Zoom in to Discover How Our Story Ends

The book of Revelation in the Bible tells the story of salvation and the history of God’s people from multiple, different perspectives. It’s very similar to using the “zoom” feature on a camera. You “zoom in” to see things close up, and you “zoom out” to see the bigger picture. Revelation zooms in and zooms out several times as it focuses on various parts of the salvation narrative. At the very beginning of the book, Revelation zooms out to survey the history of the church. Then in Revelation 12, it zooms all the way out enabling readers to see the full celestial picture of the history of God’s people and the plan of salvation.

Often when people refer to Revelation 12, they assert that it’s the chapter which highlights the continued struggle between Christ and Satan. Because this conflict spans many ages and veritably all of the history of our world, it’s called the “Great Controversy” as it’s displayed in countless small spiritual battles and encapsulates every manifestation of spiritual warfare. Ultimately, Satan desires to have dominion over our souls and the entire universe, and he will stop at nothing to realize this nefarious ambition. Through the Great Controversy, we have insight into his attempt at a celestial coup d’état.

The Woman

This cosmic clash begins with a vision of a woman, “clothed with the sun…and a crown of twelve stars on her head.”1 She is pregnant and cries out in pain as she is about to give birth.2 Then enters the villain, an “enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads.”3 But it’s the next line that is very significant. It says, “His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth.”4

It’s important to know that scholars believe that the woman represents God’s people who are often referred to in the Bible as a beautiful bride.5 Additionally, we know that the child symbolizes Jesus Christ because verse five says that the child “will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.”6

Pause, Rewind

We need to pause here to point out that the story utilizes an ancient Hebrew storytelling device that scholars like to call recapitulation. You’ve probably heard a friend unwittingly doing the same thing. Your friend told you what happened, but then said, “Let me backup a little bit.” Your friend then regressed in order to give you important details for understanding how things turned out. Well, that’s exactly what’s happening in Revelation 12.

At the beginning of chapter twelve, the woman is standing there in her most vulnerable moment and that’s when the dragon appears. The Bible then says in verse four that the dragon has come to devour the woman’s newborn baby.7 God, however, whisks the woman away in a sort of spiritual witness protection program and the child is spared. Yet, the dragon never gives up, and at the end of the chapter, he “goes to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” This is a major moment because this means that this Great Controversy is about to meet its apex.

Rescue of God’s People

Revelation 13 begins with the culmination of Satan’s attempts to destroy God’s people and usurp God’s throne. Nevertheless, shortly thereafter in subsequent chapters of Revelation, we see the judgments of God poured out, followed by the implementation of the ultimate final judgment and eternal peace that ensues with the execution of the evil one.

The Scriptures state, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’”8

Victorious Family

It’s this message that should give us all courage and hope! At the end of this celestial power struggle, God wins! And not only does God win, but He establishes victory for all those who put their trust in Him! Praise God! God has adopted us into His family and has called us by His own name! “We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”9


CARLTON P. BYRD, D.MIN., is Senior Pastor of the Oakwood University Church in Huntsville, Alabama and the speaker and director for Breath of Life Television Ministries.


All scriptural texts are taken from the New International Version unless otherwise indicated.

1 Revelation 12:1

2 Revelation 12:2

3 Revelation 12:3

4 Revelation 12:4

5 Revelation 19:7, 21:2

6 Revelation 12:5

7 Revelation 12:4

8 Revelation 21:3-4

9 Revelation 8:37

This article is part of our 2019 May / JuneIssue
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Tyrants, Terrorism, and the End of Time

There are many signs from Bible prophecy that suggest we’re nearing the end of time. One of these is the increase in earthly, tyrannical leadership. This type of leadership is rooted and founded in the behavior of Satan, as he is what I term, “chief tyrant.” Consider the following three characteristics of Satan’s tyrannical behavior.

