Eat From Your Own Plate

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

You know those people or you may be one yourself. You go out to eat with your friends and you order a dish that someone else wants to sample. If you’re kind and generous (which I imagine you are), then you’re fine with sharing a few bites from your plate. Ok, so after they’ve sampled a few bites and find your food yummy to their tummy, they begin making a meal off of your plate like it’s their last supper. The meal you’re paying for is soon becoming their meal—for free.  🙂 Now, what I’ve heard some guys say (ladies we tend to be a bit more giving in this area) when this happens is, “Man, get your own plate.” Or, “Eat from your own plate.”

 

sharing-food

 

I use this analogy to encourage those who are eating from someone else’s plate of faith, joy, peace, relationship in Jesus, etc., to be sustained by eating from their own plate of food. A number of believers and unbelievers may desire the peace, strength, joy, confidence, courage and trust in the Lord they see within you or that another mature Christian embodies. Rather than tasting the Lord for themselves to “see that He is good” and taking refuge in Him (Psalm 34:8)—rather than hungering for the Lord and desiring to spend more time alone in His presence, read His Word, fast or retreat to their prayer closets—they want to feed off of your plate and attempt to sustain their journey through what you have obtained in your personal walk with the Lord. In fact, they may be eating from grandmother’s plate—and grandmother has passed on from this life. Grandmother shared godly wisdom that depicted her walk with the Lord and this person is clinging to that wisdom, reciting grandmother’s words without their own assurance of who God is.

Praise God for those whose life and walk in Christ Jesus is attractive to others! That is one of the goals in this walk: that through Christ living in us and our being transformed into His likeness, that others will see it and desire the same. But there is no shortcut to this walk. The joy, the hope, the faith, the strength, the peace and the trust in God they see in you and others comes with a cost, an investment. They want what you have but aren’t willing to do what it takes to be sustained by their own plate.

They don’t know how many hours, days, nights, months and years you’ve travailed in prayer on various matters. They don’t know how many times you’ve battled in spiritual warfare with the enemy who attacks you asleep and awake to scare or hinder you from moving forward. They don’t know how many times God has taken you to…the…edge…whether in health, resources, loss or trials and you had to truly trust Him and His promises. The battles have shown you God’s faithfulness which has developed your joy, peace, and strength.

Many people want the crown but not the cross.

If you are eating off of someone else’s plate, I encourage you to pursue a relationship with Christ Jesus for yourself so that YOU can know Him. That you can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He is who He says He is and that He will do what he said He will do. He will make you full. You will be able to eat from your own plate.

This writing is not about one’s measure of faith given to us by God as referenced in Romans 12:3 and Romans 14:1-4. Some will have weak faith. Some will eat vegetables while others eat meat. God accepts the weak and the strong. They are His. This writing is to encourage more people to hunger for their own, deeper relationship with the Lord. Today’s tumultuous times and coming days require it. You will need to know God for yourself and that HE is indeed faithful.

hebrews-6-19-anchor-for-the-soul

Lord Jesus, you are our Anchor, our Delivererour Strength, our Shield, our Refuge, our Rock and our Salvation, our Peace that surpasses all understanding, our Joy, and our everything. May others be so attracted to seeing You in us that they will pursue You for themselves so they too can be made full. Amen.

Love and blessings,

Nicole

Nicole D. Hayes is the founder of Voices Against the Grain, a bold teaching ministry launched in May 2013. Nicole’s purpose in creating Voices Against the Grain is to be light in darkness, to boldly instruct truth amid confusion so as to bring clarity and restoration.

Learn more about Nicole D. Hayes here.

 

Advertisements

But I’m Not Going That Way

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Nationwide marches. Protests. Rallies. Sit ins. Hundreds of thousands and millions of people gathered to publicly display their positions and views this past week. As a Washington, D.C. resident, I see such demonstrations repeatedly as citizens utilize the public square to stand up against injustices. Who wouldn’t want to be where the action is? Who wouldn’t want to participate in these historical events? Who wouldn’t want a ride to one of these events if offered?

