Written By: Tamika Mahomes
5. Evaluate Your Connections
"As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." Proverbs 27:17 (NIV)
While we each live life individually, we were not called to do our life alone. As believers, one of the most critical parts of our relationship with God is examining who and what we surround ourselves with. The relationships around us create an influence and provide an opportunity for us to be an influence. Each connection we have goes two ways. As believers, we must explore the things and people that influence our souls.
What Does The Bible Teach About Connections?:
1. Bad Company Changes Us
"Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character." 1 Corinthians 15:33 (NIV)
In our nature, it is easy to be an influence however, we must understand that the company we keep influences our character. Family, friends, co-workers, and spouses all influence who we are and what we believe. While our connections may not always include like-minded influence, we must be mindful of how each person we connect with influences us. We can not always control who is around us, but we can control our heart's response. As we approach our connections, let us walk in the truth of Proverbs 4:23 in guarding our hearts with all diligence (KJV).
2. When You Are Around Wise People, You Gain Wisdom
Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. Proverbs 13:20 (NIV)
Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning. Proverbs 9:9 (NIV)
Just as bad company can corrupt us, good company can grow us. When we surround ourselves with wise people, we grow in wisdom. As we walk as believers, it is important to know that we were never meant to stay the same. We are meant to grow in our relationship with God and in our faith as believers. Surrounding ourselves with those who have Godly wisdom is vital in helping us grow in our walk with God.
3. We Must Choose Our Friends Carefully
The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray. Prov. 12:26 (NIV)
In piecing together, bad company, and wise influence, this verse simplifies the two, that we must choose carefully those who we choose as our friends. As we walk through friendship, we are called to grow, change and become who God is calling us to be. When we surround ourselves with the right people they can help us to get there and encourage us along the way. Let us allow our connections to help us to grow closer to God and closer to one another.
As we close this blog, let us remember the importance of this journey as believers. 2023 does not have to be one where we leave our relationship with God the same way we entered it. Keep these principles close and allow this year to be one of growth and change.
Let's recap our 5 principles in growing closer to God:
1. Make Daily Devotion A Priority
2. Meditate On The Word Daily
3. Connect With God Through Prayer
4. Seek Forgiveness & Repent
5. Evaluate Your Connections
Until next time, Be Blessed Friend!
Written By: Tamika Mahomes
4. Seek Forgiveness and Repent
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9 (KJV)
When we accept Christ, we begin our relationship with the Father from a place of forgiveness. God sent his only son to die on the cross and become the remission for our sins.
1 John 1:9 reminds us that to receive forgiveness, we must start from a place of sin confession.
What is Sin?:
Sin separates us from God. Like a brick wall that stops us from getting to the other side, sin creates a brick wall between us, and God. When we choose a life of obedience to sin, we replace God's will and authority with our own.
According to Colossians 1:21, sin makes us an enemy of God.
"This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions." (NLT)
Our sin is meant to separate us from God, dooming us from eternity, but, the finished work of Jesus on the cross came as a way to save us from eternal damnation.
"This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all." 1 Timothy 1:15
When Jesus died on the cross, he became a sacrifice for our sins.
When Jesus died on the cross, he became a sacrifice for our sins.
Jesus opened the door for forgiveness. Forgiveness from the Father begins with the separation from our sin. When we recieve this forgiveness, we are released from the cost of sin, eternal separation from the Father.
"In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins" Colossians 1:14 (KJV)
The forgiveness that we have access to through the blood of Christ is not deserved or expected rather, God's love, grace and mercy allows us to receive forgiveness despite our sinfilled nature.
"as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us" Psalm 103:12 (NIV)
When Jesus died on the cross, he became a sacrifice for our sins, carrying the punishment we deserve. When Christ died on the cross, he died for us without expecatation of anything in return.
God sent his son Jesus to die, despite what we have done in the past or will do in the future.
Because of his love for us, he was willing to send a sacrifice for us in the midst of our undeserving nature. The cost of our sin has been paid by the blood of the lamb. Our sin is not just forgiven, the Bible says it is wiped away and remembered no more. In Jesus we are free from the bondage of sin adn walk in the freedom of the Father.
How Do We Seek Forgiveness?
1. Confess sins and acknowledge sin.
We must understand that we sin, accept that we sinned, and confess those sins to God.
2. Ask God directly for forgiveness
Understanding that we sin, we must ask God to forgive our confessed sins.