Profile of The Original Tyrant

1. “And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.”1

2. “Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, ‘Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.’”2

3. “For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.”3

Telltale Signs of Evil Influences

Based on the Biblical passages above, Satan is: (1) the deceiver of the world who deals in the pervasiveness of lies and falsehoods; (2) the accuser of the brethren who loves to play the blame game; and (3) having great wrath, throws temper tantrums, and fits of rage. These characteristics have led him to become a terrorist. He is a warmonger who seeks to harm and destroy innocent people. And when these tyrannical and terroristic traits manifest themselves in world leaders, we must remember that given the vast numbers of innocent individuals who are under their authority and control, these leaders, too, are capable of doing great harm.

From the moment Satan was forced out of the heavenly kingdom, he has sought to establish his own kingdom to overthrow God’s government. The father of lies,4 Satan is the main rumor mill that pits nation against nation, breaks treaties, and declares war on the hearts and minds of humanity. He is at the very root of all terrorism and every terrorist attack. His anger against God’s people has seethed for thousands of years, and he is determined to have dominion over the universe.

End Notes

The good news, however, is that God has the last word! Satan’s defeat in the courts of the kingdom of heaven prefigures his final defeat on the day of judgment! Satan is a tyrant, and when you see his tyrannical fingerprint in the lives of world leaders, be assured of two things: you know where it comes from and you know where it’s going.

“And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”5

Tyrants and terrorism may be on the rise, but in the end, Jesus will win! “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”6


CARLTON P. BYRD, D.MIN., is Senior Pastor of the Oakwood University Church in Huntsville, Alabama and the speaker and director for Breath of Life Television Ministries.

1  Revelation 12:7-9, NASB.

2  Revelation 12:10, NASB.

3  Revelation 12:12, NASB.

4  John 8:44, KJV.

5  Revelation 20:10, NASB.

6  Revelation 22:20, KJV.

This article is part of our 2019 March / April Issue
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Do the Right Thing!

The title of this article is derived from a movie written, directed, and produced by filmmaker Spike Lee in 1989. The film, “Do the Right Thing,” examined violence and its harmful effects, challenging viewers to engage in honorable behavior reminding them in its final clip that “the time is always right to do the right thing.”

To “do the right thing” is rooted in the fact that each and every day we’re faced with decisions whose outcomes should reflect sound judgment, positive character, moral decency, and equitable justice. Hence, our treatment of others, management of the environment, responses to social issues, and daily life choices ranging from “Who should I vote for?” to “How should I relate to others” should always reflect “doing the right thing.”

The Biblical admonition to “do the right thing” can be found in the words of Micah 6:8, “Do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.” Let’s examine these three directives.

1) Do Justly.

Put simply, to do justly is to do things right, and do the right things. God cares about fairness. God cares about equity. God cares about women being treated with the same dignity and respect as men. God cares about people being judged by the content of their character as opposed to the color of their skin. God cares about those who have no medical insurance and can’t afford to get medical care. God cares about the economically disadvantaged. God cares about domestic abuse and violence. God cares about the disabled and the disenfranchised. God cares about all the people who are adversely affected in our broken world. God cares about social justice. God cares about black lives, white lives, red lives, yellow lives, blue lives, and all lives.

So in harmony with God’s will and way, act with fairness, integrity, and honesty. Love and treat everyone right. Do justly.

2) Love mercy.

Micah 6:8 doesn’t say, “have mercy,” but rather it says “love mercy.” There’s a difference between having mercy and loving mercy. And one way of describing this difference is that we shouldn’t perform acts of kindness from a sense of compulsion, which is having mercy. But, we should do them out of love, which means you love mercy.

Loving mercy is seen in the actions of the Good Samaritan.1 Loving mercy is seen in the parable of the Prodigal Son.2 Loving mercy is seen in the women caught in the very act of adultery.3 Jesus said “Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.”4

Mercy is favor, kindness, and compassion. When we love mercy, we love kindness. When we love mercy, we love compassion.

God expects us to love and get along with one another. He expects us to “do the right thing” and love mercy by demonstrating it towards others.

3) Walk humbly with God.

The first two directives in Micah 6:8, “do justly and love mercy,” deal primarily with how we treat one another, but the third directive, “walk humbly with God,” reveals our relationship with God. And the right relationship with God always begins with humility not arrogance.