But I’m not going that way. 

I will explain.

Demonstrations, protests and rallies serve as our human efforts to right wrongs; to bring injustices to the surface and hold them accountable. It is a fight to ensure that justice is restored and maintained. It’s part of America’s fabric and that of other nations. Yet, these and all such activities only provide Band-Aids of temporary remedies and not justice eternal. Man can never even the score of what Christ alone can do. Yes, the flesh wounds are real. The injustices are real.

But I’m not going that way. I’m going this way… 

We’ve all been wounded by someone or something and some, more than others. There is no denying this. Yet, I know the Great Equalizer who binds up those wounds and restores what was lost, taken or marginalized. And even in my tenderness and compassion for those wounds, I can’t get caught up in the flesh wounds that would distract my eyes from Christ. If I did, how could I point the wounded in the direction toward healing?

As a dear sister in Christ wrote, “The ‘good’ intentions and injustices should never become the end goal in need of remedy because that measurement is less than what Christ will do. It distracts us from His Kingdom message of return, repent and make straight a path for the Lord.”

So true.

Jesus did not seek to right all of society’s wrongs but He did show love and compassion toward the suffering. He showed them the way to true healing and peace. He showed them that His power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).  

As one who has been called by God to feed His sheep, to be a “voice against the grain,” to share His truth in love and to provide instruction and clarity where there is disillusionment, I do so by keeping my eyes on Christ.

Vida diaria en Iquique

To say, “But I’m not going that way, I’m going this way,” means that we seek to be Holy Spirit-led (listening for His voice) in all that we do rather than being pulled in the popular direction of the day. This often means that we’ll be walking in the opposite direction of the big crowds. It means that we are guided by a biblical view and spiritual eyes rather than a worldview that galvanizes people to jump on various bandwagons. It often means that few join us on that stretch of road to the Cross. It also means that sometimes my heart needs encouraging when I cry out “How long, how long, Lord?,” as I desire for more people to seek Him, to thirst after Him alone rather than the failed vehicles they chase after for their balm.

For the Believer and the unbeliever, I encourage you to look to the Cross, where Jesus bore it all and won it all for us.

As my dear sister prayed (Thank you, sis), “May we look upon Christ and identify with His cross, life, death and resurrection and the hope of the world to come. May our dependency upon the Lord be like little children and look to His ability to change hearts and provide the increase in their growth.  May we have faith and wait to see how our Father will work to bring His plan to completion! O, Lord, give us the grace to trust you beyond our senses and to look to you for everything! Let us anticipate O, Lord, the new Kingdom that You are creating and Your Sovereignty to create us anew.”

Amen!

-Nicole

Nicole D. Hayes is the founder of Voices Against the Grain, a bold teaching ministry launched in May 2013. Nicole’s purpose in creating Voices Against the Grain is to be light in darkness, to boldly instruct truth amid confusion so as to bring clarity and restoration.

Learn more about Nicole D. Hayes here.

Entering 2017: Shifted and Lifted

destiney_and_nicole_2-112814

Nicole D. Hayes, VATG founder (l) and Destiney Bishop, VATG Digital Media Coordinator (r).

Wow—2016 is nearly out. From devastating floods, numerous earthquakes in diverse places, race riots and heightened tensions to shocking celebrity deaths and the presidential election, the events of 2016 have kept many of us in prayer like never before. We’ve had to encourage ourselves and others.

Many people, including some Believers, have felt great despair this year. Some of you have been surviving consecutive months and years of unemployment, or overcoming health challenges or grieving the passing of loved ones. What has occurred to-date is still a fraction of the trials to come before Christ’s return.

The events of 2016 most likely took you into some uncharted and unfamiliar territory. This was the case for us this year too. Entering new territories and spaces requires us to trust God EVERY step of the way. The process can also fortify our faith.  In such times, we are reminded of Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”  When we step in courage and trust in Him, it emboldens us for the next leg of the journey. Rest assured that God will show us His faithfulness.

