Hope & Faith

The Stone of Scone in the Coronation Chair at ...
The chair is only as secure as its substructure

It feels like Christmas today. I have waited patiently for this day to arrive and thank God it is here. As I developed the thematic content for ConquerorShots in January, I got excited then about today’s post. From now on 3/1 will forever be “Hope & Faith” day. You see, we have a progressive transition that is God-ordained.


All of my anticipation about this post is fueling my fingers to hit these keys because I no longer have to hold this in. I pray this blesses you all.

Hebrews 11: 1 is often referred to as the “introduction to the Hall of Faith.”

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” 

Hope and faith are clearly defined here. There is ABSOLUTELY no reason for us to misuse these Heavenly gifts UNLESS you are not in agreement with this verse.

Faith is the “conviction of the truth of anything, belief.”

For an example let’s look at the simple act of sitting. When I was a kid, I witnessed my cousin Michael – a tall 6’7″ 300lb solid public figure – sit in a chair which collapsed in the process. The atmosphere was full of celebration and excitement because we were eating Sunday dinner and we had a chance to see our loved one who’s music was being played on the radio hourly. He was most definitely festive because of the meal he was about to eat on the plate he held in his had while chosing what resin chair to sit in on the porch. Without question he was “convinced” that he was about to sit down and “throw down” eating,  after being on the road for weeks performing. My other cousins and I were already seated and eating which made his entry into the scene so natural. He never considered the idea that he was about to “hit the deck”.

As he positioned himself in the chair, the legs of the synthetic material began to buckle outward. It all happened so fast! He sat down, the chair could not hold him and he hit the porch floor as his plate went up and the food landed on him and the porch. It was a total disaster of the worse kind. His faith in the chair failed him. It was unable to hold him up because of the force associated with his stature. It was a lesson for all of us to behold.

We are taught from childhood to sit. In fact, “timeout” is designed to make us sit down, to quiet down  rambunctious activities. Our instinct is to find a seat and sit. The decision to sit in the chair is based in the “conviction” of the truth that it will hold us up. It is a belief that we naturally realize. Yet we do not have to acknowledge our faith in the chair until the chair is not working for us i.e. it is unable to supply us with the rest from standing we need.  At that point,  panic sets in as the thought of the consequences of the chair’s failure yields horrifying circumstances from us hitting the ground. The acknowledgement is based in the fact that “faith failed us.” The expectation was to experience rest, relaxation and comfort. Instead, we are embarrassed, uncomfortable, possibly injured and so on. Faith is the substance………

The word substance in the verse is contained in the overall Heavenly blessing of this passage. It provides us with insight that is often overlooked. Simply put, faith is the “substructure or foundation”  or “confidence, firm trust, assurance” of what your hoping for. This idea is best understood when you consider the structure of a home. The substructure has to be strong enough to support the foundation, infrastructure and superstructure, of the home. It is the firm bedrock for the adjoining structures to rest on securely. The essence of our faith and the confidence of my hope NEEDS a constant attachment to “The Rock” which is CHRIST.   The evidence……………

We are constantly in search of proof to validate truth, whether we are honest about the pursuit or not is irrelevant. Back to the chair example, the reason we can so readily have faith in the chair is because of the continued success we have experienced over the course of a lifetime relative to the chair’s  ability to provide us with rest off of our feet.  When Mike got up off the floor he did not say “I am never going to sit in a chair again!” Instead, he cleaned himself off, got  another plate of food and went inside and sat at the dining room table to eat instead. He was not going to be so foolish as to STOP trusting in the chair to do for him what it was designed to do.  Christ came to this world to save sinners, through the death at Calvary, the burial and resurrection. Long before He established his earthly ministry, He was established as The Rock of our Salvation.

