selfie_1920_180

SELFIE Pt.2 – Living a Generous Life

selfie_1920_180
SELFIE Pt 2 – Living a Generous Life

2 Corinthians 9:11 NIV- You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

SELFISHNESS - devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others

There’s 2 types of people: #1 People who are selfish & consume & always want to know what’s in it for them, #2 People who are selfless & contribute & always want to know what they can do for somebody else. We need more #2′s

John D Rockefeller said, “I believe that the rendering of useful service is the common duty of mankind, and that only in purifying fire of sacrifice is the dross of selfishness consumed and the greatness of the human soul set free.”

Mark 8:35 NLT – “If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will find true life.”

•Over 800 verses in the Bible about the subject of Money. It’s addressed more than heaven and hell. 16 of 38 stories Jesus told were about money and man.

The story is told that one day a beggar by the roadside asked for alms from Alexander the Great as he passed by. The man was poor and wretched and had no claim upon the ruler, no right to even life a solicitous hand. Yet the Emperor threw him several gold coins. A courtier was astonished at his generosity and commented, “Sir, copper coins would adequately meet a beggar’s need. Why give him gold?”

Alexander responded in royal fashion “Copper would suit the beggar’s need, but gold coins suit Alexander’s giving.”

Very few people these days, have “the Great” added to their names. When we think of Alexander the Great, most people think of the historical figure, who was young, eccentric, a brilliant military strategist with blond hair and bulging muscles and looks like Colin Farrell. However, one of the secrets of all greatness is revealed through generosity.

He didn’t have to prove anything to anyone. But his way of thinking challenged the thinking of not just the courier, but everyone who had the privilege of being in the presence of greatness. He just didn’t subdued kingdoms with superior military strategy, but conquered mediocrity through his generous life.

“Your standard of giving reflects your standard of living”

•We find meaning by giving our lives away
Acts 20:35 It is more blessed to give than to receive. (God’s concept)

•THE KEY TO A Selfless LIFE IS A HEART OF GENEROSITY.


Proverbs 11:24-25 NIV 24 One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. 25 A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.

•Generosity doesn’t start when you have a lot, it starts when you have little!
• Your giving and generosity should be directly tied to what God allows to come into your life.



2 Corinthians 9:6-8, NIV 6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work…

Generosity is quality of heart and mind opposed to meanness

•What is Generosity? It’s literally “Freedom from meanness or smallness of mind and character. Meanness is born out of selfishness and selfishness is born out of self preservation.

•Generosity: A courageous disposition full of the Spirit, that is evidenced by:
•A quality of heart and mind opposed to meanness
•A nobleness of soul that is empowered to bestow favor
•A bountiful disposition that is free to give with bold liberality

When you are generous, you are free from the smallness of your own mind. Smallness of mind is when you are focused on you and what you need, not the needs of others.

Generosity goes against our nature. Andy Stanley said it best when he said, “by nature the concept of generosity is in direct conflict with the concept of self preservation”

Luke 16:9 NLT – 9 Here’s the lesson: Use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. Then, when your earthly possessions are gone, they will welcome you to an eternal home. (In this way, your generosity stores up a reward for you in heaven)

•”There’s no reason to be the richest man in the cemetery. You can’t do any business from there” Col. Sanders (he gave $2 million to the AG missions prior to his death)

•”Generosity is a good criterion of a person’s mental health. Generous people are rarely mentally ill people” Dr. Karl Menninger

How can you begin to develop a generous spirit that leads to a generous life?

Philippians 4:8 (NIV) 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Noble – One who because of elevation of mind (think), becomes heroic (be) by doing deeds “uncommonly” well with excellence as the standard (do)

“When you elevate your thinking, you elevate your life”

Generosity is not just meeting the needs of “Beggars” or need people so that we feel better about ourselves. It’s a way of thinking, being, and doing life that becomes heroic by approaching life with an extravagant God-like excellence.

God’s desire for us is to think….be…do life like Him. We elevate our thinking when we put God first with our time, talent, and treasure.

The Result of Generosity

Everything you need will be added unto you
Matthew 6:33 (NIV) But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Your Children will be Blessed
Psalm 37:25-26 NIV- I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging for bread. They are always generous…their children will be blessed.

Good will come to you (The Favor of God)
Psalm 112:5 NIV Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice.

You will prosper and be refreshed
Proverbs 11:24-25 NIV One man gives freely, yet gains even more (gets larger and larger); another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. 25 A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.
another translation – “The world of the generous gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller. The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed. Those who help others are helped.”

BONUS – Treasures in Heaven
a. I Timothy 6:18-19 “Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasures.

God has called us to a generous life, because the world needs to see a generous God! I want to challenge you to be generous. Love generously, give generously and live generously!

Our Generosity is a reflection of the generosity of God!

Love always finds a way: selfishness always finds an excuse!

God calls you to a service far beyond anything you could ever imagine. You were put on Earth to make a contribution.

You weren’t created just to consume resources – to eat, breath, and take up space. God designed you to make a difference with your life. God wants to you to give something back!

•There’s a clever young guy named Somebody Else, There’s nothing this guy cannot do. He is busy from morning till way late at night, Just substituting for you.

You’re asked to do this or you’re asked to do that And what is your reply?
Get Somebody Else to do that job, He’ll do it much better than I.

So much to do in this weary old world, So much and workers so few,
And Somebody Else, all weary and worn, Is still substituting for you.

Are you content to let Somebody Else serve & give?


•”Do all the good you can, In all the ways you can, To all the souls you can, In every place you can, At all the times you can, with all the zeal you can, As long as you can.” John Wesley

Generosity Brings absolute fulfillment

Matthew 25:21 – “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things so; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”

selfie_1920_180

#Selfie Part 1

selfie_1920_180
#Selfie: The Best Angle Part 1

A “selfie” is defined as a self-portrait intended for social media. We all crave affirmation from others and with things like Twitter, and Instagram it’s easy to get a quick fix. In the start of this series, we look at the selfie not from the angle of the photo, but the perspective of the person taking the photo. The Oxford dictionary word of the year in 2013 was selfie

(Ephesians 4:22-24 NIV) “You were taught…to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

You will never change your #Selfie until you change the way you think about God and yourSelfie.

My Selfie Needs

•Community •Love •Acceptance

The Best Angle

(Matthew 3:16-17 NIV) As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

1. God Chose you.

(Ephesians 1:5 NLT) “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.”

John 15:16 NIV – You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.

“You would not have called to me unless I had been calling to you,” said the Lion.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair (said to Jill & Eustace)

The Greek verb translated “chose” means, “to select or pick for oneself” (Aslan

NO ONE IS EVER CAPABLE OR INCLINED TO CHOOSE GOD UNLESS GOD FIRST CHOSE HIM.

IT IS ONLY THROUGH CHRIST AND WHAT HE DID FOR US, NOT THROUGH ANYTHING IN US, THAT WE MAY BE SAVED.

Deuteronomy 14:2 ESV – For you are a people holy to the Lord your God, and the Lord has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.

2. God Loves You.

Imagine a stormy day at sea, your ship yielding to a relentless wind, pummeled by crashing waves, subject to the awesome force of nature. A force that is both fierce and majestic. A power that is nothing short of furious.

Such is God’s intense, consuming love for YOU. It’s a love that knows no limits, and no boundaries. A love that will go to any lengths, and take any risks, to pursue us.

(Romans 5:8 NIV) But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

•God doesn’t love us for what we do, but He loves us because of who He is (God is love)

•Our attractions are based upon our preferences. God loves us for what He finds in Himself…Love.

•Nobody is ever what they should be – but God loves us anyway. No matter what you do God will not stop love you.

•Our Ego Selfie – we focus on what we have to do to please God and make him love us

“Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without compass, God’s love encompasses us completely. … He loves every one of us, even those who are flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful, or broken.”

(Romans 8:35, 38-39 NLT) “Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow— not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The Call of Salvation is not “Come and get right so God will love you and bless you” The Call of Salvation is Come! You Are Loved! God loves imperfect people, moral misfits, burned out believers, religious incompetants.

God is kissing the unkissable. Not because we are good, deserving, or right, but because HE LOVES US and FORGAVE US.

Ephesians 2:4-9 ESV But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,

•God sees the best in the worst of us, knows the worst about the best of us, and loves us without condition or exception.

3. God Forgives You

(Ephesians 1:7-8 NIV) “In Christ we are set free by the blood of his death, and so we have forgiveness of sins. How rich is God’s grace, which he has given to us so fully and freely.”

•The wonderful news of eternal relief is that God is a Forgiving God

Psalm 103:12 NIV – as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us

•God won’t just take your sin from you; He’ll put it so far away you can’t find it anymore. That’s how forgiven you are!

II Cor. 5:19 – That God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting mens sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

Micah 7:18 NIV – Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression  of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.

