Living the Ultimate Life Pt.3 – 3 Meaningful Ways to Live

Living the Ultimate Life Pt.3 – 3 Meaningful Ways to Live

Ecclesiastes 11:1-8 NLT 1 Send your grain across the seas, and in time, profits will flow back to you. 2 But divide your investments among many places, for you do not know what risks might lie ahead. 3 When clouds are heavy, the rains come down. Whether a tree falls north or south, it stays where it falls. 4 Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest. 5 Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things. 6 Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both. 7 Light is sweet; how pleasant to see a new day dawning. 8 When people live to be very old, let them rejoice in every day of life. But let them also remember there will be many dark days. Everything still to come is meaningless.

Opportunities Missed 

There once was a very cautious man Who never laughed or played;
He never risked, he never tried,
He never sang or prayed. And when he one day passed away His insurance was denied;
For since he never really lived, They claimed he never died! —–Source Unknown.

Are you one of those people who always plays it safe and never takes any risks? Are you afraid to try something you have never tried before because you might fail? Are you afraid to try something new because you might not like it? Do you sit back and wait on life to come to you or do you go out and meet life head on?

ILLUSTRATION: John Henry Jowett, the nineteenth century British preacher once wrote about how our temptation to self-preservation leads to faithless living. Jowett said……. It is possible to evade a multitude of sorrows through the cultivation of an insignificant life. Indeed, if a man’s ambition is to avoid the troubles of life, the recipe is simple: shed your ambitions in every direction, cut the wings of every soaring purpose, and seek a life with the fewest contacts and relations. If you want to get through the world with the smallest trouble, you must reduce yourself to the smallest compass. Tiny souls can dodge through life; bigger souls are blocked on every side. As soon as a man begins to enlarge his life, his resistances are multiplied. Let a man remove his petty selfish purposes and enthrone Christ, and his sufferings will be increased on every side.

In our scripture study today Solomon challenges us to move from a boring, hum drum existence to living life to the fullest, to LIVE THE ULTIMATE LIFE!

I.  Live GENEROUSLY

Ecclesiastes 11:1-2 NLT – Send your grain across the seas, and in time, profits will flow back to you. 2 But divide your investments among many places, for you do not know what risks might lie ahead.

  1. One of our biggest temptations in life is to give up or to quit too soon when we don’t see quick results. But Solomon is telling us there is power in persistence.
  2. In verse 1 Solomon is describing the great risks taken by the merchants of his day. The merchants would put their merchandise on boats to be shipped to foreign ports, hoping for a profitable return after many days.
  3. In I Kings 10:11 we learn that some of the chief exports of Israel in Solomon’s day were gold, precious stones, and rare exotic woods. But the chief export of Israel was “bread” referring to grain.
    When these ships were sent out they would face many dangers.

    1. -If the ship ran into a storm and wrecked, the merchants would suffer a total loss.
    2. -If enemies attacked the ship the merchandise would be stolen.
    3. -If the ship captain was crooked, and many of them were, he would sell the merchandise and keep the profit for himself.
    4. -And there were no insurance policies in those days to cover losses.
    5. So when Solomon says (NKJV),“Cast your bread upon the waters” (notice plural) what he is saying is, “Don’t put all of your grain on one ship. Instead, “cast your bread” or “spread the grain out” to several ships, that way if one ship goes down in a storm or gets attacked by enemies, you won’t suffer a total loss.”
    6. In fact, Solomon goes on to say in verse 2, “spread the grain or bread out seven or eight different ways.” And sure enough, “after many days” the cargo ships would return and according to I Kings 10:15,22 they would be loaded with gold, silver, ivory, apes and monkeys from other countries.
    7. So what does this mean to you and me in a practical sense? It means “spread your generosity” “spread your blessings around,” “diversify,” or as grandma used to say, “Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.”

THE KEY TO Living the Ultimate LIFE IS A HEART OF GENEROSITY.

The meaning of life is not about what you get but what you give.

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

    1. another translation – “The world of the generous gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller. The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed. Those who help others are helped.”

Generosity doesn’t start when you have a lot, it starts when you have little!

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

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

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

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

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

“Your standard of giving reflects your standard of living”

Acts 20:35 It is more blessed to give than to receive.

Generosity: A courageous disposition full of the Spirit, that is evidenced by:

•A quality of heart and mind opposed to meanness

•A nobleness of soul that is empowered to bestow favor

•A bountiful disposition that is free to give with bold liberality

Galatians 6:10 (NKJV) Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith. 

