Posted by: TLC Fellowship | January 2, 2015

Two, Ten, Forty

“After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.” ~ Matthew 4:2

(Recent) true story: I had a technical problem with my cable/internet provider, and was without both for a couple of hours. This was so minor, I know, and I wasn’t without other things to do. But what I really wanted at the time was to watch college football, specifically, the Oregon-Florida State playoff game. So the forced silence was ridiculously, shamefully tough to sit and wait through. Two hours, and I could have continued reading Pride and Prejudice, which I’d never read before. Two hours, and I could have finished sewing project #5.

Two hours, and I could have done what I’m doing right now.

Thank God for His Son, the perfect role model, and for this humbling scripture.

Jesus went forty days and forty nights without food, away from family and friends, and into an unfamiliar place. Other than the sun, moon, and ground beneath His feet, it was just Him. And He was in the right place, at the right time, to spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically prepare for a 3 ½ year ministry that would change the world forever.

How far and where the personal journey in ministry will go, I don’t know. But I do know that if my Lord and Savior could fast forty straight days and nights, without complaint, and still have strength and will to resist temptation from His adversary, then I will set aside the little “creature comforts” for ten days.

And I will definitely do it for two little hours.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for the lesson in experience and the Holy Word. I pray that as TLC follows the Daniel fast, you will put us in perfect position to make a lasting, positive change in this world. Amen.

Written by Shelby Nelms, member of TLC Fellowship

Posted by: TLC Fellowship | December 22, 2014

God With Us

by Pastor Derrick Wright, TLC Associate Minister

“But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.’” (Luke 1:30-33)

It was the night before final exams my junior year in college and I was feeling sad, hopeless and depressed. This season was supposed to be filled with joy, love and expectations, however, I had reached the end of my rope and did not know how to tie a knot and hang on until my help could come.

I always heard that I should look to the hills from whence my help would come, but I could only see dark clouds with no hills in sight. I have no doubt that many people may feel this same way during this Advent and Christmas Season.

We only need to see and hear the daily newscast to realize that the world that we live in is in constant turmoil with fragile race relations, terrorism, injustice, poverty, unemployment, underemployment… the list goes on and on. Oh, did I mention that it seems that we are always short on cash?

What and who can bring hope to a hopeless situation? I am glad that you asked that question because there is only one answer and His name is Jesus, who will save us from our sins. His name shall be called Emmanuel and God is with us!!

Jesus was born into this same kind of turmoil over 2000 years ago, and reminds us this Advent and Christmas Season that He will be with us and give us hope to press on by faith.

It was 34 years ago during this season that I wanted to give up on life at the tender age of 20. As I knelt down on my knees to pray that night in my college dorm room, I asked God to show me the way or I could not go on is this life. What an Awesome God we serve! I don’t remember much after that, but the next morning I got up early and had the amazing peace in my heart that passes all understanding. God had answered my prayer, and I have been running for Jesus ever since. My help did come right on time!

If you are feeling down and out, you can come through this season of darkness because Jesus is our eternal light that can never be put out!! Remember, Jesus lives within you and His Word says in Ephesians 3:20, “Now to Him who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think.”

Happy Advent, Merry Christmas and Have a Blessed New Year! Grace & Peace.

Posted by: TLC Fellowship | December 14, 2014

The Joy of Jesus

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by Shelby Nelms, TLC Fellowship member 

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor….”  (Isaiah 61:1)

A lot has happened in this world— in particular in the United States— since the 1st Sunday of Advent this year.  I’ve seen and read things that, pardon the grammar, just ain’t right.  For every wrong that is publicized in multiple forms of media, there are countless others that go unseen and unheard.  How strange is it then to zoom out and view the entire world and still feel joy deep within?  How strange is it to feel that level of confidence that comes with joy?

If we think about the real reason for this, I mean really think about it, I know that it’s not so strange at all.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about God, it’s this: whatever He says He’ll do, whatever He inspires His prophets, writers, preachers and teachers to share with God’s people, it will come to pass.  We can pick up any translation of God’s Word and see that this has always been the case, and it was completely realized with the entrance of the Son of God to this world. Regardless of the bleakness, pain, frustration, fear, anger and hatred that have plagued humanity for millennia, we — God’s people who He knew and called His own when we were still in the womb—have something inside of us that cannot be taken, cannot be destroyed.

We have the joy of Jesus Christ and the deliverance, healing, freedom and justice He brings. We have the confidence that in God’s time and in His way, wrongs are righted, faith is renewed and hearts are healed. Like Dottie Peeples sang, He is an on time God. I sho’ nuff can testify to this.