“In one bold stroke, forgiveness obliterates the past and permits us to enter the land of new beginnings.” – Billy Graham

KeystoEconomicProsperity

Living the Increased Life

KeystoEconomicProsperity
Living The Increased Life

Luke 2:52 ESV – And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature[a] and in favor with God and man.

Increase – become or make greater in size, strength, quality, amount, intensity, or degree.

God wants YOU to increase in every area of your life!

Do dogs like bones? I don’t think so. I think they like steaks and but they settle for bones. We settle for less than what God has for us! God has so much more!

Deuteronomy 1:11 NLT – And may the Lord, the God of your ancestors, multiply you a thousand times more and bless you as he promised!

Psalm 115:14-15 ESV – May the Lord give you increase, you and your children! 15  May you be blessed by the Lord, who made heaven and earth!

The desire for increase and more is not a wrong desire. It comes from God (be fruitful & multiply..)

Jesus intended for you to have an Abundant (Successful) Life

John 10:10 ESV – The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Abundant – existing or available in large quantities; plentiful. profuse, rich, lavish, abounding, liberal, generous, bountiful, large, huge, great, paramount, overflowing, prolific

Back to our text – Luke 2:52 ESV – And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature[a] and in favor with God and man.

Increase or Growth is not automatic

•You’re only young once, but you can be immature indefinitely. Personal growth and increase is our responsibility.

•When you were a child your parents were responsible for your growth, now you are! Robert Browning wrote, “Why stay we on earth except to grow?” That is a great question yet few of us dedicate ourselves to the process. Why? Because growth requires CHANGE and most of us are uncomfortable with change.

“If we don’t change we won’t grow, and if we don’t grow we’re not really living” Gail Sheehy

Jesus grew and increased with

I. Wisdom

Definition – knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action; sagacity, discernment, or insight.

Proverbs 4:5-8 AMP – Get skillful and godly Wisdom, get understanding (discernment, comprehension, and interpretation); do not forget and do not turn back from the words of my mouth.6 Forsake not [Wisdom], and she will keep, defend, and protect you; love her, and she will guard you. 7 The beginning of Wisdom is: get Wisdom (skillful and godly Wisdom)! [For skillful and godly Wisdom is the principal thing.] And with all you have gotten, get understanding (discernment, comprehension, and interpretation). 8 Prize Wisdom highly and exalt her, and she will exalt and promote you; she will bring you to honor when you embrace her.

We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid. – Benjamin Franklin

•We need to KNOW more than what we already know. The difference to where I am and where I want to be is what I need to know.

1. Cultivate a Teachable Attitude

Proverbs 1:5 NIV – let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance

Proverbs 22:17-18 NIV – Pay attention and turn your ear to the sayings of the wise; apply your heart to what I teach,18  for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart and have all of them ready on your lips.

Don’t be a know it all~ Be a learn it all~! Don’t bankrupt your mind~

2. Invest in yourself

2 Timothy 2:15 AMP – Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth.

“Empty the money of your wallet into your mind and your mind will fill your wallet with money” Ben Franklin

The greatest value in life is not what you get but what you become! When you improve yourself you improve your life!

When you learn you brome more than you are and then you get more than you got

It’s what you become that adds value in your life that brings – promotion, success, raise, benefits, blessing, etc…
•••Buy the books, Go to the seminars, purchase the audios and videos – GROW GROW GROW!

•Is the products worth it? I don’t know but I AM!~ (money i’ve spend on personal development)

•You always INVEST in what you find Valuable. Invest in Wisdom!

Proverbs 8:11 NIV – for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her.

Proverbs 16:16 NIV – How much better to get wisdom than gold, to get insight rather than silver!

“If you think investing in yourself is expensive, you should try ignorance”

3. Right relationships Increase your Wisdom

Proverbs 13:20 NIV – Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.

Dr. Carl Menger said, “Our environment shapes us more than our heredity”

I Corinthians 15:33 NIV – Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”

Proverbs 12:15 NIV – The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.

Relationships will either propel you or sustain you. People are like elevators they take you up or bring you down. So wrong relationships are thieves to your success

Pursue Wise Relationships: Those who build your faith and confidence, value who you are, challenge you to greatness, and are there when down and when your up.

Run from Foolish relationships: those who are critical then complimentary, those who belittle you and your dreams, those who humiliate and embarrass you, those who gossip, bicker, and backbite you.

Wisdom is the Master Key to ALL the Treasures of Life

II Chronicles 1:11-12 NIV – God said to Solomon, “Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for wealth, possessions or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, 12 therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, possessions and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have.”

II. Favor

Favor is something granted out of goodwill rather than for justice or payment. A gift. To endow, to give support or confirmation, to do a kindness for, willingness to contribute to the success or welfare of a person, group, or cause.

Psalm 84:11 NIV – For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.

Leviticus 26:9 NIV – ‘I will look on you with favor and make you fruitful and increase your numbers, and I will keep my covenant with you.

1. Whatever you recognize, you become thankful for. Whatever you are thankful for will INCREASE in your life.

Ephesians 2:7 AMP – He did this that He might clearly demonstrate through the ages to come the immeasurable (limitless, surpassing) riches of His free grace (His unmerited favor) in [His] kindness and goodness of heart toward us in Christ Jesus.

Immeasurable – too large, extensive, or extreme to measure. Not enough room to hold. David said, My cup runneth over.

2. Favor is better than money. Money can’t buy you favor, but favor will bring you money

Exodus 3:21 NIV – “And I will make the Egyptians favorably disposed toward this people, so that when you leave you will not go empty-handed.

One day of favor is worth a thousand days of labor

3. Favor will bring supernatural increase and promotion

Genesis 39:2-5 NIV – The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. 3 When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, 4 Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. 5 From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the Lord blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the Lord was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field.

Favor will cause you to rise to the top!

4. When you plant a seed of favor, you can expect to receive a harvest of favor

Galatians 6:7-10 NIV – Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

Someone said, “When it comes to giving, some people stop at nothing.”

Ephesians 6:8 Living Bible – Remember, the Lord will pay you for each good thing you do, whether you are slave or free.

Make every effort to show favor in someone’s life today! It will come back to you!

We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give! Winston Churchill

The Result

Luke 6:38 NIV – Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

“No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave.” – Calvin Coolidge

When God gave Christ to this world, He gave the best He had, and He wants us to do the same.” – D.L. Moody

image

How to Quit Playing God

image
How to Quit Playing God

Back in the 1960’s there was a famous book written by Eric Burn called Games People Play. A couple of years later another book came out, Games Christians Play. It was an interesting book that dealt with games Christians play in the name of the Lord. I want us to look at the deadliest game — the game of playing God.

Here is a delightful piece of truth: “There is a God. You are not Him”

James 4:11-12 NIV – Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister[a] or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

James says that the way we play God is by judging other people. Anytime I judge you, anytime you judge me, we’re playing God. It’s only God’s responsibility to judge other people.
I want us to look at Why we judge other people, Why shouldn’t we judge, When is it wrong to judge other people, and How do you break the habit of judging other people. You’ll be a lot happier if you learn how to deal with this issue.

“Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain, and most fools do.” – Benjamin Franklin
We judge people for judging people because judging people is wrong
WHY DO WE LIKE TO JUDGE OTHERS?

1. We tend to judge other people is to excuse our own faults

Romans 2:3 NIV – So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?

You think by pointing the finger at somebody else, God is going to forget what you’ve done, or when you point out how somebody else has fallen then you don’t look so bad. We use it as an excuse to blame others. We love to accuse others and excuse ourselves

“If the only way I can make myself look good is to criticize you, something is seriously wrong with me.”- Warren W. Wiersbe

2. We tend to judge other people and that’s because it appeals to our
How to Quit Playing God

Back in the 1960’s there was a famous book written by Eric Burn called Games People Play. A couple of years later another book came out, Games Christians Play. It was an interesting book that dealt with games Christians play in the name of the Lord. I want us to look at the deadliest game — the game of playing God.

Here is a delightful piece of truth: “There is a God. You are not Him”

James 4:11-12 NIV – Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister[a] or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

James says that the way we play God is by judging other people. Anytime I judge you, anytime you judge me, we’re playing God. It’s only God’s responsibility to judge other people.
I want us to look at Why we judge other people, Why shouldn’t we judge, When is it wrong to judge other people, and How do you break the habit of judging other people. You’ll be a lot happier if you learn how to deal with this issue.

“Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain, and most fools do.” – Benjamin Franklin
We judge people for judging people because judging people is wrong

WHY DO WE LIKE TO JUDGE OTHERS?

1. We tend to judge other people is to excuse our own faults

Romans 2:3 NIV – So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?

You think by pointing the finger at somebody else, God is going to forget what you’ve done, or when you point out how somebody else has fallen then you don’t look so bad. We use it as an excuse to blame others. We love to accuse others and excuse ourselves

“If the only way I can make myself look good is to criticize you, something is seriously wrong with me.”- Warren W. Wiersbe

2. We tend to judge other people and that’s because it appeals to our
pride.

Proverbs 26:22 NIV – The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts.