God expects us to walk humbly with Him. Now that may sound easy, but it’s hard because we’re arrogant, prideful, legends in our own minds, and have big egos. Too often, we think it is God’s role to make us happy, do our bidding, and answer our prayers in the way we want. But we are to serve and glorify God.5 The apostle Paul says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves. It is a gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast.”6

Whenever you walk with someone, three things must be true. Number one, you must be going in the same direction. You can’t walk with someone and be going in the opposite direction. And you will never learn to walk with God until you know which way God’s going and then you change your course to match His.

Number two, when you walk with someone you’ve got to be going at the same pace. In order to walk humbly with God, you must match God’s pace, God’s speed, and God’s tempo. Stop getting ahead of God and stop falling behind God. Walk with God.

Number three, whenever you walk with someone, you always have to be headed to the same destination, which means, if you want true fellowship with God, make sure you’re going where He’s going. Make sure you reach the ultimate destination where He will be, and that’s eternal life with Him.

May our lives, both now and in the future, always reflect these three directives, and may we always “do the right thing!”


CARLTON P. BYRD, D.MIN., is Senior Pastor of the Oakwood University Church in Huntsville, Alabama and the speaker and director for Breath of Life Television Ministries.

*All scriptural texts are taken from the King James Version unless otherwise indicated.

1  Luke 10:25-37.

2  Luke 15:11-32.

3  John 8:1-11

4  Matthew 5:7

5  1 Samuel 12:24, Psalm 86:12, and Revelation 14:7.

6  Ephesians 2:8-9

This article is part of our 2019 January / February Issue
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There Is No Limbo Or Purgatory!

Limbo” or “purgatory” have long been advocated in some Christian circles as future intermediate states where souls exist after their earthly death. There, according to some, these souls await entrance into heaven or hell. Some believe loved ones who are already in heaven can pray for these souls. Or, they believe that these souls go through a purification process in order to gain entrance into heaven.1

This stunning revelation means our decisions now count most.

Neither limbo or purgatory, however, are advocated, condoned, or even mentioned in the Bible. Instead, the Bible is clear that at one’s earthly death, the deceased body returns to dust, the spirit returns to God, and hence, the soul ceases to exist.2

Moreover, prior to death, one will make a decision to follow Christ. And, if one is living at the time of Christ’s Second Coming, one would have needed to make a decision to follow Christ prior to His advent.

Jesus Calls It

But after death, there is no limbo or purgatory to impact one’s eternity. Jesus says, “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be.”3

Christ’s Second Coming will reveal the decisions that humanity has made to follow Him. When He returns, the righteous dead will rise first. Then the righteous living will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air.4 Each resurrected and caught up righteous person will then reside in heaven with Jesus. Contrarily, the wicked living will die at the brightness of Christ’s Second Coming. The wicked dead will remain dead for 1,000 years.5

This period is known to many as the millennium, derived from the Latin words mille (“thousand”) and annus (“years”).6 During the millennium, the righteous will reign in heaven with Christ, while the wicked will be dead here on this earth, and as such, there will be no opportunity for limbo or purgatory. While reigning with Christ, the righteous will not plead and pray their loved ones into heaven. However, they will participate in the millennial judgment.7 This judgment affords them the opportunity to review humanity’s decisions, and God’s every effort to save and restore His people.8

So Much Time, So Little to Do

Satan, during this 1,000 year period, will be unable to engage in his primary works of deception or temptation. After all, the righteous reside in heaven then, and the wicked are all dead on earth.

If Satan has resurrection power, Satan has 1,000 years to prove it. The reality is he doesn’t have this life-giving power. Only God has the power to give life. Jesus made it clear, “I am the resurrection and the life.”9

At the end of the millennium, the wicked will be resurrected.10 Jesus Christ, accompanied by the righteous, will begin descent from heaven to this earth.11 Satan will deceive the wicked one last time into the belief that they can defeat our God by surrounding the Holy City as it descends from heaven to earth. But, God will rain down fire destroying Satan and sin forever!12

Decision Point

No, there is no limbo, and no purgatory! We are all now being given the opportunity to make a decision for or against Christ. The Bible makes it plain, “Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”13

Your future is in your hands. Your eternity is decided by you. Christ loves you, died to save you, and is coming back to get you! Be sure of your future and choose Christ today! 


