Your Table is Ready

Featured

Psalm 23:5 – “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.” (NKJ)

As I’m apt to these days, I was listening to a message delivered by my pastor on my way in to work this morning. He made an interesting point of saying that we spend so much time looking for friends when our blessings are closer to our enemies. All I could think about from the time I got out of the car concerning our devotion today was the God will bless us right in the midst of our enemies, to the point of overabundance.

Living in a resort city has its ups and downs, and one of the downs can be seen as usually having to wait for a table in just about any restaurant you go into. Depending on what part of Orlando you’re in, what time of day it is, what day of the week it is, the season, and if there’s an ‘event’ outside the everyday resort city workings, you can be waiting for that buzzer to light up for over an hour if you choose to wait. I recently went out to celebrate a dear sister’s birthday, and you’d have thought that we each got some money when the hostess came and told us ‘your table is ready’.

There are seasons in your life that God hands you a buzzer, and depending on your specific test, trial, process, your attitude, your willingness to change and be changed, and any other number of factors, you can be waiting quite some time for your life to shift and go to the next level of service in the in the kingdom and blessings that God indeed has for you. While you’re waiting, just like in a restaurant setting, you’ll see others pass you by on the way to what they’ve been waiting for. Maybe you notice that some haven’t waited as long as you, and you could even witness others leaving the building. These people may have already gotten what they were came to that place to do, and it’s on to whatever is next for them. You’ll be aware of those who are waiting like you, or even some with you, decide that waiting isn’t worth their time and effort. They refuse to go through the process, and may decide there’s a quicker fix than this waiting is for them. And of course, in the midst of all of this, there will be enemies, seeking to see you fail, possibly plotting your destruction both spiritually and physically.

But, if you’re in the right place doing the right things that are assigned to you, in the right spirit with the right motivation, you can be surrounded by enemies, but there will come a moment that your buzzer will sound and the host will say ‘Your table is ready’. Not only will you walk right past the enemies that once surrounded you and thought they had you right where they wanted you for destruction, those very enemies will be made to witness the blessing, or as our text states, the table that God has prepared for you. They’ll have to stand there and watch you receive your anointing, and the overflowing blessings. That alone makes the wait for God’s plan for your life to manifest even sweeter.

©2020 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

Mind What Grows in You

Featured
Hebrews 12:15 – “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many”(NIV)
The grace of God is truly amazing when you think about it. At its essence it can be defined as God NOT giving us the judgment and punishment that we are so deserving of, but instead is God showing us kindness and forgiving mercy.
I certainly need this gift of God every minute of every day. It is a key element so that your heart and spirit aren’t fertile ground for any bitterness to take root in you. Bitterness and grace can’t abide in the same ground, so take inventory. What’s growing in your heart, your mind, your spirit? If it’s not of God, ask Him for His divine intervention to clear all that isn’t like Him, so that His grace may abound in your life.

©2020 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

Unpack

Featured

1 Peter 5:6-7 – “So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.(New Living Translation)

Today’s devotion came to me as I was doing something rather mundane – searching for something in a box that really shouldn’t be in my room any longer. Though the Apostle Peter wasn’t talking about my little raggedy box in my room, he is indeed advising the church in Rome to be humble, knowing that in the right time God would elevate them in honor. Most important in this text is for the Roman church (and now all disciples of Christ) to take all worries and cares, and give them to God. 

Now, back to my little raggedy box; this box got to me due to online shopping several months ago. I immediately unpacked not just the shipping box, but opened the box the merchandise was in to inspect my purchase, and put the item away until I needed to use it. This morning, I literally had to unpack the former shipping box to find my face cream. There’s no rhyme or reason that I should have kept this box because all it does is allow me to not just hang on to some things I need to throw away, it’s taking up space.

Today’s topic and text came to mind as I finally found what I was looking for and said to myself ‘you need to unpack this box and put this stuff where it belongs’. The box, though it has served its purpose, is just another thing I’m holding onto even though I have a place for all my things. How often do we as disciples of Christ go to God with our ‘box’ of worries, tell him all about them, and rather than leaving all the junk we unpacked in prayer, we pack those things right back up, and continue a cycle that we’ve been dealing with for longer than we should. God, through his word, assures us that he does care for us. I can only speak for me, so I know I’m guilty of this in the natural and the spiritual. I haven’t been able to resolve those worries and cares that I’ve taken to God in prayer, but dragged them right back into my daily life. 

Brethren, we are not only ill equipped for the task of running our own lives, until we fully understand that God wants us to come to him with our cares and worries, but he wants us to leave them there with him. He’s the only one who can look at all those things that we unpack before God’s throne of grace, and know what needs to happen in each case. God knew what our worries would be, and he also knows how long it’s going to take us to hand him the box and leave! Just like that little raggedy box in my room won’t ever be here again if I’d just take it to the recycling bin in the garage, our worries, our fears, and our cares have to be unpacked and left at God’s throne because he loves us. It’s going to be hard to do for people like me who just don’t want to burden others, but I’ll remind my self that I’m not bothering God, I’m simply taking him at his word. I pray that you can do the same because our Father in heaven loves us and welcomes us to let him do what only he can do.

©2020 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

 

Cause & Effect

Featured

2 Timothy 2:11-13 – “Here is a trustworthy saying: if we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” (NIV)

Cause & effect is a principle in philosophy in which an action or event produces a certain response to the action or event.

Paul’s writing to Timothy is an example of cause & effect that Christians can rely on in our relationship with God. At the end of the text though, the principle is totally undone, because even if we’re faithless, the one thing that will not change about God is his faithfulness. He cannot disown, or ‘deny his validity or authority’ because we’ve done so.

Let’s take a look at our walk with God today to see how we’re living in relation to what Paul calls ‘a trustworthy saying’ and ask if the cause & effect of our lives will cause us to be separated from God.

©2020 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

All The Steps Count

Featured

Psalm 37:23 – “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and he delights in his way.” (NKJV)

This text is one that’s often quoted when it seems like we’re right on the path to destiny, walking in the favor and blessings of the Lord, which is true.

But there’s another aspect, another facet beyond the belief that only the good steps are the ones ordered by the Lord. The scripture simply says ‘the steps’, not just the good steps. All the steps count, even the bad ones, because though we may not understand it at the time, God has a plan for each of us, and He’s sure of every step we take.

Be encouraged that every step works for our good; rest in the fact that God knows each step because He’s ordered every one of them, and they’re all designed to fulfill your God ordained purpose.

©2020 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

 

The Wait

Featured

Psalm 27:14 – “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord.” (NKJ)

We all face challenges in life, and at times we may feel overwhelmed by them. No matter how hard things may get, we must take comfort that the word of God’s instruction to wait on the Lord.

It’s in the wait that we recognize that we’re not able to make anything happen in our own wisdom, strength or power; we take comfort and find courage in knowing that the Lord will deliver us. In the wait, we receive courage, strength of heart, not only to go on, but to continue to wait patiently for our Lord in every circumstance.

©2020 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

Keep It Light

Featured
Galatians 6:9 – “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (NIV)
An attitude of optimism will make today more enjoyable. Seek out humorous thoughts, and bright spots to cause you to focus on the good the day has in it despite the challenges that may come.

©2020 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

It May Not Turn Out The Way You Want

Featured

2 Samuel 12:21-23 – “Then his servants said to him, ‘What is this that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive, but when the child died, you arose and ate food”. And he said, ‘While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said who can tell whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live? But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me’.” (NIV)

The exchange in the text today is part of the story of David and Bathsheba. The child they’d conceived together when David sent for Bathsheba while her husband was away at war was very sick. David fasted and prayed for the child to live; in fact in reading the entire text, you’ll find that his consecration was so intense the servants were afraid to tell him of the child’s death. But when he perceived the child was dead, and it was confirmed by the servants, David got up, washed and anointed himself, and ate.

King David came to terms with the fact that even though he wanted the child to live, the situation didn’t turn out the way he wanted. His servants couldn’t understand his what to make of his seemingly bizarre behavior once the child died, because they witnessed his crying out to God for the child to survive. David took the time to explain his behavior to those serving him, which as the king of Israel he didn’t have to do. 

Just think how much happier we’d be if we learned that sometimes the will of God isn’t going to be the outcome we’d prefer. There will be times that no matter how much we fast, pray, and cry out to the Lord for things to go the way we’d like them to that it won’t turn out the way we think it should. What we can learn from David is to trust and accept the will of God, move on in our purpose, and don’t be concerned about how we look to those who may be watching.

©2020 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

G.R.O.W.

Featured
G – Give your life over to God. James 4:7 reads ‘So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you’. Submitting your life to God is the first step in resisting the enemy of our soul, and beginning growth.
R – Read your Bible. There’s no way for us to know what the word of God says if we don’t read and understand our Bible for ourselves. It’s not enough to hear it read on Sunday or at a midweek service; you must develop a working knowledge of God’s word. Hosea 4:6 says ‘My people are being destroyed because they don’t know me Since you priests refuse to know me, I refuse to recognize you as my priests. Since you have forgotten the laws of your God, I will forget to bless your children’. God takes our intimate knowledge of his word so seriously that if we don’t foster the necessity of the word of God in our lives, our children will suffer for it!
O – Obey God’s word. Like any good parent, God expects us to obey in what he’s instructed us to do. James 1:22 says it this way: ‘But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves’.
W – Worship God; a writing of David, Psalm 34:1 says ‘I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly speak his praises’. God is worthy to be praised in all things, at all times because he’s our sovereign king; worship is the intimate expression of our love for our Father in heaven.
*All scripture from the New Living Translation Bible

©2020 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

Who’s Writing Your Story?

Featured

1 Corinthians 14:33 – “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” (NIV Translation)

God spoke this topic and scriptural text to me and what really intrigued me is really grasping a good understanding of the peace God wants each of us to have. This text made me look at my own life to determine who’s really writing my story; to contemplate if there’s chaos, confusion, and unrest running my life, or if I’m living in the peace authored by God.

Look at your own life, and be honest about who’s having the biggest say in your life, confusion, or peace; if need be, get back to the plan of peace that God’s authored for each life that belongs to him.

©2020 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

 

The Stage Is Set, So Play Your Role!