Why is it? When somebody is gossiping, usually we are all ears! We just can’t wait to hear what’s being said. Why? There is a natural innate ability of gossip or slander to capture our curiosity.

II. Why Should I Not Judge Others?

James gives us three reasons why we shouldn’t judge other people.

It’s unchristian

James 4:11 NIV – Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister[a] or judges them speaks against the law and judges it…

Why “brothers”? In the first place we shouldn’t judge one another because we’re all part of the same family.

•••I heard about a guy who came to a pastor one time and said, “I don’t have but one talent.” The pastor asked, “What’s your talent?” The man said, “I have the gift of criticism.” The gift of criticism does not come from the Holy Spirit but from the devil. The pastor was wise and thought about the parable in the Bible and said, “The guy who had only one talent went out and buried it. Maybe that’s what you ought to do with yours.”

Notice it says, “Brothers, do not slander…” Circle “slander”. The word “slander” and the word “devil” are the same word. The word “devil” means slander. The Bible calls Satan the accuser of Christians. He’s the slanderer of Christians. What does this mean? The devil’s number one activity is going around and putting people down, to slander them and put them down, malign them. We are most like the devil when we slander. When we speak against somebody else (including all kinds of criticism, maligning, judging) we’re doing the devil’s work for him.

2. It’s unloving

James 2:8 NIV – If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,”[a] you are doing right.

Is it illegal? Is there a law against judging in the United States? He’s talking about the Royal Law

When I judge you, I’m breaking the Royal Law — the law of love — “Love your neighbor as yourself.” We say, “It’s just words and people will forget them.” People don’t forget words. You always remember them. It’s unchristian and unloving.

If you judge people you don’t have time to love them. Mother Teresa

3. It’s unjustified

James 4:12 NIV – There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

The word “lawgiver” is used six times in the Old Testament and only once in the New Testament. The six times in the Old Testament it refers to God. The same thing here — it’s referring to God. Only God has the right to judge. It’s in God’s job description. It’s not in your job description to judge people. He has not commissioned you to talk to everybody about everybody else.

We always tend to react to our weaknesses in others. What we see is usually just a mirror of self.

III. WHEN IS IT WRONG TO JUDGE OTHERS?

There are some places in Scripture where it says it is wrong to judge. The Scripture does say in some places that we are to judge certain things. We’re to judge ourselves, and we’re to judge certain matters.

1. Romans 2:1-3 NIV – You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2 Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3 So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?

The time when it’s wrong to judge other people is when I’m practicing the same sin. I don’t have any right to speak up, if I lack the personal integrity, I’m guilty too.

Remember the woman caught in adultery? What did Jesus say to the Pharisees? “He who is without sin cast the first stone.” They all walked away.

2. Matthew 7:3-5 NIV – “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

This is a good example of the fact that Jesus told jokes. Hebrew humor is humor by exaggeration. Jesus is making a point here with humor. He’s saying it’s wrong to judge when it blinds me to my own faults. If judging you causes me to not look at myself realistically, then it’s wrong. We are great speck analyzers, nitpicking specks when we have a logjam in our own eye.

The inevitable result of being a judgmental person is in v. 2 “In the same way you judge others, you’ll be judged.” If you are critical to other people, you’ll be criticized.

3. John 7:24 NIV –  “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”

It’s wrong to judge others when you draw conclusions based on outward appearance. We tend to make our impression of people in about the first 15 seconds and most of that is in the way that they look. We judge people, we size them up. Their face, clothing, hairdo. If you judge just on the basis of appearance, that’s unwise.

I Samuel 16:7 NIV – But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

4. John 7:51 NIV – “Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he has been doing?”

That’s a rhetorical question. The obvious answer is “no”. It’s wrong to judge when you condemn somebody before you hear the facts. It is unwise to make a judgement about somebody before you know all the facts.

If you study scripture you’ll find that even if your conclusions are right about that person you’re still wrong — because you did it without getting the facts. There is always more than one side to a story. There are three sides to a story: your side, their side, God’s side. Usually we have partial truth.

HOW DO YOU BREAK THE HABIT OF JUDGING OTHERS

Remember that I’ll be judged by the same standards that I use to judge other people.

Matthew 7:1-2 NIV – “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

The way we judge others — the same measure we mete out is the same measure we get back. If you want something to help you break the habit of talking critically about other people, remember that. What you dish out will be dished back to you. What you sow you’re going to reap.

2. Remember that each of us is accountable to God.

Romans 14:12-13 NIV – So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.

You’re not accountable to me in the ultimate sense of every area of your life. I don’t have to report to you. But one day we’re all going to stand before God and then God is going to know our motives. How’s God going to judge? He’s going to judge honestly, fairly, truthfully. It won’t be based on heresy, rumors, third hand passed down stuff, but based on the facts.

God settles the score. One day we’ll all be judged by the Lord and we’ll give an account to Him

3. Remember how much God has been merciful to me.

James 2:13 NIV –  because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

There is a principle greater than criticism. It’s the principle of forgiveness. The principle of mercy.

Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful.” Matthew 18 is the story of the unforgiving servant. He owed $50,000 to his master. His master forgave him. He went out and found the guy that owed him $5 and strangled the guy because he wouldn’t pay him. When the master heard about it he took the servant and said, “If that’s the way you want to play the game, OK. You’re unforgiving, it will be unforgiven of you.” The Bible says we’re to be merciful because God has given us so much mercy. The reason why I have to be patient with you is because God is patient with me. The reason you have to be patient with me is because God is patient with you. That’s the way it goes. None of us get what we deserve. If we did we wouldn’t be here. It’s all by God’s grace.

If God’s been gracious with us we need to be gracious with others. The most forgiving
person is the most forgiven person

Poem I read this week called “The Wrecking Crew”

I stood on the street of a busy town
Watching men tearing a building down
With a ho heave ho and a lusty yell
They swung a beam and a side wall fell
I asked the foreman of the crew
“Are those men as skilled
As those you’d hire if you’d wanted to build?
Ah, no, no indeed,
Just common laborers are all I need
I can tear down as much in a day or two
As would take skilled men a year to do
And then I thought as I went my way
Just which of these two roles am I trying to play?
Have I walked life’s road with care,
Measuring each deed with rule and square?
Or am I one of those who roam the town
Content with the labor of tearing down?

Prayer:
This is an area that every one of us have to deal with — a critical attitude, being judgmental. If you want to find some fault in somebody you can. Everybody is imperfect. It’s all in what you decide to look at. If you choose to make friends in life one of the things you have to do is overlook their faults. Love the good parts in them and overlook the bad parts. If you want to have a successful marriage you have to learn to stop criticizing and questioning your mate’s motives. Look at the good parts in their life. Why do we spend an entire session just on this? Because it’s one of the most common problems. James says it’s really playing God. Only God has the right to judge, evaluate and criticize someone. He’s got all the facts. He’s impartial. We’re not. It’s not our place. It will be a liberating experience when you realize that God has not called you to judge other people but He’s called you to be accountable to Him.

Would you pray a prayer like this in your heart, “Lord, help me to quit playing God. Help me this week to not be critical and judgmental, to watch my mouth and not gossip and pass on damaging information, but to build up others and to share only those things that encourage and lift up. Lord, thank You for your grace in my life. Thank You that You don’t give me what I deserve but You give me what I need. Help me to do that to others, to pass on to them what they need. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.”.

Proverbs 26:22 NIV – The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts.

Why is it? When somebody is gossiping, usually we are all ears! We just can’t wait to hear what’s being said. Why? There is a natural innate ability of gossip or slander to capture our curiosity.

II. Why Should I Not Judge Others?

James gives us three reasons why we shouldn’t judge other people.

It’s unchristian

James 4:11 NIV – Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister[a] or judges them speaks against the law and judges it…

Why “brothers”? In the first place we shouldn’t judge one another because we’re all part of the same family.

•••I heard about a guy who came to a pastor one time and said, “I don’t have but one talent.” The pastor asked, “What’s your talent?” The man said, “I have the gift of criticism.” The gift of criticism does not come from the Holy Spirit but from the devil. The pastor was wise and thought about the parable in the Bible and said, “The guy who had only one talent went out and buried it. Maybe that’s what you ought to do with yours.”

Notice it says, “Brothers, do not slander…” Circle “slander”. The word “slander” and the word “devil” are the same word. The word “devil” means slander. The Bible calls Satan the accuser of Christians. He’s the slanderer of Christians. What does this mean? The devil’s number one activity is going around and putting people down, to slander them and put them down, malign them. We are most like the devil when we slander. When we speak against somebody else (including all kinds of criticism, maligning, judging) we’re doing the devil’s work for him.

2. It’s unloving

James 2:8 NIV – If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,”[a] you are doing right.

