The Power of Praise and Worship

Did you know that your praise is a powerful weapon that can open doors, close doors, break chains, and even bring healing and hope!? “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds” 2 Corinthians 10:4.

There is a war going on against an unseen enemy. Satan, will stop at nothing to bring you down! He wants you to live defeated. That’s why God has given us weapons: two of which are Praise and Worship. Praise is the offering of thanksgiving, an act of worship through song, exaltation and thanksgiving. Psalm 21: 13 praises God both for who He is and for His great power: “Be exalted in your strength, LORD; we will sing and praise your might.”

Worship is a spiritual attitude of reverence. It comes from within and must be done“ in spirit and in truth”. “The time has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks” John 4:23-24.

Worship is a deeper form of praise. Everyone can praise God, but not everyone can truly worship. When you worship, your whole being is involved: your mind, body, and spirit. You get personal with God as you move from the outer court (of God’s presence) to the Holy of Holies where you physically or spiritual bow in His presence. “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise…thankful,…blessing His name.” Psalm 100

Faithfully,

Pastor R. Mario Howell

Flourishing in Your Seasons-of-Life, Part 5

In the past few weeks, I have provided meditational topics to help you to overcome some of the obstacles you might face during the week, and flourish in whatever season of life that you are in. Whether you are a Season of Dryness or a Season of waiting, know that God is at work, and He has a plan for your victory.

This week, we focus on your Season of Spiritual Warfare. If you are in a Season of Spiritual Warfare, you are probably doing something that Satan does not like, and you are being spiritually attacked. Don’t be afraid! Like in the story of Job, God is in complete control. This is a wonderful thing about being God’s child….He fights for you. You just lean into Him and rely on Him by praying and reading His Word. He will take care of the rest.

This is not a natural battle against flesh and blood as it may seem. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6: 12

With this spiritual battle in mind, we must put on our full spiritual armor. It’s fighting time! “Put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you will be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand…” Ephesians 6: 13-17. Finish reading the entire text when you have time. They are powerful verses that teach how to prepare for and Flourish in Your Season of Spiritual Warfare.

Faithfully,

Pastor R. Mario Howell

Flourishing in Your Seasons-of-Life, Part 4

In the past few weeks, I have provided meditational topics to help you to overcome some of the obstacles you might face during the week, and flourish in whatever season of life that you are in. Whether you are a Season of Dryness or a Season of waiting, know that God is at work, and He has a plan for your victory.

This week, we focus on your Season of Testing. If you’re going through hard times, you might be going through a Season of Testing. Remember that God is in the midst of our tests. What is God doing in your season of testing? God is making you into a better person by refining your character. During your testing times, the people and circumstances that try us are instruments that God uses to develop our character
and point us towards our destiny. Joseph understood this. He later said to his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Gen 50:20).

Our seasons of testing may be a method God uses to draw us closer to Him. Sometimes God will throw us into the fire so that we may seek him more. “You should know in your heart that as a man chastens his son, so the Lord your God chastens you”– Deuteronomy 8:5.

God will use seasons of testing to strengthen our Faith. It is in our seasons of testing that God will do some of His greatest work in our lives. God proved this point with Abraham and Sarah. “Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waiver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God.” (Rom 4:19-20).

When you are going through your Season of Testing, place your hope and faith on eternal things, not your trial. “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal,” 2 Corinthians 4:17-19.

Faithfully,

Pastor R. Mario Howell

Flourishing in Your Seasons-of-Life, Part 3

Psalm 37:7 says, “Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act.”

Last week, we addressed Flourishing in your Dry Season. This is the season when God is silent and you can’t hear His voice or feel His presence. During those times, you must draw from your stored up prayers and God’s Word that you’ve hidden in your heart. Keep pressing and trusting God.

This week, I want to call your attention to the Season of Waiting. “Waiting is NOT easy!” Whether you’re waiting for a difficult circumstance to change, or for God to finally fulfill a promise, the waiting season can range from mildly annoying to nearly unbearable.

We know from the story of Joseph in Exodus that God leverages waiting seasons for His glory and for our good. And we know from Abraham’s story in Genesis that waiting might last a very long time. But, we also know from Hannah’s story that pouring out your heart out to God and waiting on Him is totally worth it. In your season of waiting, trust that God is pruning you. He’s chiseling away what’s not needed for the next season. He’s making you ready, so let Him work however long it takes.

Faithfully,

Pastor R. Mario Howell

Flourishing in Your Seasons-of-Life, Part 2

Quick Recap of Part 1: Last week, you were introduced to the topic of “Flourishing in Your Seasons-of-Life”. I explained that just as nature has seasons (Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter), we experience changing seasons in our lives. Changing seasons in Christians helps us to grow spiritually. God created us to flourish in every season that we go through, whether we feel like we are flourishing or not. We may experience dry seasons, and seasons of waiting, testing seasons, and the list goes on.

Part 2: This week, we will focus on “Flourishing During Dry Seasons”. Our dry season is a tough one. It’s a period when God is silent, and you can’t hear His voice, or sense His presence. In a dry season, God seems distant. In the natural, only certain types of vegetation can flourish in dry seasons. These plants have the capacity to store an enormous amount of water in their roots, stems, leaves, and even tree trunks. Water is the lifeline that helps to sustain plants during dry seasons. Likewise, the prayers that you’ve stored up during your “seasons of blessings”, and the Word that you’ve hidden in your heart will sustain you until your dry season changes. Seasons do change! The rain is coming! The Keys to getting through this challenging season is to first realize that you are in it; then press through it. Draw close to God despite how far away He feels. Continue reading His Word; but also talk to Him, even though He ‘s quiet. Because He’s there! Keep praising and worshipping God even when it’s hard. Examine your life to see if there are any “heart” issues or unconfessed sins. If you discover it, confess it and repent because, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteous-ness”. 1 John 1: 9.

