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Don’t Let These 6 Things Steal Your Potential

Are there “thieves” in your life? Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake exposes the elements of our lives which rob us of our full potential in Christ Jesus.

 

Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. 33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion – Luke 10:30-33(NKJV)

 

In this day and age, so many are moving fast, but in reality they are really going nowhere.

Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr. teaches a lesson on the thieves which rob us of our potential.

The man in our story had a goal; he was on a journey, he had a destination. Yes, goals are essential to progress, but good goals must not keep us from the best goals. To prosper; to reach high levels of renown and popularity: “good” can be the enemy of “the best.”

You’ve heard many times the story of the good Samaritan. The story was prompted by a question asked of Jesus, probably of a lawyer, who asked, who is my neighbor?” Today I want to focus on the man who was wounded and on the thieves who wounded him.

 

In this scripture, thieves came upon a man who was on a journey. The thieves beat him and wounded him; they left him naked and half dead. A wounded person cannot function normally until they have recuperated. Nakedness is a sign of disgrace; it’s a sign of poverty.  And to be half dead means that you are only half alive: he was destined to die without help.

  • The man who was devastated and wounded represents us – he represents every person in this room.
  • The priest would represent the rites and the sacraments of organized religion – which, in themselves, cannot save us.
  • The Levite would represent man’s moral and ethical efforts – which, by themselves, cannot save us.
  • The thieves represent those things that potentially strip us and wound us and leave us half dead.

Men who were once exploding with potential are lying beside the road naked and dying. What happened to them? Thieves happened.

 

6 THIEVES WHICH CAN STEAL YOUR LIFE

 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death – James 1:14-15 (NKJV)

The bible teaches us that sin is a thief. It’s a thief that destroys life and happiness on this earth, and also in the world to come.  The evil forces that would destroy you use various enticements, but the goal is to wound you, to strip you, and to leave you half dead.

God despises sin because of what it does to His children.  Romans 6 says that “the wages of sin is death”; that which is opposed to the will of God will kill you. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 tells us that:

Don’t Let These 6 Things Steal Your Potential: Sin keeps us from the fullness of Christ.

  1. Fornication and adultery: those are thieves…they spread diseases which cause sickness and death. They rob boys and girls of their childhood; making them parents while they are still children. They are the greatest factors in the abortion epidemic. They break up marriages and destroy families.
  2. Idolatry is a thief, causing men to serve the wrong God. Anything that separates you from God is an idol and is a sin.
  3. Homosexuality is a thief because it contradicts God’s image of what a family should be. It deprives society of needed mothers and fathers, and they sometimes recruit and draw children into that lifestyle.
  4. Covetousness is a thief. Excessive desire for material things places higher value on money and things than it does on people.
  5. Extortion is nothing but a high-class thief.
  6. Drunkenness is a thief – and it doesn’t matter how you got drunk. Whether by alcohol or by drugs, jails and mental institutions are filled with victims of substance abuse.

But verse 11 of 1 Corinthians 6 says, “and such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”

That means, the better we become, the better our lives become.

 

JESUS IS THE WAY 

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly – John 10:10

It’s time for me to reveal who the good Samaritan is: the good Samaritan represents Jesus. If we really want to live, it’s time for us to fall down before God and repent for our sins.  In 2 Chronicles 7:14, God says, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin.”

The man in our story was on a mission: he had a goal. But even a good objective can become a bad objective when it precludes God and shuts God out.  He was on a journey, but he made a mistake: he should not have traveled alone.  Have you been stripped? Have you been disgraced? Are you going through a time of trouble and distress? I’ve just come to tell you that you don’t have to travel by yourself. Raise your hand and say:

“Lord, Thank you Lord for turning my life around. Thank you for giving me your power. Thank you for sending us your Son, Jesus Christ; thank you for stepping in just when I need you most. I need the power of the Holy Ghost!”

Child of God, if you’ve got Jesus Christ with you on the road of life, God will be with you! You’ve got the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost!
Stand up and say, “Power!”

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES: Luke 10:30-37, Psalms 95:6, 101,147:4; Isaiah 43:7, Philippians 3:7, Acts 17:28, John 3:16, 6:68, 10:7-10; Matthew 6:33, James 1:14-15, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Romans 6.

Adapted from the sermon, “Thieves”, by Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr., at West Angeles Church of God In Christ. Watch the entire service below:


Illustration by Kyle Reed, c/o Creation Swap.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you know what an idol is? Read our post titled, “WHAT’S AN IDOL?” HERE.