Is it illegal? Is there a law against judging in the United States? He’s talking about the Royal Law

When I judge you, I’m breaking the Royal Law — the law of love — “Love your neighbor as yourself.” We say, “It’s just words and people will forget them.” People don’t forget words. You always remember them. It’s unchristian and unloving.

If you judge people you don’t have time to love them. Mother Teresa

3. It’s unjustified

James 4:12 NIV – There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?

The word “lawgiver” is used six times in the Old Testament and only once in the New Testament. The six times in the Old Testament it refers to God. The same thing here — it’s referring to God. Only God has the right to judge. It’s in God’s job description. It’s not in your job description to judge people. He has not commissioned you to talk to everybody about everybody else.

We always tend to react to our weaknesses in others. What we see is usually just a mirror of self.

III. WHEN IS IT WRONG TO JUDGE OTHERS?

There are some places in Scripture where it says it is wrong to judge. The Scripture does say in some places that we are to judge certain things. We’re to judge ourselves, and we’re to judge certain matters.

1. Romans 2:1-3 NIV – You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2 Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3 So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?

The time when it’s wrong to judge other people is when I’m practicing the same sin. I don’t have any right to speak up, if I lack the personal integrity, I’m guilty too.

Remember the woman caught in adultery? What did Jesus say to the Pharisees? “He who is without sin cast the first stone.” They all walked away.

2. Matthew 7:3-5 NIV – “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

This is a good example of the fact that Jesus told jokes. Hebrew humor is humor by exaggeration. Jesus is making a point here with humor. He’s saying it’s wrong to judge when it blinds me to my own faults. If judging you causes me to not look at myself realistically, then it’s wrong. We are great speck analyzers, nitpicking specks when we have a logjam in our own eye.

The inevitable result of being a judgmental person is in v. 2 “In the same way you judge others, you’ll be judged.” If you are critical to other people, you’ll be criticized.

3. John 7:24 NIV –  “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”

It’s wrong to judge others when you draw conclusions based on outward appearance. We tend to make our impression of people in about the first 15 seconds and most of that is in the way that they look. We judge people, we size them up. Their face, clothing, hairdo. If you judge just on the basis of appearance, that’s unwise.

I Samuel 16:7 NIV – But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

4. John 7:51 NIV – “Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he has been doing?”

That’s a rhetorical question. The obvious answer is “no”. It’s wrong to judge when you condemn somebody before you hear the facts. It is unwise to make a judgement about somebody before you know all the facts.

If you study scripture you’ll find that even if your conclusions are right about that person you’re still wrong — because you did it without getting the facts. There is always more than one side to a story. There are three sides to a story: your side, their side, God’s side. Usually we have partial truth.

HOW DO YOU BREAK THE HABIT OF JUDGING OTHERS

Remember that I’ll be judged by the same standards that I use to judge other people.

Matthew 7:1-2 NIV – “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

The way we judge others — the same measure we mete out is the same measure we get back. If you want something to help you break the habit of talking critically about other people, remember that. What you dish out will be dished back to you. What you sow you’re going to reap.

2. Remember that each of us is accountable to God.

Romans 14:12-13 NIV – So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.

You’re not accountable to me in the ultimate sense of every area of your life. I don’t have to report to you. But one day we’re all going to stand before God and then God is going to know our motives. How’s God going to judge? He’s going to judge honestly, fairly, truthfully. It won’t be based on heresy, rumors, third hand passed down stuff, but based on the facts.

God settles the score. One day we’ll all be judged by the Lord and we’ll give an account to Him

3. Remember how much God has been merciful to me.

James 2:13 NIV –  because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

There is a principle greater than criticism. It’s the principle of forgiveness. The principle of mercy.

Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful.” Matthew 18 is the story of the unforgiving servant. He owed $50,000 to his master. His master forgave him. He went out and found the guy that owed him $5 and strangled the guy because he wouldn’t pay him. When the master heard about it he took the servant and said, “If that’s the way you want to play the game, OK. You’re unforgiving, it will be unforgiven of you.” The Bible says we’re to be merciful because God has given us so much mercy. The reason why I have to be patient with you is because God is patient with me. The reason you have to be patient with me is because God is patient with you. That’s the way it goes. None of us get what we deserve. If we did we wouldn’t be here. It’s all by God’s grace.

If God’s been gracious with us we need to be gracious with others. The most forgiving person is the most forgiven person

Poem I read this week called “The Wrecking Crew”

I stood on the street of a busy town
Watching men tearing a building down
With a ho heave ho and a lusty yell
They swung a beam and a side wall fell
I asked the foreman of the crew
“Are those men as skilled
As those you’d hire if you’d wanted to build?
Ah, no, no indeed,
Just common laborers are all I need
I can tear down as much in a day or two
As would take skilled men a year to do
And then I thought as I went my way
Just which of these two roles am I trying to play?
Have I walked life’s road with care,
Measuring each deed with rule and square?
Or am I one of those who roam the town
Content with the labor of tearing down?

Prayer:
This is an area that every one of us have to deal with — a critical attitude, being judgmental. If you want to find some fault in somebody you can. Everybody is imperfect. It’s all in what you decide to look at. If you choose to make friends in life one of the things you have to do is overlook their faults. Love the good parts in them and overlook the bad parts. If you want to have a successful marriage you have to learn to stop criticizing and questioning your mate’s motives. Look at the good parts in their life. Why do we spend an entire session just on this? Because it’s one of the most common problems. James says it’s really playing God. Only God has the right to judge, evaluate and criticize someone. He’s got all the facts. He’s impartial. We’re not. It’s not our place. It will be a liberating experience when you realize that God has not called you to judge other people but He’s called you to be accountable to Him.

Would you pray a prayer like this in your heart, “Lord, help me to quit playing God. Help me this week to not be critical and judgmental, to watch my mouth and not gossip and pass on damaging information, but to build up others and to share only those things that encourage and lift up. Lord, thank You for your grace in my life. Thank You that You don’t give me what I deserve but You give me what I need. Help me to do that to others, to pass on to them what they need. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

stillness

“All Still: Finding Peace in a Noisy World”

stillness
“All Still: Finding Peace in a Noisy World”

(Psalm 39:4-5 NLT) “LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered, and that my life is fleeing away. My life is no longer than the width of my hand. An entire lifetime is just a moment to you; human existence is but a breath.”

My philosophy: Life is short. Do not waste your life. Live passionately.

We live in a very tense, uptight and fast paced world filled with hurry. We are frazzled, overwhelmed, & bewildered. Truth is we are addicted to noise

The Paradox of Our Time
The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings, but shorter tempers; wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints.

We spend more, but have less; we buy more, but enjoy it less. We have bigger houses and smaller families; more conveniences, but less time;

We have more degrees, but less sense; more knowledge, but less judgment; more experts, but more problems; more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry too quickly, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too seldom, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life; we’ve added years to life, not life to years.

We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor.

We’ve conquered outer space, but not inner space. We’ve done larger things, but not better things.

We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We’ve split the atom, but not our prejudice.

We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait.

We build more computers to hold more information to produce more copies than ever, but have less communication.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion; tall men, and short character; steep profits, and shallow relationships.

These are the times of world peace, but domestic warfare; more leisure, but less fun; more kinds of food, but less nutrition.

These are days of two incomes, but more divorce; of fancier houses, but broken homes.

These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throw-away morality, one-night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer to quiet, to kill.

It is a time when there is much in the show window and nothing in the stockroom; Indeed it’s all true”
––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
We are living in Overload

IF there is one term that describes the state of affairs in the lives of people today, it is OVERLOAD. We are Overwhelmed, Overworked, Overcommitted, Overanxious, Overmatched, and Overextended. Our tanks are on empty and we’re running on fumes.

Our world has become the world of the Red Queen of Alice in Wonderland: “Now here, you see, it takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that.”

Eccl. 7:29 (JB) God made man simple; man’s complex problems are of his own devising (The Message – God made men and women true and upright; we’re the ones who’ve made a mess of things.)

We work to much, sleep to little, hardly ever exercise, eat poorly, and are struggling or failing to find adequate time to spend with our families. We are too busy for our own good. WE NEED TO SLOW DOWN. Our lifestyles are destroying us!

I must first look within

“The great reason why life is troubled & restless lies not without, but within.” Look at yourself. Look at your lifestyle. Ponder these things. Our chaotic world and complex lives are crying out for a little order and simplicity.

(Matthew 7:3-4 NIV) “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, `Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?”

We are very quick to pick out everyone else’s issues that Jesus is saying you and I better deal with us!

Psalm 139:23-24 – “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Our lifestyles are not forced upon us. We create them with our choices. Life is not a hundred meter dash. It’s marathon.

I believe life should be lived passionately, and I believe that the day to day drudgery that stifles the greatness of the human spirit should be avoided at all costs.

How does one look within?

