Entries by Juanita McKenzie

7 Things to Remember When Hard Times Hit

7 Things to Remember When Hard Times Hit

March 28,  2020

Juanita McKenzie

Written by Pastor Juanita McKenzie

We all have felt the global impact of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.  So, what do you do when hard times hit? In this life, we are bound to face trials, challenges, and some unpleasant situations that will break us down and make us feel alone. But Jesus has already told us that all these things will surely come.  

He told us so that we can brace up ourselves and do the right thing. So, when someone says life is hard, there is no argument to that. We face tough situations in different areas of our lives. Some might be battling with their health whilst others might be battling with their finances. Yet, we all face difficulties.

Going through hard times makes you stronger. Everybody will face his or her own challenges in life. Yet, these challenges serve as a stepping stone to greatness if we face them and fight. In order to overcome these hard times in life, there are things that must remain top of mind, things we need to remember.

1. Remember God to Survive Hard Times

If everyone is leaving you alone, family and friends are going, remember God. God will never leave you. Deuteronomy 31:6 – “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” 

This is what the Lord has promised us. If challenges come, God will use them to help strengthen us.  He will be there to help us fight whenever it seems family and friends are leaving us.

Remember God’s love. If God can send his only son to die for us, then are we going to say He has stopped loving us? God has not stopped loving us – his love will show us comfort in hard times. We should not blame God for the bad things happening.

However, many people blame God for their downfall; they blame God for their deteriorating health. God doesn’t want sickness for you; God loves you and He promised to heal.  Jeremiah 30:17 “For I will restore health to you and heal you of your wounds,’ says the Lord, ‘Because they called you an outcast saying: “This is Zion; No one seeks her.”

2. Nothing Lasts Forever

The truth is that whatever you are facing right now will not last forever. Psalm 30:5 “For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” 

There is a time for everything on earth. What you are facing only makes you grow stronger and teaches you to trust in God when hard times come.

It’s not enough to believe that it will be over soon but to know that if it will come again, you will surely overcome it. Since it doesn’t last forever, simply focus on the brighter side, focus on what is good.  

Any time I face a situation that is so unpleasant, I learn to adapt and then look into the future because I know God has better plans for me. So, the situation is just there to prepare me for it. It might look like it will not be over but soon it will be over and the tears will turn to joy.

3. All Things Work Together for Good

Are you sad because of what you are going through right now? Don’t let your present situation weigh you down. Paul struggled with his past life and when he received inspiration from Jesus, he came to this conclusion in Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Paul wrote this particular verse of the Bible. You can imagine what he was thinking before writing this. This is coming from someone who had faced great tribulation. He endangered his life by the preaching of the gospel. Yet, he wrote that “All things work together for good.”

If you have been weighed down by your past, or what’s happening to you right now, leave it to Jesus. He will turn all into joy and you will receive strength. Do you remember Jabez, who was born in sorrow?  He was poor and weighed down because of his past. His mother had pronounced evil on him (1 Chronicles 4:9). But Jabez cried out unto the Lord and his story was changed.

4. The Promises of God

Don’t blame God for all that is happening to you, but remember God’s promises. Don’t let what’s happening now hide the promise of God away from your sight. If God promises a thing, He will always do it because He honors His word. 

Hebrews 10:23 “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”

God promised a wonderful ending not otherwise. So, we shouldn’t think it’s over for us when a little problem hits us but look into the promises. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and an expected end.”

5. The Name of Jesus

When we are in danger and we need help, what we often do is to shout for help. In this same manner, for us to be saved from hard times, we need to call on the name of the Lord. 

Romans 10:13 “for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” When you call on the name of the Lord, He answers and saves you not only from the destruction but also from the guilt of sin.  Also, from temptations, trials, hell, and from the judgment of God that will befall on the wicked ones.

The Lord Himself told us to call Him in times of our trouble and He will deliver us (Psalm 50:15).  It’s never too late to call on the Lord. Whatever situation you are in right now, the best thing you need to do is to call on Jesus. Psalm 145:18 “The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.”

The blind man, Bartimaeus, when he heard Jesus coming, he didn’t mind his situation – he called on Jesus. Imagine what he must have gone through with his blindness, frustration, and rejections.   

Yet, he couldn’t let this opportunity be wasted – he cried for mercy; he cried because he wanted to be saved. Because Jesus is near to those that call him, He answered him and saved him. Don’t allow anybody to silence you, don’t allow your thoughts to silence you, but instead, cry out to Jesus for help.

6. Remember God’s Grace

You are not better than those that faced the same challenges you are facing but couldn’t get through.  Some have lost their battle with the same sickness, which you survived. You are not better, but it’s just the grace of God you are enjoying. 

