.

·       By His grace, we have been sustained. We have been kept. 

·       By His grace, we have not lost our minds as we continually go through storm after storm in our

·       His sustaining grace provided strength to us to keep us from fainting.

·       God’s grace has given us security in salvation. We have been sealed with a promise by the Holy Spirit.

·       God’s grace has been given to us in the form of spiritual gifts that we are to use for the benefit of others for the growth of the body of Christ.

Grace is a way of life! It is a wonderful free gift from our Father! Therefore we should extend grace to others in the way of love and kindness! 

Again, we will never fully understand the full magnitude of God’s grace but one thing I do know for certain. God’s grace is working in us every day! The best thing we can do is to submit to the influence of His grace!

Grace is a way of life and I received revelation of this years ago when God spoke to me clearly revealing ‘a better way of life.’ What I realize now that I did not realize at that time was how freely His grace was flowing in my life knowing that I did not deserve His grace. But because he loved me then and He still loves me now, I can say I am still standing because of His grace and who He is!

If you feel you have come to a crossroad, not knowing whether to go right or go left. Go right because it leads to God and His grace. If there is something holding you back, and keeping you from fully yielding to Him, trust God to reveal those things so that you may recognize His grace is with you and Has been with you all along.

God’s grace is a way of life!  As I close, I want to leave you all with this verse, 2 Corinthians 9:8 which says “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all time, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”

May God’s grace continually be with you all! God bless you!

Monday, April 20, 2015

A Preserved Life: A Daughter's Expression of Love

My mom went home to be with the Lord on February 6, 2014. This was a very difficult time for me as this was my last parent. I then felt like an orphan. There were those who reminded me that I still have a Father who loves me very much. Abba, Daddy God.  It was with God's prompting that I was able to give my personal eulogy and expression of my love to my Mom.

Homegoing Service - February 14, 2014
Annie Pearl Williams, My beloved Mother

After taking time and reflecting back on the time that mom was with us, and talking with my pastor back home, I began to seek guidance and understanding about everything that she went through in this life, the physical life. I was led to 1 Thessalonians 5:16-23.....and it reads "Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesying. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil. And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Then I began to think about why God kept her here suffering for so long. She lived a long full and beautiful life; she taught her children everything that she knew. Let me clarify, when I say children that meant every child in her life.  God has shown great favor over her lifetime. She lived through the loss of 2 sons, she lived through my period of crazy teenage years as well as my era of my 20's, she lived through life with 2 sons in military, she lived through my dad's battle with Alzheimer disease, determined that she would continue to care for him, although her own health was failing as well and finally she lived through her beloved, my dad's transition to Glory. Yet I still wondered why God allowed her to endure so much pain?

God then dropped in my spirit as I was reading and meditating on these scriptures, "A Preserved Life". I said "hmm, I think I get it. My mom's life has been preserved by God. Preserved. God revealed this phrase to me on January 25, 2014, exactly 12 days prior to mom's transition to Glory. The number 12 is a relevant number throughout the Bible and is demonstrated quite frequently such as 12 sons of Jacob, 12 tribes of Israel, 12 disciples of Jesus, 12 gates of New Jerusalem.  The number 12 is used symbolically to reflect divine authority and that God is always in control. When God wants to demonstrate His control, He stamps the number 12 all over it so that we understand, it is of His perfection.

According to the Miriam-Webster Dictionary, preserved means to keep safe from harm, or destruction, to keep in good condition, to protect, to keep alive, make lasting, etc. You all get the jest of what I am saying.

My mother was 87 years young. In her lifetime, she encouraged, she taught, she comforted, she witnessed, she disciplined, and with a firm hand I might add. Amen? She fed many, she claimed many as her own and she loved her family and those she claimed as her own.

Although our house was a welcoming environment indeed, you knew never to test her! Our mom didn't play! If anybody at our house, whether a resident or not, niece or nephew, or one of her "chosen kids", and I call them chosen because she loved and cared enough to share wisdom with them and disciplined them just as if they were her own, therefore EVERYBODY would get DEALT with and make no mistake about would be  by ANY MEANS NECESSARY!  In fact, she didn’t have to even know you! You all know what I mean!