Through Prayer

Luke 18:1 NIV Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.

•Prayer is the highest order of spiritual business. For it links a powerless human to the creative force of God’s sovereign power!

Colossians 4:3 NIV –  Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

The greatest value in prayer is not what you can get from God but what you learn & become

•If you and I are too busy to Pray, we give our spiritual life a funeral!

“I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me, all the time waking and sleeping. It does not change God. It changes me.” CS Lewis

Prayer is the most difficult thing in the world to do. In prayer we find ourselves standing on the edge of a deep, dark, abyss – the world of the divine, infinite, and eternal. We come face to face with ourselves and face to face with God.

Prayer is the great classroom of silence

Silence and Solitude

Psalm 131:2 NIV – But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother;  like a weaned child I am content.

Solitude – he state or situation of being alone or uninhabited place. privacy, peace
God wants to remove the noise of your life and create a space in which He can speak to you

Pythagoras, the greek philosopher and mathematician wrote “Learn to be silent. Let your quiet mind listen and absorb.”

When we spend time in silence, solitude, prayer, reflection, meditation it helps us remain focused on the things that are really important in this life.

“A life lived reflectively is a life lived effectively.” (Creates direction and inner peace)

You can learn more in one hour of silence than you can in a year from books

Richard Foster said, “Without silence there is no solitude”

Noise is the mouthpiece of the world. Silence is the mouthpiece of God. It’s where God gives us wisdom.

People actually fear Silence. Why? It introduces us to ourselves. It convicts, it silences, and challenges. But it also heals, consoles, comforts, clears the mind, and gives courage to a weary heart.

C. Stillness

Psalm 46:10 –  “Be still, and know that I am God;

Still – to abate, to cease, to let go, or to stop. The state or an instance of being quiet or calm

Exodus 14:13 KJV “And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD…”

2 Chronicles 20:17 NKJV – “You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you…”

Becoming still is an important key to knowing God. If we don’t fulfill the prerequisite of finding a place of stillness the implication is that we won’t know God.

Mother Teresa expressed it this way,“We need to find God, and He cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature—trees, flowers, grass—grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… .We need silence to be able to touch souls.”

Sometimes life shakes us up a little. We become disoriented, overwhelmed, consumed by the day to day happenings of our lives. The British Navy has a practice known as an “ALL STILL”. When something goes wrong on a ship, particularly a submarine, the captain announces “All Still”. For 3 minutes no one is allowed to move or speak.
So our lives are an expression of what is within us. Life is an overflow of the heart

Proverbs 4:23 NIV – Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

All Still – is an God opportunity to catch your breath and out things into perspective

Abba Poeman, one of the ancient desert fathers, taught his disciples, “If you are silent, you will have peace wherever you live.”

Philippians 4:7 NIV – And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

IF you don’t break the tensions of daily living, they will break you!

Why You Need Stillness
Nevertheless, here are three of my own reasons for practicing the discipline of stillness:
1. I want to maintain perspective. If I don’t make time to be still, then I find myself in reactive mode—influenced by hundreds of little voices with big demands.
2. I want to stay connected to my true self. I don’t want to get confused, thinking that I am the image I present to the world. They are related, of course, but I want to live from the inside out.
3. I want more internal margin in my life. While I have been pursing external margin in my calendar and finances, I also want internal margin—more room to notice what matters most and be thankful for it.

Matthew 11:28-30 The Message –  “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Slow, down, breathe deeply, reflect deeply, pray deeply, live deeply!

How you can practice stillness
1. Schedule a time. For me, I schedule stillness first thing in the morning. It has become so precious to me, that I won’t want to start the day without it. I practice this first—before prayer, before Bible reading, before journaling, and before exercise.
2. Find a place. When I was on vacation, I sat outside by the pool. This was ideal. But it is not my real world. Now I simply go into my study or my back patio. The main thing is to find a place where you won’t be interrupted.
3. Set a timer. set aside fifteen minutes a day. In my limited experience this seems about right. It is amazing how my perception of this time changes from day to day. Sometimes it seems like forever. Other times, it goes by very quickly. I use the timer on my iPhone.
4. Relax your body. I simply sit in a soft chair with my eyes closed. I then systematically relax my body and get quiet. If you can’t sit still, then engage in any mindless physical activity, like rocking in a chair or watching some natural motion like fire or running water.
5. Quiet your mind. This is the biggest challenge for me. Just when I get still, I have some random thought or a whole flurry of thoughts. But I am getting better. a discipline that keeps your allotted time from being hijacked by an overly-active mind.
6. Be present. Don’t be regretting or celebrating the past. Don’t be worrying or dreaming about the future. Instead, collect your thoughts and be present—in this moment. It is the most important time you have. In fact, it is the only time you have.
7. Learn to return. This has been the most helpful component. In involves recalling a “place of peace,” where you had a particularly vivid experience of peace and stillness.

summer_main

Let it Go

summer_main
LET IT GO: Forgiveness By Cierra Yanok Rider

If you guys have your Bibles or smartphone or the Gtown app open up to Matthew 6:10-13. This is a passage in the Bible that everyone should know very well, The Lord’s Prayer…whether you come from a Catholic background or this is your first Sunday, even sports teams in high school recite this prayer. Let’s say the Lord’s prayer together- you can follow along on the screen too-

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,[a]
but deliver us from the evil one.[b]’

Now let me go on and read vs 14-15 for you;

Matthew 6:14-15- 14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

So basically what this is saying is reiterating what Jesus is telling us to pray to him, but how to apply it. We ask Him to forgive us and we forgive those who have hurt us—but Jesus thought it was so important to remind us one more time in v. 14 & 15 by saying…”listen, I want to forgive you, but if you don’t forgive others, I can’t forgive you”

Now lets look at a couple more scriptures on forgiveness real quick-

Mark 11:25- But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too

Colossians 3:13- Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Ephesians 4:31-32- Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Luke 6:37- Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

These are only 4 references to forgiveness..When I was googling how many times the word forgiveness is in the bible it said around 70 times…

Seems to me that God is pretty clear on what he is instructing us to do in the realm of forgiveness. Does anyone have one of those friends who repeats stories a lot or tells you something to do over and over again? Yeah, I have a few..quite a few family members too. But you want to know something? I bet you remember their story. When I was growing up if my mom had to repeat directions to me more than once, I got a spanking, I am thankful God has a little more mercy than the Trish. J

Today I want to address two questions pertaining to forgiveness, the first one being;

1. WHY should I forgive?
2. HOW do I forgive?
Clearly God is telling us to forgive because he has forgiven us, but in all honesty, the number one reason why we should forgive isn’t because of the other person who has wronged us, but–

1. Unforgiveness hurts me

Hebrews 12:15- See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

Unforgiveness causes trouble and bitterness in our hearts—one ounce of bitterness can haunt you for the rest of your life and make you a miserable person and misery loves company. So you and your miserable self will be surrounded by a whole lot of other miserable people.

If you don’t want to end up a miserable old person with 20 cats and bed sores by age 40 than you have to learn to function without holding a grudge. People are going to hurt you, it is inevitable or you might have already been hurt.

I am not trying to downplay anyone’s past hurts or any unforgiveness some of you may be carrying with you today. Some of you have past hurts that include abuse, betrayal, abandonment and much more issues that make you say… “You don’t understand what I have been through” and you are right…I don’t, but I have past hurts of my own. I have had people lie to me, cheat on me, turn their backs on me, hurt my family by forcing us out of a church, call us horrible names and make up nasty rumors about our family to get their way and sadly a lot of these hurts have actually come from growing up in church. I could easily be bitter or never want to step foot into a church again or have chosen to never pursue a relationship with someone again bc of my fear of being hurt again, but I choose to move forward and not let bitterness take root in my heart. If that was the case I would have never met Josh or we would have never started Gracetown here today.

One of the foundations of Christianity is love and if we love one another we keep no record of wrong…while bitterness keeps intense details.

A famous quote by Anne Lamont says “Unforgiveness is like drinking rat poison and hope the other person dies”

I thought that was a pretty tweetable quote.

Now onto the second reason of WHY we should forgive;

2. Because I will need forgiveness again

We see this clearly in what we already read in Matthew 6:14-15 when it says- But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

There is a parable in the Matthew 18 which is just a fancy word for “story that Jesus puts in lamens terms so we understand the lesson”

There was a servant who owed his master 10,000 tallons. Ps-I looked up what tallons were because in my head I imagine bird tallons & I know that’s not right- so if you are like me, now you know that tallons equals 150 years of labor or $2billion in today’s terms. SO back to the servant… There was NO way he could pay the mast back but he BEGGED the master to forgive his debt. The master decided to show mercy and forgive his debt. Shortly after his debt was forgiven, the servant went back to his town and found someone who owed him a day’s wages and demanded his money. The servant who owed him money begged for mercy, but he denied him. Once the master heard word of this servant’s actions of unforgiveness he called upon him in anger & turned him in to the jailers to be tortured until he paid back what he owed.”

