Posts

When We Reflect: 4 Ways to Stay Encouraged

Today, many of us may be facing more challenges than at any other time in our lives. Dr. Tonya Lewis offers us 4 ways which God has given us to stay encouraged.

We don’t have to look far or long before we encounter discouraging situations. Daily news reports are filled with occurrences of trouble in the lives of both young and old. There are all kinds of abuses of God’s people, and of His creation, His animals, His natural resources. Respect for others and respect for self seems to be a thing of the past.

There are also the events we experience in our personal lives which, if left unchecked, could easily usher in discouragement. But in order for us to be spiritually, mentally and physically healthy, we cannot allow ourselves to park in discouragement and linger there. We must never allow pride of age, titles, positions, etc. to prevent us from seeking and getting the help that’s needed.

Help could come from various sources, such as:

But whichever method we use, we must personally participate in our own deliverance from discouragement.

Here are 4 ways we can reflect upon God and keep ourselves encouraged:

  1. Have a “Psalm 42 Conversation” – One way we can keep ourselves uplifted is to have a “Psalm 42 conversation” with ourselves where we talk, question, reflect, and make decisions to change our own outlook. Psalm 42:5-6,8 – Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again—my Savior and 6 my God! Now I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember you— 8 …each day the LORD pours His unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing His songs, praying to God who gives me life.Psalm 42 helps us to  remind ourselves that there is no other source to place our hope in; for who we place our hope in must be stronger, greater, wiser, and more powerful than we are. He must be greater than man, so that we can always come back to Him as needed.
  1. Praise Him! When we reflect upon how He has made it possible for us to have relationship with Him, it enables us to praise Him out of our discouragement. We must decide that no matter the situation, we will praise God again, for that brings a refocusing of our minds. Until we gain the strength to praise Him from the mountain tops, our initial praise might be just a whisper. As it only takes a mustard seed of faith to ignite the power to move mountains in our lives, it only takes a mustard seed of praise and reflection to move us from discouragement to encouragement.
  2. Meditate on His goodness. With redirected attention on God, and reflection upon who God has been to us, we gain strength. When we reflect on His committed promise to continue to be with us, we gain strength. And when we reflect on how blessed we are to be the Sons and Daughters of God, our reflections become the “tow truck” to pull us out of our ditch of discouragement.
  3. Keep a praise journal. When we keep a praise journal, we can reflect upon and remember how God pours and lavishes His great love over our lives each day. No matter how numerously and miraculously we have been blessed by God, we can’t remember them all! This is why we need to record them to reflect and remember them. Satan does not want us to remember them, for in so doing, we are strengthened to overcome discouragement and depression. Keeping a praise journal helps us to reflect upon and remember God’s blessings in our lives for our own peace of mind, health, strength, and spiritual victory. It also helps us in our ability to glorify God on earth, to complete our God given assignments, and to demonstrate Kingdom living.

Yes, there may always be something to discourage us and make us sad. But there are also so many more reasons to have faith and be glad. Whatever our situation is, there are worse situations which would make us gladly bear our own crosses, rather than the crosses of others. We have to remember that God is ALWAYS with us, and has brought us too far to leave us now. He will enable us to overcome the sting of whatever situation we are going through, and we cannot help others until we first help ourselves.

Reflect, remember, and be encouraged in the Lord! God bless!

Dr. Tonya Lewis has been a member of West Angeles Church of God In Christ for over 40 years. She serves on-staff as the Executive Director of Bereavement Ministries. She holds both Honorary Doctorate and Earned Doctorate degrees. Dr. Lewis has been teaching the Overcomer’s Bible Fellowship for over 34 years at West Angeles, along with other teaching venues.

_________________________________________________________

Hear the West Angeles Mass Choir, lead by David Daughtery and soloist Carolyn Johnson-White, perform Kurt Carr’s “I Never Lost My Praise,” at West Angeles Church of God In Christ:

DID YOU KNOW that West Angeles offers counseling? The West Angeles Counseling Center offers Bible-based services, programs and classes to help provide spiritual support to you and your family both in times of abundance and in times of trial. We are open to everyone, and you don’t have to be a West Angeles member. Please read more about the West Angeles Counseling Center HERE, or call 323-737-7463 to find out more about our programs and services.

