Learning How to Swim

As a little girl I had swimming lessons at the YMCA. Now, my brother and sister were like fish to water; as for me—I just could not learn to swim. During the process I grasped the concepts of kicking, holding my breath and not going in the deep end – for I might drown. The ability to float, backstroke or even the doggie paddle eluded my mental and physical coordination. I came to believe that I would never swim. To my surprise those lessons at the YMCA in the 1960’s taught me to swim.

For as an African American woman, I swim every day in the community of racism. The spiritual discipline of practicing patience and praying – keep me afloat. The strength of my own inner peace and the prayers of the righteous, allow me to hold my breath. The strength to kick the forces of spiritual evil, come with the grace and power of God. The life jacket I wear is made with love and forgiveness. So now I swim in the deep end knowing that “My hope is built in Jesus Christ.” Hope in the children of God, who pray, believe, receive and share the healing-restorative love of Christ.

The book of Isaiah teaches us that by the stripes of our Savior, we receive healing. We are a people that offer hope and change through love. Black, White, Brown, Red, or Yellow, the shade of skin does compare to the power of the Holy Spirit that dwells in our souls. Respect and love for ALL is the our call.  In reality, there were race riots, crosses burned on church property and racial profiling. Violence is NOT the response. Killing is NOT the response. Today some of us still swim in the same community of racism; yet we have learned overcome the muddy waters to reach the clear blue, pure anointed water of Jesus Christ.

The Holy Spirit is our life guard and each of us has learns to hold our breath and press towards the mark of the high calling. Therefore, the waters may be muddy, with rocks on the bottom, however may we choose to go to the pool of Bethesda. Let us not allow anyone block or hinder us from our healing. There is UNITY in Christ. There is PEACE in Christ. Jesus asked, “Do you want to get well?” Our answer is, “YES, Lord.” We choose to swim in pool of healing, salvation and restoration. We choose to not let hatred, bigotry or violence stand in our way of reaching Jesus. We choose to trust God and work in the vineyard with all of God’s children, to build a kingdom of believers. 

With the power of the Holy Spirit, PEACE is possible, for in our hearts, we want to be healed by your stripes.  Lord, we are now swimming in your pool, by your grace. In Jesus Name. Amen

P.S. Mom, thank-you for insisting on the swimming lessons 

Thought for the Day: Do you want to get well?

Prayer: In midst of swimming against a current, we found Christ. The Son of God, who holds our hands, the Son who loves us and in spite of us, gives each of us peace. Lord may we learn to respect, listen, learn, lean on and love one another. A truth telling love, Yes, an honest love, Yes- Lord, a love that does include violence or hate. A love rooted in Christ. Dear Lord, we want to get well. So to the Great Physician, please heal our souls and give us a unity that will calm the current and whole world will see we How Great thou Art. Amen

Lessons for the Journey

praying hands

Wisdom’s Daughters: Sistah Strength by Rev. Dr. Shirlyn H. Brown

During a week of needed Sabbath, I find myself being immersed in the power of Sistah Strength. You know the strength that we receive from our mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts and friends… That second sight, which can feel your breath before you exhale. That comfort that is there before the hurt. A voice of truth, which tells us about our self -brings the real to the surface. Sista Strength is the love that cries with joy, dances away pain, views the cracks in road, the forest for trees, the Grace that abounds, and did I note, Sistahs love us anyhow and in every way. Love wisdom like a Sistah and Wisdom will love you back.

Scripture: Proverbs 7:4 “Love wisdom like a sister; make insight a beloved member of your family.” 

Prayer for the day: Sistahs stand strong in Christ Jesus, as your worship God, honor family and offer a legacy of thanksgiving.

Hymn: Amazing Grace

 “Whose side are you on?”

The Messenger: Rev. Tracy B. Payne

Sermon Highlights
When Moses returned from Mount Sinai and saw people worshiping the golden calf and other idols, he confronted them and threw down their idols. “He stood at the entrance of the camp and said, ‘Whoever is for the LORD, come to me.’” (Exodus 32:26) The Tribe of Levi, men of the priesthood and men of integrity, chose God and stood with Moses.

Whenever we are confronted with standards and questions about our moral beliefs, we should be decisive and stand up and stand firm to our convictions. We should be men and women of high standards for the sake of our future and for our children’s future. There is a God, a spirit, and we must worship him in honor and in truth. God created us to love, worship, trust and serve him. God gives his angels charge over us. If you believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead and forgives you from your sins, rise up and take a stand. Be like the Levites. If you serve the Lord and respect him, stand up. You will fall for anything if you do not take a stand. God should be first in our lives., and we should not hide that fact just to fit in with others.