At the end of the parable it says-

Matthew 18:35 35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”
You are given an option—it says this is what happens UNLESS you forgive.
I don’t know about you, but I would rather forgive someone than be put to jail and beaten.
The message of grace is so widely spread throughout Christianity now which is awesome and so refreshing, but it is amazing how we are SO quick to embrace God’s grace and mercy on our lives but SO SLOW to give the same to others.
Now that we have the WHY let’s look at the HOW
2. HOW do I forgive?
The number one thing to do is pretty simple and self explanatory, but not exactly easy…

1. PRAY for those who hurt you
Not for their Mercedes to get banged up or for them to get herpes or other harm, but for like spiritual stuff…something as simple as “Bless them”

If Jesus Christ who was dying on a cross can look up to God and say “Father, forgive them” towards the people who were crucifying him, then we should be able to sacrificially try to pray for those who have hurt us.

You aren’t going to feel like praying for someone who has hurt you, so don’t wait to “FEEL” like it..you just have to begin.

Sometimes right action triggers right feelings…Start praying and the right attitude will follow.

You may not ever see the result of your prayers for others. The person who has hurt you may not even live near you anymore or even be alive, but it’s not just about them…remember it is about YOU.

I have noticed that my prayers for others may not always change them but it has changed me.

2. Forgive as you have been FORGIVEN…the same way that Christ forgave us;

​He forgives us;

​CONSTANTLY & COMPLETELY

In Matthew 18:21 Peter asked Jesus, How many times do I forgive those who sin against me?
22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times seven[g]

I am like Peter- I’d want to know how many times I have to forgive someone so that I can move on, but Jesus basically says infiniity times…so that is where the “constantly” comes in to play.

The “completely” can look a little different though;

-Sometimes you can forgive completely from a distance.

-Forgiveness doesn’t mean to stay in a hurtful situation.

Growing up I thought if I forgave someone for hurting me we had to go back to being best friends again to “show” that I forgave them, but that isn’t the case…If you are in a situation that you are constantly being hurt mentally, emotionally, sexually or physically, you need to remove yourself from that situation. Staying in an unhealthy relationship whether it is a friendship, work situation or romantic relationship, the first step is to take yourself away from the situation and let someone else know then you can work on the forgiveness part.

Forgiveness isn’t for the weak- you have to be strong enough to move on. People who can forgive see the bigger picture!

And really… unforgiveness is exhausting…you have to constantly remind yourself to be upset. It is miserable.

Today I want to encourage you to LET IT GO- Be selfish, forgive others so you can MOVE on with your life and pursue the future that God has planned for you.

summer_main

Free

summer_main
Free

A visiting minister was very long-winded. Worse, every time he would make a good point during his sermon and a member of the congregation responded with “Amen” or “That’s right, preacher” he would get wound up even more and launch into another lengthy discourse. Finally, the host pastor started responding to every few sentences with “Amen, Pharaoh!” The guest minister wasn’t sure what that meant, but after several more “Amen, Pharaohs” he finally concluded his very lengthy sermon. After the service concluded and the congregation had left, the visiting minister turned to his host and asked, “What exactly did you mean when you said “Amen, Pharaoh?” His host replied, “I was telling you to let my people go!”

In Luke 4, the very first passage Jesus ever spoke — it was His first public sermon, — Jesus spelled out what was going to be the theme of His ministry.

Luke 4:18-19 (LB) “The Spirit of the Lord has appointed me to preach Good News to the poor; he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted and to announce that captives shall be released and the blind shall see, that the downtrodden shall be freed from their oppressors, and that God is ready to give blessings to all who come to him.”

Galatians 5:1 NLT – So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.

FREE -not subject to the control or domination of another

Psalm 31:4-5 NIV – Keep me free from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge. 5 Into your hands I commit my spirit; deliver me, Lord, my faithful God.

Hebrews 12:1 NLT – Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

3 Kinds of Freedom – Jesus promises real and lasting freedom! FROM WHAT?

1. The Burden of Guilt

Ephesians 1:7-8 NIV – In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding,

Good News version – “For by the death of Christ we are set free. That is, our sins are forgiven. How great is the grace of God which He gave to us in such large measure.”

The reruns of Columbo are back on, the episode had Johnny Cash as a bad guy. They had him cast as a country-western singer (real innovative idea!). He murdered somebody. At the end, Columbo always figures out what happened and Cash got caught. The closing words of the scene, Johnny Cash says, “I’m glad I finally got caught. The guilt was killing me.”

Guilt is cancer. Guilt will confine you, torture you, and destroy you. It’s the thief of life.

You cannot live indefinitely with guilt. But the fact is all of us make mistakes and all of us are guilty. How do you live with it?

Guilt robs you of happiness. It causes depression. It can make you sick. Doctors
say that 80% of the people in hospitals today could go home if they could get rid of guilt and bitterness.

Psalm 103:12 NIV – as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

The Bible says when we come to Christ, He takes us and forgives us instantly, He forgives us completely, He forgives us without question. The Bible says, “I’ve taken your sins and put them all behind My back.”

Out of sight. “I’ve separated them as far as east from west.”
Out of reach. “I’ve put them where I remember them no more.”
Out of memory. Once you learn that God can forgive and forget, what God forgets then you can forget

If you come to God and say, “God, I’ve really made a mess of my life. I’ve made mistakes and this is what I’ve done wrong and please forgive me.” You’re forgiven, and God says, “I not only forgive but I wipe the slate clean.” It’s like starting over. It’s like being born again. Then if you were to die and go to heaven and say, “God, about that sin…” He’d say, “What sin?” “About that mistake I made in that relationship…” He’d say, “What mistake?” “God, about that pain that I went through…” “What pain?” That is the freedom of forgiveness.

God says, “I want to set you free from the burden of guilt” “In Christ we are set free. That is our sins are forgiven.” I believe that even if there were no such thing as heaven, it would be worth becoming a Christian just to have a clear conscience. The joy that comes from knowing that I’m forgiven. The slate is clean. But that’s not all.

2. The Pain of Resentment

Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

A) In your lifetime, you’ll be hurt many times sometimes accidentally/sometimes intentionally

What we like to do when we are hurt is get even. We want revenge. We want to retaliate. We get resentful, but resentment always hurts you more than the person you’re resentful against. Always. It’s like a boomerang.

“Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”- Malachy McCourt

B) How you respond determines the degree of effect it has on you.
* If you forgive – you can move on, find new happiness
* If you harbor resentment – it can ruin you

Some of you are holding on to a hurt. You let somebody hurt you 5, 10, 15 years ago. Maybe in a divorce, maybe your parents, maybe somebody at school, somebody hurt you badly. You’re still holding onto that hurt. That is dumb! Let go of it. The Bible says, “Get rid of all bitterness and resentment”. Let Jesus Christ set you free from the burden of guilt and let Him set you free from the pain of resentment.

Romans 12:14-21 NIV – Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[a] Do not be conceited. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[b] says the Lord. 20 On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”[c] 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Who are you bitter against today? A parent? An old boyfriend? A husband? A wife? Child? You say, “But I just can’t forgive that person! They hurt me too bad!” That’s why you need Jesus Christ. You need that supernatural power to let go of it for your own benefit.

Bitterness imprisons life; love releases it.

Jesus says, “I want to set you free from the poison of bitterness.”

3. The Expectations of Others

I Thessalonians 2:4 NLT – For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts.

1 Thessalonians 2:4 (Phillips translation) “We don’t aim to please men but to please God who knows us through and through.”

Freedom is being you without anyone’s permission

Jesus says “I want you to be free to be yourself.” We spend so much of our time trying to dress like other people, act like other people, talk like other people.

“You are not what others think you are. You are what God knows you are.”

Regardless of what other people think, if I’m doing what God wants me to do then that’s what counts. That’s what is important! Even God can’t please everybody. When you come to the point that Jesus sets you free when you say, “God likes me and I like me. If you don’t like me, what’s your problem?” He wants to set you free from the pressures of conformity.

A) You can’t be happy if you are always…
* trying to please/impress everyone at the same time
* Pressured by other’s standards/lifestyles

Galatians 1:10 ESV – For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

ILLUS: What will everyone think? – good way to get ulcers! Trying to pretend you are someone you are not!

The pressure with us is materialism. I’ve said many times, we buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t even like. We’re trying to conform. Who cares what other people think? We get so caught up in making a living we forget to make a life. The Bible says God wants to set us free. Free to be ourselves.

The Plan

John 8:32 NIV – Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

1. God still loves You.

John 3:16-17 Message – “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came
to help.”

I John 4:7-10 NIV – Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

“God’s love for us is uncoerced and so freely given that it does not demand a response. But so freely is it given that it creates freedom in the recipient, so that our response is not one of obligation or duty, nor the returning of a favor, but uncoerced love.” Mark Galli

2. God can free You.

Romans 8:1-2 Message “(You) no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.”