In John 16:33, Jesus reminds us that we will indeed go through trials in this life but we will overcome those challenges in Him! He says 33- “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

In writing you this message, the words that the Holy Spirit has encouraged us with for today and the days ahead is to be “shifted and lifted.” We are being asked to shift our focus onto Jesus so we may operate in peace and courage and be lifted out of our human default positions of despair, doubt and fear. Praise God!

We don’t leave you without hope: This year, many of us experienced unprecedented favor and prayers answered as we pressed the throne of grace boldly in prayer, in faith and with praises lifted! We saw God move mightily and we most certainly foiled some of the enemy’s plans. God is truly moved by the faith of His People!

We pray that these words and all of God’s Word comforts and reassures you in our challenging times. One of our objectives in presenting Holy Spirit-inspired content is to equip you to remain steady in unsteady times. As the Body of Christ, we will be challenged. We will suffer trials. We will endure war wounds. But God is preparing His Church to stand in these last days. So, take heart! Our victory is secured! Remain focused, in peace and steady! The gates of hell shall not prevail. We know how the story ends! God in His precision is watching over His Word to perform it and fulfill it as told to us in Jeremiah 1:12.

2017

As we close out 2016 and prepare to enter 2017, we at Voices Against the Grain encourage you in these points as you become shifted and lifted:

  • Allow God to lead. Be divinely persuaded (that’s what faith means—the Greek word is “pistis”) that God knows the best path for you and will lead you to it if you listen to Him. Walk in courage in what God has told you.
  • Place your hope in Jesus Christ alone and His Kingdom—not the kingdoms of this world. Do not place your hope in man, in government, finances, systems, etc., for these secondary sources will surely fail you. Take hold of the hope offered to us in God and be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf (Hebrews 6:18-20). Be shifted and lifted.
  • God is equipping you to respond to and serve those crying out and seeking direction. Pray to be more attentive to these cries and seek the Holy Spirit’s instruction on how He wants you to help them. Yield to carrying out His will and not your own.
  • In serving others, take the time to “steal away” to recharge; to have your cup refilled so you are able to pour into others again.
  • Pursue more intimacy with the Lord and seek to be Holy Spirit-led in all that you do. Knowing how the Holy Spirit wants to lead you is strengthened through spending more time communing with the Lord. Spending time with the Lord also enables you to abide in His Peace.

We love serving you and serving with you! We pray God’s blessings upon you, your family, your health, your ministries and everything He has called you to put your hands to. Go in courage, His confidence and peace. Thank you for supporting us and praying for us. We are excited and prayerful for how God will use His People in 2017. May we continue to be salt and light Christians to lead the world out of darkness and to the Cross.

God bless you and Happy New Year!

Love,

Nicole & Destiney

Is God Precise or Vague?

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Is God precise or vague?

When it comes to understanding God’s character, His nature, His Word and His promises toward us, is He precise? Or is He vague?

To answer this, let’s review some scriptures, shall we?

Creation

“Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with the seed in it, according to their various kinds.” (Genesis 1:11, NIV)

“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” (Genesis 8:22, NIV)

noahs-ark

Noah’s Ark 

14 “So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. 15 This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. 16 Make a roof for it and finish the ark to within 18 inches for the top. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks.” (Genesis 6:14-16, NIV)

12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.” (Genesis 9:12-15)

Son of God, Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ: King of kings, Lord of lords

10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:10-12, NIV)

16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, NIV)

6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, NIV)

His Promises

25 “I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.” (Jeremiah 31:25, NIV)

37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (ex: giving resources, extending mercy, forgiveness, love, etc., it will be returned to you in the same measure from the same or different source). (Luke 6:37-38, NIV)

16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—17 the Spirit of truth.” (Jesus promises the Holy Spirit to those who receive Him) (John 14:16-17a, NIV)

27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27, NIV)

33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33, NIV)

7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8, NIV)

2 “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you may also be where I am.” (John 14:2-3, NIV)

birth-of-christ

In these few passages of scripture provided, does God’s Word appear precise or vague to you? Did your perception of God’s precision of instruction and faithfulness to His Word waver between any of the sections or specific verses? If so, you may ask yourself if you trust God to be the same in all aspects of His Word. Certainly, there are some aspects of His Word that are contingent upon our obedience, whether we exercise faith, His sovereignty and His perfect timing. Nevertheless, His Word is precise. He is trustworthy.