Featured
 
1 Corinthians 12:12-20 – For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free- and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.  For in fact the body is not one member but many.  If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body.”
I was born and raised in New York City, and though I haven’t lived there for many years, there are still things that pale in comparison to things that are uniquely New York, at least to me. I spent many weekends at the various museums the city has. I was and still am a library geek, and I spent a great deal of time at various branches, including the iconic 5th Ave. branch, where Patience & Fortitude keep watch. But the one thing I miss most (besides real pizza!) is the theater; I’ve seen a lot of great Broadway shows, seen the Rockettes perform their famous kick line almost yearly, and countless concerts over the years. To date, my very favorite show was “The King & I” featuring Yul Brynner – the stage literally looked alive to me, with so many cast members, the opulent settings and luxurious looking costumes – it was all perfect. Memories of this show and others led me to our topic and text today.
The scripture today was written to the church in Corinth by the Apostle Paul. Clearly there was some behavior that needed to be addressed, and if we take an honest look at the church today, these issues are still issues within the church. In the frantic search for “our ministry”, oftentimes people covet a particular role that simply wasn’t written for them. But we mustn’t forget that no matter what, like each member of the human body is necessary, God has set the members of his body where he wants them, where they are necessary. He literally has set the stage of each of our lives because we each have a specific role to play. I’ll be the first to admit that on any given day, at any given time, I have no idea what my role is actually. There are days when I know exactly what I’m doing, and most times I embrace that, but at other times, I’m negotiating with God about me being the right person for said role. 
If we’d each realize that we’re the unique, special, peculiar and set members of the church, we’d have less turmoil and confusion in the body of Christ. Though it may seem that some roles are more desirable than others, every single member of the body of Christ is important. Anointed vessels would be honored to serve in their set role, not the role that man is assigning them to. Just because a person can speak well publicly and convey a point does not automatically make them “pastor material”; there would be less talented singers, and more anointed worship leaders and teams. Just because someone CAN do something does not make that thing their role to play.
In theater the star of the show always has an understudy, a person who learns the role that the star has, attends rehearsals, and is ready if anything should happen that would keep the star of the show from performing. They only perform if needed, but otherwise, they’re waiting for that cue to hit the stage. Though the understudy can play a role that someone else has, it’s not their role – they weren’t chosen for the role, and if the star never misses a performance, the understudy would be just that until another chance to be the star of the show comes along.
In the body of Christ, there has to be a realization across the board, from the pulpit to the door, that when it comes to this temporal life we’ve been given the stage is already set by God. In the kingdom of God, not only are there no stars, there are no understudies either. Where you’ve been set by God within the body, occupy and operate – in short, the stage is set, so play your role!

©2020 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

Your Bill is Paid

Featured
Isaiah 53:5 – “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.” (NKJV) 
Romans 5:6-8 – “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (NKJV)
Watching the news and following the updates regarding the world pandemic COVID-19, my mind kept going to different Bible verses, particularly those that deal with miraculous healing and those that show God’s grace and mercy for the nation of Israel and the Gentiles (all who were not of the 12 tribes of Israel) who were brought into the family of God through Jesus Christ. 
Along with the medical updates on television, there are reports of businesses closing, some temporarily and many permanently. Then there’s the politics behind all of this that at times seems to take focus away from the real issues that are staring us all in the face to push one political/religious agenda or another on the American public. I was led to our text for today, even though my mind does get wrapped up in the reports of men at times, I find comfort and peace in God’s word. 
I’m here to encourage my brothers and sisters in Christ to remember that while we who were not part of the original family of God as well as our brethren who are part of the children of Israel that every single one of us, even the first born of God, had a sin bill that demanded payment. Be you Jew or Gentile, slave or free, man or woman, no amount of earthly work could pay the bill that we owed. There aren’t enough covenants, rituals, or sacrifices that would satisfy the sin bill that the chosen people of God owed. Likewise, the Gentiles were busy doing everything but thinking about this God you couldn’t see, touch or feel, so the idols and rituals they indulged in was what was right to them and they weren’t in the least concerned with the sin bill they’d wracked up. In short, everybody born of a woman needs their bill paid, but only one man born of one chosen woman could pay the sin bill and satisfy God’s requirement for mankind to be forgiven once and for all, and reconciled back to God.
There’s talk of a stimulus payment being made to Americans to assist them due to lost income in this time of quarantine. That will be a help for the bills that are currently suspended, but will still need payment once this quarantine is over, and the country begins to operate in the new normal that we’ve progressed to because of this situation. But in the midst of all of this, there’s the most important bill, our sin bill, that I want to remind you about. If you’re a child of God, and if you claim the name of Jesus Christ, understanding that no other name under heaven can save us, your bill is paid.
If you haven’t given your heart over to God, if you’ve never been introduced to the Lord Jesus Christ, the one who gave His life to pay your bill, if you’ve never been led to God, and you want to be part of God’s family, let me help you. Every person who claims salvation through the finished work of  Jesus Christ our savior on the cross has only to do as the scripture instructs, and they will be saved. Romans 10:9-10 reads: ‘If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.’ (New Living Translation)
If you made this confession for the first time reading this blog, please find a bible based church wherever you are to help you now walk out your new life in Christ successfully. This part is the first step to what will be a journey that God has prepared for you, and best of all, your bill is paid – Blessings!

©2020 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

Window Shopping

Featured

Hebrews 3:7-12 – “That is why the Holy Spirit says, ‘Today when you hear His voice, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled, when they tested me in the wilderness. There your ancestors tested and tried my patience, even though they saw my miracles for forty years. So I was angry with them, and I said, Their hearts always turn from me. They refuse to do what I tell them. So in my anger I took an oath: They will never enter my place of rest.’ Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God.” (NLT)

*First, I must thank each and every person that has waited patiently for me to be able to share what God has given me without me conjuring up something just to keep on pace. It’s been an arduous journey from 2019 til today, and again, thank you all for waiting.*

Today’s topic is one that I really had to seek out what the Lord meant by keeping the title constantly on my mind, which led to a different kind of study for me. My first reaction to the title was remembering what my mother has said for years, and I find myself saying the very same thing: “I don’t go window shopping – I don’t need any windows”. Of course when she said this to my teenage self, it was so disappointing!

The writer of this text is reminding the people of God what their ancestors suffered in the wilderness, and encouraged to not suffer the same fate. Even with all the miracles that the nation of Israel has seen, after all of the provision that Almighty God had made for them, they were window shopping in their own way. They’d come out of Egypt by the hand of God, but then turned around, like people are prone to, and started complaining. In essence, they were disbelieving God even with his proven track record. 

I’ve had to take personal inventory of my life, my walk with God, and my beliefs, because I’ve been trying to handle everything my way and on my own. After praising God for his goodness toward me, I had to admit that I suffer a lack of trust in my spiritual leaders. It’s nothing they’ve done, because they have genuine love and care for the people of God. I’ve repented because not only did I shut those who love me out of the experience, I shut them out of my victory in that situation. I clearly see where I need to change, and have charged two sisters of my heart to hold me accountable. It’s going to take a little bit to get to that state for me, but I refuse to let disbelief lead me away from God and the people He’s assigned me to.

If you can see yourself anywhere in this post, especially the scripture text, I encourage you to take inventory so that you aren’t living the life of a public success, but a private failure.

©2020 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

20/20 Hearing

Featured

Mark 10:46-52 – “Now they came to Jericho. As He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Then many warned him to be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called. Then they called the blind man, saying to him, “Be of good cheer. Rise, He is calling you.” And throwing aside his garment, he rose and came to Jesus. So Jesus answered and said to him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” The blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, that I may receive my sight.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus on the road.” (NKJV)

I started wearing reading glasses when I was seven years old, and remember that I liked going to get my eyes examined because my optometrist was such a nice man who made me feel comfortable my very first visit with him, and he was really funny. My grandmother also wore glasses, and he was our doctor until he retired, just about the time I graduated from high school. Yesterday was my optical visit for this year, and though I still only wear my glasses to read and use the electronics that have become part of my daily life, my vision has changed over time. In our text today, we see blind Bartimaeus having a change in his vision, but his change came because of 20/20 hearing.

In my study, I found that one of the definitions that Merriam-Webster has for the word ‘blind’ is sightless. Looking further, I found that ‘sight’ can be defined as ‘the process, power, or function of seeing specifically’. Thinking about our focal text today, my first thought was that Bartimaeus went from being blind to having 20/20 vision, but the Holy Spirit corrected me. Yes, Jesus healed the blind man to what we would define as the optimal visual acuity, but it was by the blind man’s 20/20 HEARING that he received his healing. 

There are some things about Bartimaeus that allude to him being born blind, and that his job was begging by the road side outside of Jericho, where many wealthy people traveled. His uniform was the attire of the blind, some studies saying that the blind had begging bowls tied around their waists that money was placed in and helped deter thieves from robbing the blind beggars. The Bible tells us that as Jesus was leaving Jericho along with His disciples and a multitude of followers, Bartimaeus heard that Jesus was passing by, he cried out for mercy, and despite the efforts to shut him up by those around him, he cried out all the more. The cries of the blind man stopped Jesus, and when he was commanded to come to Jesus, the first thing that Bartimaeus did was to cast off his blind beggar attire and follow his 20/20 hearing to the savior! Once the blind man made it to Jesus it was still his hearing that got his vision restored. 

The beauty of this story for me is that Bartimaeus didn’t see Jesus, but he knew the sound that was associated with the healer from Galilee, and that Jesus didn’t see Bartimaeus, but called him to Him because He heard the cry of one who needed Him to go into the next phase of his life. Because of the blind man’s keen hearing, he not only got his physical sight, but the text tells us that Jesus told him to ‘go his way’. The blind man then demonstrated that he also received 20/20 spiritual vision because his way was now following Jesus on the road.

As pleased as I am to be getting my physical vision fine tuned, as we leave 2019 behind, I’m already blessed with 20/20 spiritual vision and 20/20 spiritual healing as we go into the year 2020. For me, 2019 has been an unusual year – from January 1 til today, I’ve been blindsided by events that I would rather have avoided. I’ve not been my old reliable self in ministry, and that really bothered me until very recently. I was shaken into an existence that I literally started each day by saying ‘okay Jesus, I know you’ve got me, but please don’t let this day be another rough one, I’m just tired and don’t want to struggle anymore’. My vision has been restored, and my hearing sharpened by God, and I’m looking forward to what God has next for me – I pray that you all can be restored, renewed, and revived as well as we move into a new year, and the next new phase of life, fully equipped to complete our assignments and glorify God through it all.

©2019 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

Featured

Happy Thanksgiving

Good morning and Happy Thanksgiving to all who read and support Ansonia’s Alabaster Box. I’ve been in a place that writing was suspended, and I thank God that I’ve made it through to be where God would have me writing and sharing with all of you daily. God bless each and every one of you for your care and concern over the time of my “silence”, especially my sister Cindi West aka godstillspeakstoday14. Thank you for your prayers, I really felt them at the most needed time; I love you to life!

Take time today to enjoy and love on your family and friends – social media has made it easier to reach out to those that I love and am concerned with both near and far, and if you have the same opportunity, I’d say use it for the good that can be done with it. 

Happy Thanksgiving, and see you next week to close this year out strong and enter into 2020 together, and occupy until the Lord Jesus Christ returns for all of us!

Sincerely,

Ansonia Hixon aka Ms. Morning Glory

A Fixed Fight

Featured

2 Corinthians 10:4 – “We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments.” (NLT)

I woke up this morning thinking about what the Lord would have me to share with His people today, and as usual, I remained clueless until I got to the verse He would stop me and have me study. 