Romans 8:11 Message – It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!

3. God will restore You.

Psalm 71:20 NIV – “Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up.”

WHAT IS ENSLAVING YOU THIS MORNING?

1. GUILT – some secret sin, failure, past regret, mistake? Relax, admit it to Christ, ask forgiveness Let Christ cleanse your conscience / Then forgive yourself: YOU ARE FORGIVEN!
It’s never too late to start over

2. BITTERNESS/RESENTMENT/HATE?/ANGER? Let Christ flush the poison out of your life Ask Him to fill you with love and forgiveness for that person

3. ARE YOU PRESSURED BY THE EXPECTATIONS OF OTHERS? – Trying to cope with the standards and lifestyles of others? Pretending to be someone you aren’t?

God can take the broken pieces, the mistakes, the injustices, and make something good come out of it.

Prayer
“Lord I believe you are setting people free right now!” From worry, jealousy, fear, anger, depression… It’s like a mountain of pressure sliding off their necks…Thank you for freedom – salvation!

summer_main

RadioActive – Getting through the Funk of Life

summer_main
RadioActive – Getting through the Funk of Life

Radio Activity – the phenomenon, exhibited by and being a property of certain elements, of spontaneously emitting radiation resulting from changes in the nuclei of atoms of the element.

Result – Radiation takes place when the atomic nucleus of an unstable atom decays and starts releasing ionizing particles, known as ionizing radiation. When these particles come into contact with organic material, such as human tissue, they will damage them if levels are high enough, causing burns and cancer. Ionizing radiation can be fatal for humans.

To remind us that just as radiation exposure can be hazardous to your health. There are things that happen to us in life that can be harmful to our lives spiritually, emotionally, etc.. and cause us to get in a FUNK. (Depression and Discouragement)

Text: I Kings 19:1-5 NIV – Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.” 3 Elijah was afraid[a] and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4 while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”

•Elijah had a close relationship with God and was used powerfully by Him. Many people witnessed the greatness of God through the prophet.
•Elijah encouraged many people. He helped a widow and her son who were down-and-out and had only enough food for one more meal. Elijah told the widow that God would provide, and He did. Later, when her son died, Elijah asked God to bring him back to life, and God did. This widow’s hope was restored through Elijah.
•Elijah did many other amazing works by the power of God, but the Bible shows that even great men of God can get tripped up by the trials and challenges of living God’s way in a world under the sway of Satan. The story of Elijah’s descent into depression is a classic.
•Not only was Elijah hated and threatened with death by the evil Queen Jezebel, he also felt his work had been in vain and that no one else was supporting God. He felt totally alone, vulnerable and hopeless. Being human like you and me, all this started to get to him.
•Elijah got overwhelmed and wanted to quit. No one knew Elijah was depressed. But God did.

We all want to know how to get through what we are going through. Difficult circumstances affect our moods on a daily basis and can get us in a funk if we let them.

Let’s consider the effect that FUNK had on Elijah

Caused him to exaggerate the negative and underestimate the positive
Drove him into isolation
Caused him to sulk in self pity
Caused him to be irrational
Took him off course with God’s plan for his life

What is depression?
Depression is a serious medical condition. Everyone experiences “ups” and “downs” in their life. But for some people the “downs” can outweigh the “ups.” This can cause problems with everyday activities such as eating, sleeping, working, and getting along with friends. If this happens for more than a few weeks, depression may be the reason.

Depression affects a person’s physical health, as well as how he or she feels, thinks, and acts toward others. It brings about a mixture of feelings and thoughts that can cause someone to depart from his or her usual behavior.

Depression is very common — it affects an estimated 19 million American adults every year. Nearly twice as many women (6.5%) as men (3.3%) suffer from depression each year. The good news is that it you can be free from it!

You Must QUIT Focusing…

1. The Pain of Yesterday

Jeremiah 6:14 NIV – They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. Peace, Peace, they say, when there is no peace.”

2. The Problems of Today

Luke 21:34 NIV- “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighted down with dissipation, drunkeness ad the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.”

3. The Pressures of Tomorrow

Matthew 6:34 NIV – “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Getting Through the FUNK

1. Protect Your Mind

Dr. Hans Selye researched and popularized a tiny membrane in the back of our head known as the RAS: Reticular Activity System. Primary function – it moves in the direction of your dominant thought at that moment. When we become preoccupied with a thought, we want to act on it.

Ephesians 4:23 AMP – And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind (having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude)

The spirit of your mind is referring to a mood of mind or frame of mind. It is our responsibility to be constantly renewed and get ourselves out of the funk we are in.

What we think determines, to a large degree, how we feel

Proverbs 23:7 NKJV – For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.

Spiritual and Positive forces will always supersede negative forces. Quit negative thinking and self talk.

Philippians 4:8 NIV – Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Guard You Emotions: Your mind is a computer – it spits out the data you feed it

Proverbs 4:23 NIV – Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

2. Prayer To God

I Kings 19:9-10 NIV – 9 There he went into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

John 16:23-24 NIV – In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

Spiritual comfort comes through Prayer. Shut off from the world and have a time of Centered prayer.

Psalm 43:5 ESV – Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

Salvation in this verse does not mean eternal salvation. It means deliverance, or the sense of helping someone out of their difficulty. This is what God does during times of depression and difficulty. He will deliver you. You have to hope in Him, and decide that God can help you.

Philippians 4:6 NIV –  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Prayer can change ANYTHING. Prayer can change EVERYTHING

Psalm 5:3 NIV – In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;  in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.

3. Worship

This is where we begin to focus on the securities of God, not our insecurities. Its expressing my affection to God and focusing my attention on God

Psalm 43:4 ESV – Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God.

•When you are feeling no joy, go to God, who will release to you His joy through worship. Music has an amazing power on people who are sick and especially on people who are depressed. The Bible has examples of Saul going to David and asking him to play the harp. It soothed Saul’s soul. Worship will soothe your soul as well. (Example: Tricia in hospital)

•I have found that many times, when I feel insecure, when I can’t go on, worship lifts me up. Worship in the church is one time, but I am often so nervous that I cannot focus on worship as I often should. So I spend some time in worship at home or car. Put in a CD and just start to listen.

•And worship is more than just an emotional cleansing. Worship affects me deeply. God soothes me more in worship than in any other way. I can see God and His power, His joy, and His love. I visualize the hope that I have in Christ when I listen or sing praises to Him.

Isaiah 61:3 NKJV –  To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

We take coffee breaks, rest breaks, and lunch breaks. Why not take a Praise Break! God answer for depression is PRAISE! It’s one antidepressant we all need.

Acts 16:25-26 NIV – About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.

•Rather than sulking in despair, Paul and Silas got themselves moving in the direction of their faith through Praise and Worship. We can sing our way out of despair, we can smile our way of that funk, We can worship our way out of our heaviness!

What’s Next

4. Get Busy with God’s Plan for your Life

Jeremiah 29:11 NIV – 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.

God gave Elijah something to do

I Kings 19:15-16 NIV – 15 The Lord said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. 16 Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet.

•He had to shed tears of self pity. Was time to get back to work for God.

Romans 8:28 NIV –  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.

summer_main

Yesterday

summer_main
Yesterday

“From Peanuts Linus said, ‘Maybe we should think only about today.’ Charlie Brown disagreed. ‘No, that’s giving up. I’m still hoping yesterday will get better.”

Job 29:1-20 The Message – “When” God Was Still by My Side 1 Job now resumed his response:“Oh, how I long for the good old days, when God took such very good care of me.
He always held a lamp before me and I walked through the dark by its light. Oh, how I miss those golden years when God’s friendship graced my home, When the Mighty One was still by my side and my children were all around me, When everything was going my way, and nothing seemed too difficult. 7-20  “When I walked downtown and sat with my friends in the public square, Young and old greeted me with respect; I was honored by everyone in town. When I spoke, everyone listened; they hung on my every word. People who knew me spoke well of me; my reputation went ahead of me. I was known for helping people in trouble and standing up for those who were down on their luck. The dying blessed me, and the bereaved were cheered by my visits. All my dealings with people were good. I was known for being fair to everyone I met.
I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame, Father to the needy, and champion of abused aliens. I grabbed street thieves by the scruff of the neck and made them give back what they’d stolen. I thought, ‘I’ll die peacefully in my own bed, grateful for a long and full life, A life deep-rooted and well-watered, a life limber and dew-fresh, My soul suffused with glory and my body robust until the day I die.’

As we dive into this lesson today, I want you to know that memory is precious to me.
‒ Old pictures are a thrill to look at.
‒ Childhood memories – home movies
‒ THEREFORE, I do not want you to think I am encouraging us to lose our good memory.

“I am amazed by how many individuals mess up every new day with yesterday.  They insist on bringing into today the failures of yesterday and in doing so pollute a potentially wonderful day.”