CARLTON P. BYRD, D.MIN., is Senior Pastor of the Oakwood University Church in Huntsville, Alabama and the speaker and director for Breath of Life Television Ministries.

*All scriptural texts are taken from the King James Version unless otherwise indicated.

1  www.urbandictionary.com  and www.wikipedia.com

2  Ecclesiastes 12:7 and Job 27:3

3  Revelation 22:11-12

4  1 Thessalonians 4:16

5  2 Thessalonians 2:8-12 and Revelation 20:5-6

6  www.en.wiktionary.org/wiki/millennium

7  Revelation 20:12-13

8  2 Peter 3:9

9  1 John 11:25

10  Revelation 20:5-6

11  Revelation 21:2-4

12  Revelation 20:7-10

13  2 Corinthians 6:2

This article is part of our 2018 November/Decemer Issue
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Jesus’ Promised Coming in Revelation

For many years, preachers, teachers, theologians, and churchgoers alike have all proclaimed that the coming of Jesus is very soon. “Get your house in order;” “your redemption draweth nigh;” and “the end of the world is near” are just some of the phrases that have been echoed in churches, on street corners, and in revival meetings. Despite these passionate pleas for vigilance, we have been desensitized to the urgency of Christ’s coming. Our current “postmodern” society, and perception of Christ’s delay in redeeming His people from this earth contribute to our lack of readiness.1

The Bible’s book of Revelation, however, makes it very clear that Jesus is coming–“Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him!”2 Notice in this encouraging promise the word “shall.” “Shall” doesn’t suggest speculation, supposition, or conjecture, but rather, definite promise, guarantee, and surety. Jesus is coming!

Revelation not only assures us that Jesus is coming, but it also confirms for us that He’s coming real soon! Jesus says in Revelation 22:20, “Surely I come quickly.”3 This statement of Jesus regarding the imminence of His coming is a reiteration of what He said in Matthew 24 when He described that state of the world just before His coming.

And as he sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?’ And Jesus answered and said unto them, ‘Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in diverse places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.’4

Many of the aforementioned occurrences have either transpired or are transpiring. Deception, calamity, strife, natural disasters, and false prophets are rampant in our world. Globally, the climate of war is also escalating by the minute. And while we may experience daily tests and trials, there is still hope! Jesus is coming and He’s coming soon!

Revelation closes by telling us that Jesus wants to spend eternity with His people, and is coming for those who love and obey Him.5 Persons who do not love or obey Him would be unhappy to live infinitely with Him and reside in the Holy City.6 Yet, Jesus desires for everyone, regardless of background or past, to accept Him as their personal Savior. He wants you, me, and all of humanity to live with Him eternally. He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”7

Praise God for the following promises: 1) Jesus is coming; 2) His coming is soon; and 3) He wants us to be ready when He comes enabling us to live with Him forever!

With these words, may our collective prayer be, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”8


CARLTON P. BYRD, D.MIN., is Senior Pastor of the Oakwood University Church in Huntsville, Alabama and the speaker and director for Breath of Life Television Ministries.

*All scriptural texts are taken from the King James Version unless otherwise indicated.

1 Revelation 7:1-3

2 Revelation 1:7

3 Revelation 22:20

4 Matthew 24:3-13

5 John 14:15; Revelation 22:12, 14.

6 Revelation 22:15.

7 2 Peter 3:9

8 Revelation 22:20.

This article is part of our 2018 September/October Issue
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Promised Victory in Revelation

Open the pages of the Bible’s prophetic end time missives to discover God’s message for you.

We’re living in a time that is distinctively different than anything we’ve seen or witnessed before. The prophetic words of Jesus that describe the events surrounding His Second Coming are expeditiously coming to fulfillment. “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.”1

Jesus has won! 

Christ returneth! 




Over 2,000 years ago, Christ foretold what our current world would resemble, and truly His words are coming to fruition. We are inundated with the threat of war. The menacing frequency of natural disasters including earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, and volcanic activity are commonplace. Terroristic attacks, school shootings, and gun violence plague us everyday. Death, disease, and destruction are rampant. Allegations of sexual assault are on the rise as countless individuals have joined the “#MeToo” Movement” in response to the abuse they’ve received at the hands of others.