There are lots of worldly weapons, and I admit that as a huge fan of G.O.T., a big part of why the series appealed to me was the creative ways they fought to the death without missiles, guns, drones, or whatever else our era has to wage war. In this verse, I was reminded that there is indeed a war going on, and that’s important for believers to remember. There are times in our lives that we feel like it’s an unending, uphill battle with the enemy of our souls; my life all of 2019 has been one thing after another and some days, I just took the “L” and kept it moving. The trials we face can be so intense that the children of God can actually forget that though it is a continuous fight that is tiring and disheartening at times, we’re really in a fixed fight. 

I’m not a boxing fan, but I do know the names of some champions: Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Muhammad Ali, Oscar De La Hoya, Mike Tyson, Floyd Mayweather, and Manny Pacquiao to name a few. From what I understand, throwing or fixing a fight is something akin to treason in the world of professional pugilism, but real or imagined, it happens, even with some of the greats that are listed above. The only way I’d step into a ring with any champion boxer, I’d have to know that I wouldn’t get hurt, the fight was fixed, and I’d be compensated handsomely for just showing up. 

Spiritually speaking, that’s exactly what we, the children of God, do in every single divinely ordained bout we’re in with the devil. I don’t care how spiritually deep and powerful one claims to be, if they enter into a fight with the enemy that God didn’t ordain for them to fight, the devil is going to beat them like a slave until God stops the whole fight. For anyone to say they can beat our spiritual enemy on their own is a lie; if that were so, there would never have been a fall in the Garden of Eden, nor would Jesus Christ have had to leave heaven, be born of a woman, have a job, be convicted in a kangaroo court, be crucified, go to the innermost parts of the earth and set the captives free, defeat death, hell and the grave to reconcile God and mankind, and ultimately go back to His throne, having completed HIS fixed fight!

Those of the family of God must understand that it doesn’t always seem fair that we’re constantly warring, but as long as our fight promoter/trainer/referee, God Himself has set us up, then it’s a fixed fight in our favor. No battle that we go through can be won in our carnal strength; be comforted in knowing that our God fights for us, and defeats our enemies right before us. So don’t give up, because no matter how long, how intense, or how violent the battle you’re in might seem, it’s a fixed fight and all we do is win! 

©2019 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

….With Something to Say

Featured

John 16:12-13 – “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” (NKJ)

Unbeknownst to many, I happen to like country music. As in all the genres I like, I have favorite artists for various reasons; many of the songs have a story to tell that anybody can relate to, and unique way of telling it. My last post, “All Alone” is the first part of a song by Bonnie Raitt, and today’s title completes that song title. I don’t know about you, but there were some arguments I had with people that I got the best responses for AFTER the argument was over!

Today’s text has nothing to do with an argument, but Jesus Christ is clear in teaching that though He knows He can’t reveal all to the disciples, the Holy Spirit will be our help in guiding us into all truth. The true beauty of this guidance is that the Holy Spirit won’t speak on any authority but that of God the Father; the Holy Spirit, just like Jesus Christ, does the will of God concerning mankind in the earth. Neither work in their own authority; neither speaks of themselves, for they are the representatives of God in those that are His. 

The important thing we must remember is that we shouldn’t speak on or about everything because we’re not experts or have experience in all things. We need to speak at the prompting of God through the Holy Spirit, for by doing so, we’ll not be speaking our truth, our opinion, or our thoughts. Because the Holy Spirit works in the authority of God and tells us those things that are only from God, when we follow His prompting, we may will never speak outside of what God will have us to say. As a child of God, rest in the assurance that we’ll never be alone with something to say.

©2019 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

All Alone…..

Featured

John 16:36 – “But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me.”

Let me start by thanking each and every person that supports this blog by following/reading daily – since May, my life has been flipped to “upside down” mode, and I just haven’t been motivated to write. BUT my fight is back, so I thank you all!

If you’ve been riding with me for a minute, you already know that God downloads messages in me in the strangest ways, and it’s usually about my life. Well, today’s is no different. Unbeknownst to many, I have a liking for country music, and this message hit as I was enjoying one of my faves Ms. Bonnie Raitt. As the children of God, we know that even in moments where we may feel all alone, we’re never alone. But this verse is spoken by Jesus Christ himself, and though the reality that we’re never alone, we get to see our Savior telling those who were of his inner circle that those very people would leave Him alone in His hour of need, but it’s alright, because He always has His father, that He is never alone.

Some may think ‘why is that encouraging’? I’m glad you asked! Jesus is showing us before He even goes to the cross for us that though in the physical, He will actually be left alone by all who follow Him but one (see John 19). He has it from the greatest source ever that the reason He was born won’t be witnessed fully but by one young man who one of the twelve disciples. But, He also lets them know that He’s never alone, that the Father who sent Him on this divine mission of bridging the gap between God and man is always with Him, no matter how the circumstances would indicate otherwise. 

Because we are the recipients of the benefit of reconciliation between God and man that Jesus Christ paid for, we too can assuredly proclaim that even in our moments that seem like there’s nobody caring about the hell we’re living through, we, like Jesus, are never all alone. Once we claim salvation, we too can say that we are never all alone; our God is a present help, and He will never leave nor forsake us.

So while the enemy of our souls spews lies in our ears while we’re at our lowest, saying God didn’t call us, God has left us and all the other lies he tells, we must know, believe, and speak aloud the promises of God just like our savior Jesus Christ spoke to this lying devil while He was led by the Spirit and fasted forty days (see Luke 4). Now, if the devil rolled up on Jesus like he was going to take him out, what do you think he’s going to try on the children of God? The very same thing; and like our savior Jesus Christ, we walk in the power and authority of God, led by the Spirit to shut down the lies of the enemy the same way Jesus did – by the word of God! Never forget that no matter what you’re dealing with, no matter how fiery the trial we find ourselves going through, we are never, ever all alone.

©2019 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

 

None Greater

Featured

John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (NKJ)

Love’s been on my mind a lot lately, maybe because I watch shows whose main goal is either to get people married, or at least affianced and married in an allotted amount of time. Truth be told, I initially never wanted to be married or have children, but in the last few years I’ve changed my mind concerning marriage. I’m abundantly blessed to have family, both natural and spiritual, and friends that make my life full, but I’m at the point where I’m wanting to not just have a wedding, but to have a marriage. On my walk this morning, today’s focal text came to mind.

This text is the end of the conversation Jesus is having with Nicodemus, a Pharisee, concerning being born again. Like millions of others, I’ve heard this passage of scripture taught, preached, sung and any other form of presentation the church uses to convey the very foundation of the relationship between God and man, but today was different for me. 

God loves us so much, and we see here Jesus Christ, the only sacrifice that would satisfy the sin debt that man owed God, teaching this one learned man about that love is mind-blowing! Now I’m not going to pretend that I’m okay with being unmarried all of my life, because that is a complete lie; but to know and understand as best as our finite minds can, this type of love Jesus speaks of is life changing. In today’s world, the word ‘love’ is thrown around like confetti at a parade. Like countless others, I’ve got a loving family and friends that love me and I love them right back, but when I put that love up against the love that God has for me, so much so that He sacrificed His only son to repair the breach between Him and mankind, we’re blessed to get a glimpse of God’s great love for us.

When I think about this love, there is none greater, I don’t care where you look. This love is a gift, it is eternal; this love is sacrificial, and we’re created in the image of this same loving God. Why do I point that out? Because we should seek to be like God our Father, demonstrating our love for our fellow man; but most important,  we should have no greater love for any person, place or thing than our love for God; it’s not the least we can do, it’s the best we can do.

©2019 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

Wait For It……

Featured
Matthew 13:24-30 – “Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.” (NKJ)
In the world we now live in, the word “wait” is a curse word to some. News, real or fake, is available at the click of a button; for some, all food is fast, not just at restaurants, because microwaves, air fryers and the new wave of what were formerly slow cookers are now instant. Not only can we send and/or receive money with the swipe on a phone screen, you don’t even need a debit card anymore to complete bank transactions or cash to pay for purchases. Even dating and relationships must be right now, with reality shows that give you 90 days to decide to marry a complete stranger either here or in a foreign country. I miss the days of actual conversation between people face to face or on the telephone speaking, not texting, but hey, I’m from the old school, and I’m okay with it! This text today makes me think of something my elders used to say when I was a kid: stop being in such a hurry, we only get one day at a time for a reason. At the time, it sounded like an excuse the adults used to keep kids from having fun and growing up, but now that I’m older, I treasure the fact that I learned to wait, not at school, not on on the playground, not within the confines of a correctional institution, but at home, where I was trained to think, wait, and act at the appropriate times.
This scripture is a parable Jesus is using to teach His disciples concerning how the kingdom of God works in terms that their largely agricultural lifestyle understood in an earthly sense. I’m in the midst of a life shift, and I’m in a place where I can’t do anything but wait, because I have no other directive from God right now, so I continue to do what He last told me to do. In this text, Jesus makes this waiting period required by God of His people to wait on His timing to separate the good from the bad, because in the mind of His children, we’d want to pull everything up just to do away with a portion of what is useless. 
As the children of God we’ve got to master the wait; it’s a must. If we who have been entrusted to caring for all those that God has put in our charge, be it as someone operating in the five fold ministry gifts, as worshipers, as carriers of the light of the gospel into this lost and dying world, we’re obligated to never harm, but to help. There will be times that it seems crazy for us to wait on what looks useless to kill what would be fruitful if we got rid of the bad things. It’s at this time that it’s most important to wait on God’s timing, because we don’t see it the way God sees. We can look at people within the kingdom, and come to an incorrect assessment of their spiritual walk, condemn them, making ourselves responsible for the death of what may have been good. It takes time for the truly useless, the truly evil that have been mixed in with those trying to grow in God for the sake of His kingdom to be exposed.
We’re responsible to simply watch over the things of God, because once the evil harvest has come to full bloom, it’s easily identifiable, as is the good harvest. When we wait on God’s time, we are assured a full harvest of good in His kingdom all the while knowing that there will be some that will fall away and be burned up at the judgement. So don’t worry about the land, don’t worry about the harvest – just do that which has been assigned to you and if it looks like evil is winning, if it seems that doing the right thing is backfiring every single time, follow the owner of the land’s instruction and just wait for it.

©2019 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

Sweet Talker

Featured

Proverbs 16:24 – “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.” (NKJ) 

There’s an old expression that says ‘you catch more flies with honey than vinegar’; our text today lends credence to that, telling us that pleasant words are sweetness and health to our very being.

Think about how you feel when being spoken to pleasantly; it makes you feel good, can make a bad day better, and bring a smile to your face. When we think about how we feel being spoken to in such a manner, then that should make us want to become sweet talkers.

Speak kindly to others, compliment sincerely, and bless others freely. Sweet talk is for more than romance; we can use it to make our day and the day of someone else that much better.