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

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

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

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

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

II. Live Boldy 

Ecclesiastes 11:3-6 NLT3 When clouds are heavy, the rains come down. Whether a tree falls north or south, it stays where it falls. 4 Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest. 5 Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things. 6 Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both.

1. Solomon now shifts from the example of merchants in verses 1,2 to example of farmers in verses 3-6.

2. If ever there was an occupation that requires taking bold risks of faith, it would be a farmer. Notice again in verse 4 Solomon says, “If they watch every cloud, they never harvest.”

3. What Solomon is saying is, “If a farmer waits until the conditions are absolutely perfect he will never get anything done.”

4. If the farmer waits to sow his see until there is absolutely no wind blowing, he will never get his crops planted. And if he stays out of the fields every time he sees a dark cloud fearing it might rain, he will never get his crops harvested.

5. You see, a farmer has to take some BOLD RISKS! A farmer knows he cannot wait until the conditions are absolutely perfect before he takes action.

6. This same principle applies to all of us as well. If you wait until the conditions are absolutely perfect before you ever do anything, you will never do anything. You will spend your whole life in your little “comfort zone” and before you know it your life will be over and you will have little or nothing to show for your time here on earth.

7. How many opportunities have we let slip right through our fingers because we were to afraid to make a decision or take action?

8. Have you been waiting on the “perfect time”…..? The perfect time will never come! Don’t put off tomorrow what you can do today. Life doesn’t offer any of us any guarantees. As Solomon reminds us in verse 5 , only the good LORD HIMSELF knows everything that will happen. So we have a choice: We can either go through life living in fear, making excuses, scared to make decisions, and afraid to take action………or we can go through life LIVING BOLDLY BY FAITH IN THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

III. Live Gratefully

Ecclesiastes 11:7-7 NLT 7 Light is sweet; how pleasant to see a new day dawning. 8 When people live to be very old, let them rejoice in every day of life. But let them also remember there will be many dark days. Everything still to come is meaningless.

1. Solomon is reminding us in these verses that none of us knows how long we have to live, so we should be grateful for each and every day the LORD gives us.

2. I don’t know about you, but the older I get, I have become more and more grateful to open my eyes each morning to see the first light of day. I often begin my morning prayer with these words: “Good morning God. This is the day that You have made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.”

3. Solomon reminds us in verse 8 that over the course of our lifetime all of us will experience many days of darkness, so don’t ruin the good days whining and complaining, and wallowing in regret over what you could have done or should have done with your life.

Psalm 118:1 NIV says, “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love endures forever.”

•Our Grandma June’s response when being told she has brain cancer – “Hey, well It is what it is” “I’ve lived a long good life and remember I shall Arise again”

“The greatest thing is to give thanks for everything. He who has learned this knows what it means to live…He has penetrated the whole mystery of life: giving thanks for everything.” – Albert Schweitzer

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

God says “I want you to be thankful in all circumstances.”It does not say “for all circumstances”. You cannot always be thankful for the circumstances, but you can be thankful in the situation. I know that God is working all things for good. He has a pattern and He fits even the bad things in our lives into that pattern for good. God’s purpose for my life is greater than my problems, so in everything I can give thanks. Not “for”,  but “in”.

• Sometimes the circumstances of our lives are not always the best. In fact, they may be downright bad, but still, we are to look for something to be thankful for! And there is ALWAYS something positive for which we can be thankful!

Billy Graham comments: “Nowhere does the Bible teach that Christians are exempt from the tribulations and natural disasters that come upon the world. Scripture does teach that the Christian can face tribulation, crisis, calamity, and personal suffering with a supernatural power that is not available to the person outside of Christ.”

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

“We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is good, because it is good; if bad, because it works in us patience, humility, contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country.” ~ C. S. Lewis

HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED? I’m not asking you how many birthdays have you had or how long have you existed as a living, breathing human being.

I’m asking you “How long have you lived?” When was the last time you felt passionate about something? When was the last time you felt vibrant and alive? When was the last time you felt a sense of purpose? Jesus said John 10:10, “…I have come that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”

The truth is there is so much more to life than many of us have experienced. Many of us have settled for a mundane, hum drum, day-to-day existence when we should SEIZE EACH AND EVERY DAY as a precious gift from GOD and live life to the fullest! Live the Ultimate Life!

