Unshakeable Peace

Unshakeable Peace – Guest Speaker, Pastor Kyle Mills – Elevate City Church, Fort Wayne, IN.

(Luke 6:46-49 MSG) “Why are you so polite with me, always saying ‘Yes, sir,’ and ‘That’s right, sir,’ but never doing a thing I tell you? These words I speak to you are not mere additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundation words, words to build a life on. “If you work the words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who dug deep and laid the foundation of his house on bedrock. When the river burst its banks and crashed against the house, nothing could shake it; it was built to last. But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a dumb carpenter who built a house but skipped the foundation. When the swollen river came crashing in, it collapsed like a house of cards. It was a total loss.”

When we understand who we are & whose we are we will not be shaken

Story: Show picture of only house surviving Hurricane Ike in Texas

(John 16:33 MSG) “In this world you will experience difficulties! But take heart! I have conquered the world! I’ve told you this so that in trusting me, you will be unshakable and deeply at peace.” 

(Isaiah 53:5 NIV) “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

We don’t follow a frail Jesus he was a stud – strong

Jesus went through 4 types of torture before giving up his life

The Thorns

Then to the Praetorium – Military headquarters for Roman guards

The guards mocked & messed with Jesus for hours

Jesus already – skin off from his ribs, back and spine

Cut off a huge piece of a branch – fashioned it together

Big branch more like a helmet covered his head – crown of thorns

Thorns about 1 inch that were forced into his head

Beat the thorns into his head- gave him a stick like a scepter

Knelt before him in mockery – Spit on Him, pulled out His beard (Is 50:6)

Beat His head with a stick – migraine of all migraine headaches

Through the thorns he brought us peace 

  • He was punished; We have peace. 

Why?  He took the punishment that brought us peace

That punishment gave power to restore our mind

Many people misunderstand this peace

Jesus did not come to earth to bring peace

(Luke 12:51 NIV) “Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.”

He came so that we could have peace in the middle of a troubled world

(Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT)  “Trust the Lord with all your heart. Don’t depend on your own understanding. Honor the Lord in everything you do and he will give you success.” 

Trouble

What does trouble look like how does it come into our lives?

  • Confusion.

There are times & seasons when you do not understand life

(Psalm 10:1, 17 NIV) “Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? …You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry.”

It feels like God hears you and ignores you – unnecessary pain in your life

Even Jesus felt that way…

(Matthew 27:46 NIV) “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Why am I going through all this pain?

There was a moment that Jesus felt far from his Father

(Hebrews 4:15 NLT) This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.

Jesus went through this pain to put your heart at peace

Not to give you all the answers

Even on the other side of trouble we don’t get all the answers

  • Depression.

On the rise in this nation like never before

All over TV – If you take this drug it might help you take it 75x

It might help you – Then the next hour tells you that you might poop on yourself, right eye goes blind, can’t eat pancakes

Things don’t go our way – we don’t understand

Minds run wild – Hearts sink – My life is a wreck

Maybe God won’t come through – This pain is for nothing

If you are feeling this way then you are in good company

Most of the bible is written & lived by a bunch of messed up people  Who figured it out in the end

(Psalm 42:3-5 NLT) “Day and night I have only tears for food, while my enemies continually taunt me, saying, ‘Where is this God of yours?’ My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be: I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration! Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God.”

“I remember how it used to be”

Our minds are tormented by wishing it was different

Worship is always a part of the solution

Remind yourself of what God has done & who He is

  • Worry and fear.

Begin to spend emotional energy on things out of our control

Bethany – Fear with spiders story from home in Ohio – I tease her with it

90% of our energy is directed at things we have no control over

10% of our energy is focused on things that we can control

Jesus said it adds no value to your life

(Matthew 6:27 NIV) “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”

No benefit of worrying

What we are doing when we worry is saying God is not enough

I have to carry this burden for him

We have to trust that God has everything worked out

He gave us a gift in this part of his torture – peace

(John 14:27 NLT) “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” Billy Witt

At Peace

How do you find this peace?

1. Accept God’s grace.   

Have to understand what Jesus has done for you

Most NT letters open or close by wishing Grace & Peace

(1 Corinthians 1:3 NLT) “May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.”

You don’t have peace unless you have grace – interconnected

Grace keeps us where we feel like we have to work it out on our own

It’s hard to wrap our human minds around grace

Greek word for Grace is the word “charis”

Means a gift or blessings, favor brought to man by Jesus

Literally means, “God is treating you as his child as though you have never made any mistakes in your life”

God’s message to us is you cannot earn it

Nothing you can to do lose God’s love – or earn his love – Grace is a gift

Paul was wrestling with a situation like ours

Trying to make sense of things – Trying to do it on his own

(2 Corinthians 12:8-10 NLT) “Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Instead of getting stressed out – Flip the whole deal – Grace

How is it going to happen, I don’t know but God’s grace is sufficient

2. Surrender to the Holy Spirit.   

The enemy attacks you in your mind

Thoughts that tell you how worthless you are, things won’t work out, steal peace

(Romans 8:6 NLT) “So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. (sin brings death/separation) But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.” 

Ask the Holy Spirit to help guide your thoughts

You need the Holy Spirit’s activity in your life

He’ll bring counsel, direction, peace

Read God’s Word ask the Holy spirit to guide your thoughts

3. Pray about everything that bothers you.

God is not freaked out by your problems – Talk to Him

God is not saying hey Jesus did you see this going on, “Oh myself” what is going on.

(Philippians 4:6-7 NLT) “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

The time I find myself at great stress is when I drift from God

Remind yourself you are not in control nor is the devil in control – God is

Peace comes to guard your hearts and minds

Salvation Call – Jesus, forgive me for all of my sins, I give my life to you, make me brand new. I believe you died for me so that I can live. Fill me with your spirit that I would know you, & serve you with my life. My life is not my own, I give it to you. Thank you for loving me, in Jesus name, Amen!

Daring Faith Pt.5 – Finding Faith in the Storms of Life

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Daring Faith Pt.5 – Finding Faith in the Storms of Life

Luke 8:22-25 NIV – One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. 23 As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. 24 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. 25 “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”

•Squall = storm / Take note: Jesus said “let’s go over to the other side.” FYI – He knew about the Storm.

•Don’t ever assume God will lead you around a storm or you can avoid storms in this life

Before we know it, fierce winds destroy our happiness, dreams and ultimately our lives as we struggle to stay afloat.  In todays msg, we will explore how to move forward when the storms hold us back.

When the storms of life strike, it’s what happens in you that will determine what happens to you.

It’s amazing how quickly the storms of life strike, isn’t it?  Just like that, so many times out of no where.

Storms never dictate God’s Direction

•He’s never surprised of the storm

•He will lead you through the storm

•Jesus is not only in the quiet places but also the chaotic places

•If you go where God leads you you will go through a storm to get there.

Jesus asks them….”Where is Your Faith? Storms locate our faith

What to remember about storms

1. Storms are inevitable.

When it comes to storms, it’s not a matter of if, but when.

•You’re probably – Entering a storm – Engaging a storm – Emerging from a storm

The storm in Luke still happened even though Jesus was on board…Never says, life with me will be a three hour tour

John 16:33 NIV –  “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Stormy season in America right now

•National Debt is $19 Trillion Dollars

•War on Terror

•Killings of Black men and cops

•Politics landscape and the Presidential Race – Looks like Wrestlemania. (Who let the dogs out), Loss of dignity

-Sign on Twitter – “What if nobody was president and we all promised real hard to just be cool?”

•Levels of anxiety of me because of the storms within the church

•Our faith is strong on Sunday but absent on Monday

Isaiah 26:3 NIV – You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.

Peace – It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or storms. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.

2. Storms are unpredictable.

You can’t plan them, time them, schedule them

Jeremiah 4:20 NIV –  “Disaster follows disaster; the whole land lies in ruins.  In an instant my tents are destroyed, my shelter in a moment.”

3. Storms are temporary.

They have an end to them – They don’t last

Hebrews 10:35-37 NIV –  “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.  For in just a very little while, He who is coming will come and will not delay.”

CS Lewis said…, “God who foresaw your tribulation (storm) has especially armed you to go through it, not without pain, but without stain.” 