Marriage Series: How Bishop & Lady Mae Met

As our Marriage Series continues, Presiding Bishop Charles Edward Blake, Sr. and First Lady Mae Lawrence Blake tell the story of how they met:

ARE YOU GETTING MARRIED? The West Angeles Counseling Center offers a wonderful 8-week Pre-Marital Counseling Course to give couples a strong foundation for marriage. Contact the West Angeles Counseling Center today. Phone: (323) 737-7463 Address: 3017 Crenshaw Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90016

Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr. – How to Overcome Obstacles and Negative Circumstances in Your Life

Inspired by Psalm 18, the highlights of this sermon, titled “Overcome Negative Circumstances And Negative Emotions” by our Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr., reference the words spoken by King David to the Lord on the day that the Lord delivered him from the hands of all of his enemies.

“One of the most important abilities a person can have is the ability to endure and rise above negative circumstances and emotions.”

“It was Samuel Lover who said, ‘Circumstances are the rulers of the weak, but they are the instruments of the strong.’”

“Napoleon said, ‘Circumstances? I make circumstances!’”

“The same circumstances that will destroy and devastate one person will make and develop another person.”

“Arnold Toynbee said, ‘Great civilizations are not born in circumstances where everything is nice or where everything is beautiful; but rather, in environments that are unusually difficult.’”

“It’s not your circumstances, it’s how you respond to your circumstances that is the important thing.”

“Some people don’t need a reason to hate you. They just find out that somebody else hates you, and they’re going to hate you, too! Does anybody know anything about haters?”

“Don’t be surprised when people hate you. Just be glad when you find some folk that love you.”

“If you live, you’re going to have enemies.”

“When you’re in the midst of wickedness all around you, it begins to drain your spirit – if you’re not careful” – Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr.

“People are afraid today. They’re afraid about their marriage. They’re afraid about holding onto their job…They’re afraid for their children…and then there are some folk that are afraid, and they don’t know what they’re afraid about!”

“If I can get you depressed, I can defeat you.”

“When you’re in the midst of wickedness all around you, it begins to drain your spirit and drain your enthusiasm for righteousness – if you’re not careful.”

“Austin O’Malley said, ‘Sorrow, like rain, makes roses and mud.’ That same sorrow, if you allow God to use it, can create a rose garden in the middle of your mud.”

“One thing about Brother David is that even though he faced these negative emotions, he was under-girded with some firm convictions about God!”

“If you know God, you ought to be able to overcome negative emotions better than some folk who don’t know God.”

“Whenever you see those words ‘OH LORD’… that’s a Tetragrammaton to replace the word ‘Yahweh’ or ‘Jehovah’…that let’s you know the name of our God.”

“Nothing else defines God but God Himself!”

“God spoke out of a bush that was burning, but not consumed.”

“God doesn’t need any fuel to burn!”

“God can send fire, and He needs no fuel for the fire to burn…If our world could do that, then nations could stay at home, and not be out somewhere trying to take somebody else’s oil!”

“God speaks to the things that be not as though they were…and if God wants to create something out of nothing, God can do it. And if God wants to bring life out of death, then God can do it. And Jesus proved that when He died on the cross; nails in His hands, nails in His feet, but on the third day morning He got up!”

“With God, nothing is impossible! Does anybody know God? Does anybody trust God? I’m gonna rely on GOD! Clap your hands! Give praise!”

“When you have a God like that, you’ll stop telling your God about your problems, and start telling your problems about your God!”

“God loves you with an everlasting Love.”

“God wants you to love Him; and if you love Him, He’ll work it out for you.”

“With God, nothing is impossible” – Philippians 4:13

“The psalmist says, ‘I’m going to overcome my negative circumstances; I’m going overcome my negative emotions by loving the Lord.’”

“My love for God will cause me to hold onto God, no matter what else happens in my life.”

“If you don’t trust God, you’ll be overwhelmed by worry. If you don’t trust God, you’ll be overcome by fear.”

“Neighbor, put it down…Cast all your burden on Him, because He loves you. He’ll take care of you.”

“God is courteous…He will not come in until you call Him. If you call Him, He’ll hear your prayer.”

“Does anybody know He’s an on-time God?”

“Are there any overcomers in the house? Let all the overcomers give God a cheer!”

“I’m not going to let fear destroy me; I’m not gonna let negative circumstances drag me down… I’m not going to let the world take my salvation; steal my joy… I shall be saved!”

“Child of God, don’t throw in the towel; Child of God, don’t give up. Your best days are still ahead…Tell your neighbor, ‘Keep going! Hold on! Hallelujah!’ ”

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES: Psalm 18:1-4 ,“Proverbs 18:14, Psalm 46:1-2; Jeremiah 31:3; Romans 8:28, Matthew 17:20, 22:37; John 3:16, Philippians 4:13, Proverbs 3:5-6, 1Peter 5:7, Isaiah 41:10, Isaiah 40:31, Job 1:13-22, 2:8-9, 23:10.

