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The Heart of the Matter

Don’t Settle: Pursue God’s Best

We are living in a day where so many Christians have defeated mindsets. We don’t believe God for anything beyond what our eyes can see or our minds can comprehend. So instead of stepping out on faith and reaching for higher ground, we settle for the low hanging fruit and encourage others to do the same.

Whether it be in a relationship, your career or that dream in your heart, if you constantly settle for less, less is all you will ever have.

“It’s not much but at least it’s something” is the biggest statement that keeps us living in defeat. It’s our safety net to default back to when the thought of moving forward seems beyond our reach; but settling for less is not trusting God with your life, it’s allowing fear to control your life. God doesn’t want us to merely exist in this world, he wants us to live – and live to the full. The temporary discomfort that comes from stepping out on faith and stumbling your way through until you take hold of higher ground, pales in comparison to the misery that comes from living in defeat.

God wants more for your life, Jesus declared victory over your life, so all that’s left for you to do is to take hold of your life!

It’s not much but at least it’s something, usually turns out to be nothing at all. If you think about it, we often say that right before we take that low paying job that keeps us living from paycheck to paycheck, or continue on in that unfruitful relationship that keeps us unhappy with low self-esteem. Don’t sell your birthright for a bowl of soup, Esau! Translation…don’t trade in temporary discomfort for a lifetime of misery. Temporary discomfort goes along with the process of pursuing your dreams. It may be tough in the short-term but God will surely bless you in the long-term if you keep the faith and don’t settle for less along the way.


pursue God's purpose

I pray you found this message to be a blessing and encouraging. Feel free to leave a comment and share with a friend. God Bless!

Opportunities – Video Blog by Inspirational Speaker Sabrena Jay

Life is full of opportunities, yet so many times we let them pass us by. View my latest video blog and be inspired to take hold of every opportunity God has in store for you!

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Do You Have a Heart of Compassion?

The other day, on my way to the store I noticed a homeless man sitting on the sidewalk. Normally I wouldn’t have paid much attention to him, but this day was different. There was something about the way he sat there – staring at the ground – that grab my heart and moved me in a special way.  When I walked past, he didn’t bother to look up; he just sat there deep in thought with his gaze fixed on the ground. As I entered the store a wave of thoughts went through my mind: What was his story? What was he thinking about, and how did he end up here? Did he have any family; was there anyone that knew him; anyone that truly cared?

When I came out of the store I got back into my car but something wouldn’t allow me to leave. I sat for a while and watched as the wind blew through his hair. I didn’t know if I should go over and offer him money or give him a word of encouragement. All I could really think to do in that moment was pray, so I did:

“God, there is nothing too hard for you. Even at this point in his life you are still able to show up and turn it around for his good. Please show him that you still care.”

While I was praying, a man walked over and offered him some money, but he shook his head no. My heart sank. Not because he didn’t take the money, but because I know what it feels like to be at the point of giving up. To feel so lost and alone that nothing anyone said or did could help.

 “God fill his heart with a peace that surpasses all understanding,” was my silent prayer.

Seconds later, a lady came out of the store and offered him money too. Again, he turned it down. She started off but turned back and offered him her soda – still no deal. She said a few words and walked away with her head down.

Soon after that an elderly lady walked up and gave it another shot…Suddenly I begin to realize that God WAS there! Right in the midst of it all, he was using each one of us to show this lowly guy that he indeed still cared. The homeless guy didn’t know that I was a few feet away interceding on his behalf, but God did.

“Never will I leave you. Never will I forsake you.” – Hebrew 13:5

How many times in life do we find ourselves in this type of situation, where we get so caught up in the noise of the storm that we fail to recognize the movement of God in the rain? But water brings forth growth…if you allow it.

That day I was inspired to not only keep lifted in prayer a person whom I have walked past many times but never really seen, but to never lose the heart of compassion that Jesus displayed. This guy is no different from the lame man at the pool of Bethesda, the woman with the issue of blood, or any one of us who once was lost and now has been found by God’s love.

“A new commandment I give you: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must love one another.” – John 13:34

As Christians, let’s be mindful not to just recite the words: what would Jesus do, but actually go out and do what Jesus did. Show loving kindness to those who need it the most, and sow a seed that will take root and spring forth in due season.

The Process of Becoming: A Conversation with my Former-Self

perfected

Recently I watched a Bishop TD Jakes sermon entitled I Got There Anyway where he spoke of the hard times he endured in the process of becoming the person God created him to be. Towards the end of the message, he described a visit that he took to the house he lived in when he first started out. As he stood in the driveway, on the other side of destiny, he reminisced on the day he was so down and discouraged that he questioned God. He thought of all the tears he cried, and offered his former-self encouraging words of wisdom.