The Levites put the Lord first when they stood with Moses. Their actions proved where their hearts were. They immediately stood for God. The Levites could have denied God, but they did not. If we are on the Lord’s side our lives will show it.

Are you on the Lord’s side? Stand up like the tribe of Levi!

“Fathers Fully Persuaded!”

The Messenger: Dr. George B. Moody

Scripture: Romans 4:18-25

Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”[19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” 23 The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

When God began working with Abraham, He gave him a command and a promise: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing.” (Genesis 12:1-3)

Abraham looked at himself and realized he was almost 100 years old and that Sarah, his wife was also advanced in age. He was asked to go to Canaan,“ the Promised Land, a land he knew nothing about. Abraham was wealthy and success-ful, owning land, cattle, soldiers, and silver and gold. He had to make a choice. He looked away from him-self and chose to believe the Word of God. He was “fully persuaded” that God would make him the father of all nations, “And being fully persuaded that, what he (God) had promised, He was able also to perform.(Romans 4:21) Abraham never doubted God could keep His word. In fact, the more time that passed, the stronger Abraham’s faith became.

If you can become fully persuaded, you, too, will be powerful and successful. God was testing Abraham’s commitment and dedication. When we have assur-ance in God’s promises, we glorify His name. We then have complete conviction that God will do what He promises. Abraham did not waiver in unbelief about God’s promise. Instead, he was strengthened by his faith. Faith is the substance of things hoped hoped for! (Hebrews 11:1)

Are you fully persuaded that what God promised will come to pass?

“Is the Lady in Purple?”

The Messenger: Rev. Dr. George B. Moody, Interim Pastor

Scripture: Acts 16: 14 -15 

14 A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.

15 And when she and her household had been baptized, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.

Message Highlights:

Sunday’s sermon was a continuation of last Sunday’s message from the book of Acts which gave an accurate account of the birth and growth of the church from Jerusalem into the rest of the Roman Empire after Jesus’ ascension.

In this week’s text, Paul had a vision in which God directed him to the region of Macedonia. He and his companions (Silas and Timothy) traveled to Macedonia, where Paul addressed a church where “A certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened.” (Acts 16:14) When she and her household were baptized, she was touched so deeply that she begged him, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” (Acts 16:15) The Lord had opened her heart to listen, and she made a public commitment to him.

Later, as Paul and his companions went to prayer, they met a demon-possessed slave girl who followed them for several days. When Paul ordered the demon to come out of her, the demon immediately came out. Paul and Silas were then attacked by the slave girl’s masters, who stripped and beat them and put them in a dungeon. Around midnight, Paul and Silas began praying and singing. Suddenly, there was an earthquake, and the prison doors opened. However, Paul and Silas did not flee. Affected by the love of Paul and Silas, the jailer asked what should he do to be saved. They told him to just lean on the Lord, and you will be saved.

There is healing, deliverance, encouragement, love, and unity when we open our hearts up to the Lord like Lydia.

“When the hand of the Lord is with us!”

Rev. Dr. George B. Moody, Interim Pastor

Text: Acts 11: 1-18, 21

 Week of Sunday, May 19, 2019

Message Highlights

Pastor Moody’s sermon tells the story of God revealing to Cornelius, a Gentile, and Peter, a Jew, both faithful, praying men, his plan to remove barriers that separated Jews and Gentiles.

God spoke to Cornelius by sending an angel to reveal God’s instructions to him, which were for Cornelius to send for a man named Peter, a Jew. Cornelius accepted God’s instructions and sent his men to Joppa to bring Peter to him.

At the same time, God communicated with Peter. He sent a message to him in a dream to prepare him for his meeting with the Gentile. God told Peter to “kill and eat.” Peter told God that he was faithful to his religion and had never eaten any-thing that the Jewish law said was unclean. God wanted to change the prejudices that Peter had in his heart. He told Peter, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” The Holy Spirit taught Peter that it is sin that makes a person unclean. The laws about being ‘unclean’ and ‘clean’ were not to allow his people to think they were better than the Gentiles. Peter grew to accept the Christian, Cornelius, as a brother because the Holy Spirit had touched his heart.

We, too, serve a God who is ready to serve us and empower us. We just have to step out on faith and believe in Christ. When we pray each day and spend time in the Bible, God gives us instructions on how to live our lives to please Him. He has plenty of miracles stored away for us. If we give our soul to God, we receive way beyond what we have believed!

And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number of them believed, and turned unto the Lord.

Acts 11: 21(KJV)

“My Worship Is for Real!”