Now my mom was not one to spoil the child and spare the rod "oh how she NEVER spared the rod! Although she was quite a disciplinarian, she did it quite lovingly. In fact she loved us enough to tell us in every lick sometimes adding extra syllables to words extending the time and agony of our whooping.  My generation did not know the meaning of "time out, spankings or to have our electronics taken away". We instead got "whooping’s" and most times we had to get outside to fetch our own "switch" and that walk felt as if you were headed to the execution chamber. Heaven forbid if you bring back something close to normal, it was far too small for her liking! Mama would then go get the whole tree branch! And if we made her really, really mad, she would make us "wait for the whooping" and sometimes that could be days or weeks! That was more agonizing than the whooping itself! But then when she was ready, OMG! She would go back months from stuff we thought we were cool on saying, "oh you thought I forgot,  didn't you! You remember that time.... and then that other time.... and the list grew longer and so did our whooping.

My mom was a very beautiful and, an amazing, courageous Woman of God. She stood firm on every promise of God. She knew God was with her during the highs and the lows. She was truly an optimist with a free spirit, a colorful spirit, recognizing God is in control. Just to reflect on her colorful spirit, not only was this an incredible internal quality, but also reflected externally. She loved colorful flowers, colorful scarves, jewelry, hats and clothing. In fact, she loved color so much, that she shared her love for color with me at a young age. Looking back at my elementary school pictures, I was later in therapy a little while for the outfits that I wore and back then. One particular outfit I remember that was handpicked by my mom was a red and green plaid dress with hues of yellow accented by a red white and blue striped vest with white stars. I was convinced at that time that my outfit was the bomb. After I became an adult and revisited memories of my childhood, these pictures brought tears to my eyes, literally tears to my eyes because the colors and patterns were making me crossed eyed.

But seriously, it really is such a wonderful blessing to remember moments like this, moments of your mother's loving support as she sat through your school play as you walked out with your torn paper costume, or moments that she sat watching you collect school awards beaming with pride, remembering moments of mom bringing cake, or cookies, or juice to your classroom for a school party. These moments are priceless because my mother had that gift of making you feel special and beautiful in her own way.

My mom was an incredible pillar of strength and focused on the positive side of every situation or circumstance,  even when she felt powerless from the many trials and tribulation. She was not a well-educated woman, yet she was wise far beyond this lifetime and spoke with much wisdom to all who crossed her path. She was not a woman of great etiquette, yet she was a woman with high self-esteem, honorable character, self-respect and the Light of the Lord, which was reflected through her walk with Christ.  She was not a woman to get involved in meaningless things outside of her home, thus teaching us to be respectful of ourselves and to others, to be humble, to be a blessing to others rather than a burden, and to remember the great golden rule, "To do unto to others as you would have us to do unto you". Therefore her work has not been in vain because she followed God's instructions according to Proverbs 22:6 "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart it."

I hope you understand that God granted my mother continuous mercy, grace and favor. God predestined her life to endure hardships, persecution and long suffering to be evidence of His Might and Power for His Glory. God preserved her to complete His preplanned Work of speaking wisdom into those coming behind her and because she was preserved, when the adversary tried to block God's work, she remembered "She could look to the hills for help knowing her help came from the Lord." (Philippian’s 4:13)

God preserved her life to demonstrate true meaning of being a woman of God.  My mom understood that life was not all roses and sunshine every day and there would be many life storms and some wilderness days, therefore as a wife and mother she knew she had to stay on bended knee and pray her way through. She remembered that God said "I am your refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1).

God preserved her life to teach and train up more soldiers to boldly proclaim the Gospel therefore building His Kingdom, knowing there would be times when she would have to depend solely on faith because there would sometimes be nobody to stand with her. She remembered Paul's instructions to Timothy (2 Timothy 2:3-4) "Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved with civilian affairs (or this life) he wants to please his 'commanding officer' (or He who has chosen him to be a soldier).

God preserved her life to assure her family understood perseverance because there would be times when we too would become frustrated, impatient, discouraged and weary from the tiresome journey of life struggles. However, my mom remembered that God's Word says (Isaiah 40: 31) "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint".

And finally God preserved her life because she worshipped him, because she served Him faithfully, because she lived on God's  every promise, and because she was not ashamed to speak the Gospel. My mom witnessed to many headed down the path of destruction, telling them about our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, to trust in Him and to surrender their life to Him. She often spoke of the "Last Days", reminding us of what the word says (2 Timothy 3:1-5) "But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God-having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them". My mom understood there would be many that would not want to listen, yet that did not stop her from proclaiming the Word of the Lord.

In closing, God finally called His servant, our mother, home to be with Him in Glory. She suffers no longer and her living was not in vain. Let us rejoice and not mourn. As Paul wrote to Timothy, 2 Timothy 4: 7-8: I believe my mother would agree with Paul and say to us, " I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing".