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. Please contact:
Dr. Tonya Lewis at tlewis@westa.org, or please call 323-733-8300 ext. 2242.

Marriage Series: Should the Christian Wedding Vows Be Changed To, “As Long as We Both Shall Love?”

Our Westa.org Marriage Series continues! This week, Dr. Kenneth Hammonds takes a look at changes to modern Christian marriage vows. Should our vows change for good? Please CLICK HERE to take our poll on Facebook. 

As my wife, Naomi, and I enjoyed a rare day off today, I looked at her and thought, “You know – I really love this woman” (and by the way, I rarely miss a day telling her so). We are soon to celebrate 42 years as husband and wife.

The moment reminded me of an episode of one of my favorite TV shows called “Rhoda,” from back in the late 1970s (yeah, way back in the last century). Rhoda was a beloved character from the wildly popular “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” She was a wise-cracking, single woman whose dating ups-and-downs were the subject of her humor. But in Episode 1 of “Rhoda,” she’d meet Joe…and Rhoda was going to be married.

 

MARRIAGE FOR RHODA MORGANSTERN

I remember the special hour-long episode where Rhoda and her fiancé, Joe, exchanged their wedding vows. Viewed by more than 52 million people, the episode was a touching TV moment. A recent article about the show described ‘Rhoda’s Wedding’ as “a television landmark,” becoming the highest-rated television episode of the 1970s, a record it kept until the original Roots miniseries claimed the title in 1977.

Should the Christian Wedding Vows Be Changed To
“As Long as We Both Shall Love?” Actors Valerie Harper and David Groh from the series, “Rhoda”.

While watching this historic event back in 1974, I also remember clearly being shocked and surprised, however, to hear Rhoda and the man she loved vow:

“to live together as husband and wife, as long as we both shall love.”

Well, I’ve been to a few weddings in my day, and being a Christian minister, I’ve also officiated some, yet I have never heard any couple speak this phrase. But in today’s world – and even in the lives of Christians – the idea of marriage “as long as we shall love” seems to be lived out by many couples.

Although the American divorce rate is down in comparison with the 1970s, 80s and 90s, it is still higher (on a per capita basis, for every 1,000 people in the US) than it was almost 80 years ago, after the nation had endured the Great Depression. Today, article after article continues to promote the idea that ½ of all marriages end in divorce. So, is marriage really supposed to be forever? And should the vows be changed to “as long as we shall love?”

 

TO VOW OR NOT TO VOW: THAT MAY BE THE QUESTION

If a man makes a vow to the Lord, he shall not break his word. Numbers 30:2 

God takes vows pretty seriously. A “vow” in the Old Testament could be made between an individual and God or between two people. Whether to God or to man, a vow was considered a sacred, consecrated promise. It was a personal obligation that was to be fulfilled.

Today’s views on wedding vows and their content, however, are divided. Some still prefer the traditional phrase “As long as we both shall live,” while others seem to prefer the more modern “love.” An informal survey of both celebrity and civilian wedding vows around the world reveals that the phrases “as long as we both shall live,” or “’till death do us part” are still utilized and may even be preferred.

For example:

  • At their 2011 wedding, the Prince and Princess of Wales promised matrimony “so long as ye both shall live,” and “’til death us do part.”
  • Some Hindu wedding vows use the wonderfully poetic phrase, “Till both of us, with age, grow old.”
  • The book, 50 New and Traditional Wedding Vows, plus How to Write Your Own Vows: 10 Guides by Maria Kay, includes the modernized phrase, “all the days of my life.”

Many seem to believe that even if “forever” is not attainable, they still prefer the idea. Could concepts such as “promise,” “sacred,” “consecrated,” and “personal obligation” be of a bygone era?

 

WHAT IS LOVE?

If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. 1 John 4:12

Love is an interesting human emotion (pain, pleasure, pressure, or whatever you wish to term it), particularly as it relates to the Western “civilized” society’s understanding of marriage. For many couples seeking holy matrimony today, love is that wild emotion; that tingling feeling down on the inside, that little taste of sexual fornication before marriage (if the marriage even happens at all). Others call it “indigestion” or “infidelity”: a breach of trust against God; the kind of stuff that is well below God’s righteous standard for our Best Christian living. This kind of personal, self-absorbed human love for many is merely a blind coagulation of looks, lust, and lucre.