3. Believe You Are Forgiveness
Believing that we are forgiven, is a necessary part of forgiveness. When God forgives us, he erases our sins and gives us a fresh start. Believe that God has forgiven you, and walk in that freedom from the Father.
After we seek forgiveness, we must be changed by that forgiveness. When we repent, we turn away. And in turning away from our sin, we choose not to continue in it. While God will forgive us, it is up to us to make a change. We must change our relationship with the sin in our life, changing the direction away from our sin and closer to the Father.
5. Move Forward
Once we seek, accept, and repent from forgiveness, we must move forward from our sins. We are to move in the freedom of the Father, walk in his truth, and seek to become more like him each day.
While we seek the forgiveness of God and walk in the repentance we are called to, we must also remember to extend that same grace and forgiveness one to another. When the love of God lives in us, we allow that same spirit to guide, direct, and cover us in our relationships with others.
Let us walk together in the forgiveness of the Father, and let us also show love, grace, and compassion to others. As we get closer to God, we live more like him, allowing others to see the love of Christ in us.
"Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Ephesians 4:32 (NIV)
Written By: Tamika Mahomes
3. Connect With God Through Prayer
While we have journeyed through the importance of meeting with God through daily devotion and keeping his word through meditating on the word, prayer is another vital piece in our journey as believers.
We often make prayer seem like a task or something daunting, but the truth about prayer is that it is simply talking to God. We spend much of our day talking to people, such as our co-workers, friends and family. For most, these conversations are not approached with fear but rather confidence and freedom in expressing ourselves. The truth is that meeting with God is no different.
Prayer allows us to meet with God just as we are, understanding that just as we are is how he accepts us. When we undersand that God accepts us with our flaws, we know that we do not have to go to God pretending to be someone/something we are not.
The Necessity Of Prayer
In prayer, we communicate with God. We share our heart's desires and emotions. Through prayer, we draw near to God and open our hearts to be met and transformed by the Heavenly Father. Prayer is a two way conversation. It not only allows us to talk to God, but also allows God to speak to us.
What Does The Bible Teach About Prayer?
1. We Are To Pray Always
"Never stop praying" 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NLT)
The Bible is simple in its explanation, NEVER STOP PRAYING! Prayer, is not meant to be something we only do to start our day, rather it should be a continual conversation throughout the day. In these continual pockets of prayer, we show our dependence and trust on and in someone bigger than us. Let God be a part of your day, never stop praying!
2. We Are To Pray About Everything
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)
With God, nothing is off-limits. When we pray throughout the day, we should pray about everything. When we learn to pray about everything, we begin to exchange our anxieties and worries for God's strength. He is our listening ear.
3. In Prayer We Trust Gods Will
God is not a magic genie. He is our Heavenly Father. And when we meet with him, we must understand this truth, God's will, supersedes ours.
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Luke 22:42 (NIV)
When Jesus prayed before his death, he asked God to take his suffering away, only IF it was his will. In his human nature, Jesus did not want to suffer, but rather than demand God do things his way, he chose to trust in God. Trusting God and his will can be hard. And while we often approach God with our list of prayers and desires, we must realize and trust that his will, not ours, prevails. In prayer we share our heart's desire, but, ultamitely, God's will is over all!
4. There is No Formula To How We Pray
Pray does not have to sound well poised and put together. Prayer does not require that we follow a formula or script. Rather, we approach the Father, as we are and let him do the rest. Prayer lets us share our hearts to the Father, trust his plan for our lives, and allow him to move according to his will.
Connecting with God in prayer is necessary in our journey as believers. While prayer does not change who God is or what he does, God changes who we are and what we do. In prayer, we grow, change and become more like our Heavenly Father.
Join us back here next week for part 4!
Written By: Tamika Mahomes
In the last blog we covered the importance of making devotion a daily habit. Whether for 5 minutes or 5 hours, showing up and connecting with the word of God is necessary for finding God's direction and insight for our lives. In paired with daily devotion, it is not simply enough to read the word and walk away, rather, we have a call to meditate on the word.
2. Meditate On The Word
"This book of instruction must not depart from your mouth;you are to meditate on it day and night so that you may carefully observe everything written in it. For then you will prosper and succeed in whatever you do." Joshua 1:8 (CSB)
To produce growth in our walk with God, we must learn to let the word lead us, keep us and guide us. This practice begins with meditating on the word.
God's word helps to lead, guide, and become a compass for our life. God's word will never return void. God's word will never lead us in the wrong direction. In order to be lead by God's word, we must know God's word.
Meditating on the word helps us understand and apply it to our lives.