Let us be encouraged today reflecting on the promises of God as our mom has done. God bless you all.

From Rough Stones to Refined Jewels

What is a GEM? According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a gem is defined as a “jewel”; a precious or sometimes semi-precious or valuable stone that has been cut and polished for ornament; or “something prized especially for great beauty or perfection” or a highly prized or well-beloved person. In doing my research on the mining process for precious gemstones, particularly diamonds, I found it to be quite interesting. A diamond is the hardest natural substance known to man. The word diamond is a derivative of the Greek word, “adamas” which means unconquerable or invincible. Diamonds are buried at least 100 miles underground. Therefore, in order to excavate the diamonds from the earth, miners must blast the area where they perceive diamonds to be. Once the blasting process is over, it is then that the diamonds can be seen pulled from the miry clay. To the untrained eye, the diamond in its natural state does not look like diamonds as we see them in stores. In their natural state, they are covered with mud, sand, gravel and other impurities. Once diamonds have been discovered and extracted from the earth, they must go through a rigorous process before revealing their pure natural brilliance, sparkle. Until that process is completed, it is essentially a “diamond in the rough.” There are 4 C’s that determines the value of a diamond; cut, clarity, carat and color. The steps involved in revealing the brilliance of a diamond include, washing, cutting and polishing. The diamond has to be washed before it moves along. Remember, it came from within the earth, therefore it must be washed and cleansed of the mud, sand, gravel and all other impurities. The cutting process is lengthy and requires a lot of effort to cut the different facets of the diamond so that its shine and sparkle can be revealed. This process requires the skills of an expert, a Master Cutter, so not to cut this precious gem inaccurately. If the diamond happens to be tapped in the wrong spot, it will shatter. The pieces are still diamonds but no longer have value as gems. The Master Cutter knows how much grinding a diamond needs in order to get the most brilliance from it. The next step is the polishing phase is very long and very tedious. It is through this process that the sharp edges and its surface are smoothed down in order to get to its true value, its brilliant sparkle and its real beauty. By now, I’m sure you are wondering why I am focusing on the process that a diamond goes through. There is so much more involved in this process that we could go on all day! However, I want to stop here and focus on the similarities of a precious jewel and those of God’s jewel. As one of God’s jewels, we as Christians go through a rigorous process very much like a diamond. As any diamond in the rough that takes a lot of time and work and love, we have been specifically selected, because—God has made us of "gem-quality material." “If you think the person you are right now, will get you to become a diamond, you are mistaken!” The transformation of being refined into the precious gems as God sees us, takes much work. It will not happen overnight. In fact it will take the most of our lifetime. Let me just say this, “you are going to go through some stuff . Why, is that, you ask? Because the Word of God tells us so! In (II Timothy 3:12) Paul writes to Timothy, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” It will be painful, agonizing at times, will seem hopeless at times, helpless at times. Sometimes there will be extreme pressure and extreme heat and it will be a very slow and painful process. We wonder how we should find joy when we are experiencing turmoil in our lives. We just have to remember that God loves us so much and He sees us as precious jewels! “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scouregeth every son whom he receiveth,”(Heb12:6.) “No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening — it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.” (Hebrews 12:11). Just like diamonds, there are 4 C’s to a spiritual diamond: Conviction, Commitment, Courage and Character. All are equally important as they build upon each other. Conviction. The degree to which one knows and believes the Word of God. Being sure of what you believe! There is no room for doubt. We must believe! Hebrews 11:6 says “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” You all remember back in the book of Genesis Ch 39 the story of Joseph and the Potiphar’s wife? Joseph was fine and she wanted him ya’ll! But Joseph understood the real meaning of conviction and knew what was right from wrong. And what she was asking him to do was evil and wrong. The good thing is when we are being tempted, there is always a way out. Joseph was like, “Deuces” as he immediately left her! Commitment. The degree to which one consistently acts on that knowledge and belief. It’s making a firm decision way in advance of the circumstances you will be faced with. If you truly believe what God’s word says, then when trouble comes, you are committed to holding fast to God’s unchangeable hand. In other words, you are binding yourself to a certain course of action based upon the truth of your conviction! Hallelujah! Did you all hear what I just said? Let me say that one more time. Your commitment means you are bound to a certain course of action based upon the truth of your conviction! We have to take a stand. Stand firm! If we are not solid with our conviction (faith) then we are open to be compromised in our commitment meaning we can go left and right because we are not sure! Conviction and Commitment go hand in hand! Courage. The degree to which one is able to persevere in the time of trouble. To have the courage to withstand the storms of life, we must be solid in our conviction, and committed to standing on the Word of God. When we are facing those raging storms of life, it will take all of our strength and boldness to stand by our commitment. But we are so worried about losing our status in society, losing our wordly