2 Corinthians 4:17-18 NIV For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

4. Storms are opportunities.

There is an old parable that says: All sunshine and no rain makes a desert – can have value

God wants to build your faith in the storms of life

•Can find purpose in the middle of a storm

•Our faith can be strengthened in the middle of a storm

•Our faith is tested by the storms of life

1 Peter 1:6-7 NIV- “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

“A smooth sea, never made a skillful mariner. neither does uninterrupted prosperity and success qualify for usefulness and happiness.”

Charles Spurgeon said…”No faith is as precious as that which lives and triumphs in adversity”

John Calvin said, “Whatever sort of tribulation or storm we suffer, we should always remember that its purpose is to make us spurn the present and reach out to the future.”

Where’s Your Faith?

Faith does not mean trusting God to stop the storm, but trusting Him to strengthen us as we walk through the storm.

Psalm 23:4 NIV  “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

  1. Refuse to be Negative and Fearful.

Psalm 27:1 NIV – The Lord is my light and my salvation whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?

•365 times in the Bible it says “Fear Not”

Focus on the positive

•Faith is a trust in God. A belief that He knows what he’s doing regardless of the external circumstance.

•Focus on whats right not whats wrong – when you focus on whats wrong it consumes you spiritually. Don’t be obsessed with crisis and bad news.

“Some people are so negative that when they walk into a room the lights go out.”

Take two people in the same situation – One is destroyed by it – the other grows in it – choice

Colossians 1:11 NIV –  “God will strengthen you with his own great power so that you will not give up when troubles come, but you will be patient.”

When your faith becomes bigger, the storms become smaller.

2. Remember that God is with me.

“For you are with me” – not only power – but presence From “He” to “You” – up close and personal with God

Nahum 1:3 NIV – The Lord is slow to anger but great in power; the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet.

•Your storm is Satan’s desperation to stop.

•Your greatest breakthrough comes from your greatest storm

Isaiah 43:2 LB – “When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you.  When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown!  When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up — the flames will not consume you.”

3. Rely on God’s protection and guidance.

“Your rod and staff comfort me” – rod and staff – protect and guide

Psalm 34:19 LB –  “The good man does not escape all troubles — he has them too.  But the Lord helps him in each and every one.”

•Not all storms come because of where you’ve been or what you’ve done – But where you are going and what your going to do.

•Great resistance always proceeds great Opportunity – Satan fears where you are going and who is with you!

Psalm 91:1-16 NIV – Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” 3 Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. 4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. 5 You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, 6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. 7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. 8 You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. 9 If you say, “The LORD is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, 10 no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. 11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; 12 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. 13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. 14 “Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. 15 He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. 16 With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

REMEMBER – When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person that walked in. That’s what the storm is all about.

How To Respond to Tragedy

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How To Respond to Tragedy

Ecclesiastes 8:14-16 NLT – And this is not all that is meaningless in our world. In this life, good people are often treated as though they were wicked, and wicked people are often treated as though they were good. This is so meaningless!15 So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people in this world than to eat, drink, and enjoy life. That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them under the sun.16 In my search for wisdom and in my observation of people’s burdens here on earth, I discovered that there is ceaseless activity, day and night. 

(NCV) “Sometimes something useless happens on earth. Bad things happen to good people, and good things happen to  Bad people.” 

There are two mistakes that you can make regarding disaster. One is to think all the good things that happen to me prove I’m good, and that all the bad things that happen to me prove I’m bad. That’s wrong. In Luke 13, Jesus is talking about two tragedies that happened in His day. He said you know there were a bunch of innocent people up there worshipping at the temple and they came in and were brutally slaughtered. And he said there was a tower that fell on eighteen people and killed them. And He posed the question, “Who sinned, that caused this tragedy?” Was it a result of their sin? And then He answered His own question. He said, absolutely not, absolutely not!

Not everything that happens is God’s will. When I hear people hearing about a disaster or tragedy and they say, “Well, it must have been God’s will”, I have a spiritual term for that. “Baloney!”. It makes me want to puke. Because it’s just not true! Don’t blame God. God’s grieving too. God’s will is not always done.

Does that make sense? God’s will is not always done in this world folks. God will never force His will on your will.  That’s why we’re to pray in the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. Why? Because God’s will isn’t always done on earth.  How’s it done in heaven? It’s done perfectly. And so we’re to pray, “God, just like your will is done perfectly in heaven, we want that to be done on earth”. If it was being done, we wouldn’t have to pray for it. 

John 16:33 AMP I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.]

It would be impossible, in just one message, to go into all the reasons for suffering and for why God allows tragedy. Instead I want to focus on five ways that we should respond to tragedy.

Tragedy – an event causing great suffering, destruction, and distress, such as a serious accident, crime, or natural catastrophe.

1. I Need to Release My Grief

When you go through a tragedy, the first thing you need to do is release your grief. Why? Because tragedy always creates strong emotions.

When people have emotions, they don’t know how to handle so they deny them, they ignore them, and they push them down. In fact many people use God as an excuse for this, believing that God wants everybody to have a happy face all the time. But real life isn’t always happy.  God doesn’t expect you to be smiling all the time.

Matthew 5:4 NIV -“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

In other words, it’s OK to grieve. Face your feelings. Don’t repress them by pushing them down You release your emotions to God. If you don’t talk it out, you’ll take it out on yourself or somebody else.

Dr. Gary R. Collins: “Grief is a normal response to the loss of any significant person, object, or opportunity.”

The Grief Recovery® Institute: “Grief is the NORMAL and NATURAL reaction to loss. Grief is EMOTIONAL, not intellectual.”

God wants to comfort you in a tragedy.

Psalm: 62:8 NIV – “Pour out your heart to God, for he is our refuge.”

Psalm. 34:18 NIV – “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

2. I need to Receive from Others

It is a big mistake to isolate yourselves from others when you’re going through a crisis.  Now usually that’s what we want to do, we want to get all by ourselves; But you need other people. You need their perspective, you need their support, you need their encouragement, you need their prayer, and you just need their presence.  

Galatians 6:2 NIV – Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

“By helping each other with your troubles, you obey the law of Christ.” (NCV)

To make it through a crisis, we need not only the promises of God; we need the people of God.

Hebrews 12:15 NLT Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many

3. I Need to Refuse to be Bitter

One of the things I’ve learned from being in the ministry for many years is that there’s absolutely no correlation in life between your experiences and your happiness. I’ve seen people who had absolutely the worst experiences in life—things that would shock everyone of us, and yet they maintain this happy, cheerful, positive attitude, because happiness is a choice. You’re about as happy as you choose to be.

Job 21:25 NIV – Another dies in bitterness of soul, never having enjoyed anything good. 

• GNV- “Some people have no happiness at all: they live and die with bitter hearts.

Now you’re going to have to decide when you go through those tragedies, those disasters, “Am I going to allow this to make me a bitter person, or better person?” And he says here, you can have a choice, “you can either choose happiness in life or you can choose bitterness.” It’s your choice, but you can’t have both.  And if you choose bitterness in your life, realize you’re not hurting anybody else with it, you’re hurting yourself.

In the ministry I’ve seen people who had every right in the world to whine and who chose not to do so. Happiness is a choice. You refuse to be bitter, because bitterness always hurts you. It never changes anything. Blaming others (or God) never changes anything.  It only makes you feel worse.

How do you keep from being bitter when the inevitable tragedies of life are going to come?

The antidote:

•Accept what cannot be changed.

Job 11:13,16 NIV – “Yet if you devote your heart to him and stretch out your hands to him, 16 You will surely forget your trouble, recalling it only as waters gone by.

Faith is facing the facts and not getting discouraged.  Can you write that down?  That’s what real faith is.  It’s not pretending everything’s great.  Everything’s not great.  There are bad things in the world. And bad things do happen to good people, but faith is facing the facts without getting discouraged.  You see there’s very little in life that you can control.  In fact, I’ve discovered that the most important things in life you can’t control.

Focus on what’s left, not what’s lost..

I Thessalonians 5:18 NIV Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

What’s God’s will for me in a crisis?  It’s that I be thankful, no matter what.  For the problem?  Of course not; God doesn’t expect you to be thankful for a tragedy.  But you should be thankful for what’s left, not what’s lost.  And you choose to focus on God’s goodness, because gratitude and depression cannot exist in the same body.