The Greek word psychō (pronounced PSUE- ko;  ψύχω in Greek) refers to a human love that is gradually lessening in its fervor, power, and joy; waning, disintegrating, and evaporating away into non-existence. And the Scriptures do speak of a lower, less developed human-level type of love in Matthew 24:12, where Jesus predicted that the last days would be a time where “the love of many will grow cold” (NKJV). Bible Commentator, Marvin Vincent, defines this growing-colder-human-kind-of-love as a “spiritual energy blighted or chilled by a malign or poisonous wind.”  I would say that this “psychō”-type of love changed up on you! It was passionate, fiery, hot, and alive; but now, cooled off by the winds of time, adversity, or simply the desire for change, it has become cold, distant, impassionate, and dead.

Having spoken of a cold non-agapē love, we must ask, “Exactly what then is agapē in the fuller Christian expansion of this Greek word?” The best description of agapē in summary says:

Agapē is the highest form of love, a God-kind-of-love, whereby the one loving loves the one being loved unconditionally and also seeks that individual’s highest good and well-being.”

And in any human relationship, marriage or otherwise, we will need God to reach into the depths of our spiritual being to show this Christian agapē-love.

 

GOD’S IDEA AND GOD’S STANDARD

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways” saith the LORD – Isaiah 55:8

Should marriage Vows Be Changed To “As long As We Both Shall Love”? Graph charting 144 years of marriage and divorce in America.

Jesus’ theology of marriage was too much for even His disciples to take in. He said, regarding the short-term marriage idea, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so… whoever divorces his wife… commits adultery.” You might respond in shock like the disciples did, saying, “Well Jesus, if this is your view of marriage, it’s better for us not to get married, at all!” (Matthew 19:1-10).

There may also be some young adults today who may say of the Christian marriage vow to love someone for the rest of their lives, “I can’t make that kind of commitment. I don’t know what may happen in the future.”  Maybe modern believers in Christ should just make no such “vows” at all if they are too hard to keep!

Okay, I’m in my 60s. I came from a different era (the generation which created the modern sexual revolution, by the way), but I still believe in the fervent seeking which lives out (or loves out) the biblical standard of marriage: “One woman for one man for life.” Yes, I know there are sometimes extreme challenges to this concept, but in our Christian life’s teaching and living, we must still speak and seek to live up to the best of God’s will, and God’s standard for the best functioning of human society, especially in these modern times. With Jesus, and our own personal commitment, we can perfect, improve, enhance, and advance love.

That’s possible: so, let’s do it daily.

 

WE NEED TO HEAR FROM YOU!

Now back to the phrase, “as long as we both shall love”: should the Christian marriage vows be amended or changed to, “as long as we both shall LOVE” for this modern day, or remain “as long as we both shall LIVE” as it is has stated for the past 500 years or so?

Please answer on Facebook with a simple one liner. Include:

  1. Your age group (20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, etc.) and
  2. One word: “love” or “live” for how you think the vow should read.

Please, be honest. Don’t answer what you think we want to hear! Please feel free to forward this piece to your Christian friends and family; I’d love to hear their answers also.

As for me, I don’t see my 40 years of marriage to my lovely wife as some drudgery or lifelong slavery to an old vow, but rather as a wonderful and joyful relationship. It is for me a daily opportunity to say and honor “I do,” as in “I do love you and cherish you, as well as all the other good and the difficult stuff that’s part of any agapē relationship.”

 

 A PRAYER

“Dear Lord, I thank you for the spouse of my youth. It is an honor have him/her chosen for me by You for the enjoyment of our lives together serving Your purpose and glory. 

In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

 

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES – Numbers 30:2-4, 1 Corinthians 13:8, Matthew 19:1-10, 24:12; Isaiah 55:8, 1 John 2:5; 4:12, 17. 

DR. KENNETH HAMMONDS (M.Div., Ed.D.) is a Discipleship Thinker- Teacher-Doer and Director of Christian Discipleship (Perfecting Believers) for West Angeles Church of God in Christ and Sector Leader for the Adult Ministries Division of the church. Of special theological interest for Dr. Hammonds is the discussion and development of a Theology of Discipleship that is spiritually vibrate, biblically sound, and personally practical.Dr. Hammonds has been a member of West Angeles for 30 years and serves on the Executive Staff as a Division Head. He also serves the Body of Christ as a Certified Life and Leadership Coach, and as a passionate New Testament Greek Trainer. He has been in Christian Ministry for over 45 years.

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DID YOU KNOW?

