A Stone of Faith

Sometimes in life, our faith in God waivers in and out. We might roll our eyes when confrontation is before us and shun the real strength we prayed for in difficult times. But then we return to the very spot we waivered from in the beginning. Our Almighty God always remains with us, though, with welcome arms and forgiveness of our bad decisions.

Last night my eyes were opened a little wider by a word God whispered to my conscience. I woke in fear of trying to comprehend His message. So I picked up my Bible for protection and tried to find the meaning of the word He sent me. As many knows, I’m a man of great faith. I’m not a Bible scholar by any stretch of the imagination, but I do my digging when times like this are derived from God.

Before I tell you what the Holy Spirit spoke to me, you must know this word is written in scriptures only three times. It was used in the Old Testament in 543 B.C. by Samuel. He, too, was a man of great faith who led the Israelites to a battle with the Philistines for over forty years. The Israelites lost twice, but then Samuel looked to God and set up an Ebenezer between two mountains. He said, “Lord God, You are my stone of faith, my rock I shall not break.” (1 Samuel) Scriptures say, “The Lord thundered loudly against the Philistines that day and threw them into such confusion that they were defeated by the Israelites.” From that day forward, Ebenezer became the name of an altar for God to protect the Israelites.

So the bigger question is, why did God send me the word Ebenezer? Is it because I, too, am fighting two personal battles, and God came to tell me it will be Ok? Is it to inform you that your struggles are being watched over by the Lord? Yes, all the above is true! Remember, your enemy is not greater than God. He can make miracles occur with a stroke of His hand.

My word for the day, Ebenezer, is the moment you realize you could not have made it through the fires without God’s help. Your faith is like a stone, and only God can bring you through these impeachable battles.

Ebenezer is as powerful of a word today as it was with Samuel in the Old Testament. We all bear our crosses, and as Christians, we must realize it is only God who protects us. Our awesome Father will come to our rescue in times of need. All you have to do is humbly pray for His help. May your Ebenezer be an altar as it was for Samuel. God bless.


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Entitlement

Today’s society is bombarded with many slogans that portray us to be “deserving” of something. Such self-focused messages are:

            “You deserve a break today…” used by McDonald’s

            “You owe it to yourself…” used by cruise lines

            “Treat yourself to take the break you deserve” used by Hilton HHonors

In the dynamics of families and relationships, how many times have you graciously gave a gift and never received a “thank you” of any kind? How often have you heard the stories of parents passing away, and the children fought over the estate and money? If a sibling or parent is near their deathbed, do they deserve to be treated with respect if they never reciprocated love to family members in a state of healthiness? What if a husband and wife purchase a home with their hard-earned money – should their children feel entitled to the parent’s assets?

Within the business world, employees arrive late and perform their duties with little ambition. They demand pay raises and better benefits. Are they really deserving of it? Or, a parent scrapes and works hard to grow a business, and their grown children now believe they’re entitled to run it when the parent is deceased.

Churches also run into the same dilemmas when the congregation feels entitled to receive answers from their pastors or to hold positions within the house of worship. And, while I walk down the path of religious connotations, many believers feel deserving of God’s blessings. Speaking of this, do you know why much of humanity walks away from God and stops believing in Him? They prayed for an answer they wanted to hear and didn’t receive it. He was a means to get what they felt entitled to in life! Ironically, I believe our church leaders are responsible for this incorrect train of thought. They stand on the pulpit and preach God will meet all our needs and give them their desires if they pledge their soul to Jesus. The fact is our sin separates us from the Lord.

Entitlement is a dangerous walk in life – it’s Godlessness. Let me be frank here – God, parents, and employers owe us nothing. God blesses us with things because He wants to – an unconditional love of grace. A selfish demand for His generosity will reap no benefits. It’s that simple!

Jesus’ ministry spoke of loving others with a grateful heart. This includes treating each other with respect, even amidst our differences. The well-being of gratitude promotes healthy relationships, both in our walk with the Lord and relationships with others.

In the subject of parenting, fewer children today respect their elders. They ignore the recognition parents deserve for years of hard work and dedication to their families because they live in the “gimme, gimme” world. These generations are gifted with their heart’s desires, and they expect it from the parents. Thus, the slogans I mentioned at the beginning of the message above, come into play. As the children grow older, they feel entitled to life. Little do we know, it promotes laziness, ungratefulness, and the subject of this blog – entitlement. What are we teaching our children and others?

So, how can we live a life feeling less entitled to things and people?

•          Humbly give thanks to God for all we receive. “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

•          Remember the grace of God, for Jesus died on the cross for our sins. We do not deserve to be treated with graciousness for our sinful attitudes, but the Lord’s love and grace reaches out to us, anyway. “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” Titus 3:3-5

•          Set your mind on eternity with the Lord and not on this world. Money and physical possessions mean nothing, for they cannot be taken with you to heaven. “But, as it is written, what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him…” 1 Corinthians 2:9

•          Continuously pray for discernment of entitlement. Why do I feel entitled, and how can I change this train of thought?

In summary of today’s message, expect little, receive with a grateful heart, and always give thanks. Give God the glory for your unexpected blessings!

Written by Anne Bicks, Editor and Marketing of Bicks Books LLC


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In The Spirit

So often we look over the obvious and miss the big picture in life. We become wrapped up in living for the moment and cannot see the signs. Let me connect some dots and bring you the wisdom God revealed to me today about being in the spirit. Do you think this may not apply to you? Think again, for it applies to everyone who walks the earth.

Have you ever watched four or five-year-old children put their little hands over their hearts and fumble through the Pledge of Allegiance? How adorable this is to witness! As they grow, they find other activities to cultivate their minds, such as Cub Scouts, Brownies, and sporting activities. They are living… in the spirit of competitiveness and good citizenship.