And while all of the aforementioned eschatological events must come to pass, God, in the Book of Revelation, has given us assurance that we, His people, will have ultimate victory through Jesus Christ! In fact, Revelation is all about Jesus! When we read the opening words of the book, we’re told that it is the “Revelation of Jesus Christ,”2 and that God gave Revelation to Jesus; Jesus gave it to an angel; an angel gave to John; and John wrote it down and gave it to us!3

Don’t Be Alarmed.

Given its end time emphasis, Revelation is also a prophetic book. It’s our New Testament prophetic book, while Daniel is its prophetic counterpart in the Old Testament. Yet, many people are uncomfortable reading Daniel and the Revelation because either they don’t understand these books, or they get fearful when considering the lions, bears, beasts, and symbols in these books. They say, “I don’t know what all those symbols represent. Daniel and the Revelation make me scared!”

But “God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”4 And when you understand all of the symbols and animals, you will discover that the books of Daniel and the Revelation are books about God’s love revealed in Jesus, and the fact that Jesus wants to save us!5

Revelation then is not a closed or sealed book! God wants us to read it!6 In fact, the very word “Revelation,” by definition, means “to reveal.” To reveal is “to expose. To uncover! To make known. To tell!”7 Revelation reveals Jesus, but it also exposes Satan and his demonic and deceptive nature. Therefore, Satan doesn’t want us to read, hear, or keep Revelation. Hence, in Revelation, we are faced with the question of “Who will we give our loyalty and worship to – God or Satan?” One of the three angels of Revelation 14 admonishes us where to stake our claim, “Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgment is come: and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.”8

We Win!

Let’s be on the winning side! Jesus’ side! In Him, we win! He is victorious over Satan,9 and will reign forever!10 Satan is defeated and Satan is a failure! He failed in heaven against Jesus! He failed when he tried to kill Jesus in infancy! He failed when he tried to tempt Jesus in adulthood! He failed at the cross against Jesus! And He’s going to fail at the Second Coming of Jesus!

Despite the eschatological overtones of our present day, remember, Jesus has won! Christ returneth! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Amen!11


CARLTON P. BYRD, D.MIN., is Senior Pastor of the Oakwood University Church in Huntsville, Alabama and the speaker and director for Breath of Life Television Ministries.

*All scriptural texts are taken from the King James Version unless otherwise indicated.

1 Matthew 24:6-8, NKJV

2 Revelation 1:1

3 Revelation 1:1-5

4 2 Timothy 1:7

5 Revelation 22:7, 12

6 Revelation 1:3

7 www.merriam-webster.com

8 Revelation 14:7

9 Revelation 20:10

10 Revelation 21:1-4

11 H.L. Turner, “Christ Returneth,” Hymn, 1878.

This article is part of our 2018 July / August Issue
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Ask, Seek, and Knock

The intent of prayer is not to inform God of something because if the intent of prayer were to inform God of something, it would suggest that God isn’t all knowing. Moreover, the Bible is clear that God knows what you need before you even ask.1 Yet, if God knows what I need before I ask, why pray?

We pray for many reasons including the fact that God’s Word commands us to pray. “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”2 So although God knows what we need before we ask, God still tells us to pray, and in obedience we do so. Jesus says in Matthew 7:7, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”3

Your Part in Prayer, a Must

Notice in the text that all three verbs, “ask, seek, and knock” are imperative commands. These necessary directives clearly imply that Christ expects every believer to be active in prayer. So, while our Lord knows what we need, we still must ask.

When you study the original Greek in the New Testament, there are two basic kinds of imperatives. There’s an aorist imperative, and a present imperative. The aorist imperative is a command to do a particular thing at one specific time. In contrast, the present imperative is a command not only to do something, but to keep on doing it indefinitely. Hence, the present tense implies continuous, persistent action. What Jesus is saying then in this text is not only that we must ask, but we also must ask and keep on asking; seek and keep on seeking; and knock and keep on knocking.