God is watching over His Word to see that it is performed (fulfilled) as told in Jeremiah 1:12. In this Christmas season of hope and believing, in any areas that we doubt, may we learn to trust God and His infallible Word.

Merry Christmas!

-Nicole

Nicole D. Hayes is the founder of Voices Against the Grain, a bold teaching ministry launched in May 2013. Nicole’s purpose in creating Voices Against the Grain is to be light in darkness, to boldly instruct truth amid confusion so as to bring clarity and restoration.

Learn more about Nicole D. Hayes here.

 

 

 

 

We’ve Come This Far By Faith

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

“If one minute’s freedom had been offered to me and I had been told I must die at the end of that minute, I would have taken it.” –Elizabeth Freeman “Mum Bett,” a Massachusetts slave who sued for her freedom and helped end slavery in that state, 1800

Sobering words. You can feel this former slave’s yearning to experience freedom, even if only for 60 seconds before being killed. Through her words, you feel her disregard for death in exchange for one minute’s freedom to escape the life she had been enslaved.

Though I saw her quote earlier this week during my five-hour tour of the newly opened National African American Museum of History and Culture here in Washington, D.C., her palpable words have stayed with me. In the course of my tour of the intelligently designed crown/corona-shaped museum and its four levels and basement levels, dare I say that there are many words and images that have stayed with me.

elizabeth-freeman-quote

A project 100 years in the making, the National African American Museum of History and Culture, a Smithsonian property, was built on the last available space on the National Mall grounds. Its history memorializes in artifact, imagery, film, music, written and audio messages the good, bad and ugly of America’s history in its treatment of Blacks.

I joyfully made my way through and down the top levels whose exhibits fabulously celebrate some of African Americans’ crowning achievements from opening businesses and restaurants, to the music many of us sing and dance to, sports records set and the creation of popular Black-owned magazines and newspapers telling stories from perspectives that wouldn’t have been told otherwise. I felt proud.

michael-johnsons-gold-shoes

The infamous gold track shoes of four-time U.S. Olympic gold medalist and World Champion sprinter, Michael Johnson

The museum staff first recommended that visitors start at the basement level which contains exhibits of slavery (and Emmett Till’s casket), and then work our way up. This was purposely designed to lift us out of the earlier sorrow. But, as life would have it, there was a long line to the basement level so it was recommended that we start our tour at the top levels.

museum

By the time I reached the basement levels, I understood why the reverse order was preferred. Upon entering the basement level exhibits that embarked on Africans’ journey of slavery into the Americas and Europe, starting around year 1400, my jubilation sunk into anger and sorrow.

Beatings. Brutality. Men, women and children in shackles. Packed in large cargo ships with less than 2 feet of space between the next person. Forced to lie in their excrement. Some were healthy enough to survive the Transatlantic journey and some were not. Those that survived the journey, not all survived the overbearing field work. Rice crops, sugar trade, tobacco fields and other goods established the wealthy and many companies still operating in America today—built on the blood, sweat, brutality, tears and cries of despair from the millions upon millions of enslaved Africans.

In reading some of the slaves’ stories and viewing the clothes and shackles passed down to their family for me as a free person to see today, I asked, “God, where were you in their brutality? Where were you in their beatings, struggles and oppression? Children separated from their parents? Enslaved men and women who loved each other not allowed by law to marry. Treated as property, while the wicked were held in high esteem.  Lord, where were you??!”

slave-shackles-from-thomas-jeffersons-property

Slave shackles, property of 3rd U.S. President, Thomas Jefferson.

slavery

In my anger, I came upon a display that brought a wellspring of joy within my spirit.