  • Two years after the “Rhoda” show began, Rhoda and her husband, Joe, broke up and later divorced. Joe revealed to his stunned wife that he had never really wanted to marry her. He said he only married her because she had pressured him into it after he’d invited her to live with him (it seems that an invitation to “move into my apartment” is not the same as an invitation to “move into my life in marriage.” Interesting ending to the vow, “as long as we both shall love”)!
  • The English word psycho is not related in meaning to the Greek word psychō, but rather a slang form of the term “psychopath.” The relationship between the Greek and English words is just an interesting coincidence!
  • The first known reference to the English phrase, “till death us do part” is in the Church of England’s “Book of Common Prayer” in 1529.
  • The idea of a marriage ceremony in the Christian Church seems to have become practice around the 9th century; however, as early as the 4th century there is evidence of couples seeking the blessing of the Church. Couples married in keeping with local customs and/or family traditions, making their own wedding “vows” of commitment, or having vows handed down to them.
  • On Valentine’s Day 2014, Pope Francis challenged 10,000 engaged couples who gathered in St. Peter’s square to consider marriage not as a temporary relationship, but as “The Joy of ‘Yes’ forever.” He said “It is still possible to take the risk of saying ‘forever’…it takes courage, but forever is a prospect that brings joy and allows us to look to the future.

Prayer Event: Congratulations, Mother McCoo Lewis!

Please join us for a very special time of prayer for Mother McCoo Lewis on her new appointment as COGIC’s General Supervisor of the International Department of Women

(see flyer below for details):

Watch Mother Barbara McCoo Lewis’ powerful, inspirational message at the 2012 COGIC Women’s Convention in Altlanta, GA (below):

Bishop Blake: The Importance of Marriage

We’re starting a new series on marriage! In the first of our series, Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake shares God’s vision of marriage, and the importance of marriage in building a strong community and a strong nation.

In the early days of the church, many false and heretical teachers arose. They taught false doctrines, among them the assertion that marriage was adverse to the life of the spirit, the work of the church, and the will of God. These heretics said that if you want to do the will and the work of God, and to have the power of the Spirit at work in your life, then don’t get married. Even today, there are many who would depreciate the importance and value of marriage.

The traditional wedding ceremony says that marriage is an honorable estate instituted of God. It was at the wedding at Cana where Jesus performed the first of His miracles. Marriage is not to be entered into lightly, but reverently; discreetly, advisedly, soberly and in the fear of God.

IN THE BEGINNING

23 And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh – Genesis 2:23-24

Out of the ground, God formed Adam, and every beast of the field, but nothing in creation was sufficient for Adam, except for Eve.

God could have brought woman into existence out of nothing, or He could have formed her from any substance that already existed on the face of the earth. But in taking woman out of man, God implied that woman is a part of man. Woman was made out of man that man could esteem her and seek her welfare. Woman was given as man’s helper, to assist him in the challenges he would face:

Men have sight; women have insight.

Men have an understanding of the head; women have an understanding of the heart.

Where men fear, women enter freely.

Men supply structure; women provide adornment.

Men supply force; women supply the conscience.

Men provide nourishment; women make it good to the taste.

Men think in great generalities; women deal with minute details.

When men struggle to progress and to excel; women provide the encouragement they need.

GOD’S VISION FOR MARRIAGE

God devised and ordained marriage as a loving, lifelong, committed relationship between a man and a woman. Anatomically, men and women are made for each other. Their bodies are not the same, but comparable. One fulfills and completes the other. Male and female bodies join together to constitute the reproductive unit, and that unit continues to be needed even after the birth of the children, for their protection, nurture and training. The parental unit models life for them.

Marriage not only involves two individuals, but also their families. When families are brought together, meaning two individuals backed by two sets of parents and four sets of grandparents, marry for life and bear children only within those marriages, all kinds of strengths begin to develop. They provide a heritage and legacy of wisdom for their children, wealth begins to accumulate, and the likelihood of economic well-being and generational wealth skyrockets.

It is undeniable and indisputable that human progress would have been radically hindered and retarded if God had not instituted marriage. The Biblical pattern of loving husbands and wives reverencing God, living faithfully together, loving, guiding, and protecting their children together, can constitute a basic building block for a renewed and transformed society. The integrity of the family is essential for economic well-being. Multiple families and divorce are among the factors which can devastate any wealth that a couple has accumulated. There’s no way a man can do as much for two or three families as he can for one family. Our society will never get it together until we get the family together, and we’ll never get the family together until we get our behavior together and make a renewed commitment to the institution of marriage.

LOVE, AS CHRIST LOVES US

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself – Ephesians 5:25-28  

Marriage signifies unto us the mystical union between Christ and His church. And a husband and wife ought to love one another the same way Christ loved the church. They must commit to one another for better and for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer, until death do they part. Marriage requires both the husband and the wife to submit to one another and pledge their faithfulness unto one another, so that they may live successfully, gracefully, and peacefully. Mutual love, faith in God, and commitment to Jesus Christ, is the key area of compatibility in your marriage.

