Posted by: Lady Dunamis | August 1, 2015

Providence versus Miracles

From time to time I like listening to the bible narrated, but on a particular day I elected to tune in to a few gospel artists on iHeart Radio. Usually, I don’t get into discussions about what is considered legitimate gospel songs because musical taste is just as selective as one’s favorite dish. Not to mention that it fuels a fiery debate right along the lines of church and politics. However, in this case, I will tip toe on the border of being antagonistic and say most of what is passed off as praise and worship is perfectly and lyrically adorned as materialism using scriptures to justify some form of kingdom entitlement.

Believers in Christ Jesus are privileged because of what Jesus did and with that comes great responsibility, like living before the Lord in a manner that pleases him. Cars, homes, book deals and such the like have nothing to do with the kingdom of God. Those are earthly pleasures to facilitate life. For the record, if we are aiming for lyrical and scriptural accuracy in worshiping God, the Book of Psalms is where it is at.

While tapping to the beat of the music on iHeart Radio, I had to pause a few times because some of the lyrics were not scripturally accurate. Furthermore, all I kept hearing was how God was going to bless, I got a miracle, speak over yourself, go and get your blessings, chase your dreams, your miracle is on its way and in summary, all this was miraculous. This led me to ask the question. What is the difference between providence and the miraculous? It was time to search the scriptures.

In most cases when Christians talk about God doing a miracle, it is usually one and the same with receiving some sort of benefit. Although used synonymously, providence and miracles are distinctly different in purpose and in function.

Providence (Gk pronia, Latin providentia) is the sovereign divine superintendence of all things, guiding [people] toward their divinely predetermined end in a way that is consistent with their created nature, all to the glory and praise of God. (Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology) Note: providence is a pervasive idea in the scriptures and not a biblical term.

A miracle (Gk dunamis) is an ability or capability that is supernatural in nature. It is God’s power given to his representatives to show forth his authority, influence and supremacy over sin, sickness, and disease. The miraculous wonder should always point to God and not the individual whom God uses.

Below are a few examples of providence and miracles:

Providence

God told Elijah to go to the brook at Cherith. (I Kings 17:3-4)

This shows God’s care in meeting the prophet’s basic needs in a drought.

Naomi returned back to Bethlehem because she heard God visited his people with bread. (Ruth 1:6)

God not only cared for Naomi, but also provided for Ruth, the Moabitess who chose to serve God. Returning back to Bethlehem placed both in a position to be financially cared for through kinsmen redemption. In the grand scheme of things, Ruth was engrafted into the Jewish lineage and therefore became one of the four women identified in the genealogy of Jesus Christ.

Miracles

Paul’s handkerchiefs were used to heal the sick and cast out devils. (Acts 19:11-12)

It wasn’t the handkerchiefs or Paul that performed the miracles but God’s power. The item used or the person in and of itself does not have the ability to work the supernatural. It is God’s spirit that does the work. The confidence should be placed in God, not the person or thing used.

Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. (St. John 11:1-44)

Although Jesus could have prevented Lazarus’ death, the point of this miracle was not prevention but resurrection. God has power over life and death.

Providence and Miracles

Sometimes providence and the miraculous intersect. We read about Jesus providing for 5,000 men, not including women and children, with two fish and five loaves of bread. The provision was the bread and fish. How the Lord was able to feed the multitude is supernatural. (St Matthew 14:13-21)

Another example where providence and miracles intertwine is the widow and the oil. The prophet directed the widow to borrow vessels and use the oil she had but how she was able to sustain is unknown and a wonder. (II King 4:1-7)

In conclusion, providence is God meeting our basic needs so we can sustain. Since all of the world’s resources are at God’s beck and call, he distributes as he sees fit. When we accept and thank him for the provision, he is honored.  Miracles are independent of medical assistance and human intervention. They are supernatural in nature and are solely dependent upon God’s ability.

Posted by: Lady Dunamis | July 27, 2015

The Preached Word

“By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house” Hebrews 11:7

“And [God] spared not the old world but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly.” II Peter 2:5

When we hear the saying “the preached word,” it automatically invokes an image of someone standing on a pulpit or on the street corner proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. While that would be the most widely accepted definition, there is much more to it. We place a lot of emphasis on the importance of precise interpretation, inductive reasoning versus deductive reasoning, or debating exegesis over eisegesis. However, when we think about Noah as a preacher, little if anything is said about his message.