Encased in glass was Nat Turner’s open bible and Harriet Tubman’s book of gospel hymns. Both Turner and Tubman were instrumental in bravely leading other slaves to freedom. The description beneath Tubman’s hymnal reads:

“A fiercely religious woman, Tubman spoke of visions and dreams that helped provide a moral compass throughout her life. The wear and tear on this hymnal suggests that she must have loved it and used it quite frequently.”

harriet-tubmans-hymnal

Harriet Tubman’s Hymnal

Wow. More than wow. Seeing Tubman’s hymnal and Turner’s bible stirred my spirit to recognize: Lord, You were with them! Just as You were faithfully with Moses as he led the Israelites out of Egypt after suffering 400 years of slavery, YOU were with those who led, bled and suffered! You are the same God then as you are today. For all Believers, You are with us today, in our struggles! You tell us to go in courage (Joshua 1:9) for you go with us! If we trust You and Your Word, You will bring us out and into freedom! Exodus! For those who trust, that means spiritual freedom in Christ Jesus. For some of you, it also means leaving the land of not enough (Egypt) to the land of more than enough (Canaan).

I could write more on my experience but truly this is a powerful takeaway for me. God is indeed with us in our struggles even when it doesn’t feel like it at times. God knows our struggles, suffering and sorrows, for He sent His only Son to be beaten, whipped, nailed to a wooden cross to die as an innocent to take on the wickedness of this world so mankind could be redeemed and reconciled in relationship with God. Christ died so that you and I could truly be free.

Presently, the Black community is still under siege. There is a present-day slavery of a different sort strategized by Satan that has kept many in perpetual slavery to poverty, addiction, incarceration and violence. It’s my prayer at least for the population God has entrusted me to serve and share His Truth, to help them recognize true freedom in Christ Jesus and unshackle them from the things that enslave and entangle  (Hebrews 12:1). “To proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,” (Isaiah 61:1, NIV).

I, like many DC-area residents, get caught up in the busyness of Washington life. Sometimes we take for granted the national treasures easily accessible to us; treasures that thousands travel from far away to simply get a glimpse of; to somehow capture the experience permanently by photo, video or gift shop trinket.

But I promise you, I won’t take for granted what I saw and experienced. In ways I will never know personally, the struggles of my predecessors and more importantly, their legacy of faith and resiliency, has in part enabled me to be where I am today: free.  I think on words from the hymn, “We’ve Come this Far By Faith”:

Oh, We’ve come this far by faith

Leaning on the Lord

Trusting in His holy word

He’s never failed me yet

Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh

Can’t turn around

We’ve come this far by faith

 

-Nicole

Nicole D. Hayes is the founder of Voices Against the Grain, a bold teaching ministry launched in May 2013. Nicole’s purpose in creating Voices Against the Grain is to be light in darkness, to boldly instruct truth amid confusion so as to bring clarity and restoration.

Learn more about Nicole D. Hayes here.

Developing Faith

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. –Romans 10:17 (English Standard Version)

Jason Alexandre photo small

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Terrorist attacks, rumors of war and crime seemingly showing no signs to decrease. We join hands in protest but to no lasting avail. We pray for peace and it comes but after a little while then chaos breaks out again in our nations and communities. As we should, we hope for better days. Yet, how can lasting faith develop? How can we gain a better understanding of the world in which we live and in the things in which we hear and see?

Truth is, evil will continue. Sin will not cease. So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. -Romans 10:17 Have we forgotten that great commission? To “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” Mark 16:15

That gospel that heals the sin-sick soul. The gospel that points to Jesus Christ as the answer to ALL of life. How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? –Romans 10:12

All those who profess the name of Christ are called to a decided course of life. A course that continuously heralds a bold confession of Christ and his truth before their fellowmen. The world needs a developing faith! The fear of terrorism, particularly in America, is at an all-time high since 9/11. Why is that?

 

Romans 10-17 faith comes from hearing

All that we hear and see is in line with scripture and there is more opportunity than ever before for the ways of God to be made known. You recall that the apostle Paul said “But understand this that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.” 2 Timothy 3:1 Read the following verses later on but let me suggest that there are a number of professing Christians who have forgotten the unchangeable and undeniable power of scripture! Beware of a form of godliness, professing Christianity yet enjoying a close friendship with the world and its systems (2 Timothy 3:5). It would seem that scripture Christ-centered preaching has become a lost art. We want that which only makes us feel good.