His grace has been there for you and whatever you go through, remember that His grace is enough for you. 2 Corinthians 12:9 “And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

7. Your Divine Assignment

You are not in this world for nothing; you have been created for a purpose. God has chosen you so you cannot let any situation change that. Focus on the purpose, be purpose driven and not situation driven. Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; before you were born, I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”

Remember the relationship you have in Christ. Whatever God says we are, depends on the type of relationship we have with Him. For those that are far from Him, those that don’t obey what He says, He called them “The wicked.”  He will pass judgment on them.

2 Timothy 3:3 “They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” These are the typical characteristics of  wicked people. This is not your own fate as you have Christ and a purpose. Remember the purpose and let it take you through the hard times.

Keeping the Faith When Hard Times Hit

Remember that the first step in staying calm and holding your faith when hard times hit is to meditate on God’s Word. Your circumstances are merely a temporary inconvenience and won’t last forever. Surely, all things in the end always work for your ultimate good. 

Pray with faith and continue to focus on the promises of God. And when in danger, call on His name. God’s grace is sufficient for us. Keep renewing your mind and building up your faith in God for you were created with a great purpose. 

Nurture your spirit, soul and body and continually offer praise and thanksgiving unto your Heavenly Creator. Following these tips will help you to deal with the hard times when they eventually hit.

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Accepting God’s Promises

Accepting God's Promises

April 2, 2019

Juanita McKenzie

Written by Pastor Juanita McKenzie

Have you been wondering how to activate God’s promises?  The word of the Lord is full of promises to us to assure us that He will never leave us in times of trouble. God will not just make promises, He will fulfill them too because He is more than faithful.

God also honors His word and none of His spoken words will go unfulfilled. Isaiah 55:11 ~ “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

Popular Scriptures Featuring God’s Promises

There are countless promises in the Bible for believers. Here are just a few well-known promises:

God said, “I will not leave you nor forsake you.” (Joshua 1:5)


“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8)


“Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” (Ps 37:4)

Stay Focused On God’s Promises

The scriptures above are encouraging, yet the journey of life is not smooth.  Surely, we need faith in God for life’s defining moments. Focusing is like walking on a very narrow bridge.  Should we look elsewhere, we might lose balance and then fall. 

To stay focused on the promises of God, we need dedication.  Whatever we do in this life, if we are not dedicated to it, it would be easy for us to lose focus.

The call of God for our lives is an essential one. Therefore, we must remain focused and dedicated to doing the things entrusted to our hands by God. However, so many people have swerved off the course. 

1 Timothy 1:6 ~ “From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling;” This happened to them not because they were not strong but because they did not take heed. 1 Corinthians 10:12 ~ “Therefore let him who thinks he stands to take heed that he does not fall.”

Be Obedient When God Promises You Something

Even though some are still standing on the right path, it’s expected that some will still depart. 1 Timothy 4:1 “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.”

This means that many will still abandon the promises of God and they will go for the vague and empty promises of man. We should do all it takes to stand on the right path, the path of Christ and never swerve. 

We need to build our love for the things of God.  We need to let love grow daily. Doing this will help us to depend on Him and do whatever He says. John 14:15 ~ “If you love Me, obey My commandments.”

Related: A Call For Obedience

 

Benefits of Accepting God’s Promises

Let’s consider four reasons why we should accept and hold onto God’s promises:

  1. They guide you to take the path of safety.

Oftentimes, there seems to be confusion on which way to go.  It’s at this time, some evil thoughts will come to you and the words of man, which contains empty promises will come to you. They will surely come your way to make you follow them but you must not listen to them.

Proverbs 1:10 ~ “My son, if sinful men entice you, do not give in to them.” The promises of God will direct you to the path of safety. They will give you ideas that will help you to discern the way out of trouble. Proverbs 11:14 ~ “Where there is no guidance, a people fall, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”

  1. They help you to work according to God’s plan for your life.

This is another importance of accepting the promises of God. If you don’t know and rely on His promises to better understand God’s ways, you can never know the real plan of God for your life. God has a plan for everybody and we confirm that through studying the scriptures. Jeremiah 29:11 ~ “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

It’s a promise to us. He has plans that will make us prosper with ease and never have to struggle. When you know the plans of God for your life, you will work according to the plan and things will work out for you. They are there also to correct and redirect us whenever we are going away from the plans of God.

  1. Another reason is that they encourage us in Christ.

When you see the promises of God fulfilled, you’ll remember that God surely honors His name. Then you will be encouraged to keep going and never give up. Romans 1:12 NLT ~ “When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but also I want to be encouraged by yours.” When we feel like we can’t do things we proposed in our heart or remain afraid of getting things done, God’s promises are always there to encourage us to stand strong.

  1. They help us to believe in tomorrow.

The promises of God give us assurance of a better tomorrow irrespective of what our past might be (Jeremiah 29:11). When we accept the fact that God will make our ending a better one, we will have no worries. Matthew 6:26 ~ “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”

Conclusion

God makes many promises in the Bible, and the ones particularly pertaining to His children are the ones that we sometimes have trouble accepting! Why is that? Simply put, we are to trust the Lord and obey Him. 