Finally, Brothers and Sisters, watch for the raindrops. Your season is about to change!

Faithfully,

Pastor R. Mario Howell

Flourishing in Your Seasons-of-Life

In nature, there are 4 seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. Spiritually, we have seasons as well. We may have spiritually dry seasons, seasons of waiting, testing seasons, and the list goes on. If you were to examine your life right now, what season would you say you are currently experiencing? Sometimes it’s difficult to recognize our seasons, and it can be even more difficult to know how to fully live in Christ during it. In the natural sense, we know that seasons change. Likewise, seasons change in our lives. Ecclesiastes 3: 1, “For everything, there is a season”. Ecclesiastes 3: 11, “God has made everything beautiful in its time.”

How are you doing in your season of life? Are your thriving or barely surviving? Are you wishing for a change of season? God created us to flourish in every single season that we go through, whether we think we are flourishing or not. Often, we tend to think of “flourishing seasons” as good ones, where we seem to have what we want and need. But the definition of flourish is “to grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way”. Growth can happen even during tough times. The season that you are in is for God to purposely grow you in an important area of life.
The first step to flourishing is recognizing which season you are in. In the coming weeks, we will discover how to flourish in some of the common seasons of life.

Ephesians 2:10 , ““For we are God’s handiwork created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.” In God’s infinite wisdom, He created us equipped to flourish during all of the seasons of our life.

Watch for Part 2 of “Flourishing in Your Season-of-Live”.

Faithfully,

Pastor R. Mario Howell

Endurance

Endurance – the ability to hang on when it would have been easier to let go. It is the key that keeps us from giving up and letting go. It is the power of going on in spite of difficulties. When endurance is used in the Bible it means “to abide or rest under,” or “to wait.” The Apostle, Paul reminds us that endurance helps to develop our character. Romans 5: 3-5 “…we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope does not disappoint, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us”

Some Keys to Developing Endurance:

Accept Things That Can’t Be Changed. Let’s face it, sometimes life is not fair. Injustices creep into every one’s arena. It helps to remember that
God is in charge of our lives. His desire is for us to grow spiritually. Unfavorable and tragic circumstances that we experience help to develop our character.

Adjust to the obstacles. Sometimes we have to adjust our way to fit the realities of life. Proverb 22:3 “A sensible person sees danger and takes cover, but the inexperienced keep going and are punished”. Some circumstances are unavoidable. The person with perseverance acknowledges the roadblocks and adjusts. Don’t think of the adjustments as failure, think of them as education. God is teaching you a lesson.

Be Patient. Most of us pray, “Lord, give me patience right now! But endurance brings us patience. The secret of patience is abiding (or resting) in Christ through the struggles and pressures of life.

Are you close to quitting? Don’t! Are you tired of trying to live for Christ? Hang in there! Does sorrow and disappointment greet your every morning? Hold on! Remember, you are not a failure until you give up. James 1:12 “Blessed is a man who endures trials, because when he passes the test, he will receive the crown of life that He has promised to those who love Him”. So don’t quit! Don’t give up!

God’s reward await us!

Faithfully,

Pastor R. Mario Howell

Be Consistent

“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15: 58

What does it mean to be steadfast and unmovable? A person who is steadfast and immovable is solid, firm, resolute, firmly fixed, and incapable of being diverted from a primary purpose or mission. In the scriptures, we find many noteworthy examples of individuals who are steadfast and immovable: Job, Paul, John and others. What are the most important things that we do to gain consistency in our walk with the Lord?

1. Spending time in daily prayer
2. Daily time in the Word
3. Regular worship and fellowship
4. Guarding relationships
5. Service in the Kingdom of God.

Being steadfast means trusting the truth of God’s Word over the say of any man. It means exercising your faith in light of the facts. Being steadfast means being rooted and grounded in the Word throughout any season or circumstance.

Faithfully,

Pastor R. Mario Howell

Learning To Be Patient

As children, we spent most of our time learning. Even during play time, we were learning. We learned prayers, songs, habits, courtesy, gratitude, respect, honesty, and the list goes on. Most lessons we learned before we were old enough to appreciate and apply them. One of the most important lessons that we are taught as children was the most difficult to learn…PATIENCE.

The Bible teaches us to wait patiently. How do we do that? Answer: We wait without questioning or complaining. Psalm 40:1 tells us what happens when we wait patiently on the Lord. “I waited patiently on the Lord; and He inclined to me and heard my cry.” Incline means to leaned into or came towards. God is near, and He is waiting for our cry. He understands our struggles and has promised to help us if we ask Him.

Sometimes God makes us wait for something even though He has promised it to us. God promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations, yet in his old age, Abraham still had no children and no evidence of God’s promise. Even though he and his wife, Sarah, made the mistake of taking the matter into their own hands, God still fulfilled His promise.

Your Challenge: Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD. Psalm 27: 14

Faithfully,

Pastor R. Mario Howell

Complete Surrender

When we think of surrender, we think of “throwing in the towel”. To surrender spiritually, is to completely give up your will and subject your mind, body and sprit to God. It is to totally accept God’s divine plan for your life.

We sing a hymn, “I Surrender All”. One line of the song is “All to thee I freely give”. As Christians, we freely choose to allow the Holy Spirit to reign over our lives. When we surrender to Christ we receive new hope and new life. Galatians 2: 21 “ I have been crucified with Christ [that is, in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body I live by faith [by adhering to, relying on, and completely trusting] in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me”

How does one surrender to God and let go? Psalm 63 offers a powerful prayer of surrender to help answer that question.
“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you”.

Faithfully,

Pastor R. Mario Howell