There is no better proof of the essence of His power that is greater than the FACT that He is the Son of God who arose from the dead and ascended back to His rightful place at the Right Hand of the Father where He now intercedes on our behalf.  No matter how messed up life may become, He NEVER FAILS!  HE CONQUERED THE POWER OF SIN AND DEATH AT CALVARY. Proof is further accomplished after we accept this SELFLESS act of salvation personally. I don’t know about you but the life that I now live is SOOOOO MUCH better than the life I use to lead. The difference? The power of sin is NO LONGER reigning over my life – HE IS! Even though we CAN’T see Him!

The evidence of things not seen. “Things” is so misunderstood and taken for granted. It is EVERYTHING THAT IS ALREADY DONE in God’s plan>The results are eternal but everyday I get a glimpse of the proof from the time I open my eyes and realize my lungs an my heart are working, my legs and my arms are still functional, my 5 senses are still in tact and He is present – providing, protecting, and purposing all of the events of the day for my good.  These “good works” that God ordained EVEN BEFORE I TOOK SHAPE IN MY MOTHER’S WOMB, are the “THINGS”. What a MIGHTY God!!!!!


Accept What God Allows


Today is a beautiful day here in Atlana. The sun is shining, there is a pleasant breeze flowing through the atmosphere and most of all I am alive and well to engage in the various activities today will offer.  Life is good.

I was reading the 11, 12 & 13th chapters of Job in my devotional time.  I remember thinkingLord why am I reading this book.” Now if I was not obedient to His Sovereignty over my life I would have missed this blessing I am about to tell you of. It pays to LET GOD LEAD. A daily surrendered heart to the finished work @ Calvary keeps God in the leadership position. It also keeps me engaged in a conqueror lifestyle.

Job’s life exemplifies the value of a consistent presence of HOPE. He lost everything -wife, kids, job, home, good health, friends etc. – with no prior warning. It just happened to him, one loss after another. To make matters worse, he had 3 associates coming to him with various ideologies that supposed the idea they knew why Job’s life fell apart. Throughout all of the hardships Job encountered, he maintained an attitude of HOPE and EXPECTANCY.

Now that seems pretty significant to me. I can understand the devastating blows life can hit you with. That can be severe in nature. Job is the prime example of how to ACCEPT WHAT GOD ALLOWS. You see ACCEPTANCE is the answer to all my problems. We have a glaring lesson in the book of Job that supports the thought. All of the loss Job sustained WAS ALLOWED BY GOD. There was a bigger picture available for us to understand. Job’s losses were directly related to a Spiritual lesson between God and the enemy. Job, his wife and children, all of Job’s associates mentioned in the book only had an awareness for what they could see – A LIMITED PERSPECTIVE AT BEST. Yet Job had the willingness to TRUST God in his uncertainty. Why? JOB KNEW GOD IS SOVEREIGN. I think this is why he did not beat the hell out of those accusers. I know the thought must have crossed his mind 🙂

This is a lesson that continues to fuel my own climate for a HOPEFUL outlook day by day. It’s not always easy but it truly does work when you work it.

The Joy IS in the Journey

I know a man who taught me a valuable life-lesson that is based in hope. At the time he shared this with me I was 27 and clueless. I had my own idea of how life was supposed to be and I was working hard to realize my dreams. I was living well but I was always caught up in some type of chaos I was creating due to my inability to find the joy in the journey. My friend must have realized this and shared this lesson with me.

A Journey Called Life
The joy IS in the journey. The journey is life. Destination?

He had been a mail carrier for the USPS for decades. It brought financial security and marital stability along with a lifestyle that was envied by his family. He described his experience as what he thought were “the best years of his life.” His circumstances changed when he became ill. He lost his job and all of the financial security. He became unemployable and homeless. He found himself alone, needy and hopeless. After a major hospitalization caused by his apparent demise brought about by his “seemingly hopeless case of mind and body,” he heard, through a series of interactions with people who survived the same problem that was killing him, there is a solution. He stayed the course of a particular treatment plan wherein he found a constant presence of hope within. His life gradually began to change for the better. He became employable again but he dealt with serious blemishes in his history that deterred many potential employers from hiring him. Frustration ensued but willingness prevailed. A training program with the regional transit authority yielded him favorable results and he once again had work. He found unspeakable joy day after day as he struggled to establish himself again. He gained a new life that was exponentially better than “the best years of his life.” His joy still remains to this day as he is living better than ever in the second half of his life.