You want to get over depression, start making a list of all the good things in your life.  You cannot be grateful and depressed at the same time.  And the fact is, there are people in this world who would love to have your problems.  They’re worried about, am I going to get a meal in the next month, not how am I going to make it.  Like that old expression  I complained I had no shoes until I met a man who had no legs.  You focus on what’s left, not what’s lost.

4. I Remember What is Important

Disasters have a way of clarifying values.  They have a way of pointing out what matters and what really doesn’t matter.  They define your values

Luke 12:15 NIV – Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” 

“Jesus said… Life is not measured by how much one owns.” 

What is he saying here?  Don’t confuse your net worth with your self worth.  Don’t confuse your possessions with your purpose in life.  Don’t confuse what you’re living on with what you’re living for.  A man’s life does not consist of what he possesses.

I Timothy 6:7 NIV – For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.

You’re never going to see a hearse with a U-Haul behind it.  Here is the point, if you want real security, you must build your life on something that can never be taken from you.  

Can you lose a home? Yes.  Can you lose a career?  Yes.  Can you lose a marriage? Yes. Can you lose your health?  Yes.  Can you lose your youthful beauty? Yes.  Can you lose your relationship with God? No. God says, “ I will never leave you or forsake you.”

5. I Rely on Christ

Christians get to approach tragedy differently than the rest of the world. We get to rely completely on Christ. We get to have hope. But how? By intentionally leaning on Christ for stability, listening to Christ for direction, and looking to Christ for salvation. He is our Rock, our Shelter, our Great Shepherd, our Hiding Place.

Philippians 4:12-13 NLT  I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ,[a] who gives me strength.

Suffering and tragedy are inevitable in a sinful world, but Jesus Christ makes all the difference. Decide that you will rely on Him even in the darkest of hours of your life.

Psalm 46:1-2 NLT – God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. 2 So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea.

2 Corinthians 1:9-10 NLT – In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. 10 And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us.

Psalm 125:1 NLT – Those who trust in the Lord are as secure as Mount Zion; they will not be defeated but will endure forever.

Defeating Discouragement

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Defeating Discouragement

There is a plague sweeping the country today. It’s not the Beijing flu, or cancer, or even the common cold. This outbreak, however, can be just as deadly as the most dreaded disease known to man ­it’s called the epidemic of discouragement.

It’s universal. None of us are immune to discouragement. Everyone you have ever known has been discouraged at one time or another.

It’s recurring. Being discouraged once does not give you an immunity to the disease. You can be discouraged over and over again. In fact, you can even be discouraged by the fact that you are discouraged a lot.

It’s highly contagious. Discouragement spreads by even casual contact. People can become disheartened because you are discouraged. You can be bummed out because other people are discouraged.

Discouragement is to lose courage or hope; it is to become overwhelmed or lose heart. When we are discouraged it’s easy to want to quit–to stop doing the very things God told us to do.

Discouragement says, “What’s the use of trying anymore? Isn’t it time to just give up and make the best of it?” The nation of Israel faced that kind of 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 people 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 discouraged and wanted to quit.

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 discouraged if we let them.

Let’s consider the effect that it had on him.

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

Elijah’s discouragement got so bad it turned into depression.

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 you can be free from it!

You Must QUIT Focusing…

(Discouragement) Can be temporary–or it can destroy our life. The choice is ours. If we refuse to deal with discouragement head-on, we are opening the door for it to completely dominate our life. – Dr. Charles Stanley

What was it that caused Elijah to become discouraged? What made him want to quit? What causes us to do the same thing? WRONG PERSPECTIVE; in other words, we focus on the wrong things.

When you face discouragement, you can do one of two things, and the one you choose will color your perspective. You can look at others to place the blame, or you can look at yourself to discover your opportunities. The choice is yours. – John Maxwell

  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.”

Ecclesiastes 7:10 NIV Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?” For it is not wise to ask such questions.

We make the same mistake. Our perspective can sometimes be wrong; instead of looking forward, we look back at the good old days. Then rather than having faith to move forward, we too find ourselves becoming discouraged and stuck in the past.

God doesn’t want us to just “live in the past”. It’s not good to think how much better it used to be in days gone by because our perspective is wrong.

A WRONG PERSPECTIVE FOCUSES ON THE PAST WITH NO HOPE FOR THE FUTURE. A wrong perspective seeks to resurrect the good old days instead of looking ahead for even greater days. The church of Jesus Christ is not call to move backward or retreat; we’re to move forward with the power of the Holy Spirit!

2. 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.”

4 Principles that will Defeat your Discouragement

  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. Pray 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.”

Billy Graham said, “The Christian life is not a constant high. I have my moments of deep discouragement. I have to go to God in prayer with tears in my eyes, and say, ‘O God, forgive me,’ or ‘Help me.’ 

“The less I pray, the harder it gets; the more I pray, the better it goes.” Luther

In the jungles of Africa, a man was being pursued by a roaring, hungry lion. Feeling the beast’s hot breath on his neck, and knowing his time was short, he broke out into prayer as he ran like crazy, “O, Lord, please make this lion a Christian. Please make him a Christian!” Within seconds, the frightened man noticed that the lion had stopped chasing him. When he looked behind him, he found the lion kneeling and moving his lips in obvious prayer. Greatly relieved at this turn of events, he got close enough to the lion to hear him pray, “And bless, Oh Lord, this food which I am about to receive.”

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. Understand the Power of your Praise

I don’t know about you, but it’s easy for me to forget God when things are tough. I need to be reminded that He is always there for me. How do you remember the Lord?

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 discouraged, when I can’t go on, worship lifts me up. Turn on your iPod  and just start to sing and worship. 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.”

“Worship isn’t crawling though a small hole to some theological wonderland. It is falling back upon God and finding that He is everywhere and anywhere you can fall.”

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. 

Praise takes our minds off our situation and focuses them on God. It accepts that God can take all the bad stuff of life and make something beautiful out of it.

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!

Prayer opens the door for God’s power to move into our lives. But the prayer of praise releases more of God’s power than any other form of petition. The Psalmist wrote, “But thou art holy, O thou that inhabits the praises of Israel” (Psalm 22:3 KJV). God actually dwells, inhabits, and resides in our praise. God’s power and presence is near when we praise him. When we praise God for the present situation, God’s power is unleashed.

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.

In spite of everything I shall rise again: I will take up my pencil, which I have forsaken in my great discouragement, and I will go on with my drawing. Van Gogh

John 6:27 NIV – Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”

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.

Many people succumb to this infamous tool of Satan. Maybe you feel its effect now. You can rise above discouragement. Believe that the best is yet to come. Hold on to your dream with a bull-dog tenacity and perseverance that refuses to let go.

Verbal Prisons

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Verbal Prisons

Our words have the power of life and death, and all of us have felt the effects of words spoken over our lives whether good and bad. What matters most is what words you choose believe!

In the beginning, God spoke the world into existence…with his words God created the Earth…the land and the sea and everything in it. For seven days…He moved through the creative process with intentional words….words that gave direction to the process of creation. You and I were created in Gods image… Our words also have creative power….for good and for evil. To tear down and to build up. To make a mountain or to move a mountain.

Words were an important element in God’s work of creation. The plan of creation had been set in place, but God had to speak the words before it could become a visible reality. (Genesis 1) – Words carry creative power! We use words to describe, but God uses words to create! (Rom.4:17 – calling those things)

Proverbs 18:21 NIV – The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit 

(Message) Words Kill, Words Give Life;  They’re Either Poison Or Fruit—You Choose…)

TODAY I WANT TO TALK ABOUT HOW WORDS CREATE LIMITS OR LIBERTY IN OUR LIFE….HOW WORDS HOLD US BACK OR MOVE US FORWARD…

The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightening and a lightening bug – mark twain

1)A VERBAL PRISON IS WORDS THAT HOLD US BACK FROM THE BIGGER, THE BETTER, THE PROGRESS, THE INCREASE THAT GOD HAS FOR US.

Matthew 12:37 NIV – For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned. 