©2019 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

Reject Anxiety

Featured

1 Peter 5:6-7 – “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (NIV) 

One definition of “anxiety” given by Webster’s is ‘fearful concern or interest’. Personally, I confess that I’ve been in an anxious state of mind since about January of this year, right after I was laid off from my job; up until about March, I wasn’t able to shake off this anxiety, no matter how I tried.

But as I outlasted different trials, I became better at identifying those things that would take me from one extreme to another, like going from not being able to sleep to sleeping 16 to 20 hours a day. I finally realized my biggest  problem: that I wasn’t actually humbling myself and giving those things causing me spiritual and physical disruption to God. 

As of right now, I reject the anxiety that’s loomed over me, and instead of playing god and attempting to fix all my own problems, I’m going to rest in God and allow Him to fulfill the promise of His word to lift me up and care for me. I’m sure there’s another in the crowd that can relate to this, and if you’re honest, you’ll join me in rejecting the anxiety that seeks to overtake us. We serve a faithful God who promises to care for us and take care of us, so let’s be about our Father’s business, and let God be God.

©2019 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

Don’t Quit, Change Is Coming!

Featured
Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 – “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to gain, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of piece.” (NKJ)
Today begins my favorite season of the year: SUMMER!!! I’m a native NYC girl, and there was nothing like knowing that there wouldn’t be a snow storm for at least three months. As I was posting “Happy Summer” on my social media pages, I started to think about the seasons I’ve gone through, and the season I’m in. I’ll be honest: though I understand that God has a reason for me in this season, but I hate this season. But like the seasons we experience in nature, so are the seasons in our lives, and I cling to the knowledge that this season will pass.
If you’re in a time that it seems like everything is going your way, enjoy every bit of it, because you’re reaping the benefits that were sown in the seasons you probably didn’t enjoy so much and wished away. We serve a God who isn’t frivolous, but one who is wise and sovereign, who isn’t moved by our emotional tantrums and spiritual craziness during the hard seasons. This all wise God we serve assures us through His Holy Bible that for every thing under the sun, there is a season; simply put, we can’t focus on the bad, or get comfortable in the good in our lives. We as the children of God would benefit greatly if we just don’t quit, because change is coming – be encouraged.

©2019 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

God Intentions

Featured
Genesis 50:20 – “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” (NLT)
Our focal text today is one that I’m personally holding onto in this season for dear life. It seems that the entire year has been challenging in regard to my health, finances, employment status, and the sudden death of beloved family members and friends.  
The Bible verse we’re looking at today occurs in the telling of Joseph’s brothers finally finding out that Joseph was not only alive, but was in a position of power second only to the king of Egypt. Joseph’s dream had landed him in a few adverse situations, all of which had the potential to kill him before he got to the fulfillment of the dream coming to pass. His brothers had only one intention when dealing with their brother the dreamer – get rid of him. Had it not been for his brother Reuben’s objection to killing him, they would have killed him. Reuben was going to come back alone to the pit they cast Joseph into to rescue him. Unbeknownst to Reuben, his brothers had sold Joseph to some Midianite merchants (See Genesis 37). 
Joseph’s situation is one that should encourage us to hold on to our faith in our Father God in every experience we have. No matter what Joseph went through, he never forgot God, and didn’t waver in his faith. As I look back over my life, I’m starting to understand that the intentions (MW definition: what one intends to do or bring about) that the enemy has for my life will never will never nullify God’s intentions for my life. Even the good intentions that I may declare and perhaps complete in my life will not override the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning me. This is more for me than it is for anybody today, but feel free to skip looking around us and allowing our faith to be shaken, because we have the assurance that the only intentions that ultimately prevail are God intentions.

©2019 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

Get Out of Their Bed!

Featured

Hebrews 13:4 –  “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” (NKJ)

There are many online references that I utilize in studying the word of God, and in my study just a little while ago, my eye was drawn to a picture on the site I happened to be using. It was a picture of a couple in bed that posed the question of what was acceptable concerning married sex. This isn’t what I thought I was writing about today, so let’s all just holler “PLOT TWIST!” and see this one through.

The Bible is clear in this passage about the fate of those who have an active sex life without the requirement of marriage. God’s word reminds us time and again that marriage is honorable, and He even calls the church the bride of Christ. So let’s delve into what a former pastor of mine calls one of the three things the church wants as much as they can get but is most squeamish about discussing, and this one thing is sex (the other two: Power & Money).

Growing up, my family had roots in the Baptist church, and though my mother didn’t require us to be in church while I was growing up, I attended a Catholic high school where it was a requirement for every student to take religion classes every year. It was this experience that made me have more questions than answers concerning marriage and sex, mainly because all they kept telling us is what we couldn’t do. That’s not a criticism, because it made me think and ask questions, which kinda drove one particular priest who was an instructor crazy. My family dynamic is one that it was mainly the older relatives that were married with a few of my younger cousins being married, but more of them being parents without the benefit of marriage. I have a wonderful family that I’m grateful for because no matter what, we love each other, and the personal choices of others are regarded as such: If you like it, I love it!

I received salvation in the Pentecostal denomination, and a good while after I accepted my call to ministry I became celibate. I’m sure many reading this have heard messages admonishing the singles against fornication and adulterous situations, and I’ve heard even more speaking on what’s “legal sex” in marriage. I’ll be honest, I’ve always believed that what folks do in their bed is their business no matter what I think about it – simply put, I’m only in MY bed.

I strongly believe that as long as the husband and wife agree and consent to whatever they do, what business is it of someone else to preach/teach/talk against anything married people do? Before you say it, I do realize that there are some acts that can only be described as depraved regarding sex, not because they’re not widely accepted, it’s that they might be illegal, and/or more than likely can end up damaging someone for life. But none of this is about what we believe, but about what God says.

The intimacy a man and woman share as married people is just that: intimate, of a very private, personal nature. God says that marriage is honorable among all, and even though The Bible specifically mentions that adulterers and fornicators will be judged by God, it says nothing against what goes on in the undefiled marriage bed. That said, be you preacher, pastor, apostle, evangelist, teacher, prophet or the church gossip, when it comes to anybody throwing stones at and judging married couples I only have this word of advice for you: Get out of those people’s bed and mind your business!

©2019 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

A Great Love

Featured

Romans 5:8 – “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (NLT)

This past weekend I had the pleasure of serving at the reception celebrating my pastor’s parents renewing their marital vows after fifty years of marriage. It was only a week before that I’d seen some pictures they’d taken long before they were married, parents, or grandparents, and I learned then that my pastor’s mom had never had another boyfriend, just the man she married. I remember her telling me and one of her granddaughters some things about their courting days, and how she smiled and literally glowed talking about their lives thus far. She didn’t try to make it seem as though all things were perfect, but that it was worth it to them to work through the bad times and enjoy the good. I thought about that as the happy couple entered into the reception area while the song “My Girl” by The Temptations played; I caught a glimpse of the groom as he looked at his beautiful bride as if he were seeing her for the first time and realizing this beautiful woman was truly his girl. I admit that as I drove home later that day that I felt some type of way, because I haven’t had fifty dates let alone fifty years of  real romantic love; no pressure there God, but could you hurry ‘him’ finding me?

That whole day was wonderful to witness, but even with all the love in the room between the bride and groom, their children and various loved ones there is no denying what our focal text calls a great love. It’s this great love that caused God to sacrifice His only begotten Son for the sake of fallen mankind being reconciled to Him; it’s this great love that caused Jesus Christ to go to the cross for those who didn’t know what they were doing. So even though I’m not someone’s great love just yet, I’m happy that God showed His love for all of us to make sure that we know we that are His get all the benefits of God’s great love. An added perk for me: I am truly His girl, and that’s always good enough!

©2019 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

Your Day Will Come

Featured

2 Samuel 9:1 – “One day David asked, “Is anyone in Saul’s family still alive—anyone to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” (NLT)

In today’s focal text David is king, and for the first time in a very long time, he doesn’t have to worry about Saul pursuing him in order to kill him. If you’re not familiar with the scripture both Saul and his son Jonathan, who was more of a brother to David than any of his natural brothers, are dead. As in most monarchies, children inherit the kingship simply because they’re in the bloodline, not because they are qualified to rule or even want the job.

Though David had every right to withhold any kindness to anyone of the house of Saul, it was his brotherly relationship with Jonathan that caused him to even think of blessing anyone related to Jonathan. Jonathan had a son named Mephibosheth who was living in Lo-Debar in exile following the death of his father and grandfather. Mephibosheth was cared for by a nurse who was fleeing to safety with Mephibosheth, but she dropped him and he was crippled for life. He would never be fit to lead his troops in battle or any other activity that required him to be able to move on his own. Not knowing of the brotherly affection his father shared with the king known as a ‘bloody man of war’ probably also played a part in his remaining in exile, living below what his station in life should have been.

Mephibosheth never imagined going back to the palatial life he’d been born into, and when he was summoned by king David, he bowed before him, referring to himself as a dead dog; he had no idea that his day had come. This day was Mephibosheth’s day of blessing, restoration, and elevation. David showed kindness to him, and put him back in his station as the king’s son.

This passage of scripture encourages me at a time that I feel like my life is meaningless, that me being harmed rather than protected by those whose charge I was in combined with my own stupid mistakes and bad decisions is my lot in life. But God, in His infinite wisdom, reminded me today that my story isn’t over because despite all else, I believe He watches over me. I had to admit that I’ve recently reasoned to myself only that maybe my real blessings are in heaven, and I just need to get through this life as best I can and stop reaching for the stars, just stay focused on heaven. But just this morning, I kept hearing our title since about 3 am when I woke and couldn’t sleep. In my devotion time, I apologized to God for doing that, and am regrouping so that I don’t miss my moment. Be encouraged, because just like Mephibosheth and countless others, my day, your day, our day will come, so when it’s your time, take your place, stand in the spotlight, and live as God has promised you will on this side of heaven.

©2019 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

Missing Person

Featured

John 4:23 – “But the time is coming, indeed it’s here now, when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way.” (NLT) 

When I worked at a theme park one thing that I saw every time I ventured out into the parks was people looking for people they’ve somehow lost track of in the course of their day. Many times they were texting the missing party, or in the cases when it’s an adult looking for a child, were looking around with a somewhat panicked expression depending on the age of the missing party. 

In this passage of scripture, Jesus has met the infamous ‘woman at the well’, and lets not just her, but all of us know what God is looking for concerning worship. The woman had made a statement regarding when and where ‘her people’ have worshiped, and Jesus gets her straight with this passage. 

So many times, we in the body of Christ worship according to the ways of those who went before us, and that’s not always a bad thing. But someone like me, who didn’t grow up in church and came to Christ as an adult, there are some things that we do in the body of Christ that have nothing to do with really worshiping God, but instead it honors the useless traditions of men. For instance, let’s look at the taking of communion.