Put Your Prayers into Action

Additionally, these present tense imperative verbs, “ask, seek, and knock,” have a natural progression of action from least aggressive to most aggressive. In other words, there’s a reason Jesus put these words in this order. Jesus is saying not only must we engage in continuous, persistent action, but He’s also saying that the very words, “ask, seek, and knock,” suggest an ever increasing intensity in prayer.

Step 1 ask. When you ask someone something, you’re making a request of them. Asking in prayer is to make a request of God. We ask something of God when we have a need, and we ask something of God because He can provide for all of our needs. If we want to receive, we must ask.

Step 2 seek. Seeking is asking, plus action. We seek when we need something of value to us. There are times when we need to take an active role in the prayer process. If we want to find, we must seek. While you must ask, you also must act.

Step 3 knock. Knocking is asking plus action, plus attitude. This implies our petition in asking, our purpose in seeking, and our persistence in knocking. For example, we knock when we are shut out from what we need and desire entrance. Therefore, when attempting to enter a door, we continually knock until we gain entrance.

If God knows what I need before I ask, why pray?

Again, Jesus says, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”4

This is continuous action, and it’s intensified, aggressive action until we get what we need!

So, don’t grow weary in asking God for what you need! Ask and keep on asking. Seek and keep on seeking. Knock and keep on knocking. “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”5 


CARLTON P. BYRD, D.MIN., is Senior Pastor of the Oakwood University Church in Huntsville, Alabama and the speaker and director for Breath of Life Television Ministries.

*All scriptural texts are taken from the King James Version unless otherwise indicated.

1  Matthew 6:8

2  Philippians 4:6

3  Matthew 7:7

4  Matthew 7:7-8

5  Galatians 6:9

This article is part of our 2018 May / June Issue
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Enviable Positioning

The Ten Commandments of God, as recorded in Exodus 20:3-17, are not declarations of rules or restrictions from God to His people. Rather, they are ten ways to express our love to God. Jesus admonished us in John 14:15, “If ye love Me, keep My commandments.” This command affirms the fact that our obedience to God should be rooted in our love to Him. Put another way, if we love God, we ought to love God in the way He wants to be loved. He wants us to love Him through obedience to His commandments. Hence, the commandments are embedded in love, not merely a law, and can be referred to as “Love Letters” from God to us.

In our series on God’s “Love Letters,” we’ve now come to the tenth and final love letter from our Lord which says, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor’s.”1

Some might say, “This command doesn’t apply to me. I don’t covet. More than that, the word ‘covet’ is an antiquated word. In our contemporary world, no one walks around saying, ‘I covet what you have. I covet your possessions. I covet your property.’”

Yet, the relevant application of this love letter is simply this, “Don’t set your heart on anything that is your neighbor’s. Don’t be greedy.” Put another way, “You must not be envious of your neighbor’s house, or want to sleep with his wife, or want to own his slaves, oxen, donkeys, or anything else he has.”2 For when one covets, one is essentially saying, “I want what you have, and I’ll take it by any means necessary. It’s yours, but I want to make it as mine.”

A loving God seeks faithful followers who trust Him for sustenance.

A covetous mindset, however, does not exemplify the reliance on God for one’s sustenance, necessities, or resources. When one acknowledges the sovereignty of God, one typifies the familiar cliché’, “What God has for me, it is for me!” This means I don’t have to crave or hanker after another person’s possessions or property, but instead, I fully believe and epitomize the words of the apostle Paul, “But my God shall supply all my needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”3

Jesus specifically tells us in Luke 12 to avoid being covetous. He says, “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” He then follows with a parable of a farmer who was blessed with an abundance of goods. To accommodate the enormity of his crops, the farmer built greater barns to store his goods. After considering all of his wealth and goods, the farmer then says to himself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”4 But God then replies to Him, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?”5

The message for us is clear. Life is not promised to any of us. We can covet, be greedy, or desire what’s not ours, but the day is coming when God will ask us to give an account of our stewardship and there are one of two words that we will hear. If we’ve been obedient and manifested our love to God, we’re going to hear “Faithful.”6 But if we have not, we’re going to hear, “Foolish,”7 for those who have been covetous will not inherit the kingdom of heaven.8

Let’s not live and die as fools! Let’s however, live for Christ, keeping His commandments with the blessed anticipation of hearing Him say, “Well done!”