As believers, the joy of Jesus became part of our DNA the instant we accepted Him as Lord and personal Savior. Try as the enemy might – and that rascal certainly has been busy in just this year alone—he cannot take that from us. He can’t stop the Good News from reaching the darkest of hearts. He can’t bind who the Lord has set free. He can’t break who the Lord has healed.

He can’t lay a finger on the joy of the Lord, which is indeed our salvation.

Prayer: Lord, the joy that we have, the world didn’t give it and the world can’t take it away from us. Remind us of this fact every moment so that we live as the joint of heirs of Christ that You called us to be. Amen.

Posted by: TLC Fellowship | December 8, 2014

Waiting for Forgiveness

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Written by Lacy Aaron, member of TLC Fellowship

25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. ~ Mark 11:25

The second candle of Advent symbolizes love and love embraces and encompasses forgiveness. Christ came to show us how to love and forgive by living it, as stated in Mark 11:25, “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

As Christians, forgiveness of those who have done us wrong at one point in time can be a hard and bitter pill to swallow. We can shout all day long to God saying, “Open your flood gates of blessings to me, Lord, I have been faithful in your word and teachings.” Yet if you do not have the smallest measure of forgiveness, you will be waiting a very long time.

How can you expect God to forgive or bless you if you cannot do the same? Forgiveness is the strongest test towards your faith, right next to patiently waiting for your blessing. In the Lord’s prayer, does it not say “as we forgive those who have trespassed against us?” If we recite the Lord’s prayer word for word, are we not lying to God and ourselves when it comes to this verse of the prayer?

Waiting for forgiveness…waiting for forgiveness from God…waiting for forgiveness of ourselves…free your heart and mind of this one word.

Prayer: Lord I am sorry for all I have done wrong, holding a grudge, not waiting and believing in your word. One simple prayer can change and do so much for your faith and soul.

Posted by: TLC Fellowship | November 29, 2014

Hoping For Jesus

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by Shelby Nelms, a member of TLC Fellowship

Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember your ways….” ~ Isaiah 64:4-5b

Try as I might, I just can’t help getting excited for Christmas. The traditional sights and sounds, the food—I look forward to this like I was still that skinny little bony-kneed girl living in the oil patches of West Texas. I can hardly wait for the presents, not so much the receiving but the giving and expressions on the faces of loved ones. Focusing beyond all this, and the effort to maintain traditions in an age where obsolescence is almost as second nature as breathing, there is something else that I look forward to, that I hope for, something believers do even though they may not think about it all the time.

I hope for Jesus Christ.

I hope for the Lamb of God to show up in the lives of people who’ve spent years burdened by sin-sick souls, and heal them.

I look for the Lord of Lords to cast His unfailing line to the people who are at their wits’ end of obstacles and trials, and pull them through to victory.

I anticipate the Righteous One to restore the joy of salvation to and renew the strength of those who have been doing Kingdom-building work but have gotten a little tired and worn.

I patiently wait for the Son of God to show those who have thought they were unlovable just how much He loved them over two thousand years ago, and how much He loves them now.

For this year especially, beginning in this season of Advent, I hope for Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior, to do exceedingly and abundantly more than anyone can ask or think.

Prayer: Lord God, like the joy children feel on Christmas morning, I pray for a greater joy to be manifest in the lives of your children who are waiting for you, a joy that only you can bring. Let this season of Advent be more than a reminder or acknowledgement of traditions; let it be a testimony to this world of who you are, and what you can do. Amen.

Posted by: TLC Fellowship | October 12, 2014

Am I Loved?

by Chameka Jacques, member of TLC Fellowship

4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.   1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ( NKJV)

As a woman who speaks my mind, I always say, “I wish someone would put their hands on me!” The cliché that you always hear is, “How could she just stay and let someone abuse her?” It’s easier to say until you are in an abusive relationship. Your mind tells you that you wouldn’t tolerate this or that. I felt the same way until my life changed. I went from being outgoing, fun and loving life to an isolated person that didn’t feel good about myself.

I didn’t know until I became saved and started reading the Bible that I was in an abusive relationship. I was humiliated, often told I was nothing, kept away from family and friends, and given an allowance. I was taught that this was love and he wouldn’t do this to me unless he loved me. He is only making sure that I’m okay. Well, that’s what he told me. He just wanted to make sure that I was not hurt by family or other people. He was the only one that loved me. You don’t realize that you are being stripped of self-worth.

Although I was never abused physically, I was abused. You see, abuse comes in several forms–physical, emotional, verbal, and psychological. The average person thinks abuse is just physical, but that’s not so. Most men and women who are abused have been taught that this is a form of love from their abuser. Love doesn’t hurt; love doesn’t make you feel useless. Love is good, strong, faithful, peaceful, trusting. So ask yourself today–am I loved?