titles, and even worried about losing our jobs so we compromise our commitment making us weak. Character. The degree to which one is conformed to the image of God’s perfect Son, Jesus Christ. God is building character in all of us as He refines us into precious jewels! If you look at these qualities as levels of a pyramid, we would see conviction as the base (our foundation)! Followed by commitment and courage. At the very top is our character! It is our character that will take us into eternity! This is why God calls us His jewels therefore Malachi 3:17 says “They shall be Mine, says the Lord of Hosts, On the day that I make them my jewels…” When we are suffering and going through the fire of trials and tribulations, God is grinding us during those times. God is working on our character. The beauty of enduring during those troubling times is God’s Grace! God is our Master Gemologist. “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Romans 5: 3-4. In order for God to remove all impurities in us, He has to put us in the middle of the fire—so to speak—where the flames are hottest. Peter talks of our loving God who has begotten us again "to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you... In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter:1:4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,, 6-7). Remember, God is making His precious treasure, and that is what it takes to be refined! God will not leave us in the fire to long. Paul writes: "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it" (1 Corinthians:10:13There 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.). He doesn't rejoice in our sufferings. He would rather avoid them. But He knows that they are necessary. We as daughters of the King should have one common goal and that goal is to become a spiritual diamond. We MUST have Unshakeable conviction, Unwavering commitment, Unflinching courage, and Christlike character. GEMS are God’s DIVINE CREATION "A precious jewel is the production of God and only God. Diamonds can withstand extreme heat, extreme pressure and are the hardest known substance to man. A better way to see the value God sees in each of us, just as we see a diamond that has just been pulled from the miry clay, every person is truly a diamond, being the toughest substance in existence. Regardless of our behavior and outward appearance, God can see our soul underneath all the rubble and it remains intact. Just like a diamond, we therefore are Unconquerable as the word diamond is Greek word, Adamas meaning invincible and unconquerable. GEMS are Beautiful To His disciples the Lord Jesus said, "You are the light of the world" (Matt. 5:14), and why are they so? Because He could say "I am the light of the world" (John 8:12). "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Matt. 5:16): "so shine" that Christ gets all the glory; "so shine" that we make it clear and plain to all that whatever goodness or righteousness there is in us, and whatever fruits are produced by us, all is from Christ as the Root. VARIETY of God’s Gems Precious stones vary considerably both in color and in size, kind and value, brilliance and worth. If order is Heaven's first law, variety is certainly its second, for there is no uniformity in the ways and works of God, though there is a blessed underlying unity. So gems, all are valuable, but all are not the same. There is the clear diamond, the red ruby, the green emerald, the blue sapphire, the violet amethyst and so, on. So it is among the saints. All are God's children, all bear the marks of the Divine "workmanship" (Eph. 2:10), all are equally precious to Christ, but all are not alike. HISTORY of God’s GEMS Precious jewels come from humble beginnings as they are discovered in the mud and mire of earth. Diamonds have been buried in the earth under rocks, sand, and mud, etc. for centuries "Look unto the rock whence you are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence you are dug" (Isaiah 51:1). O the lowly origin of the Christian: "He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock" (Psalm 40:2). God’s DESTINY for GEMS "You will be a glorious crown in the Lord’s hand, and a royal diadem in the palm of your God" (Isaiah 62:3). Wondrous is it to think of rough stones, which first look like small pebbles, being found in the mud and mire of earth; then cut and polished until they scintillate with a brilliancy surpassing any earthly object, and being given an honored place in the diadem of a monarch. But infinitely more wonderful is it that poor lost sinners, saved by sovereign grace, should be among the crown-jewels of the Son of God. But He will yet "present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy" (Jude 24). Then shall He say to the Father, "The glory which You gave Me I have given them" (John 17:22). "And they shall be Mine, says the Lord Almighty, in that day when I make up My jewels" (Mal. 3:17). What is meant by "When I make up My jewels"? Is it not when the complete number of His redeemed are regenerated and polished? Is it not when He shall descend from Heaven with a shout, resurrect the sleeping saints and transform the living ones and rapture them together, so that we shall "ever be with the Lord" (1 Thess. 4:16, 17): "make up" (Mal. 3:17), "caught up" (1 Thess. 4:17)! God is working in each of us to create in us a unique gem. And for God—the Master Gemologist—to smooth the rough edges and polish us and cut the different facets of His character, it is vital that we feel like gems in His expert hands. Are you willing to allow God to work on you? Are you strong enough to endure the pain and suffering and count it all joy? Are you willing to allow the Word of God to convict you? Are you willing to be committed to a GEMS lifestyle? If you are, please stand with me and take rock in your hand and look at yourself. Do you like what you see? Can you see the diamond underneath all of your stuff? Can you see the image of Christ as you look as this hard shell? Is that you? What are you willing to do about it? Will you surrender yourself today? God bless you all!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Seasons: A Personal Eulogy to my Father