Taking a trip into the book of Genesis, Noah is first introduced to us after God by way of the Holy Spirit, highlighting the current climate of the environment he lived in:

“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Genesis 6:5

Yet, we see that Noah found favor with God and was spared from the flood. But it begs the question, if he was a preacher of righteousness, what did Noah say? Apart from the Hollywood interpretation of Noah being ridiculed and scorned by his less than friendly neighbors, the scriptures gives us no evidence of what the wicked said or did in response to Noah’s divine instructions, but what we do know is Noah’s actions spoke louder than his words.

Noah was indeed a preacher of righteousness and not by what we deem to be the current standard of scriptural pontification. When we see God gracing Noah by sparing his life and that of his family, we know that Noah’s life style was distinctively different, insomuch that God had his eye on him. Under a direct commandment, Noah began to build the ark and this served as a two-fold witness: God’s salvation toward Noah and his family and God’s judgment to the condemned. When Noah built the ark, in essence his obedience was the preached word.

From the very beginning man defied God in the Garden of Eden by choosing the wisdom of the serpent over the wisdom of God. Cain killed his brother Abel because of the excellency of his sacrifice (Hebrews 11:4). Throughout the generations, the giants in the land or better yet, translated as men of renown, characterized for their violence had no regard for their fellow neighbors and chose women based on beauty instead of virtue. These men thought evil continually and when evil seems to go unchecked, the Lord will always send a witness. The time for salvation was over and Noah building the ark was a message of judgment.

Many believe that the preached word is the only way God can communicate, but we have scriptural proof that living a life of maturity and completeness (perfection) is by far a more convincing witness than passing out a tract.

By no means am I advocating that the gospel should no longer be preached. It should, otherwise, no one can believe on whom they have not heard. What I do support and believe is the gospel we hear, that is what we should do. But if there ever is a time when it is not possible to have a witnessing moment, the greatest testimony is a life that conforms to the scriptures. Not only will that testify to the inner light we possess, but the judgment to be had if they reject.

Posted by: Lady Dunamis | July 21, 2015

Unlocking the Treasures of Time by Dr. Jackie McCullough

Posted by: Lady Dunamis | July 12, 2015

The Mystery of Iniquity

“For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who know letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall the Wicked be revealed whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.”    II Thessalonians 2:7-8

There was a time when Christians heralded the message “Jesus is coming back, be ready” and that signaled to all who listened to take heed to the signs of the time. Although there is truth in that statement, something was highly misunderstood by the saints of yesteryear. Likewise, the church at Thessalonica misunderstood Jesus’ return coming as a “thief in the night.” (I Thessalonians 5:2) Instead, when beset by persecution, they believed that Day of the Lord arrived and somehow missed it. Paul addressed their concerns in discussing the Day of the Lord and the mystery of iniquity in his second letter.

To better understand the context of this scripture, we would need to refer the words of Jesus concerning the destruction of the temple and the last days. Jesus said, “take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” (St. Matthew 24:4-5) Of course it wouldn’t stop there. These antichrists would precede the man of sin who would be empowered by Satan to perform signs and wonders and desecrate the holy place. This would be referred to as the abomination of Desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel. (Daniel 9:27, 12:11)

Without going into eschatological detail and attempting to determine the translation of the Church, I would like to focus on the words mystery and iniquity. Mystery or musterion (Greek) refers to things that have not been disclosed. Iniquity or anomia (Greek) is a transgression of the law. This could be in ignorance meaning a person is not knowledgeable about the law that he or she is breaking or one who has full knowledge of it and chooses to break it anyway. In either case, it is rebellion against God. For the believer, the satanic persuasion and influence permeating the church as well as unbelievers should be evident. We should not be shocked about the filth and debauchery that exists within our communities. In fact, it is an indication that the judgment of God is at the door!

Contrary to popular belief the Lord still reigns and we know this because the Holy Spirit restrains the work of iniquity so the church of God is not overtaken. There will come a time when he will remove his limitations and permit the Antichrist to reign for a time. This of course plays to God’s plan to conquer and destroy the son of perdition.