Message – Let me tell you something: Every one of these careless words is going to come back to haunt you. There will be a time of Reckoning. Words are powerful; take them seriously. Words can be your salvation. Words can also be your damnation.”

Jesus is comparing the power of words to the power of a judicial process….

• To be condemned for a crime meant you would be incarcerated.

• To be acquitted of a crime meant you would be set free

Jesus is saying that the same way a jury has power to condemn you or liberate you….words contain us and hold us hostage…

EXAMPLE: Lets imagine that you have a 9 yr old son/daughter that comes home from school with math homework…your trying to help him with his homework and he’s telling you how he’s not good at Math….that he hates math….that he’s not smart enough to do math….

THESE ARE CONDEMNING WORDS.

THESE ARE WORDS THAT BUILD A PRISON

OF FALSE PERCEPTION IN A CHILDS LIFE….

QUESTION – Hopefully as a parent you now know that the first issue you have to change is what he is saying about himself…

All of us haven’t gotten in trouble with our mouths.

(James 3:2 NIV) “We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.”

James says, if you can control your mouth, you’re perfect He’s not talking about sinless.The word “perfection” in Greek literally means “mature/healthy”

When you go to the doctor and say, “I’m not feeling well,” The first thing he says is, “Stick out your tongue.” Your tongue reveals what’s going on inside of you. Not just true physically – but spiritually too

The truth is that everyone in this service….has spoke limitations over your life that was only self imposed limitations.

EX: I don’t like working with women…

EX: I don’t think I can ever trust men…

EX: I’m not good with people…

EX: I’ve tried to lose weight and I can’t…

EX: I hate health food…

EX: I hate to exercise….

EX: I don’t think you have to go to church to be a Christian…

EX: I’m not into the church thing…

EX: I have a hard time getting up on Sundays…

EX: I don’t like churches…

EX: I hate technology…

EX: I don’t need more money…

EX: I’m stuck where I am…

EX: If God wants me to have a better job he will give it to me

Joel 3:10 NIV – Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears. Let the weakling say, “I am strong!”

There’s something significant in this verse…..If you are weak….you wont get strong by talking about being weak. You can only get strong by saying I am strong!! The point is NOT that you don’t have to do anything else….in fact it says Beat your plowshares into swords….and pruning hooks into spears…The point is that the right words will empower you as you step out to take on challenges in your life!

• Talking about your problems won’t make your problems go away.

• Talking sickness wont make you well

• Talking defeat won’t bring you victory.

• Talking poor wont help you prosper

• If you need solutions stop talking about your problems and start talking about solutions!!

• If you need better health…stop talking about your sickness and start talking about healthy living

• If you want to be an overcomer stop talking about difficulty’s and defeat…and start talking about overcoming…

  • If you want to prosper…stop the “poor talk”….the “we don’t have much” talk….the “we cant afford to” talk….go to work on your plans…be diligent in your budget…give God your tithe….and speak Gods blessing and favor over your life!!!….over your finances!!

2) THERES TWO WAYS THAT WORDS HOLD US BACK. THE WORDS WE HEAR AND THE WORDS WE SPEAK

2 Corinthians 4:13 NIV  It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.”[a] Since we have that same spirit of[b] faith, we also believe and therefore speak,

All of us have had good and bad spoken over our lives.

• For every negative thing someone else has proclaimed about you, God has proclaimed something good….positive.

• For every degrading comment someone else spoke over you, God

has spoken words of high value….

• For every word someone said that imposed boundaries and limitations on your potential….God has spoken words to remove those

limitations…..and move those boundaries….and set you free to be

everything he created you to be.

What matters most is what words you believe!!….WHAT YOU INTERNALIZE…THAT BECOMES PART OF YOUR INTERNAL DIALOUGUE.

• Are you gonna believe the degrading things someone said when they were angry?…..when they didn’t know what else to say?…your kids at school?…who taunted and teased and bullied you?….or are you gonna rise up and believe GODS WORD SPOKEN OVER YOU?

Are you gonna stay bound in prisons of low self worth?….prisons of low expectation?…or are you going to rise up in a spirit of faith and break out of those verbal prisons?…

Prov. 25:11 (NKJV) A Word Fitly Spoken Is Like Apples Of Gold In Settings Of Silver.

3) OUTSIDE THIS PRISON ARE THINGS LIKE BETTER HEALTH, IMPROVED AND NEW RELATIONSHIPS, ANSWERS TO PRAYER, FINANCIAL OPPORTUNITIES AND NEW BEGINNINGS WITH GOD

The truth is that everyone in this service….has spoke limitations over your life that was self imposed prophecies.

Isa 35:1-2, 6-7 NIV – The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God. 6 Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. 7  The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. In the haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.

EX: Most people know that in the Middle East there’s a large battle over

land between the Jews and the Muslims. If you visit there you can see

that in this region there are small areas of forest looking growth in

desert like places….The reason for that is that there are 2 different beliefs

about the land…2 different visions for the land. The Muslims believe this land is cursed by Allah and the Jews believe this desert area is blessed by God. That he has declared the desert to be a fertile land….a place of life.

QUESTION– Is there areas in your life that you’ve believed were hopeless….and impossible? Places where you have self imposed prophecies a negative report about that God wants to What have you said…that has built walls, boundaries…borders on your life?

Some of you have negative ideas, opinions that keeping you back from the great things God has for you…..

• So you hold back in moments when you could step out!!

• You’re invited to take steps of salvation…new beginnings but you’ve held back…

• Now you’ve formed a habit of saying no…not yet…I’m ok where I am…

Your future does not respond to anyone’s voice but your own 

Mark 11:23 ESV – Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.

We are not missing it in our believing, we are missing it with our words – Your mountains need to hear your voice!

Start saying things you want to happen in your life, not what you don’t want to happen! Jesus said to speak to the mountain, not about the mountain.  Jesus said you can have what you say, but you have been saying what you have.

The Words we speak indicate what we believe in our hearts and ultimately determine what we will receive in life

Proverbs 23:7 NKJV “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he…”

The Bible says taste and see that the Lord is good!!

• Maybe today is the day for you to take a bold step …and experience

what God has for you!

• We are all going to pray a prayer of new beginnings…

• It’s an opportunity for you to experience what you’ve been missing out on!!….let God know that you want what he has for you!!…

Psalm 19:14 NIV May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

REMEMBER We decide if we want lips of life or tongues of trouble!~ 

(Romans 10:9-10)  “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”

Spiritual Priorities Pt.3 – Why Prayer Must Be a Priority

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Spiritual Priorities Pt.3 – Why Prayer Must Be A Priority

Priorities – A priority is anything to which we give first place, in order of importance. It is that which is most productive and beneficial to us. The things that matter most.

“We don’t drift in good directions. We discipline and prioritize ourselves there.”  Andy Stanley

Matthew 22:37-38 ESV And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment.

Phillip Yancey said, “Only in prayer can we learn to love God with all our heart, mind and soul.”

Psalm 5:1-3 NIV “Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my sighing. Listen to my cry for help, my king and my God, for to youI pray. In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.”

Why People don’t make Prayer a Priority

  1. Not sure you know how to pray
  2. Get bored or distracted while trying to pray
  3. Think your requests are too small for God
  4. Not sure your prayers will make a difference

The lack of personal prayer gives our spiritual life a funeral

(In Matthew 6, Jesus give us 3 “When’s” (habits)- When You Pray, When You Fast, When You Give)

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

“Ought” – means we are under obligation, we are bound, and it is necessary for us to pray always.

NOT bc its the religious thing to do, NOT to please God, NOT to be saved and go to Heaven – It’s bc we have no other choice

CS Lewis said, “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 doesn’t change God – It changes me”

What is Prayer?

  1. Communication (dialogue)
  2. Communion (relationship)
  3. Channel for divine power (supernatural)

What it accomplishes:

  1. Draws you closer to God
  2. It brings answers, it creates (John 14:14, Hebrews 11:1-3)
  3. Brings blessings to others (I Tim. 2:1)
  4. Reveals (Jeremiah 33:3)

Our most sincere prayer should be: “Lord Teach us to Pray…” Luke 11:1 NIV

Prayer is learned – We learn to PRAY by:

•Praying  •Meditating on Scripture  •Praying with others  •Reading about Prayer

Phillip Yancey said – “If prayer stands as the place where God and human beings meet, then I must learn about prayer.”