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES – John 2, Genesis 2:7-24, Hebrews 13:4 Proverbs 3:5-6, Ephesians 5:25-28, 1 Peter 5:5.

Adapted from the sermons, “Invite Jesus to Your Wedding and Into Your Marriage,” “The Importance of Marriage,” and “A Believer’s Agenda,” by Presiding Bishop Charles Edward Blake, at West Angeles Church of God In Christ. Hear the sermons in their entirety HERE, on The Legacy Broadcast.

The Importance of Marriage: Bishop Blake says, “Invite Jesus to your Wedding” – at West Angeles Church of God In Christ.

WANT MORE ON MARRIAGE?  CLICK HERE to read PART II of our series: LADY MAE AND THE POWER OF PRAYER:

SERMON: Bishop Blake says, “Encourage Yourself”

1 Samuel 30:6 (NKJV) – Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.

Presiding Bishop Charles Edward Blake, Sr. took inspiration from the magnificent life of King David, and his power to overcome in 1 Samuel 30 in his sermon titled, “Encourage Yourself.” In the scripture, David’s town had been burned and his family and possessions taken away by his enemies, but he strengthened himself, praying to God for guidance.

“He was the least likely son, in the least likely family, from the least likely tribe in all of the kingdom,” said Bishop Blake. “Yet God commanded His prophet Samuel to anoint David as the future King of the Jews.

“The devil will tell you what is not going to happen, and what can’t happen. But God lets us know that all things are possible.”

Please CLICK HERE to see this sermon in its entirety at West Angeles’ Gospel-On-Demand. Highlights from the sermon follow:

“The life of David is one of the most spectacular adventure stories ever recorded in the annals of history.”

“David ascended from the care of his father’s flock to the rulership of the flock of almighty God – Israel and Judah.”

“There are many elders who dislike young people just because they’re young…So many young people have no use for their elders and think that they know more than their elders do.”

“David was aware that promotion comes neither from the east or the west, or from the north or the south. It’s God that takes down one, and puts up another.”

“Those who take things into their own hands soon find out how weak their hands really are.”

“Put yourself in God’s hands and you’ll find no better place to be in all of the universe.”

“The Bible says that David encouraged himself in the Lord…He had lost everything: he had lost his wives. He had lost the loyalty and support of his men. But when folk let you down, you can still turn to God” – Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake

“David had to be discouraged. He had to be sick at heart. David had to be depressed but these are feelings that are common in our day.”

“There are very few people who are genuinely happy in the world today.”

“Men today respond in many different ways when they’re faced with trouble. Some people resign themselves to trouble…Some people blame other people for their distress.”

“When everything is going wrong, when everything is too hard to handle, too much to deal with, don’t just sit there in your predicament. Have a talk with Jesus!”

“Each of us has a battle with ourselves.”

“How many of you know that you would not have made it this far without the goodness of the Lord? How many of you know that you would not be here if God had not taken care of you?”

“Our God is a God of power. Our God is a God of might.”

“David reminded himself, ‘My God is a mighty God, and if He is a mighty God, there’s nothing He cannot do, nothing that He cannot overcome, nothing that he cannot deal with.'”

“You need to remind yourself that your God is not a weak God, your God is a mighty God. Taught the wind to blow. Taught the birds to fly. Come on, say, ‘Our God is a mighty God!’”

“As long as God has something for me to do, I can’t die until I get it done…As long as God has a purpose for my life, I’m going to live on.”

“Child of God, when you’re feeling low, just remember that God is in your life. He’s a mighty God. He’s a wise God. He’s a loving God. He cares about you.”

“The Bible says that David encouraged himself in the Lord…He had lost everything. He had lost his wives. He had lost the loyalty and support of his men. But when folk let you down, you can still turn to God.”

“The Lord will not let you down. He’ll be with you through thick and through thin.”

“You might have lost your relationship with God. You might have lost your fellowship with God. But God did not leave you.”

“There are things that we as believers ought to make up our minds that we don’t want to lose.”

“If you’ve lost anything, there’s a determination on God’s heart to restore that unto you. Halleluiah!”

“Don’t let good things slip away.”

“Spiritual health and vitality can be lost if it’s not nourished by prayer.”

“We can lose our fervor and become lukewarm if we don’t stay in love and in contact with Almighty God.”

“If you wake up in the morning with your mind… on Jesus, you can make it throughout the day, and He’ll stand guard over your mind and over your mind.”

“Take back your determination. Stop letting the devil push you around!” – Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake

“The devil and the Holy Ghost cannot coexist in the same space. When the Holy Ghost shows up, the devil has got to go!”