So what does all this mean for the church? We are not to live in fear or abandon our daily duties as if Jesus is coming back within a split second, nor are we to believe that if we experience persecution that somehow we missed Jesus’ return. Instead we are to live in a state of readiness, be prepared to give an answer for the hope that is within us (I Peter 3:15), occupy until he comes (Luke 19:13) and always have oil in our vessels (St. Matthew 25:4).

Posted by: Lady Dunamis | July 5, 2015

The Church: Confused As Usual

The messages preached by the church are so confusing. First it was holiness or hell. Then it was the prosperity message. Now the faith movement has morphed into a consumerism that is so indistinguishable from unbelievers that the identity of Christians or dare I say C.I.N.O.s (Christians in name only) causes unbelievers to scratch their heads in unbelief. Why is the church here? What purpose does the church now serve other than to use consumerism as an advantage to fulfill personal gains?

Collectively, the church has failed to address the issue of one getting his or her house in order before they can become agents of change and partners in the work of the ministry. We hear the good news that Jesus saves and not before long are we enrolled into classes concerning financial stewardship, church bylaws; entangled into church bureaucracy, and sentenced to an endless list of sermonic tongue lashings purporting personal and political agendas using scripture as the church store front.

You’ve heard and seen it before. A commercial on tithing sandwiched between the church barbeque and recruitment for missionary work. Another building fund and sermon with the “consider your ways” scriptural reference of which has nothing to do with raising a church offering for a building fund as much as it does to provoke the exilic Jews to consider why there was 15 year gap for not finishing the work of building the temple! (Haggai 1:7) Ultimately, these agendas are set by the clergy in charge; however, does anyone raise the question why bible study is nearly empty and Sunday attendance is dwindling despite church expansion? One church in three locations and can hardly get people to show up for choir rehearsal.

Has it ever occurred to the religious elite that before people ever knew there was a God, their worries were the center of their attention? Is it really fair to expect people to just drop everything for Jesus and follow after him? A few might say yes because the disciples did it; however, there are a few things we must consider. First, when Jesus entered into each one’s life, they were at a point of need. Whether they were looking for the Messiah or for something that hadn’t been clear to them, they were in search for something. When Jesus came, his invitation was the initial point of entry, not the end all be all. Second, before they went to work for God, Jesus took time out to increase their faith, starting with turning water into wine at the wedding feast of Cana (St. John 2). That wasn’t about Jesus flexing his power, rather it was an opportunity for his disciples to believe on him and settle it in their minds that he was the One they were looking for. Third, Jesus spent three years disciplining 12 men for the work of the gospel. Three years. Thirty six months of teaching, preaching, encouraging, rebuking, allowing them to make mistakes and strengthening their faith. If it took Jesus three years of training, why do we think a six week course is going to make new converts right as rain?

We have it all backwards. The needs of the church should be addressed prior to taking the world by an evangelical storm. Before Israel was a light to the people in the land of Canaan, God saw to it that they learned and experienced his ability to provide in the wilderness. He taught them that “man shall not live by bread alone.” (Matthew 4:4) He gave them the 613 negative and affirmative commandments (Ten Commandments included) that governed their moral, ceremonial, and judicial lives. The Torah was a how to manual on dealing with issues of sexual purity, marriage and divorce, property redemption, business practices, dietary laws, dealings with Gentiles, and worship and service just to name a few. Much of the carnality displayed in the church today is due to a lack of training in the ways of the Lord.

Partnering with God in changing the lives of his people for the better is a hard and frustrating task. Many find it intrusive and few are thankful, yet, it is a necessary one. It is a task that empowers people to live a rich and fulfilling life now and in the time to come, eternal life.

Instead of the push for another “kingdom agenda” our fellow brothers and sisters would be greatly served in teaching them the way of God. Just because a person attended church for 20 years doesn’t mean they are knowledgeable about God and his ways. There is still a famine for the hearing of God’s word and God is in no way glorified when his children are ignorant and stumbling because of a lack of knowledge concerning him. (Hosea 4:6)

Time out for church as usual. Instead of trying to be the new corporate America with a church logo, we need to focus on what matters the most to God: his people and their relationship with him.