FOUR MISGUIDED APPROACHES TO PRAYER

The Superstitious Approach – Facebook reposts

The Desperation Approach – Prayer should be our first response not our last resort

The Lobbyist Approach

The Religious Approach

Why Prayer Must Be a Priority

  1. I Can Declare My Dependence Upon God

Deuteronomy 4:7 NIVWhat other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him?

John 15:5-7 NIV “If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit, but apart from me, you can do nothing. If anyone doesn’t remain in me, he’s like a branch that’s thrown away and withers. Such branches are picked up and thrown into the fire and burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you can ASK whatever you wish and it will be given to you. “

“Heaven is full of answers to prayer for which no one ever bothered to ask.” – Billy Graham

The tragedy of our day is not unanswered prayer but is unoffered prayer

God will either give you what you ask, or something far better. 

Prayer expresses our trust in God (Matthew 6:9- Our Father…) 

“We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties.” Oswald Chambers 

Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV – Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

“Quit questioning God and start trusting Him!” ― Joel Osteen

Disappointments are just God’s way of saying “I have Got Something better” Be Patient….Have Faith….Trust God….

It’s not an option, it’s like breathing is to our bodies- LIFE.

Martin Luther said, “To be a christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.”

“I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had absolutely no other place to go.” Abraham Lincoln

2. I Can Discover My Friendship with God

John 15:15-16 NIV “I no longer call you servants because a servant doesn’t know his master’s business. Instead I have called you friends for everything I’ve learned from my Father, I’ve made known to you. You didn’t choose me, but I chose you to go and bear fruit — fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.”

One of life’s greatest privilege is the right to use the name of Jesus in Prayer

Because we have Friendship with God, God promises:

1. To hear us (Jer. 33:3 / Isa. 65:24)

2. To Help us (Mt.7:7-8 / Mark 11:24)

3. If there is a need, God will meet it (Phil. 4:19)

4. If there is a burden, God will lift it (I Peter 5:7)

5. If there is a sin, God will forgive it (I John 1:9)

Romans 5:10-11 NLT For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. 11 So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.

3. I Can Deliver My Anxieties to God

Philippians 4:6-7 NIV “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”.

Remember: God has free unlimited anytime minutes

We have 2 options – We can Panic or Pray -You decide

“Oh what peace we often forfeit, oh what needless pain we bare; All because we do not carry, everything to God in prayer” Joseph Scriven

I Peter 5:7 NIV “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

Anxiety – state of uneasiness, apprehension about future uncertainties

Worry – Strangle or choke, suffocating, feeling we experience in time of fear.

-dog with a bone; “worries” on it, gnaws, bury it, dig it up, growl at you

-Some people’s calling in life – they want to always examine what can go wrong

-Martin Luther said, “Pray and let God worry”

We are not designed to carry stress, anxiety, or worry

Remember this  – The shadow of a dog never bit anyone

Matthew 7:9-11 NIV “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

4. I Can Defer My Life to the Will of God

I John 5:14-15 NIV “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.”

John 14:13-14 NIV “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”

Praying in Jesus Name is not a magical formula statement at the end of your prayer. No prayers recorded in scripture with that statement at the end.

It’s prayer made on His authorization.

When we pray we give God legal invitation to bring His will to pass. His will is always accomplished through obedience in prayer.

Anytime God wants something done, He calls someone to pray!

Prayer is always the will of God
Ephesians 5:15-17 NIV –  Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

God Makes Outrageous Promises About What He Does WHEN WE JUST PRAY!

Don’t Give Up, Get Frustrated, disappointed, or lose hope – Praying is what we do in our time, and the answer happens in God’s time

The Prayer of St Patrick

May the strength of God Pilot us, May the wisdom of God instruct us, May the hand of God Protect us, May the Word of God direct us, May thy salvation, O Lord, Be always ours this day and forevermore

Silent Night

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Silent Night

What Christmas is really about

Isaiah 9:6-7 ESV – For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon[a] his shoulder, and his name shall be called[b] Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7  Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

Peace – shalom – fulness. Having everything you need to be whole and happy (Jesus – The Prince of Peace)

(Luke 2:6-7 NIV) “While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”

Peace on Earth? But the Light Came in the Midst of Darkness

Fredrick Buechner said, “Peace is not the absence of struggle but the presence of love.”

The Song is wrong – the world wasn’t silent. There was no peace in Israel at this time. Gloom, anguish, and contempt were just some of the adjectives used to describe this darkness.

•The word of God had not been heard for four centuries.  Malachi is the last book in the Old Testament, written in the fifth century BC.

•The people of God were under the oppressive rule of Rome. Political darkness reigned!

•The nation of Israel was fracturing. The Pharisees, Sadducees, The Essenes, The Zealots – which resulted in the oppressive rule of Rome

•The census was a considerable imposition.  Living in Nazareth, Mary and Joseph lived more than 100 miles North of Bethlehem.  Yet, there was no way around it.  They were forced by legal constraint to make the arduous trip.

•The poverty of Mary and Joseph did not fit the royal son they had. Joseph had no bargaining power. Without family or hospitality, darkness surrounded them.

•Through the hostile forces of Herod, Satan tried to kill Jesus. Herod, so paranoid for his own position and power that he had multiple family members executed, attempts to use the wisemen to lead him to the Christ child—not to worship, but to exterminate. He orders the execution of all the children in and around Bethlehem.

(Luke 12:51 NIV) “Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.”

(John 16:33 NIV) “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Internet search for peace of mind – home security, hypnosis, funeral services, perfume, plumbing to insure your toilet

•Unavoidable circumstances.

(Jeremiah 4:20 NIV) “Disaster follows disaster; the whole land lies in ruins. In an instant my tents are destroyed, my shelter in a moment.”

Sometimes the pain and problems in your life is nobody’s fault

John 9:1-3 Message Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?” 3-5 Jesus said, “You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, working while the sun shines. When night falls, the workday is over. For as long as I am in the world, there is plenty of light. I am the world’s Light.”

•Unbearable people.

 (Psalms 109:3 NIV) “With words of hatred they surround me; they attack me without cause.”

Never forget 3 Types of People in Your Life. Those:

1. Who helped you in your different time

2. Who left you in your difficult time

3. Who put you in your difficult time

•Unexplainable problems.

(Matthew 27:46 NIV) “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

3 Reasons for life’s problems

1. Sin – Imperfect world

2. Satan – Common Enemy

3. Self – we make mistakes

Problems are God given opportunities to grow – challenges drive us to deeper understanding and maturity. Problems come from the greek word which means “To Throw” or “To Drive forward”

Robert Schuller said, “Impossibilities vanish when a man and His God confront a mountain”

•Uncontrollable worry.

(Jeremiah 6:24 NIV) “We have heard reports about them, and our hands hang limp. Anguish has gripped us, pain like that of a woman in labor.”

God doesn’t want you to worry!

I Peter 5:7 NIV Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Focus on God, not the problem!

Myth – I can control and fix things by worrying about them / Truth – Worry only makes me miserable

2 Options – Panic or Pray / worry or worship

On Earth Peace

(Luke 2:10-14 NIV) “’Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.’”

(John 14:27 LB) “I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart! And the peace I give isn’t fragile like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

  1. Receive God’s Grace.

(Romans 5:1 NIV) “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

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.

2. Run to God’s presence.

(Isaiah 26:3 NKJV) “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You.”

(Psalm 46:1, 10 NIV) “God is our refuge and strength, and ever-present help in trouble…Be still and know that I am God.” (180,000 troops to attack Israel)

3. Respect God’s principles.

(Psalm 119:165 NIV) “Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.”

Peace Comes through obedience to God’s word

Romans 8:6 NIV – The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.

4. Rely on God’s provision.

(Philippians 4:6-7 LB) “Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything; tell God your needs and don’t forget to thank Him for His answers. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand.”

•Trust God to take care of things beyond your control

•Quit dwelling on the “What if’s” of life

•Live one day at a time:

•Matthew 6:34 says, Don’t worry about tomorrow, Matthew 6:11, Give us today our daily bread

Peace in today’s society is a commodity much desired and rarely found. Most people are familiar with tension, stress and anxiety than peace. The lack of peace is the result of our complex, accelerated and stressed out world.