The word of God says that as often as we take communion we do it in remembrance of Jesus Christ, showing the Lord’s death until he comes again. NOWHERE in the bible does it say that: a) Communion has to take place on 1st Sunday of the month, b) you have to wear white, or c) the elements can only be handled by males, but yet, this is how communion is done in a large percentage of the body of Christ. We’re not being taught that we mustn’t take communion in any spiritual state, that we must confess our sin before God, lest we’re drinking damnation to ourselves (See 1 Corinthians 11). 

So it is with worship as well. There’s so much disagreement in the body of Christ as a whole about how we worship, when we worship, what songs are sung, how long they’re sung, who sings them, and on and on and on, and all God is searching for is those who worship Him in spirit and in truth. We are to worship God every day, not just on church days and our worship is to be born out of our personal, intimate relationship with God through our prayer and study time. If you’ve ever experienced this, you know that when we get together to praise and worship, it’s simply an outward corporate expression of our private expression of our worship life. There are people I know who make sure they get to church after praise and worship, and it finally became clear to me why this is done in some cases – because they can’t possibly express in church what they don’t express any other time. 

So, though it sounds good, if you live a Christian life and claim Jesus as Lord, if God is looking for your worship, that’s not a good thing, because you’re either not worshiping, or you’re not worshiping in spirit and in truth – assess for yourselves, and change if you must.

©2019 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

 

Stability

Featured

James 1:5-8 – “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (NKJ) 

Stability is one of the things that can differ from person to person, because what one person needs to be stable for their lives to have equilibrium can be completely different from others. 

As I was studying this morning, I was actually in the book of Ezra, and as I thought to write concerning one topic, the Holy Ghost took me to this text. As I read the familiar passage in different translations, the word ‘unstable’ kept popping off the page at me. In the midst of that, I got a text from a dear sister in Dallas, and as we were texting about goofy stuff as we often do, the conversation took a turn, and she wrote ‘this might sound weird, but what is the thing you’re seeking direction/clarity from God on?’ I immediately answered ‘my finances’ because for me, when my money isn’t right, it affects my whole life, spiritually and physically, in an unhealthy way. Some will misquote scripture and say money is the root of all evil, but I know The Bible, and God has it written that money answers all things. For me, money is stability, because I know the lack of it has caused great instability in my life in times past, and I’m just too old to be facing certain things. 

So I applied the text to my life, and asked ‘have you asked God for wisdom concerning your finances?’; I’ve got to say that I have JUST gotten to this place, because like many others, I thought if I just tithed and gave offerings, and showed up to church and served that God would make everything right – but cars have been repossessed, jobs have been lost, evictions have happened, and I’ve lived in lack right in the midst of doing all of that. I’ve believed God, and still lost, but God is still God, and in the end, we who are His win, but honestly speaking, that isn’t a comfort when you see your belongings in the street, or are cleaning out the car you saved for so that the repo man can get on to the next assignment of his day. 

What gives our lives stability in the natural doesn’t have to be the same, but what will give us the stability to stand in the worst of times is when we’ve sought God for the wisdom that He waits for us to ask Him for. The Bible tells us that if we just ask God, He’ll give us wisdom liberally, freely, in abundance, but we must ask in faith. My faith has grown immensely in the last 3 years, because it had been stunted, almost killed over the ten years prior to my moving to the ministry I now belong to. May you seek God in faith for the wisdom needed to not just live, but to live the abundant life worthy of the death Christ died to pay for.

©2019 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

To See the Lord

Featured

Hebrews 12:14 – “ Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.” (NLT) 

The word of God clearly assures us that without living a holy life, none will see the Lord. We’re required to live a life according to the will and word of God, a holy life. 

Making an effort to live in peace with everyone can be tiresome, and at times seems impossible. The Bible is clear that peace with men is part of that same holy life that’s required of us.

We who belong to the family of God must seek the Lord, and  learn the heart of God concerning how we are to live holy, because living holy is not natural, it is spiritual.  We’ll all have stumbles, mess-ups, and speaking for myself, will voluntarily “take the ‘L'” more than we want to admit, but it’s part of the process of living as the children of God. Simply put, living holy, according to the word of God, leads us to our ultimate goal for all eternity, which is to see the Lord.

©2019 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

A Mother From Start to Finish

Featured

Luke 2:34-35  “Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: ‘This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that would be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many will be revealed. And a sword shall pierce your own soul too.” (NIV)

John 19:25 – “Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.” (NIV)

 God gave us an important gift when He gave us mothers. Today’s texts give us a look at the mother of our Lord, from start to finish in an earthly sense.

It shows how through blessings, through good times, and bad, we’re truly blessed if we have a mother that stands with us, loves us, nurtures us, and prays for us. She’s the first voice we know, the one who kisses the boo-boo’s and makes things so much better that no matter how old we get, when a ‘boo-boo’ happens, we want mama!

She shapes our world, teaches us love, grace, sharing, and mercy – she’s God’s representative in the earth of His softer side. But she can, if she’s like my mom, also represent the discipline of God. She’s there for the moments we make her proud, and those moments she’d rather not live through, but she loves you through it all regardless.

To all the mamas, grandmas, spiritual moms, aunties, and stand-in moms, may God bless you this Mother’s Day and every day; and for those who are remembering mama, I pray your memories are sweet, that you can smile and thank God for the time you had with the one He sent just for you.

©2019 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

A Praying Spirit

Featured

I Thessalonians 5:17 – “Pray without ceasing.” (KJV) 

Today’s verse on first glance seems impossible. That’s because people tend to think of prayer as a bodily posture rather than a heart posture. 

In our busy lives, there’s no way we can literally stay on our knees in prayer before God all day long. Instead, we have to cultivate a praying spirit, where prayer is as constant and reflexive as breathing for us.

So we may not kneel and pray, but our hearts are bowed before the God who hears the very thoughts of that same heart that is constantly seeking to speak to and hear from Him. 

A life lived without prayer is rough, but I’ve learned that a life lived without a praying spirit is impossible for the believer. We must constantly not just talk to God in prayer, but it’s imperative that we listen for, hear, and follow the instructions we get from God in prayer.

©2019 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

These Things

Featured

Philippians 4:8 –9 – “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is  anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.” (NKJ) 

In our daily life, there are more than enough negative images that can either cause you to pray and continue to believe that God is in control, or  ruin your day because you’re not focused on the promises of God as much as you are the state of the world. 

The apostle Paul writes to the Philippian church, and tells them what to focus on. It doesn’t mean that as Christians we are to be unaware or unwise to what is going on in our world, for that would simply be the equivalent of sticking our head in the sand, pretending everything is wonderful. What he admonishes us to do in this text is to find those things that are worth our thinking about, and those things that our spiritual leaders exemplify in the lives they live and preach about, and let those things occupy your mind space. 

Don’t dwell on evil, don’t dwell on the bad, but deal with it, and get your mind back to the positive focus that God needs it to be, so that we can represent the true and living God properly to a lost and dying world. After all is said and done, pray about everything, worry about nothing, and think on these things. It’s these things that will win souls to Christ, it’s these things that will be what strengthen the body of Christ, and these things will be what moves the kingdom minded into position to be what our Lord has ordained us to be for such a time as this.

©2019 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

An Example to Follow

Featured

2 Thessalonians 3: 6-12 – “And now, dear brothers and sisters, we give you this command in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ: stay away from all believers who live idle lives and don’t follow the tradition they received from us. For you know that you ought to imitate us. We were not idle when we were with you. We never accepted food from anyone without paying for it. We worked hard day and night so we would not be a burden to any of you. We certainly had the right to ask you to feed us, but we wanted to give you an example to follow. Even while we were with you, we gave you this command: ‘Those unwilling to work will not get to eat.’ Yet we hear that some of you are living idle lives, refusing to work and meddling in other people’s business. We command such people and urge them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and work to earn their own living.” (NLT) 

As disciples of Jesus Christ, He is our ultimate example to follow. But God’s given us earthly leaders in the form of those that he’s given to the body of Christ as pastors, apostles, prophets, evangelists and teachers that are to lead us in godly living. He’s made them, as the apostle Paul writes to the church in Thessalonica writes, an example to follow. 

In Paul’s writing, today’s title almost jumped off the page at me as I studied the text. Many of us who are Christians may have experienced or even witnessed people who are in charge, but they aren’t anointed leaders and not a good example of the behavior the body of Christ is an example to follow. The apostle is admonishing those in the faith to stay away from idle believers. Those who find no need to work for themselves but instead expect to be supported solely by those they serve are pointed out because they’re the exact opposite of an example to follow. It’s been my own experience that idle believers are not born, they’re made, many times by following the example of their idle leaders. 

This made me start thinking about what type of a believer I am, what type of life I’m living, and most importantly, what type of example I am to follow as I’m in leadership training. I received salvation as an adult, and when I did, I felt like I had to live a life to make the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross worth it. I’ve never been a half-hearted person, I’m either all in on a thing, or all out; I can’t stand the middle ground for too long. That line of thinking is a double edged sword at times, and causes me to make some impulsive decisions that have ended up being epic failures, but I’m learning. 

It bothers me to see something left undone if I could have done it. I try not to impose on anyone, and would rather go without something, and would rather go hungry than depend on someone else to feed me when I’m fully able to function and do for myself. Like many reading this, I don’t always want to go to work, but I know I need to work to take care of myself. Concerning being a servant in the Lord’s house, it almost brings me to tears to think that I wasted almost nine years of my life not serving in the first church that I attended when I moved to Florida, but God shows me that I really did serve HIM, regardless of the obstacles I chose to endure out of a misguided sense of loyalty. 

I was blessed to have the foundation of my Christian life laid by leaders who taught me to follow them as they followed Christ. Did they make mistakes? Certainly, because they are merely human. The fact that they owned up to them and corrected them made them examples to follow. Just like the world at large, Christendom suffers from entitlement syndrome more than godly repentance; may we become Christians that stops this behavior. I’m blessed in the examples I have to follow in my current leadership, because they lead by example. They serve in every capacity possible, from greeting to ushering to teaching the youth, not simply what their title and five-fold ministry calling requires of them. 

I pray that all reading this can find themselves among those that are not idle believers, and even more that their leaders aren’t idle believers. I pray that those who are supposed to watch for your souls are indeed examples to follow as outlined in the word of God. If they aren’t, pray for them, that they wouldn’t miss the opportunity to make disciples after Christ rather than building their own little kingdoms within the body of Christ, creating spoiled monsters rather than doing real ministry to convert a lost and dying world to the savior Jesus Christ. I pray that these leaders see the benefit of affecting the world for God and changing a generation for His glory and not their own.