Let us LIVE GENEROUSLY! Let us LIVE BOLDLY!
Let us LIVE GRATEFULLY! 

Living The Ultimate Life Pt.1

Living the Ultimate Life

In a Charles Schultz “Peanuts” cartoon, Lucy comes up to Charlie Brown and says, “You know, life is like an ocean liner.  Some people take their deck chair and put it on the stern, to see where they have been.  And some people put their deck chair on the bow, to see where they are going.  Charlie Brown, tell me, “Where do you want to put your deck chair?”  Perplexed momentarily, Charlie Brown looks at Lucy and says, “I don’t know.  I can’t even unfold my deck chair.”

Are you tired of living at the bottom when everyone around you seems to be rising to higher places? God’s Word has principles that will help you achieve the ultimate life that you desire. No more barely getting by and no more bottom of the barrel thinking. Whether it’s in your finances, your relationships, thoughts in your mind or desires in your heart God has a richer, fuller and more rewarding life in store for you if you live by the principles in His Word. It’s time to rise up, shake off the old ways and make a quality decision to do whatever it takes to be where God wants you to be in life. He wants you to live the ultimate life!

God’s Original Intent for YOU

In Genesis 1 – God made everything and declared it good.

Genesis 1:28 (NIV) 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

God’s plan was that He made man to be blessed and have a prosperous abundant life. It was His contract (covenant) with man.

•Be Fruitful – Always producing

•Multiply – Always increasing

•Replenish – Always fill and refill. Use and consume, but you are obligated by God to restock, refill, and replace what you’ve used.

•Subdue – Control your environment. If you don’t control your environment, your environment will control you.

Deuteronomy 28:13 (NIV) 13 The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.

Jesus is declaring His intention to recover and restore God’s original intent

How many of us settle for just whatever kind of life?

•To make profound changes in you life, you need either inspiration or desperation

•Sad thing is 95% of christians settles for far less than they want in this life, wishing they had more, living with regret, and never understanding that they could be, do, and have MORE our of life

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

•Do these seem like an empty promises to you and that God is simply baiting you to get your attention or do you really believe that God is able help you live the ultimate life.

•Are you experiencing all that God wants for you?

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

Life – Greek word Zoe (The God Kind of Life)

•Not only duration of life but Quality of life

John 6:63 NIV – The Spirit gives life (Zoe); the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit[a] and life.

•Eternal life is the nature of God, the Zoe life. Zoe life doesn’t happen later, it happens NOW.

What Zoe will do for You!

John 1:4-5 (NIV) In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome[a] it.

•What’s in you and I (the ultimate life) cannot be overcome

I John 4:4 NIVYou, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. 

We Belong to God who called us to Live the Ultimate Life

I Peter 2:9 NIV –  But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

The Bible clearly states that Jesus is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Have you ever wondered who the other kings and lords are?

YOU are! You may not feel like one but you and I are kings and lords. The moment we received Christ as our Saviour.  God’s intention is that every believer would “reign as a king in this life through Jesus Christ”.

Revelation 1:5-6 NKJV and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth.To Him who loved us and washed[a] us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings[b] and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Why is it that we readily accept the truth that Jesus is the King of kings and the Lord of lords, but we hesitate when it comes to the truth of who we are?

We are not called to “barely make it through this life” we are called to live the Ultimate Abundant prosperous life!

To Reign in Life is to Live the Ultimate Life

Romans 5:17 NIV17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!

3 Profound Truths

1.It is possible to receive the abundance of God and to reign in this life

If we are not reigning in some areas, we are missing out on God’s best.

2. We are to reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.

We cannot reign as a king and priest in our own power.

3. We reign in life because we have received the abundance of God’s grace and the gift of Jesus’ righteousness. (Salvation)

Ephesians 2:8-9 NIVFor it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV21 God made him who had no sin to be sin[a] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

We are the righteousness of God. Therefore, we will reign in this life as kings. We are to reign as kings over….. (example:Ralph and Alice -The Honeymooners)

•our bodies, our minds, our homes, our circumstances, our finances, every power of darkness, and every sickness and disease.

Romans 8:16-17 NIV 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Ultimate Faith = Ultimate Life

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,

In the Amplified version is says:…His power is able to do superabundantly, far over and above all that we dare ask or think {infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams}

“Faith is the art of holding on to things in spite of your changing moods and circumstances” CS Lewis

Faith is… To have trust or assurance, confidence, conviction, belief, reliance in what God says. Trust that produces actions.