When we put our care in God’s hands, He puts his Peace in our Hearts

Dream Big Pt.3 – Dreaming is Praying

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Dream Big Pt.3 – Dreaming is Praying

(Ephesians 3:20 Message)  “God can do anything—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!”

•We have been programmed to live within the limitations that other people have set for us. I want to elevate our perception of what is possible for us.

•God gives us the ability to dream and imagine in order to move us into the purpose He has for our lives.

•A dream is a “faith picture”; seeing something with your mind’s eye that you hope to one day see with natural eye.

A few years I read a little book by Catherine Marshall titled  Adventures in Prayer and I’ll never forget one thing she wrote. She said, “Dreaming is praying.” I think she’s right. In my experience, the more I pray the more dream. Start with prayer!

Dreaming is a form of praying and praying is a form of dreaming. And as Catherine Marshall says, “There is no limit to what this combination of dreams and prayer can achieve.”

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

“Ought” – means we are under obligation, we are bound, and it is necessary for us to pray always.

1. All Dreams need to be designed in the context of prayer

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

“When we work, we work; but when we pray, God works.”- Max Lucado

Ephesians 1:17-23 NIV I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit[a] of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

You need a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention because it will force you to get on your knees and seek God. Big dreams are the best thing for us spiritually. They make us pray. They make us seek God. They force us to live the way we ought to live—in complete dependence on God.

Prayer is the activating force that puts authority and the power of God to work in your life and make your dreams come true

Ephesians 3:20 NIV – Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,

I was challenged and convicted a few years ago by something David Yonggi Cho said: “God doesn’t answer vague prayers.” Let me explain why. I think vague prayers are cop-outs. God doesn’t answer vague prayers because they don’t require any faith and God doesn’t get the glory. Sometimes we pray in such vague terms that there is no way God can or cannot answer our prayers. I think we’re vague because we don’t want to hold ourselves accountable. Or we’re afraid.

2. A Big God = Big Prayers and Big Dreams

God asks Moses a question. It’s more than a question. It’s the question. Your answer to this question, the question, will determine the size of your prayers and dreams.

Numbers 11:23 NLT –  Then the Lord said to Moses, “Has my arm lost its power? (Is there any limit to my power?) Now you will see whether or not my word (dream) comes true!”

The obvious answer to that question is no. God is omnipotent, which means by definition, there is nothing God cannot do. Yet many of us pray as if our problems are bigger than God. So let me remind you of this high-octane truth that should fuel your faith: God is infinitely bigger than your biggest problem or biggest dream. And while we’re on the topic, His grace is infinitely bigger than your biggest sin

The modern mystic, A. W. Tozer, believed that a low view of God is the cause of a hundred lesser evils, but a high view of God is the solution to ten thousand temporal problems. If that’s true, and I believe it is, then your biggest problem isn’t an impending divorce or failing business or doctor’s diagnosis. Please understand: I’m not making light of your relational or financial or health issues. I certainly don’t want to minimize the overwhelming challenges you might be facing. But in order to regain a godly perspective on your problems, you have to answer this question: are your problems bigger than God or is God bigger than your problems? Our biggest problem is our small view of God. That is the cause of all lesser evils. And it’s a high view of God that is the solution to all other problems.

Is there any limit to God’s power? 

Ephesians 3:20 NIV – Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,

•(amplified version-  “Now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams]”

Have you answered the question? There are only two options: yes or no. Until you come to the conviction that God’s grace and power knows no limits, you will pray small prayers and dream small dreams.

We serve a BIG God!

Isaiah 40:12 NIV – Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?

Once you embrace the omnipotence of God – you will pray big prayers and dream big dreams!

Isaiah 44:24 NIV – This is what the Lord says— your Redeemer, who formed 

you in the womb:I am the Lord, the Maker of all things,who stretches out the heavens, who spreads out the earth by myself,

Isaiah 45:12 NIV – It is I who made the earth and created mankind on it.
My own hands stretched out the heavens; I marshaled their starry hosts.

The size of prayers depends on the size of our God. And if God knows no limits, then neither should our prayers. God exists outside of the four space-time dimensions He created. We should pray that way! We should dream that way!

•••It reminds me of the man who was sizing up God by asking, “God, how long is a million years to you?” God said, “A million years is like a second.” Then the man asked, “How much is a million dollars to you?” God said, “A million dollars is like a penny.” The man smiled and said, “Could you spare a penny?” God smiled back and said, “Sure, just wait a second.”

3. The Secret to Big Prayers and Big Dreams

It’s not difficult. It’s quite elementary. It’s crucial to change the way that we pray in order to obtain positive results.

Jesus taught a fundamental formula of Praying that gets results. Answers to our Prayers can be a reality. 

The PRAYER of FAITH – It’s you asking God for a particular outcome, whether its a job, money, a person, healing, family, etc…whatever.

Mark 11:22-24 ESV22 And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. 23 Truly, I say to you, whoever SAYS to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received[a] it, and it will be yours.

A. Ask God

Matthew 7:7-8 ESV “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be open.

God Makes Outrageous Promises About What He Does WHEN WE PRAY

John 14:12-14 ESV 12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me[a] anything in my name, I will do it.

John 15:7 ESV – If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

Anything: any thing whatever; something, no matter what: a thing of any kind. in any degree; to any extent; in any way; at all:

•If you want to see Great Results in prayer and our dreams then be specific when you ask God for what you want, need, or desire.

If you are not clear, Faith cannot bring you what you want, need, or desire. a mixed frequency with your asking may produce no results. Get SPECIFIC with God and ASK Him

I John 5:14-15 ESV 14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.

•“Whatever & Anything” is an Amazing promise. What is your Anything?

We have some WHATEVER and ANYTHING Dreams and Prayers for God to do! 

B.  Believe That You Receive

Mark 11:24 ESV – Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received[a] it, and it will be yours.

•You must know what you want is yours the moment you ask!

•The Rule here is “Ask in Prayer” (When you pray) – not after you pray, not when you feel something, not when you see something. The moment you pray believe you receive! NOW! This is very difficult for many people. Why? Because they struggle with their belief.

“I can get more out of God by believing Him for one minute than I can by shouting at Him all night.”- Smith Wigglesworth

The Law of Belief states, “What  person believes in their heart with conviction becomes their reality.

•We manifest what we believe. You may or may not be aware of what you truly believe, but basically that is what “issues” are coming to pass in your life.

How do I create a belief system that causes me to receive the answers to my prayers?

Mark 9:23 ESV – And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.”

Don’t Give Up, Don’t Get Frustrated, disappointed, or lose hope – Praying is what we do in our time, and the answer manifests in God’s time! 

Psalms 37:4 -5 NIV – ”Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.”

-The desires placed within us can be an indication of God’s will for our lives

When We Pray and Dream our promise is the following 4 things:

  1. Nothing shall be impossible to you
  2. Ask what you will, and it will be done
  3. Ask anything in Jesus’ name, and He will do it!
  4. Whatsoever things you desire when you pray, You will have them!

One dream, one prayer can change ANYTHING. one dream, one prayer can change EVERYTHING

Prayer: More than Just a Spiritual ATM – Steve Light

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Prayer: More than Just a Spiritual ATM

As the storm raged, the captain realized his ship was sinking fast. He called out, “Anyone here know how to pray?” One man stepped forward. “Aye, Captain, I know how to pray.” “Good,” said the captain, “you pray while the rest of us put on our life jackets – we’re one short.

Is your prayer life like the captain’s? Do you turn to Jesus when the storms of life are sinking you? Certainly Our Father is there to protect us in times of trouble. But what if our prayer life was intended to be so much more? What would it look like? How would we know how to live it? Today we will explore together how to build a powerful, spirit filled prayer life for you and your family based on three focus points.

1 Learning God’s will for you (clarity)
2 Asking help of God for others (intercession)
3 Asking God for help for yourself (blessing)

As we explore these three types of prayer we will also explore five very important elements that fuel your prayers and are guidance given to us in the Bible.

We will discuss the importance of asking in the name of Jesus, we will discuss the role of the Holy Spirit, we will examine the impact of our own faith, consider the power of community prayer and touch on fasting’s role in prayer.