“Whatever the Lord says is Yes, and Amen! I’ll say yes to Him, because He keeps on saying yes to me.’”

“You can still catch them; you can still overtake them. They may have a head start, but don’t you give up! Don’t you wave the white flag. Run after them! Pursue them! Halleluiah!”

“Child of God, you may have said, ‘It’s useless. It’s hopeless. I’m too old. It’s too late.’ But you’ve got to make up your mind that it’s never too late as long as God is involved.”

“There’s not a devil in Hell that can run fast enough to outrun God.”

“Overtake; walk in, in the name of Jesus!”

“Pursue! Overtake! You shall recover all!”

“Whatever it is, God can turn it around! It’s turn-around time!”

“God is going to give you more than you ever had before! Tell two people, ‘God is going to give you double for your trouble!’”

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES: 1 Samuel 30; Matthew 18:11; Luke 15:4-8, 11; Hebrews 2:1; Philippians 4:4-8; Jude 20; Psalm 46:1; Luke 10:19; 2 Timothy 1:7, Isaiah 40:31; Philippians 4:19; Ephesians 3:20; Galatians 6:9; Psalm 30:5

Elder William Hampton: God’s Purpose for Our Thoughts

Elder William Hampton explores God’s power and purpose of our thoughts in the second of a 3-part series on the Elders’ Corner.

The World Book Dictionary defines a thought as “the power or process of thinking.” It is a mental activity; the characteristic thinking of a particular person, group, time and/or place.

The average human brain contains around 100 billion cells. The cells can live for an entire lifetime, frequently making them the oldest living cells in the human body. The brain weighs about three pounds, and continues to grow from conception until around 18 years of age.

The left side of the human brain has considerably more neurons than the right side, and the forebrain, which controls intellectual function, is far larger in humans than in other animal species.

The thoughts of the human brain are powered by neurotransmitters, which in turn are powered by copious quantities of blood flowing through the brain every minute.

According to scientific research, it is said that we have approximately 48.6 thoughts per minute which translates into 2,916 thoughts per hour and 69,984 thoughts throughout the day. We are literally thinking the entire day.

Even as we sleep, our brains continue to process thoughts. A different set of neurotransmitters controls our thoughts while we sleep, which is why our dreams can seem so different from our waking thoughts.

 

KNOWING OUR THOUGHTS: 7 QUESTIONS ANSWERED 

As we can see, our brain processes a lot of thoughts. We have good thoughts and bad thoughts, and out of them come the decisions of life. How can thoughts affect our lives? Who, or what, determines our thoughts? And does God know our thoughts?

Here are 7 questions to ask in understanding God’s purpose for our thoughts:

  1. Does God know our thoughts? In 1 Chronicles 28:9, David gives advice to his son because he has experienced first-hand the power of God. David’s thoughts at times were not pure; therefore, they led him into various sins. He’s telling Solomon not to do as he did because God knows his thoughts. In Isaiah 66:18, God tells the prophet that He knows the thoughts of the people, and the ones with pure hearts and thoughts will be taken as priests and Levites. Other scriptures about thoughts include, Psalm 94:11-“The Lord knows the thoughts of man that they are futile/vanity.” Matthew 9:4-“But Jesus knowing their thoughts said ‘Why do you think evil in your hearts?’” From these and many other scriptures, we can infer that our thought patterns are known by God.
  2. Who should determine our thoughts? Amos 4:13-“For behold He who forms mountains, and creates the wind. Who declares to man what his thought is and makes the morning darkness, Who treads the high places of the earth…The Lord of hosts is His name.” Amos is saying, “Let God determine your thought pattern.” God is the Sustainer and Creator of everything. If He can form the mountains and wind, He can definitely form our thoughts.
  3. How can we develop our thoughts? Proverbs 16:3-“Commit thy works to the Lord and your thoughts will be established.” If we turn over to the Lord what we plan to do, our life’s purpose will come to fruition. As the song says, “Turn it over to Jesus, and you can smile the rest of your day.” Saints of God, please give your lives over to JESUS!
  4. What are God’s thoughts? Psalm 92:5 says, “O Lord, how great are your works, Your thoughts are very deep” We cannot even begin to fathom the deep thoughts of God. God’s thoughts are beyond our conception; beyond our expression. His thoughts are the products of great power and wisdom, of great consequence and importance! Our works are nothing to Him. Isaiah 55:8-“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways  higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”  We cannot comprehend the greatness of God’s works. We can only reverently and gracefully wonder at them, and even stand dumbfounded at the magnificence of them. Our works are small and our thoughts are shallow; but God’s thoughts and works are great and cannot be measured or comprehended.
  5. Now that we know God’s thoughts, what about man’s? Isaiah 59:7 – “Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood, their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity…” This is the thought of man. Romans 1:21 – “Because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Some of us know people in this state: but again, these are the thoughts of man.
  6. How can thoughts affect our lives?
    When inner desires respond to outward enticement, sin is spawned. In James 1:14-15, James does not mention Satan’s role in temptation. His purpose is not to discuss the origin of sin, but to explain that enticement to evil is not from God. In stressing the inward nature of temptation, James leaves sinners no excuse. Satan is indeed the external source of temptation, but no one can blame him for the roots of sinful deeds. Sin starts with a thought which becomes a very prevalent mindset. This leads us to trouble; then, our thoughts can become uncontrollable. Negative thoughts can begin to take root deep within our being, and those thoughts are fulfilled when the desire is satisfied. This is what is known as a spiritual death: but thoughts can also lead to physical death. For example: ingesting a foreign substance into your system, making the decision flee from the police, or sharing intimate relations with someone and contracting a deadly disease can all lead to demonic transfer or a tragic ending. This is why God tells us in Philippians 2:5, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” Paul is telling us to exercise our minds. If we keep the mind of Christ, we can simply stay out of trouble.
  7. How do we keep our minds focused on good thoughts in life? All of us can testify that we thought of something bad – or good – and it actually happened. We, as saints, must understand one thing: every time we sin, we become more bound by that particular sin. That is how sin can become a part of us and we are unaware of its presence. Our bad thoughts are the same.  They can become a part of our thought process, and can begin to lead and to guide our lives until we get pleasure from thinking them. We feed off of them as if they were a narcotic substance in our bodies, then, when God saves us, we think everything will be alright. What God will do is begin to bring months, years and even decades of wrong thoughts to our remembrance, and allow us to see them for what they really are. Acknowledging that we have these negative thoughts, however, can be difficult.