As I reflect on this life-lesson I am blessed today to realize that I now understand the value of his story that never abandoned my memory and I have used it to generate hope in my own hopelessness. God is always present. His realized presence provides an unlimited source of hope to carry us through life situations with a constant spirit of joy that positively affects our lives and the lives of others. As long as we are willing to show-up for life each day, we can live through any circumstance that materializes victoriously. This is a virtuous reality based in an Conqueror lifestyle. THE JOY IS IN THE JOURNEY!

I Have Hope

A Polish made Unitra turntable atop an Electro...
vinyl productions burned music on my soul permanently

Growing up I heard this classic Roberta Martin song “I Have Hope.” In addition to hearing it from the choir on Sunday mornings, I can recall the 33 playing on the record player ringing out the lyrics from the speakers in our living room on Aspen Place, Columbia Ave and Pennington Ave:

“I have hope, I have hope when trouble comes my way

I have hope, I have hope since Jesus has come to stay

I have hope, oh yes when things are not well with me

I have hope, it’s a beutiful hope and it sets me free

If your distressed , Jesus says come unto me. If your depresed I know he’ll give you liberty

Time may find you at the end of your line, but keep the faith its not too late the Lord will be on time.

I have hope, I have hope when darkness fills the sky

I have hope, I have hope since Jesus is ever nigh

I have hope, oh yes through dangers I can not see

I have hope its a beautiful hope that sets me free.”

http://www.last.fm/listen/artist/Roberta%2BMartin/similarartists is a link to this genre of music that features the Roberta Martin classics.

It was written in 1968 but the melody and message is timeless. Hope is a life principle that fuels my daily pace. It puts pep in my step and glide in my stride. Most of all it keeps a smile on my face that springs from true joy in my heart. The goodness of God is constantly present. Thank you Lord for saving me at Calvary. It gives me Hope, a beautiful Hope that sets me free one day at a time.

Check up on the heart

Hebrews 3:12-15
12 Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,”so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end, 15 while it is said, “TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS, AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME.”

The heart is the most important organ in our bodies. It is vital because it provides the source of motion that delivers blood to every organ. The blood is the life source in all of us. When it stops flowing we are dead. We can never assume that the heart is in good health. A heart attack is a silent foe and it kills. While this description pertains to our human bodies, it also applies to our spiritual condition.

In the human cardiac system there are many tubes that transport the blood from the heart throughout the body and back to the heart. We are conscious of the perils of cholesterol that can cause “blockages” in those tubes that obstruct the flow of blood and cause damage to the heart. Large clots can form and go unnoticed until the heart’s function is disrupted and death is possible.

Sin is to our spirits what cholesterol is to our bodies. The writer of the scripture above understood this spiritual axiom and was commissioned by God Himself to relay the message. We all need to hear the message of the dangers of an “evil,unbelieving heart that falls away from the Living God.” This does NOT mean that a Christian can loose his salvation. Rather it means that, at any given moment, un-confessed sin can manifest to produce “a hardened heart” and wreck havoc in our lives and the lives of others.

We are socially aware of the perils of a lifestyle that is riddled with the possibilities of having a heart attack – a diet high in cholesterol and sodium, over consumption of fast food, a sedentary lifestyle, poor weight management, smoking, drinking, drug usage/abuse etc. – but the issues of the spirit i.e. “the heart of man” continues to go unaddressed socially.