The following is my personal eulogy to my father, Deacon LZ Williams whom graduated from this life on November 19, 2010 to be with our Lord and Savior in Heaven. God gave me the incredible strength to stand and deliver this message to my family and friends during my father's Homegoing Service. 20 years ago, this amazing God given strength was not within me. But God said to me, that I must speak and deliver this message honoring my father and comforting the family. God is able my sisters and brothers and that is evident in this message.


November 23, 2010
Homegoing Service for my Dad
Deacon LZ Williams, Jr.


To my family, friends, clergy, officers and Masonic Brothers, I greet you in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, our maker, our creator and the very lover of our souls.

Death is a very complex issue for most of us humans and we want to question God's decision for taking our loved ones away from us. We do not understand and we will never understand however, it is within God's plan.

As I got the word about my dad leaving this world, a natural reaction is to cry (which I did) because it is an outward emotion in our process of grieving. I tried to lie down and relax, which is impossible when you hear such heartbreaking news. So I began to pray for comfort and peace, not only for my mom and my brothers but for myself as well. God spoke to me in one word........SEASONS.

Now, I'm thinking.....what does that mean and what am I to do with that. Later in the day God placed on my heart to speak on this subject at my dad's service and the need to share with the family what the Lord had shared with me.

You see, 20-25 years ago, had I been told that I would need to do something like this, my answer would have been......"You want me to do what?....Speak? public? a funeral?....Really!! I was not there yet. But the Lord is good and the Lord is able and I am grateful.

Let me share a quick story about a conversation I had with my dad some years ago. As most of you know, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in the early 90's. Now, I had no clue about peace and comfort at that time nor did I know how to rely on the strength of the Lord. So when my father told me he had cancer, I just became completely unraveled........"Oh Lord Jesus! Daddy you're going to die!!! Now my dad being who he was, came back with......"well yea, I am.....but I don't think I am going to die today!" He went on to say, "Daughter, you're going to have to grow up. Daddy is not going to be with you always. I need to know that if and when God calls me home, you will know how to lean on God for yourself." Now me being me at that time.....I'm thinking....ok.....that all sounds good in theory, but that ain't happening today!

God reminded me of this by bringing "Seasons" to my remembrance and this was only the end of my father's earthly season and that my dad would begin a new season with God the Father in heaven. A beautiful season.

Ecclesiates Chapter 3 verses 1 - 2 tells us....."There is a time and season for everything.....A time to be born and a time to die..." You see, God is in control of the times of our life from beginning to the end. The Alpha and the Omega. We should enjoy life's good times as a gift from God's hand. My dad was a gift to us from God and we are grateful to God for Dad's time with us. He lived a full rewarding life.

Now, you all already know that I was a "Daddy's Girl"....straight up! There was no shame in my game and most times I could sway my dad's decision in my favor. So I thought my dad could do everything and I had no worries as a child. In fact, I didn't even know that we were poor!! Then I grew up and became a teenager and my methodology still worked to some degree. But, I can recall a time it backfired.

I was 16, had my driver's you know, you want to borrow the car and act like you are all that! I drove myself to the football and basketball games. Sometimes my mom would tag, you know that put a major damper on my game!

But most times though, I was rolling with my 4 cousins and my homegirl, Gladys. (I was the only one with a license!) So, one particular night, the 6 of us went to a basketball daddy's car of course. The game ended a little earlier than usual. So we were all like......"ok" we still got some time to cruise what we knew as "the Hill" and "the Center" to see if any parties were popping! Well, we circled the block one time too many! Last time, who did we come face to face with......none other than my daddy!

He had parked around "the Square" and had gotten out of his truck looking for us! We were all like......we are in BIG trouble!!!! My daddy spotted us and you would have thought he worked on the tarmac at the airport! He was motioning for us to come and park beside him. So we did. His first words were......."where have ya'll been all this time!" We were too scared to answer and didn't know what to say. Daddy went on to say........"Take this car home and park it NOW!!! And I will be right behind you!"

