Devotional: Creation awaits you

Devotional: Creation awaits you

Scripture: Romans 8:18-30 NLT

18 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. 19 For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. 20 Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, 21 the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. 22 For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children,[a] including the new bodies he has promised us. 24 We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope[b] for it. 25 But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)

26 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. 27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers[c] in harmony with God’s own will. 28 And we know that God causes everything to work together[d] for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. 29 For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn[e] among many brothers and sisters. 30 And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.

As a true child of God, there is a power and authority that we are expected to walk in and manifest. At times, the problems we see in the world create hopelessness and despair as many ask themselves, “where is God?” These are signs that there is a need for solutions from the Church of Jesus Christ.

What if our faith in God could push us to fulfill our destiny? How many times have you wallowed in sadness and discouragement wondering what will happen with your life? We may be the answer to the world’s problems.

In Romans 8:18-30, we are reminded of the beginning in the book of Genesis where the Lord gave man authority as a caretaker of the garden of Eden. That level of responsibility meant that humanity had the power to creatively come up with solutions that would impact creation.

 

Every day, there seems to be a new problem in our society. There is always something pending that should be handled or taken care of. This scripture is a reminder that the God we serve has great confidence in us to come up with solutions that will create positive changes.

Creation is yearning for us as children of the most High God to awaken to our divine collaboration with the Lord caretaking and providing answers to every day questions and problems. If humanity can creatively come up with a strategy and a means to travel to the moon, there is a grace that is in us to come up with answers that will transform the world we are living in a day at a time.

All it takes is a perspective of faith, belief in oneself, trusting the power of God in you, and looking around to see the problems that need to be solved. Instead of waiting and wondering what your life is about, be proactive in using what God has given you to make the world you live in a better place.

Prayer

Dear Father,

Today I ask for a change in mindset. Teach me how to think like a winner and a solutionist. Instead of complaining about the problems in my life, help me to look for opportunities to make a change. Reveal to me the gifts and graces you have bestowed upon me and help me to create answers. Let me be confident in your ability to assign me as a caretaker of the world I live in. Make it a personal responsibility to make a positive change. I believe I can do it. Show me how to do it, so that I may please you as a compliment of your faith in me.

 

In Jesus Name,

Amen

Diary of A Wimpy Author: An Interview with Jeff Kinney

Diary of A Wimpy Author: An Interview with Jeff Kinney

Diary of a Wimpy Kid is one of best selling children’s book series of the past few decades. UrbanFaith contributor Maina Mwaura and his daughter Zyan sat down with the author Jeff Kinney to get his perspective on great ways to engage our children, how faith plays a role in his writing, and what’s next for Diary of A Wimpy Kid.

God Knows the Plans

God Knows the Plans

The late Chadwick Boseman provides words of inspiration to college graduates about finding purpose in life.


“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.” Jeremiah 29:11, NIV

Although the above words were initially intended to reassure those that had been carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon that they’d be brought back from captivity, they also provide comfort and encouragement in the present day for anyone that worries about what the future holds for them. And, thanks to all of the recent news stories about the state of the economy, not to mention all the reports of shocking acts of violence and natural disasters, many people are probably not only wondering—but worrying—about the future.

I usually think of myself as an optimistic person, however, I must admit that on more than a few occasions, I’ve worried about how I’d handle a particular situation or how it might turn out. Fortunately, it was during some of those times that I felt as though God was reaching out to me in a special way through the words found in Jeremiah 29:11. This is why it’s become one of my favorite scriptures.

The first time I felt God was speaking to me through this verse was right before I was scheduled to take a trip on an airplane. For some reason, I’d become terrified of doing something I had been doing since I was about six years old. I’d never had any bad experiences while flying, so I’m not sure why I was so scared that particular time. I just was. That’s why I was so happy that I came across Jeremiah 29:11 in the days leading up to that trip. I felt as if God was trying to tell me to go ahead and take the trip and trust that I’d be safe. I did go on that trip, and it was a safe and enjoyable one.