Whenever the subject of sin is mentioned, it is almost a taboo matter today. People do not want to discuss it because they do not want to engage in the subsequent issues associated with the acknowledgement. When you accept the presence of sin in your life you can be overwhelmed about a healthy solution if you do not know how to address it from God’s prospective.

The scripture reminds us to engage in healthy spiritual relationships that encourage us to “stay in the faith.” It is good to know Jesus. He is a friend all the time. I am thankful for the 24/7/365 characteristic our Savior manages so well. He is never too busy for any of us. In addition, the service and servitude of Christians around the world, AKA the body of Christ, is a vital aspect of a “more than a conqueror” lifestyle.

A hand can not function without the connectivity of the hundreds of thousands of cells that provide it with the ability to move even 1 finger. The work of your hands is not possible without the rest of the body. The work God has called you to in your lifetime is not possible without Christ and the rest of the body. Stay connected and stay “IN HIS SAFETY.”

Reflections (T.O.T.G)

This year has seen many events. There are many themes – political, social, economic, environmental – the world has experienced an eventful year.  Personally, I continue to live in a series of life-changing events all of which were designed to give me the comfort of Conqueror lifestyle. God is ALWAYS GOOD.

On this day everyone will, in one way or another, find themselves reflecting on 2011. It’s part of the process in the celebration of a New Year.  Celebration takes on many different forms. I love a good party with good music, dancing, laughter and an atmosphere of gratitude. If I search in the world I could find it in a club……….or  I could find it in a “house party”…………..  .  The world has conditioned us to have a certain expectation on how to “bring in the New Year.” We do it and it does what it does. Life goes on-we hope.

Today I hope that you can include in the process of your reflections one VITAL act:


Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, rejoice!
4:5 Let everyone see your gentleness. The Lord is near!
4:6 Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God.
4:7 And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

4:8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things.

 4:9 And what you learned and received and heard and saw in me, do these things. And the God of peace will be with you.

As for me, I will find the party in a worship service at my home church here in Atlanta where I will freely engage in a corporate spirit of praise for all He has brought me through in 2011 and ALL that He has provided for me, prepared for me, purposed for me and I can appreciate them all when I THINK ON THE GOOD!

Happy New Year


Faith in the Valley

Psalm 23:4 “Even when I must walk through the darkest valley,I fear no danger,for you are with me;
your rod and your staff reassure me.”

Many people are blessed and experienced a bountiful Christmas season. It included good food, nice gifts, fellowship with family and perhaps even some “christmas cheer”.  In this arena of experience, even if you have an expectation for a special gift, whether you got it or not, you enjoy the overall atmosphere of the season.

What a blessing it is when the commercialism of the season causes the spirit of gift giving.  Gift giving is a phenomenon that brings with it great tidings of joy, love and hope.  That is the central theme of the birth of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  It is a good time and it propels us towards “mountaintop” moments. When all is well in your world and the goodness of life is holding ground, what is the dominant emotion for you? Joy or Happiness?

Then there are those who have had the blessing of being in the valley over the course of this season.  The characteristics of this season are on polar opposites of the description for mountaintop moments. However, consider for a moment the emotional experience.  For anyone that is in need -of family, job, food, clothing, shoes, shelter, healing, etc….. – the dominant emotions that are most revealed are fear and anger. Fear because the needs present overwhelming pressure with limited resources and the questions “How……?, Why……..?, Maybe……..?” Anger because the ongoing regrets and guilt associated with the onset of the valley experience, plague you with the statement “If only I……..!” So then, why is this a blessing?

It is more complex to have a faithful outlook when times are good.  It’s like an airplane soaring through the sky on “auto-pilot” at 38K.  The weather is lovely and the flight is smooth.  Once you get to that place of cruising and all is well, faith goes on cruise control.  But when the storm comes and the pilot realizes that he needs to disengage the mechanism of cruising and engage his flight training and expertise to reach his destination unharmed by the storm, the awareness of danger changes the atmosphere in the cockpit.  They are manning their stations with planning, action is taken step by step and there is a unified presence among them. Yet the storm is more powerful and the plane is forced out of the sky and hits the water. All of the skills in the world could not stand up against the power of the storm.  A faithful outlook is required.