Rev. Dr. Gardner C. Taylor when he was asked to assess the general state of preaching today he said this:

“I think it has become far more folksy, and there is now a tendency, I think, more than ever, to make it a kind of Sunday Chamber of Commerce exercise — motivational speaking, which has its place but is not the Gospel. It becomes a kind of opium, if opium is a stimulant, for people, which gives them often a false notion of what life is all about. I think much of contemporary preaching does not prepare people for the inevitable crises of life. When we talk constantly about prosperity, well, life is not constantly prosperity. It has adversity and difficulties, and if one is trained, conditioned to see only the bright side of things, then one is not prepared for living in this world.”

He then was asked, “Do congregations want to hear that message, though?” His reply was, “Of course, people want to hear it because candy is a very pleasant thing. My daughter lives out in Harbor City, [California]. When she was a little girl, I suppose we could have fed her candy morning, noon, and night, and she would have taken it morning, noon — and enjoyed it. Soon she would have had no teeth, and soon we would have had no daughter, I think because candy is wonderful. I love it, but one needs in one’s diet more than candy.”

Today, more than ever we need teaching and preaching that is not candy-coated. The world needs to be prepared for the things to come and Scripture—truth, plainly and correctly taught, has a marvelous aptness to awaken the conscience, and touch the heart. Only then will we have a developing faith, banked on the foundation of Jesus Christ and His Word. Amen

-Jason

Jason’s vision is for the gospel to continue to spread throughout the world and believes it is a Christian’s responsibility to carry out this mission effectively. To learn more about the organization for which Jason volunteers, please visit www.HaitiChristianity.org.

Learn more about Jason M. Alexandre here.

Root and Fruits

Jason Alexandre photo

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” –James 2:14-17

The preachers of time past used to say that “many souls are going to hell in a hand basket, but you are going to heaven all by yourself.” That could be interpreted as a sharp rebuke to Christians who know the truth and have found the truth yet are too caught up in themselves to share the truth by way of a spoken word and added example of action.

They are comfortable with what seems like the American ideology of not wanting to be bothered with anyone but instead, preferring to advance oneself by way of striving to increase their financial and material prosperity. This way of thinking demonstrates selfishness and a lack of concern for the material, but more importantly, spiritual welfare of others. “I think evangelicals need a social conscience about the people who are least defended and most vulnerable in the society. If Christianity is not that, forget about it.” – Rev. Dr. Gardner C. Taylor

Root and fruit

Are we simply persons who merely identify as Christians but have not yet exercised our faith through good works? Are you unable to produce fruit because you have taken no root? You recall that the Savior said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”-John 15:5 The truth is that mere profession of the gospel, without works, is not faith.

There is no way to show we really believe in Christ, but by being diligent in good works for gospel purposes and from gospel motives. I question in my heart a professed Christian who is not grieved by the dark spiritual condition of one who has not yet found Jesus. And I wonder how much time has that professed Christian spent with Jesus himself? For time spent with Jesus brings about a supernatural transformation within the heart and true believing is not an act of the understanding only, but a work of the whole heart.  A heart that then goes out of his or her way to alleviate the distress of a needy person.

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.-1 John 3:17-18

It is for Jesus’ sake that we choose to clothe our enemy, choose to feed our sister and choose to give to our brother. That is the grace of God in which we stand, having root to produce fruits.

There is no in between of these truths. We cannot and must not simply keep our faith to ourselves neglecting to live it out by good works. Live to God which will obligate us out of love to do everything for him and to him. That is my prayer for the world today that we would take root in Christ and produce that kind of fruit that brings about eternal consequences in the lives of others. Amen.

-Jason

Jason’s vision is for the gospel to continue to spread throughout the world and believes it is Christian’s responsibility to carry out this mission effectively. To learn more about the organization for which Jason volunteers, please visit www.HaitiChristianity.org.