Prayer: Father, our God in Heaven, help us to understand what love is, what love will do and the sense of comfort that love will bring to a lonely spirit. Help us to know that you are there for us. When we call out your name, you hear our cries and prayers. Teach us to understand that we are not alone. Give us the strength of David, to know we can stand up to any Goliath as long as we know you are on our side. When we feel that we are at our darkest time, shine your light to help us see the path to your love. In all things let Your will be done. This is my prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Editor’s Note: We are grateful to Chameka for sharing her experiences from a previous relationship in order to help others. She is now happily married and enjoying life in a loving and supportive relationship with her husband and son.

Posted by: TLC Fellowship | June 6, 2014

Poured and Received

by Shelby Nelms, member of TLC Fellowship

1When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues [a] as the Spirit enabled them.

15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

17 “‘In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.  ~ Acts 2:1-4, 15-18 (NIV)

No matter how many times I heard or read about Pentecost and its significance in both the Jewish and Christian faiths, I was always drawn to the details of that event 50 days after Passover. I could see the 120 believers behind closed doors during the Festival of Weeks, wondering what they were to do with Jesus Christ ascended to Heaven, and a city of detractors and persecutors looking for them. I could see this group of men and women starting to feel low and alone once more, and the appearance of the Holy Spirit when they needed it the most: the sound of a wind that shook the building, the tongues of fire that appeared above their heads, and the sudden speaking of languages from across the known world. I could even see Peter—the resident fighter, doubter and curser (because we know he did)—step up and speak with the boldness Jesus knew he had inside him.

Yet, while reading, hearing, and imagining that amazing moment in the history of Christianity, I had never really focused on the cause of the specifics, until now. Peter’s rebuttal to the accusation of drunkenness was to quote Joel 2:28-32:

“‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below….’”

It was God saying, “I will pour out my Spirit on all people” that struck a chord with me. He didn’t say “I will sprinkle my Spirit”, like flicking drops of water that evaporate upon contact. God poured the Holy Spirit into those early believers—a group as diverse as the body of Christ is today—knowing it would soak past their carnal surface. He knew that wondering what they were to do with Jesus Christ ascended to Heaven, and a city of detractors and persecutors looking for them would settle into their souls and transform them into witnesses, preachers, teachers, healers, etc.—all their world needed.

The amazing and humbling thing is how much love and care God showed by pouring the Holy Spirit into you and me, people with more than their fair share of issues. Knowing who we were, and who we would become by choosing to accept Him, He did this. There may not have been visual tongues of fire over our heads, but we were transformed, right when we needed it most.

To quote an old family friend, “God is a smart fella.” Yes, He is.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for your soul-saving, transforming, absolutely amazing love and power. Thank you for your Holy Spirit, for pouring it into our lives. Let us not take it for granted, nor be stingy and hide it from this world. Instead, embolden us to declare without fear that you are God alone, reigning high, looking low, and ready to save all who would call on your holy name. Amen.

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Posted by: TLC Fellowship | April 16, 2014

Relevance

by Angela Hudson Wright, member of TLC Fellowship

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son so that anyone who believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  ~ John 3:16 (TLB)

In preparation for writing this devotional, I struggled with choosing focus scriptures. The deadline was fast approaching, and each day brought more items added to my “to do” list. What to do? What to do!?! (Breathe)

The topics of “Awakening” “Awake”, “Purpose” were surrounding me and my spirit kept repeating, “John 3:16.” Finally, I took “I” out of the equation and sat still to listen. I felt my soul rejoicing because God loves me enough to require the sacrifice of His son. I felt my heart bursting with joy because Jesus loves me SO MUCH that He died for me—sight unseen—just because God wanted Him to; and I felt my spirit soar with gratitude because I have a counselor who will guide me, and speak to me, and listen to me whenever I need Him. I realized just how much a part of my life Jesus is—not because he “demands” to be the center of my life, but He is.

I was introduced to Jesus from a very young age, thank the Lord, and I accepted Him into my life at 6 years old. He is. My Sunday school teachers made Him alive for me. My parents modeled His love to me. My pastors preached of His salvation and love for me. My children and grandchildren remind me of His blessings to me. My husband reminds me of his care for me. My sisters remind me of His joy in me. My nieces and nephews remind me of our family legacy…He is.

I am aware. I realize that I only need to follow Jesus’ blueprint: Obedience. Agape Love. Sacrifice. Knowing, without a shadow of a doubt, the sound of God’s voice, I’ve lived long enough and put God to the test enough to know when He is speaking to me. I need only to act. I can do no less than be all I can for Him. I must do all He wants me to do to bring others to Him because He is. “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the bible tells me so…” He is.