Hebrews 11:1 KJV “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Amplified – Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, [a]the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].

“If you believe”….Numerous times in the Bible we are told that if we only believe THEN God will fulfill His promises. It starts with believing

Abraham is called the father of faith. As believers we have been adopted into his family. We are the seed of Abraham. That makes him our ancestor.

Take ownership of your position in the family of faith. God’s promise to Abraham is God’s promise to us:

Genesis 12:1-3 NIV – The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.2 “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.[a] 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

Abraham believed what God said. And because he believed what God said, God’s Word came to pass.What Abraham had inside of him to believe God is what is inside of you today.

Ephesians 1:17-19 NIV17 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

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
– Mark 11:24

“If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”
– Mark 9:23

Will You let your faith go to waste? God is searching for those who will believe and receive and live the ultimate life.

Hebrews 11:6 NIV “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

John 1:12 ESV But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,

Believe that you can Live the Ultimate Abundant Prosperous Life!

Summer Concert Series Pt.4 – Take it Easy

Summer Concert Series Pt.4 – Take it Easy

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

“Busy” is the hallmark of our times. I’ve lost count of how many times I ask people, “How are you doing?” and the answer comes back – ‘Oh, I’m just soooooo Busy”. ‘I haven’t got a moment to myself’. It’s almost like our busyness has become a ‘badge of honour’ – a medal for us to wear.

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

Take it Easy Chorus 

Take It easy, take it easy 

Don’t let the sound of your own wheels 

drive you crazy – Lighten up while you still can 

don’t even try to understand 

Just find a place to make your stand and take it easy 

Movie – Michael Douglas stars in Falling Down

It was a story  about a day in the life of a man who had experienced all he could take of the pressures, disappointments, & and inconveniences of life. He experiences mounting anxiety as he endures a traffic jam (caused by construction), suffers the oppression of inflated prices at a local store (owned by a foreigner), and is put through indignities of poor service (with a smile) at a fast food restaurant.

These everyday frustrations, combined with a sense of being disconnected from his family (the result of a recent divorce), & the loss of his job, all culminate on this fateful day to push him over the edge!

As a result of all these pressures, his normal, healthy logic & rationale are suspended, & he resorts to violence, murder, & blowing things up!

John 16:33 Amplified – I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]

Where are you going to live? Tribulation? Or Christ

How many of us feel like that? Let’s take a group quiz to see how many of us are being dragged through life. Fill in the blanks:

I’m ready to throw in the… I’m at the end of my…

I’m just a bundle of… My life is falling…

I’m at my wit’s… I feel like resigning from the human…

Apparently we’re all experiencing the rat race. Just when you thought you were getting ahead, along come faster rats. But remember, he who wins the rat race is still a rat.

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

We are living in Overload

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

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

We need to learn how to Take it easy, chill, relax, and rest! “A life lived reflectively is a life lived effectively.” 

Weariness is a trap. 

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

Rest is a choice. 

(Hebrews 4:9-11 NLT) So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. 10 For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. 11 So let us do our best to enter that rest. 

Rest is not a physical position but a spiritual condition and It is Commanded by God

Leviticus 23:3 “There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to the Lord.”

(Exodus 33:13-16 NIV) “The LORD replied, ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” 

God’s message is plain: “If creation didn’t crash when I rested, it won’t crash when you do.”

(Matthew 11:28- NIV) “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” 

How To Take it Easy

Hebrews 4:11 (GWT) So we must make every effort to enter that place of rest. Then no one will be lost by following the example of those who refused to obey.

Mark 6:30-31 NIV The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” 

1. Relax and Be still. 

Psalm 46:10 NIV “Be still, and know that I am God.” 

Still – to abate, to cease, to let go, or to stop. The state or an instance of being quiet or calm. The Hebrew word translated “Be still” literally means ‘shut up’. It means coming before God, away from the noise, away from the commotion, away from the busyness. Not with a shopping list, not with a list of demands, but actually with no words at all – just with a heart that is open to listen.

“The great reason why life is troubled & restless lies not without, but within.”

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

Norman Vincent Peale said, “Learn to relax. Your body is precious, as it houses your mind and spirit. Inner peace begins with a relaxed body.”

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

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

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

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

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

IF you don’t break the tensions of daily living, they will break you! If you don’t like where you are going in life – STOP. Let go of the challenges, worries, and anxieties that encumber us.

Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is Take it easy. 