So now, on the ride home, we all had time to strategize our lie! And...we ALL agreed we would stick to the same story. Well don't you know when we got to my aunt's and Glady's mom were all there waiting. Everyone asked us where had
we been and why didn't we come straight home. Don't you know that my girls started singing like canaries........they dimed me out BIG time!!...."It was Shirley.....she was driving! We told her we needed to go home...but she wanted to circle the more time!" I was so THROUGH with them!! Well....everybody left and went home and I got beat like a runaway slave!!!And grounded with no driving privileges!! My dad really never beat me.....he made my mom do it and she had it down to a science!!

But I loved my dad and felt it befitting to spotlight some moments in his season as a father. My dad worked hard and provided for us all cost. His perserverance and determination is what I loved most about him. His season of life was well lived and meaningful because it was centered around God and he made sure that his children were grounded in the Lord.

If you have a chance, I encourage you to read the book of Ecclesiates because you will discover that our season of life has many contrasts and are not enjoyed, so they would not be called gifts by us. It is hard for us to understand that both prosperity and adversity come from the hand of God. In other words.....our season of life is not in our control. My dad has fallen into an eternal sleep here.....but his soul has been retrieved by the Lord and now he is with our Father in heaven.

As hard as it sounds and even harder to do, I encourage all of us to embrace this moment of adversity called death, to let go and let God be our comforter and our peace during this difficult time. Hold onto the memories and the legacy of my dad.....for he was a good man and he stood for something. God will keep us and sustain us.

So Daddy...I say "Happy Graduation" to heaven as you transition from this season of mortal life to your season of eternal life. You may be gone from our presence....but never from our hearts.

I love you daddy and I will see you again one day.


Be blessed and encouraged my family and friends.
Much love to all of you!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Equipping your Space

That time of the year when we see students preparing to leave home headed to college or returning back to college has come and passed. Parents and students were seen crowding the stores buying items that their sons and daughters would need as they left the nest.

Now you know the routine. Students are assigned to dorm rooms. Sometimes with a roommate and sometimes without. So it is natural that students want to fix up their room and give it personality that makes them feel comfortable in the new enviornment. I remember my days in college in my very first dorm room. I remember my parents driving away as I watched from the steps of my dorm....crying harder the further they were out of sight. Then I turned slowly to head to my new dorm room.

My new roommate had arrived so I sat watching her put her things away......all happy. But then again......her mom lived in the dame town all of 10 minutes away! So she could get her home "fix" on at any time. We began to talk and she was telling me how we were going to have so much fun and become the best of buddies. She finally convinced me that I was there to STAY and my parents were NOT coming back to pick me up and take me back home! It was time to unpack and settle in. I put my clothes and my tolietries away and began to "personalize" my side of the room with my posters and my stuffed animals.......YES......I brought my stuffed animals with me to school......and a lot of ya'll did don't trip! My father had bought me my own TV so I could relax and watch my favorite shows during time away from my studies. I had a refrigerator and a hot plate (which was illegal to have by the way!) I put my new bedspread on my bed with my new sheets. And lastly, I accesorized my desk with a lamp and little trinkets and pictures that I brought from home. I could now say, this was my room and my personalized space.

My experience of going away to school and leaving the comforts of home behind is so much like our lives as believers in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

At some point in our lives, we were new students in the world. We found our space and labeled it as ours. As we submit our lives to Christ, we have to do the same. The only difference is this. We sometimes have to leave some things and sometimes some people behind and get new "stuff" as we join the body of Christ. We have to essentially "Equip" our own private space through prayer and the reading of God's Word.

It is time to put up some new things in order to advance in our spiritual walk. First, we will need a spot for "faith". As the Word of God tells us, "Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen." Faith is critical as we equip our space in the body of Christ. Next, we will need to display perserverance and endurance somewhere in our space. "Be patient and wait on the Lord." Life is not easy and we were never promised it would be. When things look hopeless and we feel defeated....we absolutely must perservere and weather the storm and yes it will be rough at times. Lastly, our walls must be painted with praise! We were created to worship......through the good times and the bad. God wants our praise. Now.....our space is ready and we have equipped and personalized our space, we can count on God to hold true to His word showering those that seek Him with deliverance, healing and breaking chains of burden. Hallelujah.

Be encouraged to equip your space in Christ today my brothers and sisters!

Blessings to all!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Free your Mind..............