The bible says in Proverbs 23:7 “ For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Saints of God, your thoughts are the gateway, portal and doorkeeper to your heart. When we allow thoughts to fester in our minds, they become embedded within our spirits.

This is why God has given us the provision to think upon His goodness. We must learn the art of “letting go and letting God.” Please keep your mind as pure as possible, and watch your life drastically change for the better.

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES – 1 Chronicles 28:9, Isaiah 66:18, Psalm 94:11, Matthew 9:4, Amos 4:13, Proverbs 16:3, Psalm 92:5, Isaiah 55:8, Isaiah 59:7, Romans 1:21, James 1:14-15, Philippians 2:5, Proverbs 23:7.

Elder F. William Hampton is a long-time member of West Angeles Church of God in Christ under the leadership of Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr. Born in Houston, Texas, he received his High School Diploma from Hinds Agricultural High School,  his Associates of Arts Degree from Utica Junior College, his BA from Texas Southern University and his MFA from Loyola Marymount University. Elder Hampton joined West Angeles Church in 1985 and was ordained as an Elder in June of 2008.  He has worked with the West Angeles Sunday School and Youth Ministries, and is currently a member of the Web Team.  

Fast, Pray, Be Filled: 2017 Pilgrimage to Pentecost

Acts 2:4 (KJV) – And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

What is the Pilgrimage to Pentecost? This “50 Days of Prayer” was established by our Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr. in order to empower the saints of the Church Of God In Christ to fervently seek the Power of God in a 50-day period of consecration and sanctification, from Easter (or “Resurrection Sunday”), through the Day of Pentecost.

The purpose of this consecration is for the Church Of God In Christ to petition God for continuance of the Pentecostal revival and outpouring. The aim is for all of the saints, in this changing world, to hold onto our unchanging faith; and as always, to fight for salvation and righteousness in a violent and immoral world.

What is every member of the Church Of God In Christ requested to do?  For the next 50 days, we are asked by our Presiding Bishop to take 11 minutes out of our daily prayer time to focus on the prayer requests provided in the prayer guide.

 

The dates for the 2017 Pilgrimage are:

SUNDAY, APRIL 16 – SUNDAY, JUNE 4, 2017

It is our hope and prayer that:

(1) every member of the Church Of God In Christ who has not been filled with the gift of the Holy Spirit would be filled, according to Acts 2:4; and that

(2) every believer who is already filled would receive a “refilling” of the Holy Spirit, according to Acts 4:31 and Ephesians 5:18.

We pray that this event impacts your life, and that praying for empowerment in the Spirit becomes a lifetime endeavor.

 

 

Please CLICK HERE to download your free prayer guide (PDF).

 

 

 

 

 

Join the weekly prayer call! Please CLICK HERE to download your free prayer call card (PDF).

 

 

 

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