Hallelujah, Hallelujah! Hosanna, Hosanna! “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain…!” Revelation 5:12, LB

“For a child has been born for us; a son given to us. Authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”Isaiah 9:6 (NRSV)

Posted by: TLC Fellowship | December 14, 2013

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

by Marsha Gordon, member of TLC Fellowship

“And what a difference between our sin and God’s generous gift of forgiveness. For this one man, Adam, brought death to many through his sin. But this other man, Jesus Christ, brought forgiveness to many through God’s bountiful gift. And the result of God’s gracious gift is very different from the result of that one man’s sin. For Adam’s sin led to condemnation, but we have the free gift of being accepted by God, even though we are guilty of many sins. The sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over us, but all who receive God’s wonderful, gracious gift of righteousness will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.    Romans 5:15-17 (NLT)

“Each year we are reminded that Christmas should not be just about giving and receiving presents. But, if [we] truly think about Christmas, it is, indeed, all about gift giving! At Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the greatest gift ever given, by the greatest gift-giver of all, our wonderful God and Father!” *

When I read the above on a recent blog post I thought—okay, I can go with that. Over time, the Christmas season has become very annoying to me. I hate what now defines the Christmas season—endless, mindless shopping, decorations that are up right after Halloween, commercial after commercial about sales, sales, and more sales…

The holiday is truly about the gift of Christ to humanity. However, I (as do many of you) feel that we have lost focus on the real gift. Our vision becomes clouded by the trappings of materialism, excess, and commercialism. Christ somehow gets tossed to the bottom of the pile of like the sweater we didn’t really want, or the re-gifted item we plan to re-gift next year.

This year, I pray we refocus and reclaim the most precious gift we can receive this season and always—the gift of Christ.  Jesus Christ…the gift that truly keeps on giving!

Prayer: Dear God we thank you for your amazing love! You have shown us through your gift of Jesus just how special we are to you! Help us to stay focused on the “true star” of Christmas—Jesus Christ.

* Excerpt from: “The Twelve Days of Christmas-Day One” by Mary Fairchild

Posted by: TLC Fellowship | October 18, 2013

Domestic Violence–A Silent Killer

By Marsha Gordon, member of TLC Fellowship

“Every day 3 women die because of domestic violence.” – National Network to End Domestic Violence

The above statistic is startling! Yet, when the subject of domestic violence comes up, we often want to sweep it under the rug, because the subject matter is too uncomfortable for most people to discuss. For this reason, domestic violence can be a “silent” killer. However, think about how uncomfortable it is our daughters, sisters, mothers, friends, and even brothers or sons who live daily in abusive relationships. Contrary to what we would like to believe, domestic violence doesn’t happen somewhere else…it happens in our homes, neighborhoods, families, and yes—even our churches. Domestic violence does not discriminate according to age, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or economic status. Anyone can be a victim!

In a study commissioned by the Avon Foundation for Women, the following findings were cited:

  • 60% of Americans know a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault.
  • Three out of four (73%) parents with children under the age of 18 said that they have not had a conversation about domestic violence or sexual assault with their children.
  • 67% of Americans say they have not talked about domestic violence with their friends; even more, 73% have not discussed sexual assault
  • Even though 75% of Americans say that they would step in and help a stranger being abused, the reality is most people do not help.
  • For example, among the 70% of women who experienced domestic violence and then told someone about it, more than half (58%) said that no one helped them.
  • But 64% of Americans say if we talk more about domestic violence and sexual assault, it would make it easier to help someone.

“The Avon Foundation for Women funded this survey to better understand why domestic violence and sexual assault remain so inherently hidden and marginalized in our society,” said Carol Kurzig, President of the Avon Foundation for Women. “The data shows us that conversations about these issues simply are not happening. That silence leaves victims trapped by the shame, stigma and fear that these crimes carry. If we can encourage more people to start talking, we can end that cycle and bring these issues to light in a new way.”

The month of October is nationally recognized as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, but this is a crisis issue that occurs 24/7. According to statistics, 1 in 4 women are victims of abuse. TLC Fellowship encourages you to take a stand—become informed, involved, learn the warning signs of abuse, and help to put an end to the silent killer.

Persons in immediate danger who need assistance are encouraged to contact 911. In addition, you may also seek help by contacting the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233) / 800-787-3224 (TTY). Local Dallas area residents can also contact The Family Place Crisis Hotline at 214-941-1991.

Information for this article compiled from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the National Network to End Domestic Violence.

For additional information on domestic violence, visit these websites:
The Family Place: http://www.familyplace.org/home
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence: http://www.ncadv.org/
National Network to End Domestic Violence: http://www.nnedv.org/

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