OVERCOMERS BIBLE FELLOWSHIP – You are invited to join the Overcomers Bible Fellowship, facilitated by Dr. Tonya Lewis.  This fellowship can teach you how to overcome any and everything that’s contrary to God’s Word, thus developing you into strong, spiritual, Kingdom citizens. Join us each Sunday morning, 8-10 a.m., or Sunday evening 5:30-6:40 p.m. in the North Campus Sanctuary.

LEARN SPANISH! – Did you know West Angeles has Spanish classes? Learn Spanish from teachers whose first language is Spanish. The classes are open to all. Join us  each Sunday, 7-8 a.m. and 4:30-5:30 p.m. in the West Angeles Multipurpose Bldg. Room 1. 3045 Crenshaw Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90016.

For more information on the Overcomers Bible Fellowship or the Spanish Class, please contact:
Dr. Tonya Lewis at  [email protected], or please call 323-733-8300 ext. 2242.

Children’s Ministry: Spending Time With God

Westa.org welcomes a new contributor: The Children’s Ministry!  Join us as we share inspiration for you and your little ones to help keep them fortified in the Lord.

Before you go to school each day, remember to keep Jesus first! Start each day with a “Good Morning Jesus!” and remember to spend time with God. Also, read your Bible every day! Reading God’s Word will help you to grow into a strong Christian full of power, strength, joy, and peace.

Jesus, Our Example

Throughout Scripture, we see that Jesus spent a lot of time in prayer with the Father. Regularly, after He

Spend time with God daily.

Spend time with God daily.

performed miracles and healings, Jesus would separate Himself from the crowd and spend time with God in prayer. Jesus knew that His purpose was:

  1. To glorify God
  2. To destroy the works of the devil
  3. To bring good news to the people

And guess what? You have the same purpose! God created you to glorify Him, to spend time with Him, and to share the good news of salvation with others. Although everyone has the same task, God has a special way for each of us to fulfill the task.

To God, In Prayer

Do you know how God wants to use you in His Kingdom? To answer this question, you must spend time with Him to know what He desires. Spend time with God by praying, reading the Bible, and singing praise and worship songs to His glory. As you spend time with Him, He will let you know what it is He has planned for you. Pray to ask God to help you to spend time with Him.

Let us pray:

 “Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for loving me. Thank You for being with me every day. Please give me a greater desire to fellowship with You by reading Your Word and spending time in prayer. I want to fulfill the purpose You have for my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

Jesus loves you and you are very special to Him. Make sure you spend time with God  every day, and ask that He reveal to you His purpose for your life!

West Angeles Church of God In Christ wishes you a great school year!

8 Verses to Help You Through Suffering

A story about a recent tragedy has been populating my Facebook news feed over the past week.

Over and over, I see the photo of a young black family. In the photo, a father and mother stand on a playground. A blue slide and yellow monkey bars serve as the backdrop for the photo.

The father holds his young daughter in his right arm and his left arm hugs his wife, the mother of his children. The mother places her right arm around her husband and her left hand is placed gently on the chest of her first born daughter, who stands wearing a pink dress, toy in hand.

This picture has been circulating social media as the cover of several news stories and for the family’s GoFundMe account. On that day, the mother gripped her family close. Soon after, her grip was lost.

The father and two young daughters passed away in a car accident this past weekend.

I don’t know this family personally, but the anguish I felt when reading about this story was enough to make me sit back and shake my head in disillusionment. My thoughts were:

What could anyone possibly say to this young woman to comfort her in this time of tremendous grief?

How can she possibly overcome this?

What will it take for her to move forward with her life?

Many of those that commented on the Facebook posts were also at a loss for words, saying as much in their comments. And with the recent tragedies that have taken place in our country, many have been at a loss for words on several fronts.

With that said, there is always one place to turn…turn to Him.

As many continue to suffer with finding justice or looking for an explanation, here are eight verses about dealing with suffering:

 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 1 Peter 5:10

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? Romans 8:35

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3-4

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:33

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. Isaiah 43:2

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. 2 Corinthians 4:17

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Romans 8:18

 

Bishop Blake: Pray, and Be Holy

Presiding Bishop Charles Edward Blake, Sr. teaches us to follow the example of Jesus Christ…and pray.

Prayer was one of the central activities of the life of Jesus Christ. It was the one thing that Jesus never forgot to do. Whether He’d find himself in the midst of victory or in the midst of trials, Jesus always prayed. The idea of the Son of God praying has given rise to questions in the minds of many individuals. But the fact that He is the Son of God qualifies Him above all others to pray and converse with the Father.