This article is part of our 2018 March / April Issue
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CARLTON P. BYRD, D.MIN., is Senior Pastor of the Oakwood University Church in Huntsville, Alabama and the speaker and director for Breath of Life Television Ministries.

*All scriptural texts are taken from the King James Version unless otherwise indicated.

1 Exodus 20:17

2 Ibid., TLB

3 Philippians 4:19

4 Luke 12:19, NIV

5 Luke 12:20, NIV

6 Matthew 25:21

7 Luke 12:20.

8 First Corinthians 6:9-11

9 Matthew 25:21

To Tell the Truth

Love Letter #9, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor,”

by Carlton P. Byrd

Early in my ministry, I stood up at one of my church’s weekly, corporate worship experiences and said to my congregation, “Next week I plan to preach about the sin of lying. In preparation for next week’s message, I’m asking all of you to read Hebrews 14.” With visible and verbal affirmation, the church members nodded and said, “Amen,” indicating that they would oblige.

The following week, I stood up to preach and began my sermon by asking, “How many of you took the time to read Hebrews 14 this past week?”

Nearly every hand went up. Smiling, I then responded, “That’s very good, but the Book of Hebrews has only 13 chapters. I will now proceed with my message on the sin of lying.”

Love Letter #9, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor,” or “Thou shalt not lie,” or “No lies about your neighbor,”1 is a command of prohibition that comes to each of us reminding us to be careful in how we use our tongues particularly regarding another individual. When God gave this commandment, He provided it for the purpose of putting some boundaries on how we speak about others knowing that blessed communication can become cursed communication, honesty can become dishonesty, and truth can become lies!

Sadly, however, many of us have witnessed people’s characters assassinated, reputations slandered, and name’s defamed, defaced, and devalued – all based on someone making up counterfeit charges against another individual. Put another way, people speak negatively about another and they have no idea what they’re talking about. Or, people talk about others and they’re fully aware that what they’re saying is not true, but they say it to cause intentional injury, harm, or hurt. As a result, someone’s dream in life becomes nothing but a nightmare because of what someone else said about them. But God’s word is clear, “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord.”2

Regrettably, however, people, whether professionals, politicians, or parsons, all have a propensity to prevaricate (lie). People lie to others. People lie about others. People lie to themselves. People lie about themselves. And most disappointingly, people lie to God.

People, whether professionals, politicians, or parsons, all have a propensity to prevaricate.

Why all this lying? John 8:44 is clear, “Satan is a liar, and the father of lies! There is no truth in him!” From the dawn of earth’s history to the present day, he’s been a liar! He was successful in deceiving one-third of the angels in 

heaven,3 along with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.4 He even attempted to deceive Jesus.5 But the good news is Satan can’t fight Jesus and win! He lost in heaven,6 he lost at Calvary,7 and he’s going to lose at Jesus’ Second Coming!8

Jesus’ counsel in defeating a deceitful, dishonest devil is to stand on the Word of God! Withstanding Satan’s lying temptations in Matthew 4, Jesus always stood on God’s Word by saying, “It is written.”9 And that’s our prescription to overcome Satan and his deception—the Word of God! “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.”10

As our Creator, God loves and knows what’s best for us. As His beloved creation, He admonishes us that if we are to love Him (Love Letters One through Four) and love one another (Love Letters Five through Ten), we must refrain from lying to Him, lying about Him, lying to others, and lying about others.

No one is a victor with lying. Hurt, pain, and damage have all been realized in relationships due to deception. Satan experienced the devastating effects of deception in heaven, and he will experience its deadly impact at Christ’s Second Coming. His experience was “written aforetime for our learning,”11 Let us not travel the same road in our life’s journey with deception. God is a God of truth and challenges us to “tell the truth.”

This article is part of our January/February 2018 Issue
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CARLTON P. BYRD, D.MIN., is Senior Pastor of the Oakwood University Church in Huntsville, Alabama and the speaker and director for Breath of Life Television Ministries.