2. Take the Time to Pray. 

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. 7 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.

When You Pray You are Trusting God to Take Care of Things Beyond your Control 

Jeremiah 6:16 NIV This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. 

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

•Henri Nouwen writes about prayer in his book The Way of the Heart. And he says that the early church fathers wrote that we should “pray always.” And he says that the literal translation of these words is “come to rest.” 

What a wonderful picture – that as we come to pray, we’re actually coming to rest. And he goes on to say, “that the rest we find in prayer has nothing to do with the absence of conflict or pain. It is a rest in God in the midst of a very intense daily struggle.

•The problems are still there, the challenges are still there, the busyness is still there, there’s meeting to attend, there’s people to see, there’s work to do – but in the eye of your storm – amongst all the activity and chaos – there is perfect peace and tranquility and rest.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take it easy….. Slow down, breathe deeply, reflect deeply, pray deeply, live deeply!

Relax and refuse to let worry and stress rule your life. There is always a solution to every problem. Things will work out for you when you take time to relax, refresh, restore and recharge your soul.

How you can practice Relaxing

1. Schedule a time. For me, I schedule stillness first thing in the morning. It has become so precious to me, that I won’t want to start the day without it. I practice this first—before prayer, before Bible reading, before journaling, and before exercise.

2. Find a place. When I was on vacation, I sat outside by the pool. This was ideal. But it is not my real world. Now I simply go into my study or my back patio. The main thing is to find a place where you won’t be interrupted.

3. Set a timer.  set aside fifteen minutes a day. In my limited experience this seems about right. It is amazing how my perception of this time changes from day to day. Sometimes it seems like forever. Other times, it goes by very quickly. I use the timer on my iPhone.

4. Relax your body. I simply sit in a soft chair with my eyes closed. I then systematically relax my body and get quiet. If you can’t sit still, then engage in any mindless physical activity, like rocking in a chair or watching some natural motion like fire or running water.

5. Quiet your mind. This is the biggest challenge for me. Just when I get still, I have some random thought or a whole flurry of thoughts. But I am getting better. a discipline that keeps your allotted time from being hijacked by an overly-active mind.

6. Be present. Don’t be regretting or celebrating the past. Don’t be worrying or dreaming about the future. Instead, collect your thoughts and be present—in this moment. It is the most important time you have. In fact, it is the only time you have.

7. Learn to return. This has been the most helpful component. In involves recalling a “place of peace,” where you had a particularly vivid experience of peace and stillness.

Summer Concert Series Pt.3 – I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Lookin’ For

I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For 

Bono sings about searching for meaning in life, and not finding it in nature, city life, relationships or religious experiences. “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.”

Nature: I have climbed highest mountain, I have run through the fields

City Life: I have run, I have crawled, I have scaled these city walls

Relationships: I have kissed honey lips, Felt the healing in her fingertips

Religious Experience: I have spoke with the tongue of angels, I have held the hand of a devil

I believe in the kingdom come, Then all the colors will bleed into one

You broke the bonds and you, Loosed the chains; Carried the cross, Of my shame, Of my shame, You know I believed it But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for

THE BIG IDEA: What are you Looking for? Are you thirsty? Do you feel cracked and dry, broken, lost and empty? Come to Jesus and let Him satisfy your soul hunger and thirst!

Text: John 4:4-35 NIV Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.[a]) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”17 “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” 21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” 25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.” 27 Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him. 31 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” 33 Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?” 34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 35 Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.

Background of the Story – 

  • Why did Jesus have to go through Samaria?
  • He knew that there was a woman there who still hadn’t found what she was looking for.
  • This woman had tried to find satisfaction in relationships with men – she has been married five times, and was living with a sixth guy – but she was still empty inside.• Was Jesus talking about well water? No! He was talking about something much deeper!
  • He said: There is water you can drink that will never quench your thirst.

• In other words, there are things in life you can go to for fulfillment, but they will never satisfy: drugs, alcohol, relationships, sexuality, money, power, fame.

  • But the water Jesus offers will quench your thirst: it is a fountain of living water!

ILLUSTRATION:

A small boy is sent to bed by his father. Five minutes later he calls out, “Da-ad!”

“What?”

“I’m thirsty. Can you bring drink of water?”

“No. You had your chance. It’s lights out.”

Five minutes later the boy calls out again: “Da-aaaad!”

“WHAT?”

“I’m THIRSTY. Can I have a drink of water?”