The Residue of Yesterday

“Your past is always going to be the way it was. Stop trying to change it.”

Often you can see the residue – All kinds of disappointment, discouragement, offenses, strife, despair, rejection, failures, successes, pain, etc..

Lamentations 3:19-20 NIV “I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.”

 Past problems.

(Job 30:26 NIV) “Yet when I hoped for good, evil came; when I looked for light, then came darkness.”

 Past mistakes.

(Job 27:8 NIV) “For what hope has the godless when he is cut off, when God takes away his life?”

 Past relationships.

(Job 19:19 NIV) “All my intimate friends detest me; those I love have turned against me.”

You can’t go where you’re meant to go, carrying the things of your past! Get ready for where God wants to take you! Take off the old mind set! The Horse is dead: DISMOUNT!

To many people are focused on what hasn’t happened. yesterday is not tomorrow! Your future is not determined by your past!

Hope for Today

Lamentations 3:21-23 NIV “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD‟s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

Refocus your mind.

Romans 12:2 NLT “Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.”

You will never change your life until you change the way your mind

Jeremiah began to focus on:
 1. Faithful never ending love of God
 2. The mercies of God that never cease
 3. God’s Great faithfulness. (strength)

Ephesians 4:18 LB “Many are far away from the life of God because they have shut their minds against Him, so they can‟t understand His ways.”

•Exchange YOUR thoughts for GOD’s thoughts. (I Corinthians 2:16 says, “We have the mind of Christ.”)
Ephesians 3:18-19 NLT “And may you have the power to understand, as all God‟s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully.”
2. Release your past

Two little boys got into a fight. But the next morning Johnny took his cap and headed for Bobby’s house again. Surprised, an older member of the family said teasingly, “What! Going to play with him again? I thought you had a fight last night
and was never going to have anything more to do with him. Funny memory you have.” Johnny looked a little sheepish, dug his toe into the carpet for a moment, then
flashed a satisfied smile as he hurried away. “Oh! Bobby and me’s good forgetters!”

We get in trouble when we linger too long in places we should leave mentally and emotionally

In a Nike advertisement some years ago, a voice came over the television saying, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” Those words were spoken by Michael Jordan, by most standards the greatest basketball player ever to play the game.

Isaiah 43:18 NIV “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.”

“You do not move ahead by constantly looking in a rear view mirror. The past is a rudder to guide you, not an anchor to drag you. We must learn from the past but not live in the past.” – Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe

•The apostle Paul understood the principle of releasing his past and moving on when he said…

Phil 3:13 TLB “No, dear brothers, I am still not all I should be, but I am bringing all my energies to bear on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,”

•Paul had no other choice because his past wasn’t the best…He persecuted the church. He used his authority to kill Christians. By his own admission he said, “I am chief of sinners.”
•He could have walked around all his life with this tremendous burden of guilt crippling him & he would never have become the great apostle we know & love today.

“I’ve got my faults, but living in the past is not one of them. There’s no future in it.”
- Sparky Anderson

In spite of your past, God doesn’t give up on you

Psalm 103:10-12 NIV “He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities…as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

Micah 7:18 NIV “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.”

Romans 3:22 LB “God says He will accept and acquit us – declare us “not guilty‟ – if we trust Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in the same way, by coming to Christ, no matter who we are or what we have been like.”

For every person who has ever failed in their past, there is a forgiveness that forgets!

3. Turn when into now.

Remember: “Yesterday Ended Last Night”

2 Corinthians 6:2 NIV “I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.”

Psalm 118:24 NIV “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

We love to announce our plans, to make our goals and declare them. Next year I’m going to….

Proverbs 27:1 NIV – Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.

Spencer Johnson, the man who wrote the book The One Minute Manager wrote another book called The Perfect Present. In this book he said the perfect present is literally the perfect present. The present time. That’s all I have. That’s all I have to give to this world. Not next hour or next month but right now. That’s the gift that God has given to me so I ought to use it. That’s all I have — the present.

“The future is just a collection of bunch of successive nows”

Today is the Good Old Days you’re going to talk about in 15 years. Enjoy now. Make the most of now.

Matthew 6:34 (LB) “So don’t be anxious about tomorrow — God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time.”

Live one day at a time, that’s how God says to face the future. The future could be overwhelming but fortunately it comes in bite-size pieces, a 24-hour segment at a time. Plan for the future but you can only live now. I can’t live the future, I can only live today. Plan for the future but take advantage of the present. “Life is what happens to us while we’re planning something else.”

“Your success tomorrow begins today”

It was Abraham Lincoln who first said, “The leading rule for a man of every calling is diligence; never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”

It’s been said, “Every saint has a past and every sinner a future.” Jesus came for those who are less than perfect, those who are far from perfect, and those who are anything but perfect. God made Jesus who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor 5:21).

summer_main

Best Day of My Life

summer_main
Best Day of My Life

American Authors said, ”We wanted to tell this story of how no matter what’s going on- whether you’re stuck at your job or having a bad day- there’s always an escape from that, and there’s always a way to make any day the best day of your life. It’s about escaping reality and dreaming.”

I don’t necessarily believe that just dreams help you escape reality. Dreams help us engage reality. I believe what gets a person through a bad day and what can cause you to have the best day of your life is….Hope.

Lamentations 3:19-26 (NIV) I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

(NLT) – The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends!s His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord

Jeremiah’s confidence in the future had nothing to do with optimism. If you were to rank the characters of the Bible in order of their positive spirit and optimistic outlook, Jeremiah would be dead last. He was, by far, the most pessimistic prophet to ever bend Israel’s ear. In fact, he’s called the weeping prophet.

The lights dimmed when Jeremiah walked into a room. He could cloud up a sunny day. But when he talks about the future he sounds like he’s selling on commission. Why? His hope was in God.

What turned Jeremiah’s bad day into a good day
 1. Faithful never ending love of God
 2. The mercies of God that never cease
 3. God’s Great faithfulness. (strength)

We will have bad days. Times of loss & devastation (grief & mourning), and minor defeats. (my golf game), set backs, & challenges.

Days that are…….

 Disoriented.

(Job 17:13) “Where then is my hope? Who can see any hope for me?”

 Drifting.

(Isaiah 53:6) “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way.”

 Despair.

(2 Corinthians 1:8) “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life.”

“Hope is the power of being cheerful in circumstances we know to be desperate.”- G.K. Chesterton
Our Response during these days

Hebrews 10:23 NIV –  Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

The Old Fisherman’s Letter

When we are trapped in a tunnel of misery, hope points to the light at the end.
When we are overworked & exhausted, hope gives us fresh energy
When we are discouraged, hope lifts our spirits
When we are tempted to quit, hope keeps us going
When we lose our way & confusion blurs the destination, hope dulls the edge of panic
When we struggle with a crippling disease or a lingering illness, hope helps us perservere beyond the pain.
When we fear the worst, hope brings reminders that God is still in control
When we must endure the consequences of bad decisions, hope fuels our recovery
When we find ourselves unemployed, hope tells us we still have a future
When we are forced to sit back & wait, hope gives us the patience to trust
When we feel rejected & abandoned, hope reminds us we’re not alone, we’ll make it
When we say our final farewell to someone we love, hope in the life beyond gets us through our grief.

When life hurts & dreams fade, nothing helps like hope.

“There is no medicine like hope, no incentive so great, and no tonic so powerful as expectation of something better tomorrow.” – Orison Swett Marden

How Hope Makes it the Best Day of My Life

Romans 15:4 NIV – For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

“Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.” – Martin Luther
Hope Defined:

culture hope – merely an optimistic desire that something will be fulfilled. Not guaranteed because it is subject to changeable people and circumstances.

biblical hope – an optimistic assurance that something will be fulfilled. Favorable and confident expectation relating to the future. Based on the guaranteed promises of God.

What is Hope?

 Hope is a confident expectation based on something solid.

(Hebrews 11:1) “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

 For most people, hope is something they do. Biblical hope is something we have.

(Psalm 71:14) “But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more.”

This Hope will never be a disappointment

Romans 5:3-5 NIV –  Not only so, but we[a] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us

The Benefit of Hope during your day

1. Uplifts Your Downcast Soul

Psalm 42:5 NIV – Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

2. Inspires you to Persevere with Endurance

I Thessalonians 1:3 NIV – We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

3. Establishes Your Security, Safety & Strength

Job 11:18 NIV – You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety.

Isaiah 40:31 NIV – but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

4. God Will Never Fail You

Psalm 62:5-7 NIV – Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. 6 Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. 7 My salvation and my honor depend on God[a]; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.

5. Guarantees Your Eternal Life

Titus 3:5-7 NIV – he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

Remember: Hope is only found in a relationship with God.

I Timothy 4:10 NIV – That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.

The Solid Rock

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
2. When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
3. His oath, His covenant, and blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When every earthly prop gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.