How Do I Meditate On The Word Of God?
Meditating on Gods word requires that we
1. Learn what it means
2. Apply it to our lives
How To Make Meditating A Daily Practice:
1. Pause and Reflect
When reading a passage, pause and reflect on what the word is saying. Reading God's word is where God is speaking to us. God's word is not to be rushed through, it is meant to be understood. Taking a few minutes after reading to reflect helps to undestand what the text means and how it applies to you. Take these moments to reflect and let the Lord speak to you.
2. Find a Good Commentary
Commentary helps us to provide a deeper context for the word we are reading. It is important to understand who the text is speaking to in that time and how it applies to us.
3. Pick one focus scripture from your study
When reading your passage during your devotional time, find one verse that speaks to you. Write that verse out, and keep it somewhere you can see if throughout the day. You can have a notecard on your desk at work, set a verse image as a background on your phone, or even highlight it in the Bible app.
3. Memorize and apply
"Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee." Psalm 119:21
It is necessary to learn the word for ourselves. We can commit scripture to memory by reading it over and over again. And each time you read it, unpack what it means and how it applies. When you begin to understand the why behind the scripture, it helps you to understand the how (how it applies to you).
The more we meditate on God's word, and the more we hide his word in us, the more we become like him.
Meditating on God's word is not in vain or a useless venture. Instead, it helps us as believers turn our daily devotion into daily practice.
Join us back here next week for part 3!
Written By: Tamika Mahomes
As one year ends and another begins, we often find ourselves in a state of reflection over our lives. I am not sure about you, but over the past year I realized my relationship with God fell by the wayside. I know addmitting that trust is hard, but for me, it was my reality. I prioritized other things, people, and activities above God. As I began to prepare for 2023, I started to understand that I did not want to start 2023 in the same place, spiritually, as I was when 2022 ended.
Whether you find yourself where I was or if you are in a place where you feel your faith grew exponentially, we ought never forget that growth is always a part of our journey. As believers in Christ we never reach a place where we stop learning, sharing, and growing.
James 4:8 (a) says:
"Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you." (CSB)
James reminds us the importance of drawing closer to God. It is when we draw near to God that he draws near to use. In those moments when we read the word and connect with the Father, we allow him to teach, lead and guide us. When we are intentional about prioritizing our relationship with God, growth happens.
How To Get Closer To God:
1. Make Daily Devotion A Priority
"But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you" Matthew 6:33 (CSB)
When we wake up for the day, it's easy to get started on our never ending list of tasks. But what if we let God be with us even in the midst of the chaos and busy. It is easy to feel guilty if we have no more than 5 minutes to devote to God, but the truth is not about time, its about intention.
We devote our time to our jobs, our families, our hobbies, our demands, and even our distractions. But what if we took that same devotion and intention and put it into our relationship with God? In order for us to be good spouses, friends, parents, anything, we must learn to be good servants of God. And servanthood, requires us to devote time to the one we serve.
How Do I Make Daily Devotion A Priority?
In order to make daily devotion a priority, here are two important things I want you to know:
1. It should work for YOU!
2. It does not have to be what you consider as ideal!
What does this mean?
While starting the day with God can help set the tone for the day, sometimes that is not possible, and that is okay, find a time that works for you! If you can only read later in the day, do it! If you only have time in the morning to say a quite prayer, great! If you only have time to read one scripture, perfect! Showing up for God has to work for you. Devotion with God should not feel like a duty but rather an honor. If you honor God, even in your little, he will greatly honor that!
Here Are 5 Ways To Show Up When Busy:
1. Read the Verse of the Day On YouVersion
2. Say a prayer while you are getting ready (more on this later)
3. Listen to an audio bible. *If you are looking for an upbeat version, try Streetlights.
4. Read it with your kids
5. Read/Listen during your lunch break or in the evening before bed
As we close, I want to leave you with this, show up for God, no matter how that looks for you! Life is busy and chaotic, but in the midst of it all I want to encourage you to find those pockets of time at the feet of the Father. Whether you can devote 5 mins or 5 hours, God sees and knows your heart. Lets be intentional on showing up in our walk with God this year, because it is when we show up that growth happens.
Join us back here next week for part 2!