The Messenger: Minister Shawn Barnett

Text: Psalm 100

Message Highlights

In Psalm 100 there are five key words that tell us how to worship God:

Joy Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands!” We should get excited about God and shout and jump up and down during the service like we do at football games!

Gladness Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.” We should come into church like we are coming to a resurrection service!

Dependence “Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” God is our creator: He made us. We are his sheep.

Thankfulness – “Enter into his gates with thanksgiv-ing, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.” You cannot give thanks unless you are grateful and have a thankful heart.

Gratitude “For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all genera-tions.” (v. 5) There are three things for which we should be grateful: The Lord is good. His mercy is everlasting. The Lord’s truth endures forever.

Psalm 100 shows three roles of God:

  •  God is Lord.
  •  God is Creator
  •  God is Shepherd.

We should come into the church with the same spirit that we show for the Eagles winning the Super Bowl!

Worship with excitement that shows you know who God is and what God has done!

Make a Joyful noise unto the Lord. Serve the Lord with Gladness. Come into His presence with Singing!

(Psalm 100)

The Message: “But for the Joy!”

The Messenger: Rev. Dr. George B. Moody, Interim Pastor

Text: Hebrews 12:1-2

Message Highlights

Because we have so many predecessors, we should run with patience and not concede to enemies who are looking to thwart our faith journey. We have inherited a great legacy as Christians and Ezion-Mount Carmelites!

Jesus and his disciples shared the last supper. He was eager to eat the Passover meal, the bread and the wine that represented the suffering and the blood. He gave thanks for the joy that he would receive, knowing that he would be on the right side of God the Father. His mind was set on running the race, and he was willing to go through the pain. Because he focused on the joy and the possibilities that were set before him, he was able to endure the cross, set it behind him and keep looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of his faith.

If there is no pain there is no gain. Stay on your faith journey and keep your mind on winning the race. Going through the pain for the gain requires faith with work. If we stand on the promises of God and believe God’s Word over everything else, we will attain God’s promises. Sit on the right hand of God Almighty. The Word of God is true.

No cross no crown. But if you carry the cross and put in the work and believe, you will receive the crown.

“. . .Let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame…”

Hebrews 12:1-2

The Message: “The Greatest Miracle of Easter!”

The Messenger: Rev. Dr. George B. Moody, Interim Pastor

Text: Luke 24:1-12

Message Highlights:

Easter, Resurrection Sunday, is so much more than an event of the distant past; it is a new life for us and also a journey. It provides a means for us to have a deeper, richer relationship within ourselves and with God. Instead of struggling with sin and doubt, our spirituality is manifested in every interaction we have. Jesus said, “I come that you may have life and have it abundantly.”

Because we are made in the image of God, we are able to engage with him in spirit. When we receive Christ as our savior, abundant life is a continual process. We rise with Christ. The same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, called spiritual discernment, is the key to a truly abundant life.

As we learned last week, a lot happened to Jesus the week that preceded his crucifixion and resurrection. On the cross, Jesus prayed to God, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing,” and he said just these three words before he died – “It is finished.”

Each born-again believer can have the same rich, deep relationship with God when we develop a spiritual discernment and become a born-again believer. The more we pursue God, seek holiness, and strive to be more like him, the more abundant our life will be. Spiritual discernment is the key to a truly abundant life.

The “Greatest Miracle of Easter” is that God’s resurrection gave us the power to be like Christ!

“Beware of the Crowds!”

The Messenger: Rev. Albert Gaither

Text: Isaiah 50::4-9

Message Highlights:

On the Sunday before his death, Jesus traveled to Jerusalem for the last time to join with other Jews to celebrate the Passover feast. He rode in on a donkey which symbolized peace. Crowds of people spread their coats, waved branches of palms and shouted, Hosanna! The crowds were hopeful, optimistic and confident that he would lead an attack that would free them of Roman bondage, and that they would have power and authority.

When they followed him into the temple, they were confident of his victory. However, when everyone reached the temple and saw Jesus pushing the money changers out, praying in the Temples, and claiming his authority came from God, the mood of the people changed. There was harsh conflict between Jesus and Jerusalem’s religious leaders. As the week went on, attitudes changed and people realized that Jesus was not coming for rebellion against Rome. They realized that he was no longer the promised one. The crowd who praise him with palms one day, joined in the call for crucifixion a few days later. Roman soldiers arrested Jesus, and he was put on trial for claiming to be the king of the Jews. He was crucified less than a week after entering Jerusalem.

Jesus knew his purpose, and he carried it out. He faced his Jerusalem unafraid, and he did allow the crowd to change his mind even though he knew he was walking down the road to his death. Why did he do it? He did it because he is the first and the last, the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. He was willing to do that for me and for you!