Yes, God’s promises are available to us if we’ll just believe in faith, obey and keep our hearts soft toward Him. In return, we can know that He will accomplish everything He told us He would do. The faithful Christian understands how to pray with persistent patience and will stand strong upon God’s promises. Will you?

 

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The Keys of The Kingdom

The Keys of The Kingdom

March 11, 2019

Juanita McKenzie

Written by Pastor Juanita McKenzie

What are the “keys of the kingdom” you ask?  In both the Old and New Testaments, keys symbolize power and authority. Astonishingly, Jesus gives to Peter and the church (that is, to us) ‘the keys of the kingdom.’  Jesus was talking to Peter – “And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:19).

So many Christians feel incapable and powerless, lacking in any kind of spiritual authority. They do not seem to comprehend what Jesus has given to them. You are not helpless. You possess the immense privilege of having been given ‘the keys of the kingdom’.  There’s authority given to every Christian upon receipt of the keys.

In verse 18 of Matthew 16, Jesus told Peter, “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”  Accordingly, we have been told to seek the Kingdom first, which is why getting these keys is necessary. Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

Building His church on Peter meant he would start a church through him. Peter might not be the rock itself, because Jesus Christ alone is the chief cornerstone. However, there were important keys that Jesus gave Peter, which allowed him the authority of binding and loosing (locking and unlocking). Let’s discover how we can obtain these ‘keys of the kingdom.’

Gain Access to God by Salvation

Undoubtedly, this is an important key.  Without this particular one, no one obtains the authority. This particular key unlocks and Jesus confirmed this in John 3:3. He was talking to Nicodemus here about this key and how important it is to get it. He said to Nicodemus, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Peter confessed and acknowledged the fact that Jesus is the Christ. Matthew 16:16 – “Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” The is the basic requirement to be saved given by the scripture. Romans 10:9 “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Acknowledge that Jesus Christ is The Way

You’ve got to fall in love with Jesus. There is no other way to get these keys at all without Him.  He’s the one that gives them to us. James 1:17 – “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” These gifts spoken about here called “perfect” are the keys needed. Jesus is God’s gift to mankind and if anyone wants to access the kingdom, must go through Him.

Jesus shared that there is no way to the kingdom of God without Him.  He is the only way and other keys revolve around him. John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Receive the Keys of The Kingdom by Faith

For us Christians, faith is essential and without it, we can’t please God.  In Matthew 16:18 Peter lacked boldness and couldn’t open or close the gates to the kingdom because he didn’t yet possess the keys, which God was promising him.  

Eventually, Peter grabbed the key of faith and was able to stand and face the crowd. That day, Peter used this key to unlock the kingdom for people to enter. After Peter had spoken, many gave their lives to Christ, which meant they also got the keys. “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; that day about three thousand souls were added to them.” ~ Acts 2:41

Realize Your Power and See Lives Changed

When Jesus told Peter that, “whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” it involved power. 1 Corinthians 4:20 “For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power.” Peter demonstrated the power – the power to speak and the power to unlock the kingdom.

Luke 11:20 – “But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you” (KJV).  Jesus was talking here about the power and the kingdom, which is sufficiently obvious. As the “hand” denotes power generally, so the “finger” symbolizes power in its concentrated and specially-directed energy. Clearly, God was the source of His power to cast out demons.

Study God’s Word

The revelation of the word is key. Jesus told a parable of a man that bought a field. Matthew 13:44 ~ “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy, over it, he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” 

The kingdom is compared to land filled with treasures.  But to obtain this treasure or to locate it, there must be a guide, compass or map.  In this same way, the Bible is like a map to the treasure, which is the Kingdom.  Knowing God’s Word is surely necessary to locate and unlock the kingdom.

Understand the Purpose & Power of Prayer

According to the book of Ephesians, God’s desire is for us to pray “on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” (Ephesians 6:18). 

That is simply because prayer is key for all Christians. It locks and unlocks. When Jesus gave Peter the keys, in order to activate every other key, prayer was required. Accordingly, to open the kingdom for people to enter, prayer must be used. 

The apostles were all locked up in the upper room praying. Before Peter came out boldly to preach, which led a thousand souls to Christ, he had also prayed.  Matthew 7:7 “Ask, and it will be given to you seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

Recognize Your Divine Assignment

God will use you to call people into the kingdom – that’s your divine assignment. The apostles were used in the Bible. Jesus called them unto Himself for the work He had for them.  While Jesus stayed with them, however, the real work started after they left. 

The people of the world want to see the kingdom of God but they need a key. That’s why they are awaiting your manifestation. Romans 8:19 “For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.”

You are the one to bring people into the kingdom. 1 Corinthians 3:16 ~ “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”

So, the keys of the kingdom are God’s gift to his people to state heaven’s verdict on who will and will not enter the kingdom based on their response to the gospel.  God’s will is that sinners be granted access to heaven through the righteousness of Christ.  Therefore, we must use these keys to unlock the gates of Hades and set people free.

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