Prayer is not a spiritual ATM that we make small deposits and big withdrawals from. Instead it is an ongoing, vibrant conversation with our Father. He wants a real, trusting, intimate relationship with Him. He wants us to know Him, rely on Him and trust Him with everything in our lives. But in order to have these conversations be effective, we must listen and learn who He is and who He wants us to be. God is wired in. He had a Facebook page long before it was the rage. He has used the Bible for 5,000 years to reach out to each of us to join his family as sons and daughters of heaven.

So it’s fitting that we will use a great story in the Old Testament to illustrate the prayer conversations with are to have with Jehovah Jireh – the great provider.

Turn with me to I Samuel chapter 1 and join me in the reading of God’s word. Read chapter 1, verses 1-18.

Here we have the story of Samuel and his mother Hannah. Hannah was the 2nd wife of Elkanah. His first wife Penninnah, who had lots of sons and daughters but Hannah was barren. She was sad that she was childless but it was made even worse as Penninnah tormented her about it. Elkanah told Hannah how much he loved her even without children, but her heart was broken. Each year the family went to Shiloh to worship at the temple.

As we learn about how Hannah engaged in her prayer life, we can draw out several important lessons on how to approach God in conversation. Hannah wanted a child so much she was willing to even give the child back to God after giving birth. She was willing to tithe her firstborn if she was blessed with a child.

I Samuel 1:10 tells us that “deeply hurt, Hannah prayed to the Lord and wept with many tears”. This state of mind showed she was genuine in her pain and came to the Lord for the solution she could not produce on her own.

She then immediately makes a vow to God to give Samuel back to serve God. This is a sign of gratitude for the blessing. And WHERE was she praying? In the house of God.

She was so wrecked in her prayer that Eli the chief priest thought she was drunk and he scolded her for it. As she explains to Eli her situation, she tells him in verse 16 that “I’ve been praying from the depths of my anguish and resentment”. Notice how she is confessing her anger towards Penninnah, which opens the channel to heaven through her repentence. Finally we see in verse 17 that Eli intercedes on her behalf and prays a blessing for her.

So what happens? Ordinary life goes on.

And then after a while – in the Lord’s time, He shows up. A baby is born. She gives birth to Samuel, which means “I requested him from the Lord” in Hebrew. We learn here a couple of other key elements about prayer life. First we have to be patient. Wait on God. He always answers. Second, give praise to God for answered prayers no matter what the outcome because it reminds us God is at the helm. She returns to the temple with Samuel to give him to Eli to serve there. Important to note that Elkanah was from the Levite tribe so Samuel was eligible to serve in the temple. In verse 28 she says “I bowed and worshipped the Lord there.”

But that is not the end. Seems a harsh deal for a new mom. Get the child you always wanted and then you have to give him back? Seems an unkind blessing from God. Yet, I know she had faith. Since her first blessing went right back to God, he blessed her 5 times over. She had three more sons and two daughters. Faith in prayer matters.

Let’s turn to the here and now. Let’s think about for each of us our walk with Jesus and how our conversations are going. In fact, let’s spend some time actually working on prayer in a real way that is based on the guidance God gave us in scripture. On you seat is a sheet of paper. On one side are four questions. On the other side are key authoritative scriptures that we will use today for our prayer journey.

I want you to take a few minutes to think about and answer four questions.

1. Where in your life do you need Jesus to forgive you? This helps sanctify us before God.

2. Where do you need and want clarity from God in your life?

3. Who needs you to intercede for them? What help from the Lord do they need?

4. How would you like God to bless you?

Now before we move to the three types of prayers today we will experience, let’s lay an important foundation around five key elements that strengthen our conversations with God.

We start by confessing. We tap into the grace of salvation through Jesus Christ. James 5:16 tells us “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The intense prayers of the righteous is very powerful”.

Confessing sanctifies us and makes us righteous, which powers are prayers. We also learn in this scripture the importance of praying as a community – in service, in small groups, in fellowship.

Faith is critical. Proverbs 3:5 tells us to trust in the Lord with all your heart and Jesus taught us in Matthew 21:21-22:

“I assure you if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done for the fig tree, but even if you tell this mountain ‘be lifted and thrown onto the sea’, it will be done. And if you believe, you will receive what ever you ask for in prayer”.

Now this is not a magic formula to hit the lotto. Our faith must be centered and anchored around God’s will and focused on living a life like Christ’s. Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit to help guide us in that journey. The Holy Spirit does three things for us in prayer. He brings truth, He prays on our behalf in heaven before God and He gives us strength.

Shows us the Truth

John 16:3 “ when the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth”.

Intercedes for us

Romans 8: 26-27 “In the same way the Spirit also joins to help in our weakness because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes with unspoken groanings. And He who searches the hearts knows the Spirit’s mindset, because He intercedes for the saints according to His will.”

Now turn to your neighbor and give them your best prayerful groan.

Provides strength

Ephesians 6:18 “With every prayer and request, pray at all the times in the Spirit and stay alert in this, with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints”.

I Thessalonians 5:17 “pray constantly”.

I don’t know about you but usually about this time in the sermon I start day-dreaming about lunch. I am hungry. Being hungry can be a powerful motivator to action, particularly when used with prayer.

It can also be a powerful element in your conversations with God. We call this fasting. The simple idea is that when we have worries, need guidance or want a focus on The Lord, we can abstain for a time from eating. This tells God we are relying on Him for spiritual nourishment. We are giving honor to God and showing Him he gives us life, not the food and water of this world.. Jesus was clear about how to fast.

Matthew 6:17 tells us “ but when you fast, put oil on you head and wash you face so that you don’t show your fasting to people but to your Father who is in secret”.

Fasting sharpens us, focuses are prayers and helps us get closer to the Lord. Remember that Jesus fasted for forty days in preparation for His tussle with Satan. He was sharp, focused and centered on the Father and His word.

Our last key foundation for prayer is leveraging the power of Jesus’ name. Jesus is really clear about this in scripture. Jesus guides us to come to Him with all our needs. A study of John chapters 14 to 17 provide the complete picture of this guidance but a few verses here help lead the way.

John 14:14 – “if you ask Me, anything in My name, I will do it”.

The gist is we must be in a relationship with God and seeking His will and be righteous. He doesn’t mean all things, but the right things.

John 15:16 – “ whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.” Asking in Jesus’ name means asking in a righteous way that is consistent with the Gospel and the Word of God.

Let’s now turn to seeking and understanding God’s will for our lives. I want to provide you five scriptures you can use as authority when asking God for clarity and confirmation of His will.

God wants to be the priority in your daily life

Matthew 6:33 –“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be provided to you”. God will bless you when you are first focused on Him.

God listens

Jeremiah 29:12- “You will call to Me and come and pray to Me and I will listen to you”.

God wants our faith

James 1:5 – “Now if any of you lack wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without fault, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, without doubting.

God wants us to trust Him

Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own understanding. Think about Him in all your ways and He will guide you on the right paths”.

The Lord wants to show you His plan for your life

Psalm 143:10“Teach me to do Your will, for your are my God. May Your gracious Spirit lead me on level ground”.

Turn to the prayer of clarity you wrote down. Let’s take a few minutes and using one of these scriptures, make a prayer to Jesus asking for clarity and direction in your life.

Let’s now focus on intercession – a type of prayer that you make on behalf of others to the Father. Remember Samuel? Let’s return to Him as a grown man and a great prophet of Israel. The Israelites were in trouble. They had lost the ark twenty years earlier and wanted to recover it. They wanted to set out to recover it. Samuel prayed for them, asking God that their venture be successful.

I Samuel 7:5 – “I will pray to the Lord on your behalf”. It worked.

But to support his prayers, the Bible tells us in verse 6 that Samuel fasted and confessed that day. Sound familiar? He had to get his mind and his heart right to come before the Lord.

God gives us guidance to pray for our leaders

II Chronicles 7:14 – “And My people who are called by My name humble themselves, pray, and seek My face and turn away from their evil ways, then I will hear them from heaven, forgive their sins and heal the land”. Are we in a time when we need to pray daily for our nation and this world?