Prayer was central in the life of Jesus Christ. Before all the crises of His life, He prayed:

  • He prayed before He embarked upon the Galilean ministry.
  • He prayed as He started to choose His disciples.
  • He prayed before the Sermon on the Mount.
  • He prayed before the Transfiguration.
  • He prayed before He taught the disciples the Prayer of the Ages.
  • And He prayed before the ordeal of his trial and His crucifixion.

But as often as Jesus prayed, He was never the central of focus of his prayers. His prayers were usually concerned with entreating God’s help or aid for someone else; for some person in need, or to prepare Himself to minister to the needs of the people.

So if Jesus had to pray, how much more do we have to pray?

Righteousness: Your Key to Survival

It is God’s will that we live free from sin for His glory. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world; you are the salt of the earth.” He knew that Holiness was essential for our salvation. “Be ye holy for I the lord your God am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). You are God’s example of what His grace can do.

Sanctification is our only evidence of the power of the Gospel. Men are seeking a way out of sin, but they will never hear us or receive our message if we are bound by the same sins they are bound by. They’ll never hear our testimony if we’re doing the same wrong things that they are doing. And if Jesus Christ has made no change in our lives, why should men expect that He’ll make a change in their lives? If you love the Lord, then your life ought to show it; your behavior ought to illustrate it.

Pray, and Be Holy

Our mighty God said, “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. Trust in the Lord with all your heart; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.” So, if you’re wise, you’ll pray to the Lord:

Lord, help me; keep me. Help me to do your will. Lord not my will but Thy will be done. Not my way but, Lord, help me to walk in Your way. I want to serve you, I want to bring glory to your name. I want to live for you.

Jesus prayed that you’d be sanctified, and that you would walk in holiness before the Lord. If you want God’s power, pray, and God will bring you out. Pray, and God will bring you over. Pray, and God will bring you through, and God, the Son, the Holy Ghost, and all the angels will show up to help you make it, and to help you to live for Him. You can live Holy by the power of God.

God can keep you! He is able!

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES – John 17:1-17:26, Hebrews 12:14,  Matthew 17, Matthew 5-7, 2 Chronicles 7:14, Proverbs 3:5-6.

Adapted from the sermon, “Christ’s Prayer for the Preservation of His Followers”. Presiding Bishop Charles Edward Blake, Sr.; August 3, 2014, at West Angeles Cathedral.  

________________________________

JANUARY IS CONSECRATION MONTH AT WEST ANGELES! Join us as we purify ourselves for the Lord, and pray for our world to be Blessed. Please CLICK HERE for your copy of the January Consecration and Prayer Calendar, where you’ll find daily prayers, eating instructions, and fasting guidelines.

PRESIDING BISHOP CHARLES EDWARD BLAKE, SR. has announced the theme for 2016 for The Church of God In Christ:

“Fighting for Salvation and Righteousness in a Violent and Immoral World.” 1 Timothy 6:12 – Fight the good fight of faith; lay hold of eternal life.

Please join us as we pray for peace, and for the manifestation of the Kingdom of God.

 

#PrayForParis, #PrayForTheWorld

On Friday, November 13, the city of Paris, France endured its worst case of lost lives since World War II. Suicide bombing, mass shootings and hostage events took place across the city, in what has been labeled a terrorist attack and credited to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, also known as ISIL or ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). At least 129 people are confirmed dead and hundreds of others were injured.

In addition to the Paris attacks, 43 people were killed and hundreds were injured in a suicide bombing in Beirut, an attack also thought to be carried out by ISIS.

It’s been a difficult week and year for the world, as violence for the sake of violence, and violence that is religiously-charged, runs rampant. With that said, West Angeles Church of God in Christ asks for your prayers for those affected by the Paris and Beirut attacks, and other atrocities that have taken place in Nigeria, Jordan, Lebanon and other areas of the world in 2015.

Elder Oscar Owens: How to Connect with God in 7 Simple Steps

As a part of our Elders Corner series, Elder Oscar Owens sheds some light on how we can step away from the computer and the smartphone, and spend our time connecting with the ultimate source of knowledge…God!

By Elder Oscar Owens

Are our lives busy, and getting busier day by day, or what? These days, most of us are:

  • Driving rush hour-packed freeways and highways in nerve-racking traffic to work and home, shuttling our kids, here and there.
  • Trying to keep our home clean and in order while running the household errands
  • Striving to keep ourselves healthy by eating right and exercising.
  • Working long, hard hours of exhausting activity on our jobs.
  • Staying connected to the ever-present digital world of social media, online-publications, shopping, entertainment and even work, through the internet and our “smart devices.”