It was an ordinary Friday at work....dress down and waiting for for 5 o'clock to come! I like to listen to the radio at work and sing as I do my job when I have the chance. In other words...I like to whistle while I work! Amen! But this particular Friday, I was excited because of what was to come later that evening. So I was singing and had a little extra pep in my step. You see, we recently began a Youth Service for the youth of Greater Danbury area. And I was excited to see the young people come out and worship on a Friday night when they could have chosen to be any other place rather than the house of the Lord. Envogue's song had been placed in my spirit and had been ministering to me in its own way. Anyway, later that evening, I had the pleasure of welcoming the youth to Freedom Friday. During that time, this song just rolled off my tongue in the greeting as I was speaking from the heart without having anything prepared. With that, I began to seek God's direction on what exactly He needed for me to say in this message. I understood there was a message for me in there that God wanted me to bring to His people. You see, I had begun researching another topic that I thought was the message. And you know what, I could not get that message together to save my life! Then I knew, it was because it was my message and not God's message. The message was one thing and the research showed something entirely needless to say....I had to leave that alone because that was not God's direction for me. In my heart, I believe Satan had planted a topic in my mind that I wanted to speak on and he wanted to confuse me and make me frustrated. So my mind had began to focus on that topic without the involvement of the spirit of the Lord. My mind had been affected and was cloudy because I thought that I was saying what people wanted to hear. Satan is good for that at causing confusing and doubt in our minds as he is a mastermind with getting in our minds. But God moved and spoke and said..."No, my love....I need you to speak only on what I give you and you will know that it is of me because it will flow from me through you." So that is how I ended up here. There is a word from the Lord today...not from Shirley. So hear me on this....There is a word from the Lord today and not from Shirley. So I ask you to look beyond Shirley and see only the message of the Lord.

The mind is a wondrous thing and as the expression goes...."a terrible thing to waste."

The mind according to is the aspect of intellect and consciousness experienced as combinations of thought, perception, memory, emotion, will and imagination, including all unconscious cognitive processes. The term is often used to refer, by implication, to the thought processes of reason. It goes on to say that "in popular usage mind is frequently synonymous with thought: the private conversation with ourselves that we carry on "inside our heads." Furthermore according to Wikipedia, thus we "make up our minds," "change our minds" or are "of tow minds" about something. One of the key attributes of the mind in this sense is that it is a private sphere to which no one but the owner has access. No one else can "know our mind." They can interpret only what we consciously or unconsciously communicate." (

There are times when the mind is clear and your thoughts are pleasant and your good judgment is not questionable and you are able to make sound decisions. Then there are other times when the mind is cloudy and your thoughts are corrupted blocking your sound judgement. For example, your circumstances and situations are staying on your mind both day and night and they are weighing you down. You keep thinking and wondering "What on earth am I going to do and how am I going to fix this mess?" You are worried, you are scared, you are angry and you are an emotional wreck. Satan has seen your weakness and found a way into your mind and so now you are feeling, hopeless and helpless and you feel that your situation is less that hopeless. The mind is racing....going from one thought to another. The problem here is that the mind is so succumbed by all these negative thoughts that you cannot hear the Lord speaking because your negative thoughts are much too loud. Stop right there. Take a moment and free your mind. say...that is much easier said than done. And that's a song anyway by EnVogue, you say. Why yes it is, but let me just say that when you focus your time and your energy on God and ask God to help you, your mind can experience that peace and joy. Because the rest of the song goes....."Free your mind.....and the rest will follow. Free your mind....and the rest will follow. Let me say it one more time....."Free your mind........and the rest will follow. You see when you begin to pray and meditate on the Word of God and put your trust and your faith and your focus solely on Him, the fog begins to lift and clear and you are able to get back to the path that God has routed out for you and directed you to follow. Thus the Word of God says "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding and He will direct your path." All of your mind should be focused on God, not just a part, but all of your mind. Some people tend to think that if they can gain more ability to move beyond their circumstances first, then they will be able to serve God later. I too am guilty of that...we are all guilty of that. Now I am not saying that the problems will instantly disappear, but you will be able to face them with a clear mind and a sound mind with confidence because God will take over and began to lead and guide you through. The Bible tells us in Matthew 6:33, "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you." When you are seeking out God first, everything begins to fall into place. Your mind is free of all negativity and everything, yes everything begins to fall into other words....the rest will follow. My God! That is an awesome thing. Not having to worry about anything because our Heavenly Father will supply all of our needs and not only that He has worked out a perfect plan for our lives. All of the burdens, the headaches, the worries.....I encourage to release them now in the name of Jesus. Free your mind today and let the God in you take control of all things and yes.....the rest will follow. Amen.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Crossing the Finish Line and Going for the Gold!