This verse also ministered to me was when I was sitting in a breast surgeon’s office trying to figure out if I should have a biopsy done. As my husband, Vince, and I sat in this Christian doctor’s office listening to her explain how routine it would be and how quickly it could be completed, I couldn’t help but fear she might find something bad or, worse yet, that I might not make it through the procedure. But, before I could tell her I needed to think about it more, she stopped talking and turned around the nameplate resting on her desk and asked me to read the Scripture verse that was taped to the back of it. Can you guess what it was? Yes, Jeremiah 29:11. I had no idea that we shared a fondness for this scripture, but when I read it, I knew everything would be fine. The procedure was uneventful and results of the biopsy were normal.

That same scripture spoke to me again a few years later on the day that my husband and I moved back to Illinois—along with our then-infant daughter—after residing on the East Coast for several years. I was extremely happy about the fact that I’d again be living near my parents and my sister and her growing family. But, I hadn’t really thought about the fact that I’d be leaving behind the church family that had showered us with love during the four years we lived in New Jersey.

Since my husband was one of the staff ministers at the church, the other ministers and their wives threw a special farewell luncheon for us. Near the end of the luncheon, they presented gifts to each of us. My husband’s gift—a personalized black briefcase—was a very nice one and came in handy when he started teaching undergrads several weeks later. However, the decorative little plaque that contained a Bible verse that I received was priceless. And, you may be able to figure out why. Yes, the scripture inscribed on the plaque was my favorite one. The gift served as the perfect reminder that, even as I left the amazing church family that I had come to love and made the switch from career woman to stay-at-home-mom, God would be with me. And, since I’d never told any of them about my fondness for that scripture, I saw it as a true gift from above.

So, if you’re going through an unsettling situation or circumstance, don’t despair. Instead, reflect on the words of Jeremiah 29:11 and think about how they might apply in your life right now.

And remember this: God has unique plans for all of our lives. They may not always line up with the pictures we’ve sketched in our own minds or the life plans we’ve drafted for ourselves, but they are special because He created them just for us. And, because of this, He will enable us and empower us to handle any situation and accomplish any task that He places in our lives.

I also hope you’ll remember that we serve a merciful, gracious, trustworthy, and loving God. Sometimes we spend far too much time thinking about all the ways God is going to punish our sin and nearly not enough time thinking about and giving thanks for all the ways He has blessed us.

Sometimes God will speak to us by repeatedly placing in front of our faces a particular scripture, and sometimes He’ll use other people to get a particular message to us. But, regardless of how He chooses to speak to you, I pray you’ll never stop desiring to hear from Him. So, don’t spend a lot of time worrying or fretting over how you’ll handle something that you’re currently or soon may be going through; God is already handling it for you, His unique and precious child.

What is Kwanzaa Really About?

What is Kwanzaa Really About?

Video Courtesy of Inside Edition


All week long, African Americans have been celebrating Kwanzaa across the U.S.

Perhaps you may attend a Kwanzaa celebration at your church or even participate in Kwanzaa in the comforts of your own home, but do you really know why? What is Kwanzaa and why do so many African Americans choose to celebrate the holiday?

Dr. Maulana Ron Karenga created and developed Kwanzaa in 1966. Dr. Karenga is an author, professor, and scholar-activist who is passionate about sustaining Pan-African culture in America with an emphasis on celebrating the family and the community.

There are three main ideas that are foundational to sustaining Kwanzaa tradition. The first idea is to reinstate rootedness in African culture. The second is to serve as a consistent, annual, public celebration to strengthen and confirm the bonds between people of the African diaspora. And finally, Kwanzaa is to familiarize and support the “Nguzo Saba,” also known as the “Seven Principles,” which are each celebrated during the seven days following Christmas.

These seven principles represent the values of African communication. They include the following:

  1. Umoja or Unity
  2. Kujichagulia or Self-Determination
  3. Ujima or Collective Work and Responsibility
  4. Ujamaa or Cooperative Economics
  5. Nia or Purpose
  6. Kuumba or Creativity
  7. Imani or Faith.

People celebrate Kwanzaa in numerous ways and have different practices that have been incorporated into their celebrations.

Symbolic Decor

Are you unsure as to how you and your family can participate in a Kwanzaa celebration? A good way to start is to decorate your home or living quarters with the symbols of Kwanzaa.

First start by putting a green tablecloth over a table that is centrally based in the space in the space you intend to decorate. Then, place the Mkeka, a woven mat or straw that represents the factual cornerstone of African descent, on top of the tablecloth.