Posted by: Lady Dunamis | June 30, 2015

Holy Convocation 2015

Posted by: Lady Dunamis | June 23, 2015

GOD: The CEO of my Life

Before I go any further, let the record state that God was right and I was wrong.

O.K. Now let me explain. I had been a bit perturbed with the King of Glory for quite some time. After the layoff, I wanted to use a portion of my funds to finish paying off my car. While it would have been a great portion of my finances, I thought it would be a very good idea to have no car note. Well, it wasn’t long before I called for a payoff quote, budgeted the amount and started dreaming about the day I would have full ownership of the car. It was a glorious occasion where I would race to the credit union, withdraw with a cashier’s check, skip to the post office, and send those little financial soldiers to the payment center.

That high didn’t last. My bubble was burst and the Lord kept pressing me to not pay the car off. Of course I thought my plan was better and would make perfect sense considering my situation. Instead, he led me to use the funds for other things. I was not a happy little girl. Fast forward a year later, I was still making car payments and I began to enumerate the many reasons why God should have allowed me to pay the car off. Although it’s a moot point, I thought it needful to continue pressing the “why” behind the “what” and the Lord was sure to answer.

In April of this year, my lease expired and I wanted to move closer to where I am currently working so I applied for an apartment and the shock of my life happened. I was denied because they said I had a previous charge off on my credit from a former apartment. While speaking with one of the leasing agents, I told her I would appeal the decision and would need to review my credit report. Well, (confession is good for the soul) I broke a lease many moons ago and slacked in paying the balance off. Right around the time when I was weeping and gnashing of teeth with God about paying off the car, he led me to pay that balance off. The denial was only partially correct. The report showed I broke a rental agreement with a management complex I never did and the outstanding balance was already cured. Thankfully I had proof!

Second confession: I also thought that I should save some of the funds for a career change and was looking to teach ESL (English as a Second Language) in a different country with a potential for reimbursement for air fare and one month rent. It never happened. As I laid on the carpet foaming at the mouth, I thought God was being cruel and unusual. Fast forward nine months later, one of my co-workers talked about how she had a substantial amount of money and instead of using the funds for an emergency, she paid all of her outstanding credit card debts on the premise of a job offer. The problem was, the company rescinded the offer because the position would no longer be available. The requisition was closed and she was out of a lot of money. She said, “sometimes you make decisions in the moment with what you know.”

While this may be partially correct, for me, I know that wasn’t the case. If it had not been for God, I would be in a far worse situation and now I completely understand the scripture that admonishes us to “trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)  God knows our thoughts before we can imagine to think them and he sees the end from the beginning. It may not look right or make sense, but relying upon his omniscience is Christian insurance against the unexpected.

Posted by: Lady Dunamis | June 19, 2015

Nine Precious Souls

Nine of my brothers and sisters in Charleston, South Carolina met a horrible fate by one 21 year old man who, decided to play God by determining who can live and who should die. Of course it is clearly written God has said, “all souls are mine and the soul that sinneth shall surely die.” (Ezekiel 18:4)

This massacre is a prime example of the presence of evil that sickens the earth and the people in it. As such, circumstances like this give occasion for the political pundits to promote their agenda. Some officials are too cowardly to say what needs to be said and do those things that are right. Not in the eyes of men but in the eyes of God. No wonder the Apostle Peter said, “we must obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29)

Racism. Pride. Greed. Arrogance. Hatred and such the like bring us to the same end as it always has before: Nowhere. We talk a good game but are helpless to bring about any real change. Why? Because no matter how many laws are put into place, man in his best efforts cannot and will not change the heart of man. The prophet Jeremiah said it best that the heart is “desperately wicked and deceitful above all things.” (17:9) Tragedy always exposes the filth and depravity of man and the need to repent and seek after God always seems elusive. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if people would see their need for their hearts to be touched by God and submit to the transformative power of the Holy Spirit? This world would indeed be a better place, but at best what we will do is have heated debates, heightened displays of emotionalism, maybe a passing of a gun law or two, and a perhaps the removal of a controversial confederate flag.

Too bad it took nine lives for that conversation to happen…again.