No matter what your political leaning, we are instructed in our intercessory prayers to pray for our leaders.

I Timothy 2:1-2 – “I urge that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgivings be made to heaven for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity”. Jesus cared for everyone and we are called to do the same in prayer and in our works.

One of the greatest lessons of national prayer in the Bible is the story of Nehemiah. He cared for His nation. He was in Babylon during captivity. Word got back to him that Jerusalem was in ruins and the people were lost. Take a look at his approach to intercession.

He wept and mourned for days
THEN he fasted and prayed
THEN he confessed his and the nation’s sins
THEN he reminded God of His promise to Israel
THEN he asked for God to bless Him with wisdom on how to proceed in helping

He closes the first chapter with this “I was the cupbearer to the King”. He put God first and his personal power last. He came to God with the full power of the conversation in His relationship with God in play. God did not disappoint. He provided Nehemiah even more than he asked for to help him with his calling to rebuild the city and the nation. I often wonder what the prayers of Martin Luther King were like? He helped rebuild a nation and do it through the power of prayer.

Let’s turn now to your prayer of intercession. Using the authority of scripture we have learned, ask God’s help and blessing for someone in your life.

The last prayer type we will discuss today will be a blessing prayer. While God already knows what we need, He likes for us to ask. It shows are faith in Him and our dependency on Him as our Lord and Father.

There are three authoritative scriptures I want to share with you this morning to use in your prayer life.

If you are worried and need peace

Philippians 4:6 – “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God.”

You can’t get if you don’t ask

James 4:2-3 – “You don’t have because you do not ask. You ask and don’t receive because you ask wrongly, so that you may spend it on your desires for pleasure”.

Finally, Psalm 106:4-5 gives us a complete picture of our rights as Christians to be sealed, sanctified and adopted into sonship in heaven and as such to be blessed in this life by the Lord.

“Remember me, Lord, when You show favor to Your people (sonship). Come to me with Your salvation (sealed), so that I may enjoy the prosperity of Your chosen ones, rejoice in the joy of Your nation (holy priesthood of Israel – we are sanctified by the sacrifice of Jesus – the chief priest) and boast about Your heritage (spread the Gospel)”.

Let’s now turn to your prayer of blessing for yourself. What would you like from God? Healing of body? Healing of relationships? New job? Blessings in your career? With authority, come to the Lord now with your prayer.

Amen? Amen. Our journey today has been with a singular focus – to strengthen our daily prayer life by transforming our thinking on prayer from a spiritual ATM we use when we are in trouble to one that is a daily, on going conversation with a Father that loves us, cares for us and wants to bless us. Like any great parent, he has sound, helpful direction for us if we will listen.

If you want to build even a deeper understanding and practice on prayer, these two books are excellent resources. The first is Prayer by Richard Foster. The second is Prayer: The Ultimate Conversation by Charles Stanley.

As we close, many of you may not be aware but I’ve been blessed today by being able to spend a few minutes with you all talking about prayer and our walk with Jesus. This is my first sermon, and God willing, hopefully not my last. I praise God for His word, for this life and this church. Will you allow me to say a blessing for you all?

For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you. From Deuteronomy 30:16

All scripture references have been taken from the Holman Apologetics Bible.

Shift Pt 4

Shift-Series

Shift Pt 4

Shift Your Thinking -You will never change your life until you change the way you think

Ask your neighbor: “Do you have a Mind to Change?” Then tell them, “You need to make a Shift!” 

Ephesians 3:20 NKJV – Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,

The truth is – some people have some stinking thinking, so nothing is working!

The difficulty with thinking for a change…Lies not so much in developing a new mindset, But in escaping the old mindset

There is nothing more powerful than a changed mind! You can change your hair color. Your address. Your residence. Your Spouse. But if you don’t change your mind, the same experiences in your life will perpetually happen over and over! If you want things to SHIFT and Change on the outside, you HAVE to change and shift things on the inside!

“For things to change, you have to change. For things to get better, you have to get better. For things to improve, you have to improve. When you grow, everything in your life grows with you.” Jim Rohn

Thoughts are like trains they take you somewhere. Therefore, Life will always move in the direction of your strongest thoughts.

Proverbs 23:7 NKJV “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he…”

“You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.” James Allen

You’re not what you think you are, but what you think…you are.

Proverbs 4:23 NCV “Be careful what you think because your thoughts run your life.”

Henry Ford said, “If you think you can, you’re right. If you think you can’t, you’re right.”

Why? Because you mind is the drawing room for your tomorrow. What happens in your mind will happen in time.

Benjamin Disraeli said, “nurture your mind with great thoughts, for you will never go any higher than you think.”

Our thoughts determine our destiny.

(Romans 8:5-6 NLT) “Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. If your sinful nature controls your mind, there is death. But if the Holy Spirit controls your mind, there is life and peace.”

2 Functions of our mind

  1. Memory – Replay the Past
  2. Imagination – PrePlay the Future

•You can use (Jesus) or misuse (Tower of Babel) your imagination

•Your thoughts/words trigger images. Your imagination is not evil, it is a gift from God. Why? We think in pictures. Where is your mind taking you?

In your mind, you can go to your past or to your future. You decide. Your mind is not restricted by location. God gave you a MIND so He can give you a picture of where He wants to take you.

The Battlefield of the Mind

Turmoil, anger, bitterness, aggrevation, worry, lack, anguish, fear, stress, hurt, etc…The fight is in your mind!

It’s with our mind we serve the Lord, that’s the enemy battles us in our minds! 

(2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NIV) “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

(2 Corinthians 2:11) in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.”

Thoughts = Schemes

Negative thoughts never lead to a positive life.

(Psalm 42:5 NIV) “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God…”

Romans 12:1-3 NIV Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

•Renewing your mind will Transform your life!

•“How you think determines what you become” Zig Ziglar

Ephesians 4:22-24 NLT 22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.

Unlock the power of possibility thinking.

Stop focusing on the impossibilities – stay away from “experts”

Take the word out of your vocabulary. Don’t reduce God down to the size of your brain

We need to think with a mind of faith – possibilities. Otherwise you will limit yourself and God

Discover the joy of possibility thinking – getting out of the box. God is able!

(Mark 10:27)  Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

Changed thinking will change my life.

“Whatever we think about and thank about we bring about.”

Philippians 4:8-9 NIV “Finally, brothers, 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… and the God of peace will be with you.

1. Think true thoughts.

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

2. Think powerful thoughts.

(1 John 4:4 NIV) “…greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”

Don’t see yourself as average or a victim – see yourself as a victor. God wants you believe Him for big things – powerful thoughts

(Romans 8:37 NIV) “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

3. Think pure thoughts.

(Psalm 19:14 NLT) “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”

4. Think positive thoughts.

(Philippians 4:13 NIV) “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”

Positive minds produce positive lives – Negative minds produce negative lives negative.

Take charge of the way you look at every day – every situation. There is a lot in life you cannot change. But you can change your attitude

(Ephesians 4:19 NIV) “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

The positive thinker sees the opportunity in every difficulty!

5. Think God thoughts.

(Joshua 1:8)  “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”

(Isaiah 26:3 Amplified) “You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.”

What to do with What you Think

1. If you think of something hurtful – swallow it.

(Ephesians 4:29 GWT) “Don’t say anything that would hurt another person. Instead, speak only what is good so that you can give help wherever it is needed. That way, what you say will help those who hear you.”

(Proverbs 13:3 NLT) “Those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything.”

2. If you think of something helpful – say it.

(Proverbs 16:24 NIV) “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”

(Proverbs 15:4 NIV) “The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.”

God paints your future success, significance, peace, and joys on the canvas of you mind

(Isaiah 55:9)  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Amos 4:13 NIV- He who forms the mountains, who creates the wind, and who reveals his thoughts to mankind, who turns dawn to darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth— the Lord God Almighty is his name. 

Isn’t that awesome? The God who set the mountains in place puts the thoughts in your mind. How you think matters to God!

God not only wants to help you control your thoughts. But He wants to take your thoughts to higher heights

There are only 2 options: Shift Your Thinking or make execuses.

“The best time to start improving the next 10 years of your life is always – now. Why wait?” What you do today determines what happens tomorrow! So Shift your thinking today!