By: Tamika Mahomes
In life, we are all faced with chaos. Our jobs, our families, unexpected health issues, financial burdens, and an array of many other things. And while chaos in our lives may not change, our response to it can. In today's passage, we see just that. Ruth 2:13 says:
“My lord,” she said, “I have found favor with you, for you have comforted and encouraged your servant, although I am not like one of your female servants.” (CSB)
To provide a quick backstory of this chapter, Naomi, who is the mother-in-law of Ruth lost her husband and her sons, one being the husband of Ruth. At this point in the text, both Naomi and Ruth have dealt with great loss. While they both are navigating the loss of a loved one, their response to the loss differed. Naomi was riddled with bitterness, while Ruth is seen to be moving forward in the midst of her grief.
In unpacking Ruth's story further, we see in Ruth 2, that while Ruth is going through her grief, she decided to let the Lord lead her. Ruth 2:2 says:
"Ruth the Moabitess asked Naomi, “Will you let me go into the fields and gather fallen grain behind someone with whom I find favor?”Naomi answered her, “Go ahead, my daughter.” (CSB)
Ruth here is asking Naomi for permission to go into the field, and while Ruth asks for permission to go, she does not ask Naomi which field to go to. Ruth did what she could and let God do the rest. In seeking permission, Ruth was doing what she in her human nature could do, but in determining where to go and the outcome, she left that to God. You see amid the tragedy Ruth was facing, she still chose to let God lead her.
This story serves as a remind that in life, we are all faced with some type of chaos, and in the midst of that chaos we are called to be lead by God. We are not called to go through it alone! Deuteronomy 31:6 serves as a reminder:
"Be strong and courageous; don’t be terrified or afraid of them. For the Lord your God is the one who will go with you; he will not leave you or abandon you.” (CSB)
You see, once we truly grasp and understand that we need to be led by God and not our emotions or our circumstance, we can then find peace, hope, and rest, even amid our biggest struggles.
You see Ruth's circumstances could have led to her being angry, bitter, or complaining, but rather she found hope in the midst of it all and had a spirit of gratefulness, even in the struggle. Instead of leaning into her human understanding, she chose to lean into the understanding and the path that God had for her. In this midst of her trail, she chose to trust the Father.
During hard times, we ought to remember this very truth, when we choose to stay with God he will lead us, guide us, and comfort us, even in the hardest of seasons. We can not go through these trails alone when our Father is standing right there with his hand waiting for us to let him in. We can be bitter or we can be grateful. We can be overcome with worry or we can be overcome with joy. We can carry our burdens or we can give the load to the one who is over every burden we could ever face. We can go through it alone, or we can be led by the Holy Spirit. The choice is ours but friend, I want to encourage you in this, You are NEVER alone, God is right there with you, lean on him!
As I close this blog, I want to remind you, learn to let God lead you through the midst of the uncertainty. While it may be a hard process, it is a necessary. Once you let God lead and allow him to walk with you through the chaos, I promise you will find peace, hope, and joy in the midst whatever you are facing. He is right there.
It is a word that comes and goes, but few people really know what it means to really love somebody.
These words are lyrics to one of my favorite songs, Love, by Kirk Franklin.
And in this month of February, we celebrate love.
This month the love we celebrate is typically centered around one another, but today, I want to talk about a different love,
The love of the Father.
"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love." - 1 John 4:7-8 (KJV)
The love of the Father is agape. And as we reflect on today's passage in 1 John 4, we see that agape love is a love that extends to us and extends from us. Agape love is unconditional love; it is a love that preservers regardless of situation or circumstance. Agape love is the love that led Jesus to the cross, to die for our sins, knowing that we may not choose him, even though he has chosen us. Agape love is a love that forgives and allows us another chance to get it right.
Agape love is Jesus. Jesus is Agape love.
The love that comes from the Father, is the love that lives in us.
So what do we do with that love, the same love we receive, the same love we do not deserve? The Bible is clear; we are to extend that love to one another. John 13: 34-35 says:
"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." (KJV)
The Bible says that when we know love and receive love, we as disciples of Christ share that love with others. While our love is not called to be perfect, our love is called to be patient, our love is called to be kind, our love is called not to be easily angered, and our love is called to persevere. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
Our love is a love called to try; it's a love called to forgive; it's a love that comes from the Father and lives not only in but through us.
So here is your reminder to love, here is your reminder to embrace God's love, and here is your reminder to let God's love live through you. Agape love friends!
By: Vivy Fomengia
When I hear the word peace, I remember who the Prince of Peace is, Jesus. I reflect on the joy that fills my heart when I heed the Holy Spirit’s instruction. I ponder the calmness that I experience during hardship. With exceptional gratitude, I consider walking into my home, a physical space where no distress lingers. I tend to get lost in my thoughts, so when my inner peace is disrupted, I experience external anguish through sickness, pain, and restless nights. “Anything that costs you your peace is too expensive.” A mandate that I abide by as this beautiful truth fosters my desire to do all that I can to protect the glorious gift of divine peace.