This whirlwind of activities, noise, information, attractions and distractions of our post-modern lives can leave us feeling exhausted, confused, and disconnected from God. How do we find calm centers in the storm to stop and focus on God?

There’s a simple method of 7 easy biblical steps I have found which will give any Christian the power to connect with God at any time – even in the middle of chaos. We can “log in” to God’s transforming power by learning the simple disciplines of Scripture meditation and prayer.

WHY DO WE NEED TO CONNECT TO GOD?

Our society, through various media channels, provides answers to just about everything. The one media source we’re staying connected to more and more is the Internet.

What is the Internet? The Internet, also known as the “world wide web,” is a system of interconnected computers which enables us to connect to other people and devices. The Internet is always active; its information sources are always available. We can connect to the Internet anywhere, if we have the right tools. We can ask any question, and it seems to have the answer.

The Internet has now consumed a large place in our lives, but has the time we’re now spending connected to social media and the Internet become a distraction?  Is it replacing the precious time meant to be spent communing with God?  Would our lives be different if we were hearing from God, following His Will and His Word for our lives?

Unless we take action, the business of our lives, the concerns of daily life, and the temptations of Satan, will pull our mental attention away from God’s good news in Jesus

Our Bible tells us in Romans 12:2 that we must not “conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed” by the renewing of our minds. Connecting to God’s renewing, transformative Word in the Holy Bible gives us:

  • Power – God has given us the Spirit of “power, and of love, and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).  “Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones (Proverbs 3:7-8).
  • Direction –As Bishop Blake always says, “God protects where God directs; God provides where God guides (Psalm 23).
  • Faith – Learn to trust in God. Romans 10:17 tells us that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”
  • Prosperity – One of the greatest and most inspiring things about the African American Christian journey is the ability to OVERCOME. We learn how to get into God’s Word; encouraging one another through the Word. Prosper physically, spiritually, mentally – this is God’s prosperity (Joshua 1:8).
  • Courage – There are all sorts of negative things happening in the world, but we must believe in our hearts that we can be strong!  Have courage; be strong in the Lord (Psalm 46:1).

Colossians 3:2 says to “set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” Therefore, we must discipline our physical minds to think on and thereby connect with the amazing spiritual blessings we have in God, through Christ Jesus.

HOW TO “LOG IN” TO GOD

God’s Good News about Jesus is that the power of His Holy Spirit is always available, always ready. We’re always connected to the Lord, even if we feel we are not! There are 7 simple biblical steps to easily connect with God, at any time, in any place:

  1. Find a space – Find a quiet place at work or in your home where you’ll go to pray daily, without distractions.  Matthew 6:6 – “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” This is the best advice, but additionally, because your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), then where you are, Jesus Christ is within you. Therefore, turn your focus to Him in you and you in Him, whether you are in the grocery line, caught in traffic, involved in work or with your family.
  2. Choose a time: or choose “now” – Set aside time to encounter God in the scripture. Before you start your day can be a great time to start (Psalm 63:1; Matthew 6:33); turn off the television, computer, and phone. Again, this is best, but, wherever you are in your life’s activities, stop – and take a few moments to connect with God through a small verse of Scripture, God’s Word. God is the “I AM”; always present in the eternal “now.”
  3. Read the Word – Find the Words of Jesus and His Good News (Gospels and Epistles). Read a small section of Scripture until something grabs your attention. TIP: Read slowly! Read out loud! Read so you can hear it and your eyes can see it. Read that small section over and over. It’s like eating something good: chew on it and savor the flavors. Read it over and over, while listening to God speak it to you, through His Holy Spirit.
  4. Meditate on the Word – Mentally reflecting and imaginatively pondering is the powerful aspect of Scripture meditation. Reflect on what you’ve read, and begin to think about what God is saying. Biblical meditation begins with thinking God’s Word continuously to ourselves. We begin to internalize God’s Word inside our mind and our heart. Now, God starts downloading! Listen to God’s voice…God is now talking to you personally!
  5. Respond: Talk to God in prayer through the words and images in that Scripture. Thank the Lord for what He is revealing to you! Praise and worship the Lord for His goodness! Ask God to touch you, to form and conform you to be more like Jesus! Tell God, “I’m reading because I want You to read me; form me change me, make me like You.”
  6. Receive from God – Jesus said, “Come unto me and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).” Abide and rest in the Lord; contemplate Him. Now it is the time for the Lord to communicate within you. Listen. Enter into a deeper place with God. A place of intimacy; in His presence. This is a special time between you and the Lord. One-on-one with God. Give Him room; this is the time that God is blessing you. Let the Lord Bless you. Receive from the Lord and receive the Lord Himself, who is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit! God is now working within you, renewing your thoughts in the knowledge of Jesus, activating the mind of Christ in you. You are actively connecting with God and God with you.
  7. Take action – Ask Father God to give you the power of the Holy Spirit to help you do what Jesus, the Living Word, has revealed to you. For example, in relation to God, the Lord may be asking or reminding you to trust, love, believe, obey or stop disobeying Him. In relation to other people, the Lord may be asking you to forgive, love, pray for, accept, help or bless them. Ask our Holy Helper, the Holy Spirit, to give you the help, our Lord Jesus has promised. Now continue in your day, walking by faith and connected to our loving Lord who is with you and in you, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit!

