Category Archives: Devotional

Is Celibacy Always Good? Matthew 11:28-30 ASV

Is Celibacy Always Good?  Matthew 11;28-30 ASVCelibacy and a Priest

My first year in high school I was required to take a child development class. My friends and I were looking forward to the class because we knew the teacher was going to discuss “where babies come from.”
Before classes started that fall, my girlfriends and I chatted and wondered about the teacher who was going to give us the real nitty-gritty on sex!

This class would offer me “two firsts”: First, I was going to meet a teacher who shared my first name, Naomi.
Second, I was going to find out what information Mama had been withholding! Oh, boy! Let the fireworks begin.

The big day arrived in September 1965. On that eventful Monday morning, I walked into class and saw a petite African-American woman. The classroom was filled with eager teenage girls. However, the boys had been sent to a shop class to learn how to make objects instead of babies.

“My name is Mrs. Naomi Smith and I will be your child development instructor. I want you to learn one word this week. Celibacy. And I want you to learn the importance of practicing celibacy.”

My friends and I looked at one another and shrugged our shoulders. What in the heck does celibacy mean?

Mrs. Smith continued, “Celibacy is withholding, celibacy is saying no, celibacy is saying wait. I am going to teach you how to get a baby and not where babies come from.” Believe me, when you are fifteen years old, the rhetoric she used became awfully confusing!

Of course, Mrs. Smith was talking about waiting for sex until we were married. About saying no. About withholding ourselves from sexual intimacy. Those are good things. The right things to do. But what about spiritual celibacy? Is that good too? I think not.

I see celibate Christians in the church today. They are withholding themselves from a day-to-day relationship with Jesus. Saying no to the things He is calling them to do. Waiting until they’ve tried everything else before asking Him to help.

We’ve all been there. Maybe some of us are practicing spiritual celibacy right now. We may be sitting on the pew, but our minds and trust is elsewhere. We are waiting for a promotion at work, so we are placing our faith in our boss. Depending on our job instead of Jesus for our security. He may choose to provide for us through a job or promotion, but we need to remember He is our source.

Celibacy and the spiritual life!

Some of us may be looking for a spouse. Are we depending on Jesus to guide us to “the one” or are we depending on our own choices—guided only by an online dating service.

Some Christians today are just staring at Jesus Christ and not interacting with Him at all. We too often say no to Jesus and yes to everything else we think may solve our problems, give us pleasure, and make us happy. But Jesus is the only answer.

Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30 ASV)

A relationship with Jesus is not developed by just going to church, reading the Bible now and then, or even serving in ministry or other good endeavors. A relationship with Jesus means living together every moment. Being unceasingly aware of His presence. Getting better acquainted by spending time in the Bible and talking to him. Not just a 10-minute prayer time in the morning or evening . . . Interacting throughout the day. He is not only your Lord and Savior. He wants to be your best friend. Discuss everything with Him. Trust His answers. Everything in His way and His time.
Stop practicing spiritual celibacy and start practicing Christ. Put your hand in the hand of the man who can do for you what no one else can!

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A Walk in The Dark

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”I will give you the treasures of darkness and riches hidden in secret places, so that you may know that it is I, the LORD, the God of Israel, who call you by your name.” (Isaiah 45:3)

All of us have eyes, yet not all of us can see. Some of us are spiritually blind while others are physically blind.

 

I once had a piano instructor who was blind. Despite his blindness, he knew his way around his home, his neighborhood, and community. He always amazed me with the things he could do without sight. For example, during rehearsal, I would excuse myself to use the bathroom. I would return without alerting him, but he always sensed my presence. A child at the time, I was persuaded he could see because he knew where I was when I wasn’t sitting beside him on the piano bench during my lesson. He even counted change due back for payment of the lesson, further convincing me he could see. My childhood shyness prevented me from asking how he could do all this. I learned years later that God had presented this brilliant teacher with heightened senses beyond my understanding. This man recognized the real treasures in his life and did not complain about his lack of sight.

 

Do the eyes have it?
According to the piano teacher, the answer is no! Why? Because he could function in a world dominated by people with eyesight. He functioned because God gave him special tools.

 

Often people find themselves in the dark, facing trials and overwhelming challenges. But if they trust Jesus, He will send tools to help them walk through the darkness and into the light. The tool may be in form of a person or an object or an opportunity.

 

We may consider the dark a nocturnal time that produces significant anxiety as we wait for it to pass. However, we need to stay close to Jesus during our dark moments. We need to trust in his love and comfort in our time of need.

 
What treasures does God have for us in our dark days? Sometimes He sends someone to help us cross the bridge. To lead the way to healing. Sometimes the treasure is getting more in touch with Jesus . . . and becoming more like Him. Since we usually talk to Him more during difficult times, we get closer to His loving arms for comfort. Another treasure is heightened sensitivity to the needs of others.