Learn more about Jason M. Alexandre here.

No Belief

While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them. Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him– John 12:36-37 (English Standard Version)

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

In the preceding verses, here we find Jesus explaining to the crowds and his disciples why he must die. Die? Yes, this was the one that many saw perform miracles in healing the sick, driving out evil spirits from tormented souls, and even raising the dead! But Jesus knew their hearts. He knew people viewed him merely as a miracle worker but didn’t believe on him as Savior of their souls.

That sounds like some of us today. Oh, we know God as the one who blesses and works miracles for us but do we know him as Savior? When we get on our knees to pray, are we merely asking him for more and more material things and neglecting to thank for him for the salvation of our souls? Do we truly believe in our hearts? The fact of the reality is a lot of us believe in Jesus Christ, the God-man, for what he CAN do for us but NOT for what he DID do for us which is die on the cross for our sins and rose on the third day defeating the power of death and offering to us eternal life for those who believe in him.

We would be wise to mirror the faith of the father who brought his son to Jesus to be healed from an evil spirit. The Bible says this man said, “But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”-Mark 9:22-24 This attitude the man demonstrated is one of trust and confidence in Jesus even for his faith!

Ephesians 2-8, 9For By Grace You have been Saved through faith

For faith is not something that we can obtain on our own but it is a gift from God. For the Bible says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.         –Ephesians 2:8-9

Yet, it concerns my soul for those who believe but refuse to admit it publicly for fear of rejection or ridicule from people. Oh they would be more concerned about God’s eternal acceptance than the temporary approval of their peers.

May they remember Jesus Christ’s truthful warning: “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” –Matthew 10:32-33 For a time is coming and indeed it is here now where many people will be deceived more and more by the evil one Satan. Hearts will be hardened and more people will not believe. Friend, I pray with all the love in my heart that you believe in Jesus Christ for the salvation of your soul.

For the Bible says, “The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” –2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 Amen

About Jason M. Alexandre

Jason Melchizedek Alexandre was born in November of 1989 in Brooklyn, N.Y. His family later moved to Philadelphia, Pa., and he now resides in Limerick, Pa. In May of 2014, Jason obtained his Master of Social Work degree at Widener University. Professionally, Jason counsels persons who are homeless, parents, veterans, and others who suffer from various kinds of abuse. Although Jason’s career is Social Work, his spiritual passion is missions. Jason believes in actively answering the Great Commission call Jesus gave all Christians for the Gospel to be spread from person-to-person and nation-to-nation. Annually, Jason travels primarily to Haiti on a mission trip with Haiti Christianity Inc. Each year, Haiti Christianity, Inc., visits cities and/or villages in Haiti bringing children educational supplies, clothing, and medical supplies. They also facilitate conferences in which bible study, budgeting tips, financial planning and most importantly, evangelization takes place. Jason is currently the organization’s public relations director. Jason’s vision is for the gospel to continue to spread throughout the world and believes it is Christian’s responsibility to carry out this mission effectively. To learn more about the organization for which Jason volunteers, please visit www.HaitiChristianity.org.

Seeking My Lord

Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. –Psalm 105:4 (New International Translation)

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Jason M. Alexandre, Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

If someone asked you, “Do you ‘seek’ the Lord?” How would you respond? When you arise in the morning, is God who you first think about or do you think about him as you go on about your day? The Greek word for “seek” is zéteó, which means “to look for or search or desire.” It also means “to inquire of or investigate.” In other words, for what or whom you’re seeking you want to get to the bottom of it. Are we really seeking the Lord with all our strength, all our hearts, and all our souls? Or are we too busy for him?

When you are truly seeking the Lord you are demonstrating that you have a desire to go further in your relationship with him. In fact, he wants you to know him. He yearns for an intimate relationship with you. He knew you before you thought you knew yourself. He said, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” –Jeremiah 29:13 Someone might say, “I try to pray to the Lord and it seems like he doesn’t respond or God does not ever listen to me.” Friend, I want to assure you that God still speaks and he speaks to us all the time.