©2019 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

Spiritual Profanity

Featured

Leviticus 10:1-3 – “Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. So fire went out from the Lord and devoured them, and they died before the Lord. And Moses said it to Aaron, ‘This is what the Lord spoke, saying: ‘By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; and before all the people I must be glorified.’ So Aaron held his peace.” (NKJ) 

After studying this text in different translations, I settled on this one because the word ‘profane’ sent me back to study it. The full definition of it is: ‘To treat (something sacred) with abuse, irreverence, or contempt: desecrate’; ‘To debase by a wrong, unworthy, or vulgar use’. Many times, when I think of profanity, it’s usually language that I link the word to, but the first definition of this word is so fitting in our text today. 

There were two sons of Aaron, the first of the Levitical priests in Israel, Nadab and Abihu, and they were two who had what we’d call ‘entitlement issues’ today. They had no respect for the things of God, but because they were the sons of the priest, they became part of the priesthood. In this passage of scripture, we find that these priests burned incense they had no authority to burn. They felt they could offer up sacrifices whenever and however they wanted, but the same fire that was supposed to be holy, burning on the altar of God, became strange fire when used in the spiritual profanity they exhibited. The end result was two dead priests, because God isn’t under obligation to accept any old kind of offering that we bring before Him. 

We must always remember that our God is holy, and He will not accept what we choose to offer Him, but what is required by that holiness. To those that are the spiritual leaders among us, heed this instruction. Though we’re not offering incense and burnt offerings unto God, the sacrifices made must be as God has instructed, not how we would want to present it. This is the same mentality that prompted Cain to kill Abel, because he wanted to give his offering to God the way he desired, not the offering God required of him. When leaders follow God and show reverence for his holiness rather than spiritual profanity, then those being led will glorify and reverence our God as well. Otherwise, there will be the meting out of the promised punishment as a result.

©2019 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

Issues

Featured

Mark 5:25-29 – “And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, and had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, when she heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. For she said, ‘If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.’  And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.” (KJV) 

Let’s just get this out of the way: I’ve got issues.  As many times as I’ve heard this particular miracle preached, I could never totally relate to this nameless woman mainly because my issues have nothing to do with me slowly hemorrhaging to death. But as I continued to read and think on this text, I came to two conclusions: we all have issues, and if left unchecked, those issues will eventually cost us our natural, spiritual, emotional, and/or mental life.

The ‘certain’ woman in this text did the exact same thing that we’re all subject to doing in times of distress in our lives – she was trying to fix things herself. The Bible tells us that she had spent all her money going to physicians over twelve arduous years. All she got out of her self-help attempts were not only had she gone broke, she hadn’t gotten any better. The Bible never alludes to her ethnicity or religious beliefs; it doesn’t mention her familial or friend relationships. We’re given a basic framework, a skeletal outline if you will, of a woman in crisis in her health and her finances. Because of the culture she lived in, we can conclude that she didn’t live in a family home, because diseased people in those times were put away from healthy people. We can also rightly know that she faced the danger of being a woman alone in the midst of not being able to care for herself properly. 

According to the text, she had heard of Jesus, so that makes me believe she wasn’t a follower of His. This is relevant because if we’re honest with ourselves, it wasn’t until we’d reached the end of our own ability that we remembered some believer in Christ that we had encountered mentioning him to us, that he saves, heals, delivers, sets free, and more. We weren’t interested in the savior until we had run out of ways to try to resolve our own issues, and many times, we didn’t want to go to God because we thought that his followers had it all together. We all got to that place in our lives that it didn’t matter what anybody else thought, knew or said about us, we remembered that we had heard of Jesus, and we found ourselves seeking a way to legally touch him and be healed of whatever afflictions life was killing us with. If you read the text in its entirety, you’ll see she was right to pursue healing through Christ no matter what she went through to get it. 

I say all that to share this with you: we all HAD, and still HAVE issues. As long as we live on this earth in these bodies on our way to heaven (or hell if you’re not saved – see Romans 10:9) we will have issues can’t resolve without Jesus Christ. If you’ve only heard of Jesus and don’t know how to get to Him, find someone who you know can get you to Him, and Jesus will take it from there. If you happen to know Jesus as your personal Lord and savior, and consistently try to take care of everything yourself, you already have every solution you’ll ever need in Jesus Christ. He’s always with us, always waiting for us to draw on Him. Later in this same text when Jesus’ disciples were around Him along with the crowds and this ‘certain’ woman touches his clothes and he says ‘who touched me?’ it wasn’t because he didn’t know. It was because sometimes those of us who proclaim our salvation the loudest no longer make the effort or have the ability to really touch Him, to pull on that which is in Him for us. 

We’ve all got issues, and unless we deal with them the right way, we’ll always have them. Get to Jesus by any means necessary; He’s always available.

©2019 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

Stand Still

Featured

Exodus 14:13-14 – “And Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever.” (NKJ) 

This text is part of the story of the children of Israel’s deliverance from the bondage of Egypt, followed by their elongated stay in the wilderness before going into Canaan, because though it didn’t take God a long time to get them out of Egyptian bondage physically, it was a longer process to get Egyptian bondage out of their minds and spirits. In fact, an entire generation was born in the wilderness, never having been in Egypt, but moving into the promised land while an entire generation died in that same wilderness, never going into the promise, Moses being one of them. 

I’ll be the first to admit that there are times I hate standing still. Our culture, our world actually, has us in “instant gratification” mode at all times, whether we admit it or not. We have access to information from all over the world, real or fake, at our disposal every hour of every day. We can cook food faster than we eat it; we’re even at the point where the theory of “designer babies” is closer to becoming a reality than it should ever be. 

So imagine being one of the former slaves Moses has led to the banks of the Red Sea. In front of you there’s nothing but water; when you look backward you see pharaoh’s army coming to drag you and the wealth of Egypt back to that land where all you would ever be is a slave. We can think “oh, look at how ungrateful the children of Israel were”, but in reality, we’ve probably been ten times worse when God has us in a position that looks impossible. We panic and blame everybody, including God, for getting us in what looks like a path to death but is ultimately the deliverance into the promise of God for your life. I can imagine myself looking at Moses like he’d lost his whole mind when he said “stand still” – are you serious? Do you not see what’s happening here? We’re going to die today, one way or another, and you said “stand still” – really?! 

But that’s exactly what God wants us to do when we find ourselves in what looks like an impossible, impassable place. We have to stand still, and stop trying to make life happen the way we think it ought to. We have to learn to let God be God and do what only he can do in our lives. I’m in a “stand still” moment right now, and trust me, if you’ve never been in one, it’s a tough place to be. But when you know you’re standing still in the strength of the mighty God who is your protector, provider, and king, nothing that the enemy is trying to come behind you with is ever going to work for him.

We love to quote the scripture that says no weapon formed against us shall prosper, but we forget that the weapon will indeed form, and we will see it, but don’t get distressed; don’t give in to fear. The same God who tells us to stand still is the one who is moving on our behalf, even if we can’t sense it or see it. I’ve been repeating something a former pastor of mine still says, and that is “you have to trust God even when you can’t trace him”. So stand still, and let God be God, because his plan will come to pass if you just trust and follow him.

©2019 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

Good Sense

Featured

1 Samuel 25:32-35 – “David replied to Abigail, ‘Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, who has sent you to meet me today! Thank God for your good sense! Bless you for keeping me from murder and from carrying out vengeance with my own hands. For I swear by the Lord, the God of Israel, who has kept me from hurting you, that if you had not hurried out to meet me, not one of Nabal’s men would still be alive tomorrow morning’. Then David accepted her present and told her, ‘Return home in peace. I have heard what you said. We will not kill your husband.’” (NLT) 

I couldn’t help but think of a dear brother of mine when I titled this devotion today. He’s since gone on to be with the Lord, but he had a way of describing folks without good sense in his very Texan way: ‘They don’t have the good sense God gave dishwater to get cold!’ was one of his favorites, and never failed to make me laugh. Today’s biblical text features a woman that is the epitome of good sense, while her husband would be the aforementioned dishwater in my brother’s comparison. Her name is Abigail, and she was married to a man named Nabal, which literally means “fool” and “senseless” in Hebrew. This wealthy man almost lost his life by the hand of David as a result of his response to a request from David for victuals for him and his men. 

David’s men had protected Nabal’s servants and flocks in times past, but Nabal was foolish in his answering David’s request for food for him and his troops.  In fact, had it not been by the good sense of his wife Abigail, David had promised that by the next day there wouldn’t be a man alive in Nabal’s household. Surely this man was a fool, because it was known far and wide that David was a bloody man of war. Abigail got word that David and his men were on their way, and she prepared a feast for them, and intercepted them before they made it to the house. She fed not only their physical hunger, she fed David’s spirit, encouraging him and appealing to him not having this blood on his hands when the Lord would look to bless him again. 

Abigail’s good sense averted tragedy befalling people who really didn’t deserve it. When Nabal woke from his drunken stupor and Abigail told him what he’d done, one translation of the word says that Nabal suffered a stroke, lay paralyzed, and died ten days later. When David got word of Nabal’s death, he sent for Abigail to marry him, which she did with haste, becoming his third wife. We hear no more about Abigail, but we can surmise from what’s been written that a woman with the wisdom to use good sense will reap the blessings of God and walk in the power of her destiny.

©2019 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

The Benefit of Wisdom

Featured

Ecclesiastes 7:12 – “For wisdom is a defense as money is a defense, but the excellence of knowledge is that wisdom gives life to those who have it.” (NKJ Translation) 

The wisest, wealthiest king that The Bible speaks of wrote this book, and it stands to reason that Solomon would know something about the benefits of a life of wisdom. In response to Solomon’s offering in the temple that Moses built, God appeared to him and told Solomon that he could ask him for anything that he wanted. Solomon’s greatest desire was for the wisdom to lead God’s people, so God not only made him the wisest man who ever lived, he gave him wealth, riches, and fame that he didn’t even ask for (See 2 Chronicles 1, & 1 Kings 3). Even after Solomon had attained the blessings that God promised, he maintains that though both wisdom and money are a defense, it’s wisdom that gives life to those who’ve obtained it. 

This may not mean much to those who rely on intelligence, but there is a huge, relevant difference between intelligence and wisdom. Intelligence can give you knowledge about things, whereas wisdom is the ability to apply the knowledge properly. There are some very intelligent people in this world who my grandmother would call “educated fools” because all they have is book knowledge with no real life application skills, aka wisdom. 

The books of wisdom are a great gift to those of us who are of the family of God. It’s disheartening when I meet brothers & sisters in Christ who are more focused on the useless traditions that men have created that render the word of God of no effect. These writings give us the insight to understand wisdom, and the necessity of wisdom for the believer that we wouldn’t fall prey to the traps that the enemy of our soul has set up for us.

The final product that wisdom gives to those who have truly have it is life, and Jesus Christ died to give us not just life, but life more abundantly. I truly believe that the more abundant life is acquired when we begin to live according to wisdom and not just intellect. So I tell you just like I tell me that if you don’t have wisdom, pursue and obtain it through the word of God; it’s a benefit worth using.