“I told you NO! If you ask again, I’ll have to spank you!”

Five minutes later he calls out again, “Daaaa-aaaad!”

“WHAT!”

“When you come in to spank me, can you bring a drink of water?”

1.There is More To God and More To Life than what you’ve already Experienced

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,

QUOTE: “The weakness of our hunger for God is not because He (doesn’t taste good), but because we keep ourselves stuffed with other things… If you don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great.” (John Piper, Hunger for God). 

Spain – during the days of Christopher Columbus was very proud of the fact that they were the last point of solid land for sailors going westward. When travelers arrived  was a large sign that said their motto in latin, “Ne Plus Ultra”  which means “ No more beyond”. It was on their flag and coins as well.

There outlook on life was “No more beyond”. It was the world as they knew it. Result – They settled. People settled there because they were told there is nothing beyond Spain.

After Columbus discovered the New World – the national motto for Spain changed to “Plus Ultra”  which means “MORE BEYOND” they dropped “Ne”

Sadly, Many people people have settled for their own version of Spain. Have you stopped dreaming, hoping, believing, and praying. Some people accept something far less than God’s bigger, greater plans for their lives.

•There is more to God than what we’ve already experienced

3 Reasons People Settle and Stop Searching

  1. People settle when they get sentimentally attached to a past season of their life. 

People may have to stay where they have been, but nothing is supposed to stay like it has been  – When people don’t emerge and embrace change, they settle for a lifetime in what was meant to be a season.

Don’t let temporary conditions of your life dictate a permanent perspective.

      2. People settle in a place of relational wounds

Genesis 11, Abraham’s father, Terah, was on his way with his family to Canaan, which is where God planned for him to go and live. Terah had another son named Haran who had died a premature death. Rather than passing through, Terah settled in a city with the same name as the son he had lost.  That wasn’t God’s plan. Grief caused him to stay.

Don’t let yourself linger in the place of relational wounds and miss out on the future God has for you.

3. People settle because where they are is “good enough” and they want to stay comfortable

Good enough is the enemy of “better than ever” – Good enough is not your destiny

Ignore the signs that say No More Beyond!

Refuse to just Drift!

Hebrews 2:1 NIV – We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.

Phil. 1:6 NIV – being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

2. Whatever you need more of – God is the source of an endless and generous supply

Phil.4:19 NIV – And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

God has an endless supply of whatever you need! He never runs out!

Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV – Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

The Message version – God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left.

“God cannot give us happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.” CS Lewis

GOD never gives up on us! Quit being down on yourself and look up to God!

3. Before we will hunger and thirst after God, we must come to a place where we realize that the other things in our lives haven’t really satisfied!

Jeremiah. 2:13 NIV “For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And hewn themselves cisterns–broken cisterns that can hold no water.”

The real reason that people are unhappy, unsatisfied, and unfulfilled is because Jesus Christ is not the center of their lives. They are looking for fulfillment in all the wrong places. They run from this to that… looking for something that is going to satisfy them. From relationship to relationship, from job to job, from hobby to sports to recreation … fads, therapy, books, seminar — looking for the key. But God has laid it out very clearly. You were made with a God shaped vacuum in your life and nothing will fill that void except God.

John 7:37-39 NIV – “On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”

Are you thirsty? Do you feel cracked and dry, broken, lost and empty? Come to Jesus and let Him satisfy your soul hunger and thirst!

Matthew 5:6 AMP – “Blessed [joyful, nourished by God’s goodness] are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness [those who actively seek right standing with God], for they will be [completely] satisfied. (full, content)

The Secret to a Satisfied Life

The Secret to a Satisfied Life

Summary: Our ability to be content is under attack. Can we really be satisfied with life, career, relationships? With God and His plan? Discover the truth of contentment and satisfaction.

· Our ability to be content is under attack. Advertising agencies spend billions of dollars to encourage our discontentment and create a desire in us to buy their products. In order to buy something new, you must first be dissatisfied with what you have.

· A heart that is not satisfied causes us to make constant, unnecessary changes in our life that never produce the benefits we desire. (Constant cycle of disappointment)

· Ambition, dreams, and vision are from God.

· God is not the source of striving, unhealthy stress, worry, fear and doubt.

Ecclesiastes 6:6 Living Bible – Though a man lives a thousand years twice over, but does not find contentment—what’s the use?