Fear and anger show up in the early stage of the valley.  They are the surface feelings that can completely disavow any idea of faith.  Fear and anger can keep us sick, stranded, alone and can even cause us human harm up to and including death to ourselves and others.  They paralyze our abilities to engage in the benefits of faith.  Romans 10:17  reminds us “Consequently faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the preached word of Christ.”

When you are reliant on your own abilities, accomplishments and achievements and the valley experience is not improved, what do you have left? I hope the answer is faith.  Faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen.  If you are going to be a CONQUEROR and maintain a “more than a conqueror” lifestyle, faith needs its proper daily requirement of God’s word, just like your body needs air to breath. Faith in the valley begins when you acknowledge that God put you there. His omniscience prevails in our valley moments. His omnipresence comforts us and reminds us of His word. His omnipotence is the blessing I referred to earlier.

The valley is designed by God for us to have the experience of “seeing God in action.”  While there are many other benefits to the valley season, let’s reflect on just how this “power” works and why it is a blessing.

When you got into the valley and the overwhelming presence of the circumstances slapped you across the face and you did not know how to breath because of the pain- faith stepped in because you did not hit the floor and die. You remained present even though fear and anger set in.  You got up and continued on the designated course. Then when the odds were stacked up against you and you could have succumbed to the pressure and lost the sight of your purpose, you did not give in. You stood there, accepted the circumstances and stayed focus on the hope of realizing the goal of your destination.  As the situation became painful because of the conditions you were forced to endure and your body began to suffer miserably, you persevered through all of the adverseness and stayed the course having a spirit of forgiveness for the sinister players in the matter.  Then you died Jesus. You experienced the agony of the valley to the point of death. The designs of your death demanded the power of your resurrection.

It is that very design that continues to work in our life.  That same power continues to bring us up out of tumultuous circumstances. When you have Faith in the Valley you are initiating the opportunity for God to have the same affect in your life.


I Want What I Have

There are so many things that I can think of that I want – a new car, a new condo, all of my bills paid in full, restored relationships, new relationships……….. – and if I were to give these “wants” too much attention I can easily get distracted from my reality.  Distractions are designed to create confusion in my life. Can you think of a time when your focus was re-directed because of a distraction?

They come in all forms – personal, professional, social, and most of all spiritual.  Distractions can be subtle too.  Especially in the area of my personal and professional lives, I can recall on numerous occasion where I was engaged in situations that were purposefully designed to distract me from what was important.  At the point when I realized the distraction, the affects were already in place.  I know I am not the only one with this experience. Am I?

So I have come to realize on the Eve of this Christmas day in 2011 that the best way to avoid the pitfalls of distractions is to want what I have.  That implies a personal understanding of my assets and my liabilities.  Overall, an assessment yields the results of personal reconciliation between the two and I am in a balanced relationship with my life and the Creator of my life.  

Now does this mean that I do not want to work towards improvement? God forbid.  If I am not realizing change in my life that means that my life is non-existent.  You know you are living, and how you are living by recognizing the changes that are at work in you.  Other people are watching and God is watching. Therefore, you should be the spectator in the first row, in the center aisle occupying the center seat. Next to God, you should have the best seat in the house.

Consider the obvious. The climate of the environment dictates the season of the environment. Climates change and seasons change. Imagine if you woke up to the same climate every day for a year.  All of my East Coasts readers may actually like that after dealing with cold winters over a course of time. But the point is life would be mundane if every day was the same climate and the same season. The changes in the environment offer us new outlooks, new insights, new experiences……..  This is why I would not be content living in Aruba. It is a beautiful island but I would get bored with the same climate day after day… I think!