His powerful testimony led me to reflect back on my own life and all those days where I felt stuck in moments of despair. Knowing now what I didn’t know then, these are the words I would share:

Buckle your seat belt Sabrena, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. There will be times where you feel lost, inadequate and completely alone. You will have to fight to protect the dream in your heart even when it seems unattainable, but hang in there because one day…there will be a transformation – an intimate time with the Lord where he begins to transform your mind and reveal to you all that lies within. You will then emerge a butterfly; still unsure of the road ahead, but a lot more confident because you will know, without a shadow of doubt, that you have been chosen by God and destined for greatness.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. – Proverb 3:5

The road to God’s divine purpose is often filled with moments of despair. It takes a special kind of strength to walk by faith when there seems to be no end in sight…but oh what an ending it will be! If you just trust God, keep the faith, and stay connected to Jesus…you will make it through to the other side.

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Christians who Commit Suicide- Are they Still Saved by Grace?

crosscardThere are many contrary opinions when it comes to the question as to whether Christians who make the choice to end their lives will make it into God’s kingdom. Many quote the 6th Commandment, Thou Shall Not Kill, or 1 Corinthians 3:16, if anyone destroys the temple of God he will be destroyed but these scriptures, taken in context, don’t necessarily speak of the act of killing oneself. So then, without a definite point of reference we are left to look attentively into the word of God to see his perfect will as it relates to suicide.

A Matter of the Heart: Man looks on the outward appearance but God sees the heart.

God knows every thought before we even think it and there is a difference between contemplating suicide, and making a decision in the spur of the moment to give your life for your fellow man. In my opinion, people who commit suicide as an act of heroism … such as Samson ( Judges 16:28-30) are not judged the same as those who commit suicide as a way of escape from their troubles, or in the case of the unbeliever who makes the choice to end their lives of misery just to spend eternity in a fate far worse than death.

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”- Matthew 11:29

To commit suicide is the ultimate show of a lack of faith in the power of God.  I write this not from a condemning or judgmental standpoint, but from the actual standpoint of someone who is a Christian, and who also reached a point in life where I felt there was no reason to go on. Yes, at the age of 22 I found myself living alone in a one bedroom apartment with 3 babies – an 18 month-old and 4-month-old twins – and was so down and depressed that I made the decision to end my life. In that moment I felt completely alone, and the voice of the enemy echoed in my ear that even at such a young age I had completely ruined my life beyond repair – but in my darkest hour, Jesus kept me. I call him my Savior not out of religious duty, but because when I was at the point of death he showed up and filled my heart with a desire to live on.

That was a major turning point in my life. I began to realize that people, situations and hard times will come and go; that nothing is worth taking your life over, and that it’s in the darkness of the night that the light of Jesus shines bright. But it takes having faith in God, faith in his word and knowledge of who he really is to be able to stand when is seems all hope is lost.

When you commit suicide you are not only killing yourself, but the purpose God created you to serve.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

I’ve come to find that most people with higher callings on their lives are faced with thoughts of suicide early on because the devil knows that we all have to go through a trying process in order for God’s purpose to be revealed in us. He also know that this process is not easy, and if he can get us to be so discouraged by our circumstances that we take our focus off of God, than he can get us to abort the process. Notice I said get us to abort the process, because Satan doesn’t have the power to stop the work of God in our lives. He is defeated and will forever remain. The challenge is to not allow he who is already defeated to continuously defeat you.

As Christians, we are called to trade in our will for his, but the act of suicide shows that you have traded in his will for yours.

“Then Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” – Matthew 16:24

To answer the question posed in the title of this post, are Christians still saved by grace when they commit suicide? Let me just plainly state that I don’t know. If a man dies in his sin and is unrepentant does he still make it into heaven? Can anyone without faith please God? Or can you truly say that Jesus is Lord if you don’t trust him to be Lord over your problems, your fears and all of life’s circumstances?

I’m not sure, but I have contended in my heart that no matter what life brings, good or bad, I’m going to run on and see what the end is going to be. I want to finish this race, reach my goal and hear my Lord and Savior say…well done.

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Should Christians Celebrate Halloween? 5 Reasons Why I Say NOT

Should Christians celebrate Halloween?