People need 3 Things to make them Happy & Content: 1. Something To Do, 2. Someone to Love, 3. Something to Look forward to

Happy is defined – delighted, pleased, or glad, as over a particular thing: to be happy to see a person. characterized by or indicative of pleasure, contentment, or joy: favored by fortune; fortunate or lucky, Blessed

The 2nd paragraph of the Declaration of Independence  – “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Ecclesiastes 3:12 NIV – I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.

In Readers Digest (Feb 2007) – “Happy People thrive. They’re more creative & productive, earn more money, attract more friends, enjoy better marriages, stay healthier & even outlive their grumpier peers.”

Ecclesiastes 8:15 NLT – 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.

Remember the song, “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction.” Years later you still hear that as a common complaint. All the time you meet people who are unhappy, unfulfilled, and unsatisfied.

What is the secret to a happy satisfied life? If you could bottle contentment you could make a million dollars overnight.

Philippians 4:11-13 NLT – Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 12 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.

•When he’s writing this, Paul is old, lonely and he’s in a cold Roman prison.

Ecclesiastes 6:6 NLT -He might live a thousand years twice over but still not find contentment. And since he must die like everyone else—well, what’s the use?

Ecclesiastes 2:1 NIV– I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless.

Solomon had it all! 700 Wives & 300 concubines, Money, Sex, Power, Fame, Wisdom. his conclusion was that it was meaningless.

What is contentment? It is not apathy, laziness, complacency.

Contentment is independent from circumstances. You do not base your happiness on the situation around you. Happiness comes from within. How do you get that kind of contentment and satisfaction in life?

Paul says contentment is learned. It’s not something that’s instant, in a one time experience. Life is a school of contentment and the problem is most people never learn and they die unfulfilled and unsatisfied and unhappy. How do you learn contentment?

HOW TO EXPERIENCE REAL CONTENTMENT

Paul gives us four lessons to learn that will give us a satisfying, HAPPY abundant life.

1. LEARN TO AVOID COMPARISONS

Comparing yourself to others always leads to discontent.

2 Corinthians 10:12 NIV – We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.

Galatians 6:4 NLT – Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.

When you strive to be the person God made you to be, you’ll find real meaning, purpose, fulfillment, and satisfaction. You can’t focus on your purpose while looking at other people.

Philippians 4:11b – “… for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.”

(The sin of comparison) A covetous heart is never satisfied. When we covet someone else’s job, spouse, income, house or car, we are saying, “You have not been fair with me, God! I deserve more. You owe me something.”

2 Cor. 4:18 NLT “So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”

•Paul says, I don’t look around, I look up. I don’t spend my time comparing myself to other people. I keep my eyes on what is to happen.

Three misconceptions about happiness:

1) I must have what others have to be happy. That’s the myth behind all fads and fashions. It’s just not true.

2) I must be liked by everyone in order to be happy. You don’t, you know. Many people spend so much time trying to win the approval of others. You cannot go through life without some disapproval — if you do anything, somebody is not going to like it. Even Jesus couldn’t please everybody. Only a fool would try to do what Jesus couldn’t do. You don’t need everybody’s approval to be happy.

3) Having more will make me more happy. Howard Hughes was asked, “How much money does it take to make a man happy?” He said, “Just a little more.”

I Timothy 6:6-8 NIV –  “Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.”

All possessions are temporary. They’re just loaned to us. We use them while we’re here on earth, have a good time with them, enjoy them, use them for God’s glory, but they’re not going to last. Don’t get an obsession with possessions.

2. LEARN TO ADJUST TO CHANGE

Life is full of ups and downs — emotionally, physically, mentally, financially. There’s nothing certain in life except change. Change is certain.

How well do you handle change? How well do you handle when things are shaken up a little? Do you get frightened? Moody? Angry? Uptight? Paul says that one of the secrets of learning to be content in life is the ability to adjust to all kinds of circumstances and change. Paul says you need to learn to adjust to it. Your happiness in life will be largely dependent upon your ability to adapt, adjust, be flexible. Change is going to happen whether you like it or not.

Philippians 4:12 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.

Paul says he’s seen good times and bad times. What did experience teach Paul? Berkley translation: “I have learned to be independent of circumstances.” That is the secret of a satisfying life. You don’t get your joys or happiness out of things, people, possessions, pleasures, profits, popularity, prestige… Paul says he’s learned to be independent of circumstances.