Place the Mazao, the fruit or crops placed in a bowl, on top of the Mkeka symbolizing the culture’s productivity. Next, place the Kinara, a seven-pronged candle holder, on the tablecloth. The Kinara should include the Mishumaa Saba, seven candles that represent the seven central principles of Kwanzaa.

The three candles placed on the left are red, symbolizing struggle, the three candles to the right are green, symbolizing hope, and one candle placed in the center is black, symbolizing those who draw their heritage from Africa or simply just the African American people. The candles are lit each day in a certain order, and the black candle is always first.

Next, include the Muhindi, or ears of corn, used to symbolize each child. However, if there are no children present, place two ears to represent the children within the community.

Also, include Zawadi, gifts for the children, on the table. And finally, don’t forget the Kikombe cha Umoja, a cup to symbolize family and unity within the community.

Pan-African Creativity

You may also choose to decorate the rest of your home with Kwanzaa flags, called Bendera, and posters focusing on the seven principles of Kwanzaa. Some children usually take pleasure in making these flags or they may be purchased instead. African national and tribal flags can also be created to symbolize the seven principles.

Other ways to celebrate may include learning Kwanzaa greetings, such as “Habari Gani,” which is a traditional Swahili greeting for “What is the news?”

Other activities for celebrating Kwanzaa is to have a ceremony, which may include lighting the candles, musical selections played on the drums, readings of the African Pledge and the Principles of Blackness, reflections on the Pan-African colors, discussing African principles for that day and/or reciting chapters in African heritage. Be creative!

 

Have you and your family been participating in your own Kwanzaa traditions? Share them below.

Jesus is the Light of the World

Jesus is the Light of the World

Below is an excerpt. For the full article purchase UrbanFaith Magazine December Quarter 2022

It’s December!  It’s that time of year when many people are either anxious or excited about the Christmas holiday season.  On the first day of December the countdown to Christmas day begins.  Some write Christmas lists while others plan holiday meals. Some begin shopping for the perfect gifts while others decorate their homes inside and out.  The brightest reminder of the upcoming holiday is the Grand Illumination of cities and towns around the world. Christmas lights accentuate buildings, houses, trees, ugly sweaters and more.  The world is filled with light.

Jesus is the Light of the World

 What’s the use of the sun – if the earth can’t feel the glow?

If it couldn’t make flowers grow?

It wouldn’t be a wonder – it wouldn’t be a miracle…

                        (‘Miracle’, Jonathan McReynolds & Mali Music)

 

Christians around the world celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas, the annual festival observed on December 25.  The Gospel according to Luke and Matthew chronicle this illuminating occasion.  The birth of Jesus was no ordinary birth; it was a miracle.  Jesus was no ordinary man; Jesus was and is the Christ.  Christ, which means ‘anointed,’ is a proper name, or title.  Jesus Christ is not a name; it is a faith statement. All who declare that Jesus is the Christ, believe and declare that Jesus is God’s anointed Savior. The Gospel according to John declares that Jesus is ‘the Word’ that became human and lived among us.

The song, Miracle, sung by Jonathan McReynolds & Mali Music, reminds me of the miraculous work of God through the son (s-o-n   not  s-u-n), who came so that we could not only see the light and truth, but also feel the light and be changed by the warmth of it.  What’s the use of the Son, if the world can’t feel the liberating power of the God’s love, and be renewed by it?  The miraculous birth of Christ would mean nothing if the seed of humanity didn’t turn toward it and mature to its fullest possibility.  I often wonder what the world would be like if all of humanity believed and declared that Jesus, the living Word of God, is the Christ.

So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness.

(John 3:14a, NLT)

The birth of Christ was necessary because we, human beings, needed to restore our relationship with God.  Sin is often compared to darkness, and salvation compared to light.  When we say that Jesus is the light of the world, we acknowledge that Jesus was born and lived with us. Jesus took on the form of a human being, ‘fixed his tent,’ and became our tent-mate. Well, of course most of us aren’t living in tents these days. However, we do know what it means when family and friends come to our homes and spend time with us.  This is what Jesus did, so that we could physically see God’s power and God’s love for us.  God loved us even when we weren’t loving toward God.  That is unfailing love. When you think of buying and giving Christmas gifts this holiday season, remember Jesus, the greatest gift ever given.  When you are paying for the perfect gift that you have chosen for a loved one, remember Jesus is the perfect gift God offered to us.