If you’ve trusted in Jesus Christ as your Savior, he speaks loud and clear through the Holy Spirit. But often times there are still sins in our lives that we need to eradicate in order to continue to be led by the Holy Spirit, deepening our relationship with Christ to become more and more like him. Do not continue to live in your sins. Do not quench the Spirit-1 Thessalonians 5:19. For the unbeliever, there is still time to repent. Isaiah 55:6-7 says, “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts.”

“Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.”-Isaiah 55:7-8

The man after God’s own heart, King David, knew very well how to seek the Lord and be in his presence. He recorded many years ago, “Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain? The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from their heart;” -Psalm 15:1-2

Oh how I’m saddened for the one who doesn’t believe in God to seek him. How my heart is concerned for the destruction that waits for them if they do not repent. The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” -Psalm 14:1 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.-Hebrews 11:6

 Amen

Jason M. Alexandre

 

About Jason M. Alexandre

Jason Melchizedek Alexandre was born in November of 1989 in Brooklyn, N.Y. His family later moved to Philadelphia, Pa., and he now resides in Limerick, Pa. In May of 2014, Jason obtained his Master of Social Work degree at Widener University. Professionally, Jason counsels persons who are homeless, parents, veterans, and others who suffer from various kinds of abuse. Although Jason’s career is Social Work, his spiritual passion is missions. Jason believes in actively answering the Great Commission call Jesus gave all Christians for the Gospel to be spread from person-to-person and nation-to-nation. Annually, Jason travels primarily to Haiti on a mission trip with Haiti Christianity Inc. Each year, Haiti Christianity, Inc., visits cities and/or villages in Haiti bringing children educational supplies, clothing, and medical supplies. They also facilitate conferences in which bible study, budgeting tips, financial planning and most importantly, evangelization takes place. Jason is currently the organization’s public relations director. Jason’s vision is for the gospel to continue to spread throughout the world and believes it is Christian’s responsibility to carry out this mission effectively. To learn more about the organization for which Jason volunteers, please visit www.HaitiChristianity.org.

And I Rise

Mark 11:23-I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart. (New Living Translation)
Herbert Bowen, Jr.  Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Herbert Bowen, Jr.
Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

If we believe, then we can achieve… Greatness, in its highest form. If we believe, then we can achieve… Powerful testimonies that will stir the hearts of many who could sympathize with that event and/or circumstance. If we believe, then we can achieve… A higher level of faith. For the one who clings onto the belief that his turmoil will change will resemble a Phoenix risen from the ashes. Therefore, each moment we spend depressed is time lost. Time that could’ve been saved, if we sought to hold onto the truth of God’s Word. Patience that could’ve been nurtured if we waited for God’s timing instead of our own. For actions done without faith are as useless as hot air balloon without any hot air. Hence, we will be grounded, rather than floating amongst the clouds. Amen

About Herbert G. Bowen, Jr.

Born in King of Prussia, Pa., Herbert G. Bowen Jr., accepted the Lord Jesus Christ at the tender age of 5. An active member of the Central Church of God in Charlotte, N.C. where he resides, Herbert serves as a youth/discussion group leader, where he has preached and taught Sunday school, as well  as Wednesday night service. In addition, he has preached at Second Baptist Church in Pottstown, Pa., Destiny City Church in Salisbury, N.C.  Herbert is the youngest board member on the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Leadership Council, where he serves to lessen the costs of tuition for African American students. Moreover, Herbert serves on the pureHOPE advisory board, where his commitment to “wait until marriage” fits perfectly with PureHope’s mission to bring a Christian solution to an immoral culture.Finally, Herbert through the will of God writes weekly devotionals to combat the decreasing morality in the 18-30 age group a.k.a., “the transition gap.” This is an effort to re-introduce Jesus Christ to this spiritually starved generation. His devotionals go out to 2,000+ people and continues to grow under the Lord’s watchful eye.  He is a graduate of Purdue University with a degree in Business Management. He provides business expertise to help others start their businesses.