*All scriptural texts are taken from the King James Version unless otherwise indicated.

1 Exodus 20:14

2 Proverbs 12:22

3 Revelation 12:4

4 Genesis 3:1-13

5 Matthew 4:1-11

6 Revelation 12:7-9

7 Luke 24

Revelation 14:6-12; 15:2, 3; 20:1-3

9 Matthew 4:4, 7, 10

10 John 17:17

11 Romans 15:4

Don’t Take What’s Not Yours

Love Letter #8 says, “Thou shalt not steal.” (Exodus 20:15.) Put another way, “Don’t take what’s not yours.”

When our Creator gave this command, the children of Israel had recently been liberated from Egyptian captivity. Because they didn’t have much property, one would almost assume that there was no need for this kind of love letter from God. Yet, while they didn’t have a lot of property, they had some property. So even with a few things, there was still this coaxing temptation on the part of one neighbor to take from another neighbor, that which did not belong to him/her.

In our 21st century world, life is much different than what it was during those post-Exodus times. Despite this change in epochal eras, however, there still remains this internal, mortal impulse that functions under the philosophy, “we look, we see, and we must have.” This thinking was befittingly illustrated in the biblical narrative of David and Bathsheba. (2 Samuel 11, 12.)

It was David who was peering off his balcony and saw Bathsheba. Wanting her for himself, David had Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, put on the frontline of battle to be killed. Sadly, David’s thoughts became actions and Uriah was slain in combat.

The prophet Nathan approached David regarding his sinister scheme and said, “King, we’ve got a problem.”

David responds, “What do you mean?”

“King, there’s a rich man in your kingdom who has a large flock of sheep. The other day a stranger was coming through town and was hungry. This rich man prepared a meal, but didn’t take one of the sheep out of his livestock. Rather, he took a lamb from this poor man in the valley. He took the poor man’s lamb, cooked it, prepared it, served it, and they feasted on it. The rich man then went to bed and rested that night. What do you think we ought to do with him, King?”

“Kill him,” David said.

The prophet Nathan then said, “Thou art the man” (2 Samuel 12:7). You stole when you already had. Again, “we look, we see, and we must have.”

We don’t have to live or operate by this notion because we serve a God who “shall supply all of our needs according to His riches in glory,” (Philippians 4:19). So whether it’s a person, place, or thing, whether it’s large or small, whether it’s substantial or trivial, we have no need to take what’s not ours.

Not only do we have no need to take from another, but also we have no need to take from God. Malachi 3:8-10 is clear: “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed Me. But ye say, wherein have we robbed Thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed Me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in Mine house, and prove Me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”

In our global community, inclusive of professed Christians, thievery from God is rampant, but Love Letter #8 is not exclusive to our relationship with humanity, but also applies to our relationship with divinity. God is very clear in His words, “Bring ye all the tithe to My house.” Therefore, regardless of the size of our earnings, 10% of our increase belongs to the Lord, and we’re admonished to bring it to Him.

Jesus said, “Lay not up treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”. “There are only two places in the universe where we can place our treasures: God’s storehouse, or in Satan’s; and all that is not devoted to God’s service is counted on Satan’s side, and goes to strengthen his cause (Matthew 6:19-21).

Moreover, God’s money is the whole thing—100%–and is not limited to 10%. “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.” God just asks that we return to Him an obedient tithe (10%), and give a liberal love offering according to His blessings towards us (Psalm 24:1). Remember, everything we have is from God. When we steal from Him, just as soon as we’ve been blessed, our blessings can be taken away (Deuteronomy 16:17.)

Lastly, let us not “expect” something from God in return, but His blessings! Don’t give to God and then expect God to give you something back! Don’t give to God and then expect God to double your earnings! Don’t give to God and then expect God to triple your savings. God is not the stock market! God is not the lottery! God is not a pyramid plan! God is not multi-level marketing! God is God, Creator of the universe! Redeemer on Calvary! Savior of the world! And soon-coming King!

Give God what He has asked of you. Love Him the way He wants to be loved. Don’t take what’s not yours from others or God. “Thou shalt not steal!” That’s Love Letter #8.