 

Barbara Brown Taylor, a noted theologian, states, “One counts on preachers to keep us out of the dark not to meet us in the heart of it.” Preachers cannot save us from the dark because the dark is something we have to go through on our own. Nevertheless, the preacher will walk with us through the dark. People will come into our lives to speak words of encouragement. Things will work out. You’ll get through this. They will give us words of comfort and thoughtful cards to let us know that someone is thinking of us!

 

If we keep our eyes on Him, God will send many treasures to us while we walk through the dark. And then, like my piano teacher, we may be in darkness but we will be able to see. Heightened senses will accompany us. We will be more aware of God’s loving care. Even though we cannot see where we are going, we can know that God is with us. And He knows the way.

 

 

 

Why Are You Doubting? John 14:1-14

John 14:1-14
Many scriptures speak to those of “us” who constantly doubt Jesus. They speak of faith . . . Yet we turn and do just the opposite.

We read about people of faith in scripture and shake our heads with thoughts like this: After all, they were privy to walk and talk with Jesus Christ while He traveled here on earth—but even some of them expressed doubts!

In today’s scripture, Jesus addressed much of what He said to Phillip, probably because Philip seemed to be struggling the most with Jesus’ announcement that He was leaving. Wouldn’t it be nice to sit down and talk to Philip about what he was feeling?

Don’t you think Jesus might have been a little frustrated with Philip’s challenge to show them the Father (John 14:8)? “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am?”

I believe Philip had a hesitant belief. He had followed John the Baptist before meeting Jesus. Could it be that perhaps Philip was a bit disappointed when Jesus showed up after believing that John the Baptist just had to be the one? Jesus came and Phillip had to change direction. We become resistant and guarded when we build our hope and trust in someone or something and it does not pan out the way we think it should. Consider what Phillip may have felt when he realized John the Baptist was not the one. But he made the change. And now Jesus was telling him to prepare for more change.

Disappointments

Years ago in my early twenties, I met a young woman at work. As flight attendants, we flew together often and became close. As time went on, she announced her wedding engagement. All who knew her rejoiced with her as she happily planned for the big day and bought and ordered everything she could to make it special. The task was especially challenging because she lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and the groom was in California, where the wedding was to take place.

At the time, I was disappointed I couldn’t fly that distance and return to Pittsburgh in time for a following morning check-in at work. However, God works in mysterious ways! Later I was glad I had not been present on my friend’s wedding day because the groom stood her up at the altar. Hearing about such outlandish things happening and being connected first hand to the situation are very different realities. That was before we all had the technological gadgets strapped to our waist and ears that we have today, but the news traveled just as fast.

My friend was utterly heartbroken, but became a stronger woman through it all. After much hard work, eventually the two worked it out. My friend forgave her future husband and three years later, they married—for real! My friend was willing to trust him again, even though he had broken her heart. She didn’t allow doubt and disappointment to overwhelm her. She was willing to seek the right plan even when events didn’t work out the way she had planned. The marriage could have never taken place all those years later if she had been reluctant or resistant to listening and continuing to love. Today the couple has more than forty years of marriage under their belt!

Dealing with doubt can trouble and overwhelm us to the point of stagnation! Can you not hear Philip urging, “Just show us the father” with panic in his voice. “Show Him to us and then I am good. Come on, just one time.”

Listen closely, my brothers and sisters. Listen to the frustration in Jesus’ voice. “Where have you been when we have been together?” Perhaps Philip had his head stuck in a cloud. Can you hear Jesus asking Philip about the day He had fed more than 5,000? I certainly can! “Man, don’t you remember?” said Jesus (see John 14:8). Philip didn’t like change. In fact, it often terrified him. But he had a first hand view of Jesus in all His glory!

I believe Jesus becomes frustrated with us too. Some of us resist change. We may not want to see someone we care about leave. We may want to continue doing things the way they’ve always been done instead of stepping out in faith to do what God is calling us to do. We may be afraid to take risks for Jesus Christ. Unless we remember Jesus is alongside us holding our hand, we become hesitant and fearful.

Jesus Christ is saying to Philip and to us, “Look around you. Do you not see me? Do you not feel your heart beating in the exact moments with mine? Do you not see me in the rain even during the times that it is pitch black in your life? Do you not see me?

No matter what you may be facing today . . . no matter what challenges lie ahead . . . Jesus is not about to leave you alone!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, please help us to become risk takers for the kingdom and let us feel your heavenly presence even when we do not see you!

John 20, Are you Uncertain Like Thomas?