God is the author and finisher of our faith in Him.  No change is possible without His intervention.  For anyone who is struggling with the concept of God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, the evidence of His Power is in the identity of the source of all change.  He is Sovereign over all and that includes my wants.  Through Him I have an awareness of all my needs being in place.  THAT IS A BLESSING IN ITSELF. I can get entangled in the “rat race” working feverishly towards attaining my wants and allow all of the distractions along the way to make me miss out on all of the peace, joy, love, hope and assurance that comes with being thankful for what I have.  I don’t choose that path today. Instead I will be content and just “WANT WHAT I HAVE.” 

The song “Safe In His Arms” reminds me “Because the Lord is my shepherd I have everything I need”

Merry Christmas

Loss IS Gain

Satellite View of Hurricane Sandy on Oct. 29
Satellite View of Hurricane Sandy on Oct. 29 (Photo credit: NASA Goddard Photo and Video)

Revised on 10/31/2012

I watch my television shows and there are constant advertisements to make you want to shop for something – clothes, shoes, jewelry, toys, electronics and even food.  It’s everywhere.  This time of year has become so severely commercialized that we as a nation have lost touch with its current financial structure.  Devastation presides throughout the Eastern seaboard. Citizens are hungry, cold, destitute and overwhelmed with loss. The nation is in unprecedented debt, homelessness and poverty are at record highs, unemployment is ravaging the homes of Americans who are splitting up for various reasons – drugs/violence/pursuit of individual career opportunities/crime/suicide –  and it goes on and on. Yet, Madison Avenue is doing a great work at pushing product. People are shopping in droves.

Not all people.  There are many people that are not able to even begin to understand how they are going to make it through the day. Whether their dilemma is of a socioeconomic origin or not, what is a fact in this great nation is this: people are loosing everyday during this holiday season.  How do you appeal to them during this huge commercial event that is sweeping our nation?  Do you just ignore the fact that they exist? Do you count your blessings, focus on your “haves” and forget about the “have nots”?  Or, do you do anything and everything that you can to make a difference within the lives of this large sect of Americans.  I pray that you are in agreement with the latter.
Isa 66:1  Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? 
Isa 66:2  For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word. 
Psalms 24:1 The LORD owns the earth and all it contains,
the world and all who live in it.
The essence of reality in these scriptures is that EVERYTHING you can put your hands on or get your hands on is HIS. Working a good job, managing a thriving business or incurring a comfortable lifestyle is possible because of Him.  Too many people get that twisted.
 Humans put stock in the idea that you have gains because of who you are. You’ve been deceived. You are who you are ONLY BECAUSE OF THE GRACE OF GOD.  What makes you any different than the man that is confined to a wheelchair/the woman that is addicted to drugs and living on the streets/the child who is homeless, hungry and alone?  GOD’S GRACE. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from the Father above.”(James 1.17)

If you want to experience maximum gains that are ETERNAL it begins with a decision.

Mar 8:34  Following Jesus  
Then Jesus called the crowd, along with his disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.
Mar 8:35  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it but whoever loses his life for my sake and for the gospel will save it.
Mar 8:36  For what benefit is it for a person to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his life?
Mar 8:37  What can a person give in exchange for his life?
Mar 8:38  For if anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” 
Conquerors make a difference in the lives’ of others any way that they can.  Loss is gain.

The Sweetest Gift

The Sweetest Gift

posted Dec 18, 2011 1:06 PM by Darrin Payne

When I was a child I loved to eat tootsie rolls and Swedish fish.  I would go to the corner store or Mr. Buddy’s and get me some penny candy.  A quarter would get me enough for myself. $.50 was enough for me to share with my friends.  I loved to eat that candy.  When I became a teenager I did not eat candy that much and even today I don’t eat candy often. However, I graduated to eating cakes, pies, cobblers and cookies.  That is my weakness.  I have learned to modify the quantities so that I am not killing myself through hefty indulgence.  But I love well-prepared, home-made desserts.  Oh, and then there is the occasional indulgence for ice-cream.  Lord knows that is a “guilty pleasure.”   Umm umm umm!!!!!