I can remember once in my life that I actually competed in a walk-a-thon requiring the physical activity of walking. What you have to understand about me is, I am not one for marathons, races or any competitions of any sort if I have to get all sweaty and exude physical strength. That has just never been my thing. I don't like working out even if it is for my own good because that means that I would have to condition my body and exert muscle strength. Well......I just don't like that! Last year, I set out to start exercising and changing my eating habits in order to create a healthier me. It started out rather slow and was very challenging in the beginning because I don't like that sort of thing. But I was committed to a healthier me. A friend and I began a walking regime around my apartment complex in the wee hours of the morning. Now, she is not a morning that in an of itself was a challenge! But that's another story! Praise God for her! There would be days when it would be raining and we could not walk so we began to to Tae-Bo in my living room in lieu of walking. Have you ever worked out to one of Billy Blanks videos? Billy is tough and his workouts are very rigorous so until you get used to it.....Billy will kick your butt! There were mornings when we would be mumbling under our breath as we worked out with Billy or either we both would end up passed out in the floor. But we got used to it and it became somewhat easier and we began to look forward to the workouts...well....I....began to workout. I'm going to keep praying for my sister! Amen! But then something happened with my knee and I had to undergo a second knee surgery and I had to go through physical therapy and rehabilitation to strengthen and get my knee back in working order. After all of that was done, I had lost sight of a healthier me and I could not seem to get back into my workout routine. I tried a few times but I was not fully focused on the end results. You see I had lost my drive and I had lost sight of my personal goal. I had veered from my lane in the race to a healthier me. And that's how our personal lives are. We get out of the gate to a strong start but then we get distracted by something on the sidelines and we lose sight of the finish line. We have all gotten off to a strong start with full speed and determination of winning our race but somewhere along the way, we lose steam and began to fall behind the in the race. You see, it is not how strong we get out of the gate, it's how strong we finish the race. What this means, is we all set our sights high and are conditioned for a well run race, but in our race, we will come up against obstacles that were not part of our planned course. And......we just don't know what to do or how to handle the obstacles that have been placed in the lane that we were assigned. You see, those obstacles can be seem to be quite high...too high for us to jump over or either they appear to be too wide for us to go around. And because we have not been conditioned to run on an obstacle course, we fear that we will stumble and fall. I am here to tell you that it is OK to stumble and fall because God will be there to pick you up and dust you off and get you back in the race in the right lane! He has conditioned us to run a strong race and more importantly given us all the training that we need to finish strong and cross the finish line. But no need to stop there with only crossing the finish line, why not set your sight on the gold that God has waiting for you once you cross that finish line. Now somebody ought to stand on their feet right now giving God the Glory because that is Good News! In spite of the many turmoils of life, God is with us throughout the entire race! Praise God! One thing you should take away here if you get nothing else out of this message is this. It is not how fast you get out of the gate, but how consistent you are in your running and that you finish strong with your eyes focused on the gold. The Bible tells us in Ecclesiastes Chapter 7:8 "The end of the matter is better than its beginning and patience is better than pride." What am I saying here? Most of us are running a race to get a reward that is tangible and one that we can brag and boast about. But the real prize is a seat in the kingdom of God, being able to sit at His welcome table feasting on milk and honey and walking the streets paved with gold. You see, we get so bogged down with what is going on in our lives with obstacle after obstacle, we veer from our lane. If you have ever competed in any type of race, you know that the rule is to stay in your lane, right? We were never promised an easy race but He has assigned our own personal lane and developed it just for us. therefore, he has conditioned us for what He has planned for us. Every person that has ever competed in a race or marathon has to undergo weeks, months, even years of training. We have been given the Word of God as our training manual and if we follow its instruction, we can run our race. We may be slow and steady. We may even quaver along the way. And we may even cross lanes sometimes. Life sometimes takes us off the beaten path luring us into other lanes. But that's OK because we have all crossed lanes before. The key is to recognize from the training that has been etched in your heart through the Word of God and move back into your lane. Stay focused on your race. Finish your race strong. Keep in mind as you run your race, there are markers along the course that tell you where you are in your race and if you need to exert more speed or if you need to pull back. Sometimes we are running a little too fast and we need to slow it down. Sometimes we are running too slow and need to pick up the pace. But at any point in time when the race is difficult, always go back to your training, which is the Word of God, watch your markers along the way and pray for understanding. I encourage you all to day to run. Keep running. Gauge your pace and run steady. Finish strong. The gold is waiting! Be blessed my sisters and brothers!