One of the most memorable experiences related to peace is when I quit my first full-time job shortly after graduating with an MBA from Hampton University. Once I left this company, I endeavored on about ten different job interviews and did not receive one offer in return. I was distraught and felt rejected. Unexpectedly, I was positioned to engage in conversation with the president of a consulting firm. Following our enriching dialogue, God moved on his heart to extend a job offer to me without a formal interview. Although I was overwhelmed with gratitude, I vacillated with if this was God or the enemy taking advantage of the desperation I felt in securing stable employment.
I contemplated the health benefits, the potential for professional growth, the salary, the position change, the new company culture, and the like. As I prayerfully considered this gracious offer, there were no red flags in my spirit or anything that contradicted God’s word. Thankfully, my spiritual mentors quickly reminded me that my fervent prayer had been for God to shut ALL doors that were not for me and open only the ONE door from Him. That was when I knew I could accept the job offer. God had answered my prayer. There were weeks when I worked long hours, but I still felt I belonged there. About 1.5 years later, I sensed a significant shift in my peace, and I quit. Within the next year, I was presented with the opportunity to return, and I did.
During each juncture of the journey, ruminating the job, accepting the job, working at the job, leaving the job, and returning to the position, I prayed.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)
I have made long-lasting friendships, been given exceptional support as a first-time mom, and received tremendous accolades for my performance while at the firm. As I take inventory of some of the highlights: peace that surpasses all understanding is evidence that good fruits have been birthed from my connection with this firm.
Valerie Fomengia, aka Vivy, leverages her personal financial experiences and her passion to educate others as the basis to help African Americans become financially aware. She is a government contractor by day, financial coach by night, and mom to a toddler 24/7. Vivy also loves to sleep, travel, exercise, binge watch Netflix, and sob her heart out to authentic Christian worship music. Connect with Vivy via her Instagram account @vivymotivates or her website!
By: Tamika M.
"The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" John 1:29 (NIV)
Tis' the season to celebrate Jesus.
We do not celebrate a tree; we do not celebrate Santa; we celebrate the answer to the sin of the world.
The answer that you and I needed before we even knew that we needed it.
Jesus is the answer that takes away the sin of the world.
The Bible reminds us in Romans 3:23:
"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (KJV)
All. Not some. All.
We have all sinned, we have all fallen short, and we all, yes ALL, need a Savior.
We all need Jesus.
I know that we sometimes teach the part of salvation, that Jesus died for us, and that he gives us a chance at eternity with him.
But sometimes, we miss the other truth, the truth that we do not deserve forgiveness.
The truth that salvation gives us not only the opportunity to walk in the forgiveness of Christ, but it also requires us to walk in obedience.
Jesus is the full answer for our sins, but his sacrifice calls us to greater.
His sacrifice calls us to change the way that we live.
His sacrifice calls us not to leave the presence of Jesus unchanged.
What love it was that he died for us. And what beauty is our heart's response to live for him.
This season ought not to be one where we miss the true answer that Jesus gave to the earth, but this season ought to be one when we walk in and share the truth of what Jesus did, why he did it, and what our hearts response ought to be.
Salvation cost something, and not just today, but every day. And our hearts response should be one that lives in reference, giving all glory, honor, and praise to the Lamb!
By: Tamika M.
"But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship" Galatians 4:4-5 (NIV)
Over 2000 years ago, God became flesh and walked this earth.
He walked this earth with a purpose.
Born in a manger, walked the earth, facing persecution.
He came, he died, and he rose, so that we can be adopted as his sons and daughters.
Many people can not honestly say they could answer that call.
While the truth is that Jesus was altogether God, he was also fully man.
He hurt as we hurt, he suffered as we suffer, he was ridiculed, despised, and shamed.
But despite the things that came up against him, he preserved, he pressed, and he did what no other man on this earth has done.
He did the impossible; he answered the impossible call so that you and I can have eternal life.
What beauty is found in the Savior.
What beauty found in the truth that he answered that call.
And what beauty that the answer represents.
In this season, let us keep the truth of the cross at the center.
Let us not get so focused on our problems that we miss the problem solver.
Let us not miss the beauty of the answer to the call.
Let us not forget the answer that is found in the cross!