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Some people claim that it is hard to believe in something unless one can actually see it. I am not sure that “Doubting Thomas” (DT) gave John permission to talk about him; yet, we will find this coming week Thomas by the way as a renegade telling his friends, telling strangers (us), and the rest of the world, that unless he actually sees Jesus he is not going to believe! What a way to start the day! Not only that, but DT won’t be satisfied in seeing Jesus, he desires to examine Jesus’ hand’s and feet. DT telling everyone, “Look, I know who Jesus is and I know what I saw the other week ain’t no way [sic] Jesus is back.” Struggle DT if you must with the Good News! One would consider life is easier once we’ve had a personal touch of Jesus Christ. When we can pack our bags and be assured that no matter where we go Jesus is going to take care of us that is believing! The other day, still in Chattanooga I was saying my prayers before dawn, sitting in my car at the hotel before heading back home. I Realized at that precious moment that all my fears were being abolished. Jesus is real and I would not regulate myself to a ritual of saying prayers to something or someone unseen. Knowing full well that I am not crazy seeing is not always believing; however, what is always true is feeling. I feel The Master! I do not need one’s “imposter painting of Jesus” in order to believe. Get up and live. Don’t sit behind a locked door trust in the Christ to move us forward. His name resonates on my lips day and night!

The Duck

I know you all remember the Imagestory about “The Duck?” It goes something like this. The brother and sister were visiting their grandparents for summer vacation. The grandfather helps his grandson make a sling-shot. Impressed, the little boy begins looking for targets; however, he was unable to find a target. Until one day walking around the farm the little boy notices one of Grandma’s pet ducks. He takes aim and kills it. Hence the duck is now deceased and his sister hiding in the corner of the barn witnessed the entire episode. Each day the sister whispered…

 

“Remember the duck.” When the sister wanted to get out of household chores immediately she would volunteer her brother. Yes, the one who had killed grandma’s duck. Like the little boy who killed the duck, we too, as Christians, must come clean of our sins we have committed. Seeking his grandmother the little boy told his grandma what he’d done. The grandmother told him that she knew all about it, because she was standing at the kitchen window when the incident occurred! Grandma told the little boy that she was wondering why he would let someone else hold him captive. Guilt always makes for cowards! Jesus Christ came to set us free from our guilt and shame. With one simple confession of our sin, we can receive God’s forgiveness.

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin (1 John 1:7).

Your New Home!

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Day Number 68 Your Daily Forecast  Cheer Up and put on a Happy Face!

There is a program televised on a local cable station called “House Hunters.” The program tapes people in the process of  looking to purchase that perfect  home. The program, furthermore follows the potential buyers through the process from start to finish. The program often includes renovations and improvements after the purchase of the home. However, before the hunt begins for the “perfect home” the real estate agent qualifies the buyer. Once this happens the real estate agent begins, gather listings in the buyers price range. The show is unique for the reason that the real estate agent sometimes finds a home that is out of the buyers price range. What makes it so special is the sales techniques used to get the buyer to look at properties outside of their price range. The real estate agent might show a property that is in Foreclosure, the owner might be desperate to get rid of the property, leaving a great deal of wiggle room  for the purchase of a more expense property.  Without due pressure the real estate agent permits the buyer to realize their potential budget without going over the amount he/she has to spend. Homes that might be out of the buyers price range suddenly become available.  The real estate agent knows what the potential buyer can afford; yet, it is up to the buyer to make the decision on what they want to spend. In the Christian community God knows that we have full potential to be more Christ like, we just don’t know if we have what it takes. When doubts sit in, it is hard to get a person motivated to do anything beyond what they think they are capable of doing. As a result, God often times will show us what it’s like to live “sin” free in a painful world. If we’d just look at ourselves through God’s lenses He will let us know how big our hearts are and what we can afford to do for others. Our own inadequacies  bar us from the good things God has in store for us. God, like the real estate agent shows one property that we believe is beyond our reach to show us our full potential is realized through the Power of Jesus Christ.

To appear wise, one must talk; To be wise, one must listen. -Anonymous

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Proverbs 17:28 ESV

Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.

Secure people willingly take part in vibrant conversations looking to learn something from another. One exchanges ideas for enrichment, instructions, and possible learning experiences. What are the characteristics of secure individuals? Well for me it is:

1. The person is willing to ask questions.

2. The person takes an interest in what another person shares.

3. The exchange of ideas is not frightening to the other person

4. They will hear the other person out completely without being confrontational

5. Sometimes they are just good listeners leaving out their story so that they can hear another person’s story.

6. A secure person is not out to prove to someone else how much they know.

Hats off to my friend Dr. Ramona Bledsoe, we have been friends for years. Her budding career has caused a drop in our visits; however, we still touch base frequently by phone. I can share information with her, and she will stay in my story, and that is a good feeling. Sometimes we just need a good listener.