Some mature young men and women take an oath to defend our country. Do you know why? They are entrenched… in the spirit of preservation, duty, and honor.

Doctors and nurses work endless hours hustling and bustling among patients. Their high energy is formidable and do you know why? For the love of people… they live in the spirit of caring.

Christmas is a wonderful time to give to others. This past holiday season, the Saturday before Christmas, was the largest shopping day in history. Why? Because shoppers were in the spirit… the love of family and friends.

Let’s take a second and think about the thirteen men who, in 1787, wrote the guidelines of the U.S. Constitution. They were not making a grocery list; in deep Christian faith, they carried their pens and drafted this American historical document. Only five men had a formal education, so how could they skillfully devise a draft to protect a nation for years to come? Our founding fathers were in the spirit… their beliefs led them to write collectively and defend the principles of God’s chosen people. Ironically, other than adding the Bill of Rights, it has never been changed or contested.

Now, I’ll turn my thoughts to the greatest book ever put together, the Bible. Some of it was written five hundred years before Christ, such as the Book of Job. Other books were written during Jesus’ life of thirty-three years on earth and before His crucifixion. But most of the Bible was written many years after His death. Who were these scholars of great wisdom? Who was on their Board of Education and honored them with a Ph.D. to write these sacred and everlasting scriptures? The Bible was written in the spirit… mostly men, but also by some women in love with the Holy Spirit and His greatness. God divinely visited them and ordered their thoughts to be placed in writing for future generations. Spiritually grounded to Jesus Christ, they endured the wrath of all those who did not believe in our Savior. Those who could write did so… in the spirit.

Paul, the Apostle (or Saul from Tarsus), never met Jesus while He was alive, but God’s spirit confronted him on the road to Damascus. As a result, Paul wrote almost half the New Testament, and with no education. He was in the spirit… so, God gave him the strength and guidance to deliver His Word throughout the land.

Conversion of Paul, the Apostle courtesy of Sweet Publishing/Freebibleimages.org

Every one of us can be in the spirit. Life is a journey, and we must follow God’s lead when He gives us a nudge. We will become the bearer of the Holy Spirit’s fruit if we pay attention to the signs.

I look back on my own spiritual walk. God awakened me in the middle of the night and told me to write His messages. I challenged His request but in the spirit… my award-winning book, “There in God’s Grace,” graced every brick-and-mortar store. My strong Christian beliefs led me on a path I can never deny.

Those who walk in the Spirit are united with Christ. Do you have the spirit too? It will fill you with thankfulness, joy, and a life of righteousness. Trust this promise!

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

Galatians 5:22-25


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Code of Ethics

Looking back at my younger years, I never understood much about life. Why do trees blow in the wind’s direction? Why do the leaves turn in the autumn chill? Why does the sun raise in the east and not the west? My mother tried to explain, “it was the way God intended, long before I was born.” I think she was right! I never questioned what she said, although I never understood it. But, actually, the principles of life is what she was trying to preach to me.

“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”

2 Peter 1:3

I grew up fast after Pop passed, and life made a sharp turn. My brother and I rarely agreed on anything. Respect was an unheard word, and I learned early on there was a code to follow… be it God, family, or honoring those you love, but it came with a price. Endured hurts showered our feelings for each other.

We learn early in life that somehow, there is a code of ethics we must follow. It is where our Lord holds us close to Him, and we pray He guides in the right direction. His Word teaches us to persevere through our trials and afflictions. In return, we lovingly give our heart to Him, for He is our Savior. This sets the motion of life on the correct path.

Honoring the past and now looking forward to the future, we should praise our parent’s wise advice. Teach our future generations, God is the common denominator of respect – respecting yourself and others, even when they do not deserve it. You can find something to admire in anybody if you look hard enough, for each of us have amazing potential.  It is a code of ethics our Lord expects from His children.

“We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.”

1 Thessalonians 5:12-13

God’s eloquence sustains life for all his creations. I’m humbled by His magnificence and shutter at His being. Remember, if it weren’t for His ever-presence in our lives, we would remain in the absence of His grace. Let us worship His name!


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Eve

The festive season is over and a new year launches our homage. But outside my castle lies a moat where defense lines conquer nothing. Blown away in the warm offshore winds are the battle lines drawn in the sand. The swells of threats and betrayals swallow the shoreline. Glaring editorials make one wonder if life is worth living. But it’s the eve of a new beginning…

I pray, as morning arrives, for it’s the start of a new day. Though some may pass on in the light of this bright sunny morning, the Lord shall exonerate the living. Are we to judge if a leafless tree is dead or not, or shall we give praise and walk on in the eve of everlasting life?

I listen to the blustery winds swirling through the air. Little lives when nature goes into hibernation. But look… what’s that? Is that a pink bud, perhaps? I suddenly realize it is the eve of life! In the dead of winter, God anointed me with a Camellia flower about to open its delicate petals. No matter how destitute life looks, you see, God is always on the eve of greatness. Patience for me is next to impossible, so I, too, must wait to see the flower bloom.

It’s the eve of another morning. I’ve witnessed two days of torrential rain. God’s light, though, is in a horizontal shaped rainbow, which tells me His reign is never-ending. Life with Him and through Him will eternally mystify the mind. Every day you’ll be introduced to some kind of eve. Opportunities will open doors for those who feel stagnant, and faith will bring a light on the eve of darkness.

To Christians, eve is defined as a darkness that started in the Book of Genesis. Eve, however, is the beginning of life in God’s realm, just as the eve of “Christ-mass,” Jesus’ birth. We do not celebrate the eve of Easter for there is life in the everlasting love of Jesus Christ. Let Jesus begin to recreate your life this year, for it’s the eve of a season with new beginnings!

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