Keep on meditating on the words of Scripture that the Lord has drawn you to, throughout the rest of your day, wherever you are. Keep meditating, praying, thanking, praising, rejoicing and worshiping the Lord in your spirit, heart, mind and soul: whatever you are doing in your life. Do this until the next time you stop, to center in on the presence of the Lord in His Word!

God is now working on your mind. Your thoughts are renewed in the mind of Christ. You’re now “logged in” to God through Scripture meditation and prayer! Hallelujah!

SUGGESTED SCRIPTURES FOR READING AND MEDITATION

John 3:16, John 1:1, Hebrews 1:1-2, Matthew 4:4, Psalm 1, Psalm, Joshua 1:8, Matthew 11:28-30, Deuteronomy 31:6, Ephesians 2:8-10, Psalm 119, Philippians 4:8, Timothy 4:15-16, Romans 10:17, 2 Peter 1:21, Ephesians 1:15; Ephesians 3.

_____________________________________

Elder Oscar Owens has a passion for helping others deepen their connection to the Bible and to the Lord! He currently serves as West Angeles’ Minister of Christian Education, as well as President of the West Angeles Bible College, where he teaches Systematic Theology. He is currently studying for his Doctorate of Ministry in Christian Spiritual Formation at Azuza Pacific University’s Seminary in Los Angeles, where he also teaches Urban Spirituality. He’s been married to the powerful singer and Tony-nominated playwright Lita Gaithers Owens for 31 years. Read more about Elder Oscar Owens HERE.

 

PRAY WITH COGIC! Presiding Bishop has called us to join with the saints in prayer for our nation, our leaders, and for Christians around the world. Download the 11/11/40 Prayer Guide HERE.

LET’S TALK ABOUT HOLINESS!  Come join Elder Oscar Owens, Dr. Wilfred Graves and Dr. Kenneth Hammonds on Nov. 11, 2015 at 7 p.m. at Wednesday night service at the West Angeles North Campus for “Let’s Talk About It: Holiness!”  This intriguing dialogue and discussion will seek to answer the questions, “What is holy living today, and how do we do it?” We would be so glad for you to join us!

GET BIBLE APPS FOR YOUR SMARTPHONE! Now you can take the Bible wherever you go.  WestA.org has a link to the You Version app. You can download it HERE.

 

DID YOU KNOW?

  • According to a new report from the International Telecommunication Union, the average Internet user logs almost 2 hours per day on social media platforms or other leisure activities, and possibly 11 or more hours per day on all electronic media combined.
  • According to an articles published by The Guardian UK and Business Insider.com, we are less educated, less rested, and less productive due to our increased Internet activity:

http://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/jan/18/modern-world-bad-for-brain-daniel-j-levitin-organized-mind-information-overload

http://www.businessinsider.com/how-much-time-people-spend-online-2013-10

National Day Of Prayer

Thursday, May 7, is the National Day of Prayer, an annual event created in 1952 that encourages joint prayer, nationwide, amongst all religions.

“The mission of the National Day of Prayer Task Force is to mobilize prayer in America and to encourage personal repentance and righteousness in the culture,” according to the National Day of Prayer website.

The 2015 theme for NDP is, Lord, Hear Our Cry. And this year’s verse is, Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence today.

Watch the 2015 National Day of Prayer theme video HERE.

Learn more about the National Day of Prayer HERE.