©2019 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

Lessons From Beauty & the Beast

Featured

John 1:6-9 – “God sent a man, John the Baptist, to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.” (NLT) 

I recall speaking with a dear friend not long ago, and at some point we started talking about spiritual gifting being misunderstood by both those who have them and those who observe them in others. This woman of God has a prophetic gift, and at the time, was struggling with her physical health, so her spirituality wasn’t unimportant, it’s just not her primary focus. Having had serious medical issues myself, I understood her stance. But she made an  interesting statement that stayed with me, and it was ‘people are going to understand that I know that I’m not that light, I’m merely a witness to that light, pointing them to the light; I’m merely a lamp stand.’ Hence, the movie Beauty & the Beast dropped in my spirit, and I was led to our text for today. 

I thought about the character Lumiere in the movie, who is the talking candelabra who used to serve as the castle’s maitre’d; after the castle is taken over by a curse cast on it and everyone in the castle. Lumiere, along with the other servants, are turned into household objects, while the prince of the castle, a selfish man that Lumiere was once a confidante of, is turned into the Beast. Lumiere is hopeful for many years that the curse would be broken, and all would return to normal, but the breaking of the curse depended on the Beast, whose selfishness brought about the curse, learning to love others and earn their love in return. 

I find it interesting that the character that holds out hope for all to be well in this kingdom is in essence a form of a lamp stand; he’s not the light, but instead by holding the candles, is the witness of the light that’s needed. He’s kind, hospitable, and social, but has a habit of breaking the rules the Beast has set; sounds a lot like my sister who inspired this message. But it also sounds like those that were the disciples of Christ, because they, just like Jesus, broke the rules of the major schools of religious thought of the day: the Pharisees, Sadducees, the Essenes, and the revolutionaries, aka the Zealots. 

As disciples of Christ, we are to go against the laws set up that would keep us and others in bondage to religion. There is order in the kingdom of God, but God never intends for us to be bound by the rigorous laws of religion and doctrines of men because that doesn’t point people to the light that we’ve been made a witness to. So in the case of the believer, breaking the rules is really rejecting those things that have become useless traditions that make the word of God of no effect. This allows people to see the Christ in us, the Christ we represent, and be drawn not to us, but to the one who set us free and redeemed us from the curse of the law, much like Lumiere believed they would be set free from the curse they were under by their oppressor. 

To some, this writing may be a stretch, an idea too far-fetched to be of God; but I’m okay with that, because I’ll always remember and be thankful that it was the outstretched arms of a divine Savior on an old rugged cross that set us all that claim the name of Christ free – be  blessed.

©2019 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

Same Spirit, Same Lord, Same God

Featured

1 Corinthians 12:4-6 – “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does work in all of us.” (NLT) 

In the text today, the apostle Paul is responding to questions that the Corinthian church had regarding spiritual gifts. He reminds them that before they believed on Christ, they were led astray, worshiping their pagan gods and speechless idols, but that in the kingdom of God, there are different gifts and abilities given, but everything is done by the same Spirit, the same Lord, and the same God. 

In what sometimes seems like a race or grab for gifts in the kingdom of God, this text will be a necessary reminder until Jesus Christ returns. In reading this chapter in its entirety, Paul goes on to teach that though there are differing gifts, it’s God who gives the gifts. It’s the Spirit of God working through them that allows them to receive the gift, and it’s the Lord Jesus Christ that is served by the gifts. 

This teaches us that there should be no coveting of one gift or another, because it’s up to God who gets what gift for the furtherance of His kingdom, and not the building of our own kingdoms. Also, no gift should be minimized as less, or any other gift praised as more important than another. All of the gifts are likened to parts of the human body; each part is needed for the entire body to move and function like God designed. 

So whatever gifts of the Spirit that we may have, we would always be wise to remember that our spiritual gifts and anointing are not us and our personal benefit us. We’re just the vessels God chose to bear those gifts, and more important, that each gift is of the same Spirit, the same Lord, and the same God

©2019 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

In the Midst of it All

Featured

Daniel 3:23-25 – “And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, ‘Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?’ They answered and said to the king, ‘True, O king.’ ‘Look!’ he answered, ‘I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.’” (NKJ)

Today’s text is part of the miracle in the book of Daniel of the three Hebrew young men in the midst of captivity who refused to bow down to the idol that King Nebuchadnezzar had built for himself. Because there’s always someone willing to sell out the righteous, these young men found themselves condemned to what appeared to be certain death by being burned alive in a furnace that was heated so hot that it killed the men who put them into the furnace. Sure that all he would witness was the young Hebrew men dying an excruciating death and be made an example for all because of their disobedience to his ruling regarding worshiping an idol of himself, King Nebuchadnezzar and those with him instead got a revelation of who the true and living God is that day. 

In the midst of all that these young men were going through, having been bound hand and foot in all of their clothing, a fourth man appeared to be among them. Not only was there a fourth man, all of the men were loose, walking about, not being burned or consumed by the fire at all. King Nebuchadnezzar, an evil, heathen king who ruled with an iron fist according to historic accounts of his despotic rule, proclaimed that the form of the fourth man was like the Son of God. This is the same guy who was so consumed with his own greatness that he had to have an image made; but there was no denying who God was at that moment. 

In our own lives, we have trials and troubles; it’s all part of life. But just like those three Hebrew boys in the midst of what looked to be certain destruction, God shows up and makes his presence known first to us, and then to those watching what they’ve deemed is surely our end. In the midst of all that we experience and encounter in this life, if we understand and acknowledge that our God is the true God, the only living God. We have the assurance that even if God doesn’t deliver us from the trial we’re in that He is well able to do so, we’ll always know that God is ever present with us in the midst of it all.

©2019 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

Just Say No

Featured

Titus 2:11-13 – “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘no’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in  this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and savior Jesus Christ” (NIV)

During the time of her husband’s presidency First Lady Nancy Reagan came up with a slogan aimed at inner city children that said “Just Say No” when it came to illegal street drugs.

Being a kid living in the inner city at that time, it sounded good, but the reality of events that were encountered each day quite frankly made that seem stupid! How do you ‘just say no’ to drugs when you had drug dealers on corners and in project courtyards? How do you ‘just say no’ to the impression that some had that drugs were their only way out of poverty by dealing them, or out of despair by taking them?

 Thankfully, I had parental influence that made it very easy to ‘just say no’ whether Mrs. Reagan ever championed that cause or opted for another. Our verse today tells us how to say no to the temptations the world around us offers. Let the loving grace of our Father God teach us to live for Him, with our mind on His kingdom as we go through life awaiting the return of our Savior Jesus Christ.

©2019 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

Ugly Ways

Featured

Colossians 4:6 – “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.” (NAS) 

I love to read, and it’s not unusual for me to be reading more than one book in more than one genre at a time. A friend recommended a book to me some years back, and its title inspired today’s devotion – the book is titled “Ugly Ways” and the main story is being told by a woman who just died, and her daughters have come home to take care of  her funeral arrangements.

This character thought she was the best mother ever, the best wife, the best person, but as she ‘listens in’ on her daughters talking about her, she finds out what is clearly evident to everyone but her that she was none of those things. She’s gone through life thinking she’s done good deeds for people who should be happy that she did so; this woman thought she knew what was best for everyone in every aspect of their lives, But because nobody would dare tell her the truth while she was alive, she went through life not knowing she was really an arrogant, conceited, controlling, spoiled, selfish, intrusive force in the lives of her family, and she finds out after she dies. Even hearing this truth when she can’t intrude or bully those talking, she still doesn’t believe it. She may have thought she had good intentions, what she really had was ugly ways. 

Our text today shows us how we ought to respond to others. I can talk about me, and I admit that in times past, I didn’t always watch my speech, especially if I felt like I was right about something. My behavior was even worse if I didn’t care for the person(s) I interacted with – I had ugly ways on purpose, and was more than satisfied with it. This behavior didn’t stop even after salvation, but God was gracious to show me ME, and let him work on me to be better in this area. 

We can’t claim to be disciples of Christ witnessing salvation but never present Him. Those people never experience the love of Jesus Christ and accept His gift of salvation when all they encounter is you – your opinion, your attitude, your point of view. Though you may be a child of God, your perspective is tainted by humanity.

We must remember how graciously God handles each of us, and learn how to act accordingly when dealing with our brothers and sisters. It’s the grace of God that will allow you to handle each person the way God desires, and your experiences, though very real, aren’t always the best point of reference for someone who may be going through a situation in which you’ve already gotten victory. It’s the same grace that saved you that will guide you to be a help to a soul in need of what only Jesus Christ can fix, not what could easily just be your own ugly ways in action.

©2019 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

…To ‘Crucify Him!’

Featured

John 19:14-15 – “Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, and about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, ‘Behold your King!’. But they cried out ‘Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!’ Pilate said to the, ‘Shall I crucify your King?’. The chief priests answered, ‘We have no king but Caesar!’.” (NKJ) 

Just a little while before, this same crowd was calling Christ their king, and heralding Him as He rode into Jerusalem.

They’ve been influenced by their religious leaders to demand His death, that He be crucified, the cruelest form of punishment that man has ever come up with. They’ve been turned to now say that Caesar, who represents the tyrannical Roman empire they want freedom from, is their only king. What a great example of how fickle the human heart can be, how loyalties can shift in what seems to be just a moment in time.

Be encouraged that our savior Jesus not only endured this flaw in humanity, but He overcame it by his death. Know that because He survived betrayal and paid the ultimate price we too can face and conquer the trials of life, and be victorious in our Lord always.

©2019 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

From Hosanna…

Featured

John 12:13 – “They took palm branches and went out to meet Him, shouting ‘Hosanna!’  ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ‘Blessed is the king of Israel!’” (NIV) 

Today’s passage takes us to a festive celebration happening in the streets of ancient Jerusalem, where Israel heralded the Lord Jesus Christ as He rode into the city on a colt. To read this, one would believe that Jesus had been accepted as the true messiah Israel had long waited for; He was the fulfillment of the promise God had made to His chosen people, and they were elated He was among them. We’ll look further, because we know it goes from Hosanna to……..