Yesterday, I participated in a fund raiser and I baked cookies for the first time.  To my surprise I have good skills in this area of food preparation.  The event was not well publicized and we did not have a steady flow of patrons.  Yet the ones who did buy and eat the cookies in my presence, they all seemed to really enjoy them.  There was one patron who actually ate one in front of me and ended up buying 4 more.  There was mild over-indulgence going on. 

 The idea for this entry came to me during a particular exchange yesterday.  A lady was eating the cookies and she said now this is a sweet gift. ” I could buy these and give them out”, she stated.  However, she hesitated because of her concern about eating them all herself.  That got me to thinking.  She coined my cookies as a “sweet gift” because of the pleasure she got from eating them.  The reason for my love of sweets is because of the instant gratification I get the moment that food hits my tongue.  My love affair for sweets is in effect at that moment.  There are times when it is so good I don’t want to swallow – but I have to so I can eat some more.  When it is good – the more I get the more I want. 

 Ephesians 2.8 says ” For by grace you have been saved through faith ; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God NASB

During this holiday week ahead, it is really important for me to realize I have the “Sweetest Gift” of all – JESUS CHRIST. I was introduced to faith in Christ at an early age.  It was good for me to have the knowledge of Christ and my Salvation early but it was also a hindrance.  I took it for granted.  I thought that because of my salvation I was free to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted and however I wanted and I would still go to Heaven.  No one could separate me from the love of God and  nothing could make me loose my salvation.  That type of “spiritual irrationality” kept me sin-sick for MANY years.

  I needed to have the experience where the knowledge of salvation begins initiating a desire for my salvation spiritually.  
Knowing about Christ is not enough to live a victorious Christian life.  Conquerors, walk by faith and not by sight.  Faith comes by hearing and receiving the Word of God in your spirit – not in your mind.  Whenever the Word of God is heard and processed in the mind it is on the same basis of acquiring knowledge from any literary or reference source. We read and hopefully comprehend the material.  While comprehension happens in the mind, the spirit of man is not necessarily influenced by the words – only the soul.  The new life begins as the information travels from the head to the heart.  Some say that distance is further than a trip from NYC to LA!!!
When you get to where you have developed a desire in your spirit for the salvation you know about to actually be at work in you via spiritual regeneration, you experience the sweetness of Christ resonating in you from the inside out.  One example may go something like this:
You thought you were going to get a check in the mail that would be used to buy groceries for the family.  The check does not come. You are tempted to call up the issuer and “bless them out verbally” but your spirit moves you to turn the problem over to the Lord in prayer instead.  You may even cry over it to the Lord in prayer.  Afterwards, during the continued course of your day you notice a flyer that is in your mail. It informs you that there is a free ham and groceries for a week and a $50.00 gift certificate available for you if you go to the location at a certain hour.  The sweetness of your Savior is manifesting.  Then you get there and to your surprise there is no line.  You just walk in and get what the flyer advertised.  However, in addition to the expected outcome there is an additional bounty of goods that is more than what you could have even imagined.  The sweetness is now making you have visceral responses – praise in your mouth, hands, feet, etc.  Then you get home and begin to put the free groceries away and someone starts knocking on your door.   One of your neighbors comes by to hand you mail that mysteriously showed up in their box.  You thank them and close the door. On your way you discover that the check is there after all.
Jesus is the “SWEETEST GIFT” ever.  Once you receive Him “for real for real”, He is the kind of gift that just keeps on giving.  Just like I used to eat candy, and still enjoy eating desserts, I LOVE TO TASTE AND SEE THAT THE LORD IS GOOD.  It is a blessed experience to have when you TRUST in Him.
Remember to keep Christ in your Christmas celebration.