My heart aches and grieves because my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus were taken and quite frankly, I want vengeance. The act wasn’t senseless by any means because if someone researches and plots a murder for six months as media outlets have stated, then the execution happened with great precision. Make no mistake, this was not random and it shouldn’t be excused as such. But this is where my consolation rests: my spiritual family is with the Lord and the truth be told, to “be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord,” (II Corinthians 5:8) is a much better place than I am in tonight.

I grieve with the families, friends, associates, and lawmakers who have been impacted in a painful way. And I hope to God that we as the body of Christ, can see this as a wake-up call to awaken out of our spiritual slumber and pray for his kingdom to come.

Posted by: Lady Dunamis | June 16, 2015

How to Study Scripture by Rabbi Greg Hershberg

Posted by: Lady Dunamis | June 9, 2015

It’s Not Always Your Fault

If you are anything like me, when things do not go your way or you were unable to prevent misfortune, then you are plagued with the guilt complex and you might do one or all of the following:

  1. Blame yourself for what happened.
  2. See yourself as either the root cause or an accessory (even if it isn’t true).
  3. Accept all negative circumstances as directly related to some unfortunate circumstance of which you are now a part of.
  4. Put on your Christian thinking cap and rationalize the trial as the conduit of salvation.
  5. Become a martyr (or at least think you are one).
  6. Become a self-saboteur and fulfill self-fulfilling prophecy (of which God never said).
  7. Search the scriptures and look for that one individual who at least suffered like you or probably far worse. At first this starts off like consolation but can eventually turn into an ego trip or believing you are becoming number five on this list.

Over a year ago I was financially devastated by a lay off. My position at said institution was eliminated and for the first time in my life I was shattered to the core. I had a little bit of severance and had to live off of my savings to maintain. What wounded my soul the most was I went from a decent paying job to zero all in one day. At first the executive said, “oh, you guys have nothing to worry about. This region is a major hub and we are doing business.” Have you heard of the saying, “I know they are lying because their lips are moving?” I found this to be true. Shortly thereafter, other departments were being laid off in droves and the position I held at the time seemed like it was hanging in abeyance. But good news came along and the company kept my position through organizational restructuring and with a new boss and team, I finally understood what the Apostle Paul meant when he said, “I fought with beasts at Ephesus.” (I Corinthians 15:32) In the meantime, I was trying to reposition myself to avoid the company ax.

A little after one year of the transition, I was pulled into the office and told “effective today, your position is being eliminated.” Mind you, this was after the pay raise….

I no longer believe in the American Dream.

Because God has an outstanding track record of supplying my need for employment, I was assured that it was going to be easy breezy. With a polished resume in hand, it was time to look for another job. I was optimistic and selective. So much so that the companies I wanted to work for were interviewing me for multiple positions. But that high didn’t last. Once I explained my reason for seeking employment, then the floodgates of pity, insults, and rejection overwhelmed my soul. Then I wondered what did I do to deserve this. I started thinking I should have prayed harder, been open to apply for any position but the truth is, when prospective employers see you’re overqualified they will not hire you. When prospective employers fear you because of their own insecurities, they will not hire you. When they tell you how wonderful your skill set is, they have no intentions of letting your in through the front door. And heaven forbid you come across a recruiter who didn’t do a good job of describing the role and when you go to the interview, you find out your skill set was not comparable. That interview lasted five, about ten minutes max!

So once again I look to my friend Job for some answers and this one thing struck me as odd but wonderful. Although Job went through serious troubles, God did not appropriate blame to him. We know the root instigator was Satan and these difficulties were permitted. For me that is good news because no matter how hard I try, things will get out of control whether it is an intentional or unintentional consequence. To realize God sees me in my chaos and knows that I wasn’t the root cause of the layoff, brings great relief.

Some say rejection is direction. Well, I don’t believe that because for every rejection I received it left me feeling dejected, confused and did not give me an indication of the next step. It was only when the Lord said or showed me things is when I knew where to go or what to do. During the process I had to follow God on a need to know basis and believe me, my perception of his instructions were not always clear, but whatever he showed me came to pass.

At this time I am not fully restored and I do not know when it will end. I am sure Jesus would say, “it is not needful for you to know the times or the seasons” (Acts 1:7) but while I am walking this out, the moments of relief provide a glimmer of hope.

Pray for me and I will pray for you.

Your sister in tribulation,

Lady Dunamis

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