 

©2019 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

Whosoever

Featured
John 3:16-17 – “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.” (KJV)
Yesterday John 3:16 kept reverberating in my spirit, particularly the word “whosoever”. As I lay fighting a migraine, I started to think ‘who exactly is whosoever?’ It was then that God started to speak on who all is whosoever. At 2 a.m., I awoke with several things on my mind, ‘whosoever’ being one. I went to Merriam-Webster for a definition, and they define it as ‘Whoever’. Clearly, I wasn’t satisfied with that answer, so dug a little deeper, and it’s a facet that fits with what God intends when He says ‘whosoever’ in this scripture: Whatever person: no matter who.
It now gives me a clearer understanding that for what seemed like hours I kept thinking about ‘whosoever’ might be, and I can’t speak for anybody but me, but I was ‘whosoever’ a lot in this list, and I thank God that He made provision for me to be redeemed and have everlasting life with Him. Never let anybody keep you from receiving the God of our salvation because of what you’ve done prior to and/or since becoming a part of the body of Christ – I don’t care what they say, they too were and still are ‘whosoever’ and God hasn’t rescinded His promise to mankind, so we can all still get it right with Him through the finished work of Jesus Christ at Calvary i.e. salvation.
Whosoever: sinner; whosoever: saint; whosoever: God-fearing; whosoever: pagan; whosoever: truthful; whosoever: liar; whosoever: chaste; whosoever: whore-monger; whosoever: peacemaker; whosoever: troublemaker; whosoever: adulterer; whosoever: fornicator; whosoever: gossip; whosoever: backslider; whosoever: murderer; whosoever: cheater; whosoever: disobedient; whosoever: racist; whosoever: jealous; whosoever: mean; whosoever: drug addict; whosoever: drug dealer; whosoever: pimp; whosoever: prostitute; whosoever: molester; whosoever: molested; whosoever: victim; whosoever: violator; whosoever: thief; whosoever: atheist; whosoever: unkind; whosoever: servant; whosoever: prince; whosoever: pauper.
Trust me, I can go on, but again, I encourage you, just as I encourage me, never forget that no matter how long you’ve been saved, no matter how long you’ve been a backslider, no matter how long you’ve been “whosoever”, God has made our way of escape through the shed blood of our precious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 
©2019 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

Hidden Things

Featured

2 Cor 4:7 – “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency, of the power may be of God, and not of us.” (NKJV) 

I never had to be searched for hidden weapons daily until I worked for a popular theme park here in Orlando. Because of the world we live in post the 9/11 tragedies, every  employee and  visitor bag had to  be searched via x-ray machines, as well as walking through metal detectors. Security staff was required to physically search all persons who set off the detectors, and the only ones not subject to this treatment were what I called The Ivory Tower Crowd aka senior executives.  

The apostle Paul writes in this passage of scripture that the treasure of  Jesus Christ himself, the gift of the light of the gospel, is hidden in us frail, weak vessels. The treasure is hidden so that the excellence of the gospel of Jesus Christ is not of us, the weak vessel carrying it. As mere mortals, we can look at one another, and not detect anything on the inside just like the security detail. There had to be a closer inspection, a revelation by interaction, to see that what was hidden even from their technology, and come to know that there was nothing hidden from them that could be used as a weapon; it had nothing to do with the bags and purses, but with the content of the purse was the vessel for. 

As ministers of the gospel of reconciliation, what we’re carrying is more important than who is carrying it.  Unbelievers we encounter who are seeking to know what this Jesus we claim is all about should see the treasure of Jesus Christ, and His salvation when they interact with us, the vessels He uses. It is the excellency of the gift that is important, not our interpretation of who Jesus is, not our intellect, nor our experiences. They should find in us the treasure of the savior Christ who, upon their acceptance of the gift of salvation, will  make them ministers of reconciliation as well. for He desires that none should perish although many will. 

I recall the death of my very first pastor a couple of years ago, and because of some scandal that he was involved in previous years, there was no limit of those who had no problem criticizing and questioning his ministry and re-scandalizing his name in death. What’s sad is that the most hateful, vehement criticism I’ve seen, some even saying they’re glad he’s dead and in hell, are from those who not only embrace the same treasure of the gospel of Jesus Christ that this man of God did, but they too are ministers of reconciliation. They completely disregarded the gift of God that was in a weak, frail, broken vessel,

I can’t comment on what the scandal was because I wasn’t a part of it, so if I, or anybody else who wasn’t directly involved does, it’s indulgence in gossip. But we would be remiss to write off the life of one who affected so many positively and ushered countless souls into the family of God, myself included, simply because of human frailty, or put plainer, someone who didn’t sin like us. Let’s continue to embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, and work toward reconciling a lost and dying world to a loving and forgiving savior who gave His life that we would live again for eternity with God our creator.

©2019 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

What a Difference a Day Makes

Featured

Proverbs 27:1 – “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.” (NKJ) 

There’s a song titled “What a Difference a Day Makes” that was first recorded in English in the 1930’s, popularized by Dinah Washington, and re-recorded by several musical acts over the years. It speaks to how being in love changes your entire life, that everything bad is now good, and life is basically worth living now that love has entered in. In reality, we all know that a day can have a lasting positive or negative influence on one’s life, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who doesn’t have to think long to be able to relate to that idea. 

The year 2015 brought permanent changes to the lives of some people very dear to me that I wasn’t sure I’d survive. For seven days straight, I got word from friends who were seemingly physically healthy one day being hospitalized and fighting for their lives the very next day. One young man I’ve known for since college and his wife had their lives drastically changed by a sudden illness his wife suffered. Her husband lovingly cared for her, and he often posts on social media that we should all cherish those we love each and every day, because things happen in just a moment that alters your existence for the rest of your life. 

I can say in my own life over this past year, I’ve had changes happen in relationships – personally, professionally, and spiritually – that at this time last year I’d never have believed would happen. In each case, though the relationships were steadily evolving, the actual change in the status of these relationships literally took place in a day. 

The word of God tells us in not so many words that tomorrow is not promised to anyone, so don’t say what tomorrow holds, because we just don’t know. I tend to be a creature of habit, and I’ve always liked to have a plan for my days, but we simply can’t say that what we’ve got planned will come to pass, because we don’t know the plans that God has for us each day, we just know that he has a plan for our lives (see Jeremiah 29:11).

While we can’t say what will happen in our tomorrows, or if we’ll even see tomorrow in the land of the living, we can be assured that all things work together for the good of them that love the Lord and are the called according to his purpose. So no matter what difference a day makes in our circumstances, our God reigns, and nothing happens that is not according to his will.

©2019 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

It’s Not Natural

Featured

1 Corinthians 2:14-16 – “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But He who is spiritual judges all things, yet He himself is rightly judged by no one. For ‘who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.” (NKJ) 

In order for believers to fully receive the things of the Spirit of God, we must understand that we’ll only obtain that understanding by His spirit. 

I recall meeting with a wonderful lady at a former employer that I’d interviewed with a few weeks before. She told me she’d made another internal hire, and also to advised that I needed more experience in a particular area as well as what I should do to qualify for the position. Now, the experience she named was definitely in the natural, but I already knew the things of God concerning the position, and it wasn’t for me to fill. I literally had decades worth of the experience she said was needed, but she didn’t know it because it just wasn’t listed on my resume. To be honest, I wanted the job to first get away from the dead end position I ended up staying in until I left the company. The job was dead end because it wouldn’t have progressed leading to greater opportunities, not even in a hundred years!  At that time, I just wanted a salary, not an hourly wage; I wanted a career, not just a job. I  started each day in by verbally declaring “today is the day”, and ended every night saying “God isn’t through, so I’m ready for tomorrow to be the day!”. 

We must make it our heart’s desire to know the things of God not by tradition, doctrine, ritual or routine. To really know the mind of God, we must have the mind of Christ. Though He walked this earth as a natural man to save us, the mind of Christ and the Spirit of God are not natural. We have to stop looking with our eyes, and start seeking with our hearts, and let the Spirit of God that dwells in us guide us through everything; it’s not natural, but it’s necessary.

©2019 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

Submission: It’s Not Just for Wives

Hebrews 13:17 – “Obey those who have rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.” (NKJ)

The passage of scripture today in essence tells us to be a pleasure to pastor, to make the work of our leaders a joy, not a burden to them. In the end, making their work miserable will not be advantageous to us. Our leaders shoulder so much more that simply showing up for Sunday and midweek services to deliver a sermon or teach a bible study class – they will actually stand before God not only for their own lives, but for those of us entrusted to their spiritual guidance.

If you have problems obeying and submitting to your pastor, sit down and assess why that’s happening. Maybe you feel like you could do a better job being the leader than they are. Perhaps you’ve discovered that their mere mortals like the rest of us with faults and flaws, imperfect children and renegade family members that make you feel like they don’t deserve to be obeyed. You could just be one of those people who refuse to ‘bow down’ to any man/woman, be it in church, at work, or at home. You find the word and act of true biblical submission demeaning, and don’t even consider submission. You can actually be part of a ministry for several years, serve there in excellence, but you quietly refuse to submit. For this group (of which I was a member for years!), I have breaking news: though you don’t make a fuss, your attitude and actions that go against what you’re required to do exposes you. You’re not only a trial to lead for the pastor, you’re a burden to deal with for those whom the pastor delegates authority to lead in their stead, the result being double disobedience.

Perhaps you didn’t realize you have a problem in an area until provoked to think about it. Or, could it be that you’re in the wrong church, under the wrong leadership for all the wrong reasons? Godly leadership is worthy of godly submission and obedience; if you disagree, take it up with the author (See 2 Timothy 3:16 to verify author).

@2021 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

God Sees, God Hears

Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:”Table Normal”; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:””; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin-top:0in; mso-para-margin-right:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:8.0pt; mso-para-margin-left:0in; line-height:107%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:”Calibri”,sans-serif; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;}

Proverbs 20:12 – “Ears that hear and eyes that see – the Lord has them both.” (NIV)

There were times when I was a child that I would have sworn my mom had eyes in the back of her head and an extra set of ears we didn’t know about because it seemed like she saw and heard everything.
Though that’s an impossible feat for any mere mortal, our Father in heaven does see every act, he hears every word, and The Bible even tells us he knows our very thoughts from afar off – in other words, he knows what we think before we even think it!

This makes me strive to be a better person concerning my own thoughts, words and deeds, but it gives me joy to know that not only does the Lord see and hear the righteous, he’s got this same capability concerning the enemy of our souls. It’s good to know there’s nothing the enemy can get over on God, because He sees, hears and controls all things concerning His children. 

So even if it seems the enemy is prevailing, be encouraged and know that all things work together for good for them that love the Lord and are the called according to His purpose.

©2020 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved

Comfortable Not Knowing

Psalm 37:5 – “Put your life in the hands of the Lord; have faith in him and he will do it.” (Bible in Basic English Translation)

It’s not uncommon for people to have a level of discomfort about the unknown. Things like the COVID-19 pandemic and the long term effect it will have on the world’s economy, the presidential election this November, constant infighting within our government have added to the anxiety some may feel regarding their future.

Even within the body of Christ we sometimes feel an urgency to know ‘God, what’s going on? How’s my life going to turn out?’ among other things. Once again, King David gives us the solution for a common problem among the people of God.

We’re to entrust our lives to God to the point that we actually rest in that trust and we’re comfortable in not knowing how everything turns out. Having that level of faith in God frees us from undue stress and tension, and affords us the security in not knowing things, but knowing our God controls all things concerning His children.

©2020 Ansonia’s Alabaster Box LLC All Rights Reserved