A couple of years ago I went to the ever-popular Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando. When we first arrived it was fun and exciting, but as the night went on I began to get bothered in my spirit. The more I looked at the scenery, the more troubled I became. There were witches and devils, monsters and warlocks, fake blood and vampires, all lurking in the dark on a smoked-filled night. I looked at my sister and said – suddenly I feel like I’m in the middle of Sodom and Gomorrah. My excitement quickly turned to guilt as I began to see the entire night from God’s point of view (as a Christian, if your conscience doesn’t convict you when you are doing something that is contrary to the word of God, then I have to seriously wonder if the Holy Spirit is living on the inside of you). God calls his people to be holy, to offer our lives as living sacrifices unto Him and to stand apart from the things of this world, not dwell in it. As I stood there in the crowd I began to pray for their salvation, but then it occurred to me that they were not all lost. Some of them, just like me, were Christians; but in the midst of the darkness, amongst the ghosts and goblins…we were all one.

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. John 4:23 NIV

I know that in the grand scheme of things putting on a costume and collecting bags of candy in the spirit of fun does not condemn a Christian to hell, or 12 years of purgatory, but there are some ways of this world that we should not be willing to adapt. When it comes to celebrating Halloween, I say let your conscience be your guide, but here are 5 reasons why I choose not to participate.

1. The bible says do not conform to this world but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind. My mind is renewed and my spirit is too. I don’t celebrate Halloween because it doesn’t bring honor and glory to my Lord and Savior.

2. God has been too good to me for me to pretend for one minute that I don’t know him, and the devil has been too terrible for me to give him one second of praise.

3. I’m a follower of Christ – bought with a price – and I know he wouldn’t approve. (How can you say that you follow Jesus if you are willing to go places that he wouldn’t go, and do things he wouldn’t do?)

4. The light that lives on the inside of me shines too bright for me cover it up with a mask and parade around in the dark.

5. Because it’s time for believers to stand up and let the world know who we really are: a holy nation, a royal priesthood, redeemed by the blood of the lamb, and set free from sin and shame.

Simply put, I don’t celebrate Halloween because I’m…well…a Christian!

 

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Gay Christians -Is it the Unpardonable Sin?

Picture this: A man lies dying in a hospital bed from AIDS. His thin and frail body which is covered in lesions can no longer sustain the weight of his suffering…he is slipping away. As the evangelist who volunteers at the hospital passes by his bedside, he motions her near.  Looking at her with all sincerity of heart he gently whispers, I’m gay but I am also a Christian. I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior years ago and have always kept him in my heart.  Please tell me, do you think I will make it in?  As the evangelist searches within herself for the answer, scrolling past the years of judgmental beliefs that have been placed on her by her religious upbringing, she is reminded of the words that Jesus said to the thief who hung next to him on the cross – Today you will be with me in paradise.  She opened her eyes, gave him an approving smile, and held his hand as he took his last breath. I often wonder how many Christians who struggle with the spirit of homosexuality live under this same fear and condemnation. That they too will get to the end of their days and not know if they will make it in because of a stronghold that has come to be considered the unpardonable sin by many in the church. I recently saw a news story about a church that cancelled the funeral of a man the day before the service because they found out he was gay. The minister’s justification for this act: “I am a man of God and I have to stand upon my principles.” When I saw this story and the painful reaction from the husband of the deceased, I thought: what about the principle of showing God’s love to everyone?

The Heart of the Matter: God has given us the task of reconciling people to him.” 2 Corinthians 5:18

When it comes to the issue of homosexuality, I think the church should first preach acceptance, of the person not the sin, and then deliverance. I know that I am going against the grain on this but someone has to shine a light on this very dark issue and God has placed it on my heart to do so. When I discussed this topic with a fellow Christian I was met with the same haughtiness that most are met with when they dare to suggest that gay Christians should be accepted by the church – but as servants of the Lord, we cannot alienate someone who is struggling with a particular area of sin and yet expect them to seek God for deliverance. Did Jesus not die for the homosexual too? Some would suggest otherwise.

The Truth of the Matter: Truly, God does not see what man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD sees the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

As I write this I am fully aware of the gay pride movement that is sweeping America, and I understand that not every homosexual seeks to be delivered. But no Christian – and I say this boldly – should be proud to openly live a life that is not holy and acceptable in God’s sight. God loves the person, but he hates the sin. Just as with the liar, fornicator or adulterer there will be a price to pay. It will affect the call of God on your life, limit the reach of your ministry, and keep you in a constant state of battle within.  But Jesus heals.  Anything is possible to those who believe.  You have to first believe the truth of God’s word, understand that homosexuality is a sin and not acceptable in His sight, and want to be changed.  Man looks on the outward appearance, but God sees the heart.

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