Paul continually said, I can handle this, no problem, I can cope. I avoid comparisons and I adjust to change. I am flexible. We must be flexible because circumstances usually aren’t. No matter what I go through I am not a victim. I choose not to be a victim. No matter what people do to me they are not going to control my life. No matter what hurt, experience or difficulty I go through and I have every reason to have bad memories, I will not let it victimize me.

-I am independent of circumstances. That is real freedom — when you can say I am not controlled by my circumstances, I am not manipulated by the external things in my life.

-People say “I’m OK, under the circumstances.” Circumstances were never meant to be something you get under. Get on top of them. You don’t have to live “under the circumstances” — that’s a choice.

There are three kinds of circumstances in life:

  1. Those I can control and I do. Switch TV channels, if you’re hungry you feed yourself.

2) Those I can control and I don’t. This is not excuse for laziness. Contentment is not laziness or complacency. If you can change a situation you don’t need contentment — you need to get up and do something about it. (Weight, health, etc)

3) Those I cannot control and there are many in life. This is where you need contentment, in uncontrollable circumstances. Things that are beyond your power. You have done the best you could but they are still out of your hands. That’s where you need to learn to relax, trust God, adjust and avoid comparing yourself.

Romans 12:18 NIV– If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Circumstances demand flexibility in life.

3.  LEARN TO DRAW ON CHRIST’S POWER

Instead of just depending on my own effort to make it through circumstances and my own energy, I must learn to draw on Christ’s power.

Philippians 4:13 NLT – For I can do everything through Christ,[a] who gives me strength.

Do you know how you know when you’re depending on your own power? You get tired. Fatigue comes from living life on your own resources rather than on the resources of God.

What do you need to control? Do you need to get control of your time? your mouth? your temper? your weight? a bad habit?

Amplified version: “…I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses inner strength into me, that is I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency.”

The Greek word for “strength” is the word from which we get the word “dynamite” or “dynamo”. A dynamo is something that gives continual energy. Paul is saying, Jesus Christ is the dynamo of my life. He gives me continuous energy. I don’t run out.

2 Cor. 12:9 NIV – But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

”Sufficient” is the same word as “contentment” in Philippians. Sufficiency is contentment. Contentment is independent of circumstances. God allows you to go through problems in your life so you can learn contentment and sufficiency and He can show His power

“God cannot give us happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.” CS Lewis

4. LEARN TO TRUST GOD TO MEET MY NEEDS

Philippians 4:19 NLT And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.

When I buy an insurance policy I read through it to find out what is covered. When I know what’s covered, I don’t worry — it’s covered. The Bible is God’s insurance policy. There are over 6000 promises in the Bible which you can claim. Many of you cannot claim them because you don’t even know they’re there. As you read the policy manual find out what God has guaranteed to do in your life. Once you know those guarantees you don’t have to worry.

Matthew 6:31-33 GNT “So do not start worrying: ‘Where will my food come from? or my drink? or my clothes?’ 32 (These are the things the pagans are always concerned about.) Your Father in heaven knows that you need all these things. 33 Instead, be concerned above everything else with the Kingdom of God and with what he requires of you, and he will provide you with all these other things.

The real reason that people are unhappy, unsatisfied, and unfulfilled is because Jesus Christ is not the center of their lives. They are looking for fulfillment in all the wrong places. They run from this to that… looking for something that is going to satisfy them. From relationship to relationship, from job to job, from hobby to sports to recreation … fads, therapy, books, seminar — looking for the key. But God has laid it out very clearly. You were made with a God shaped vacuum in your life and nothing will fill that void except God.

When you try to find satisfaction in life through people, fads, popularity, prestige… they don’t last. Discontent just means that Jesus Christ is not the center of my life. When I’m not contented it means I’m looking for something else.

· What are you chasing? Unless you are chasing God, you will never be satisfied.

· Maybe Mick Jagger was right – “I can’t get no satisfaction.”

Matthew 5:6 AMP – “Blessed [joyful, nourished by God’s goodness] are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness [those who actively seek right standing with God], for they will be [completely] satisfied. (full, content)

God wants you to have a happy, fulfilling, satisfying life. He said it. “I have come that you might have life and that you might have it abundantly.”

REMEMBER: Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with God, love, grace, and gratitude!

Miracles Pt.1 – The Miracle of Heaven

Miracles Pt.1 – The Miracle of Heaven 

Very excited about this series – Inspire your faith – Believe God for miracles – We believe that God still does miracles today

Jesus did some incredible things during His life on earth

Turned water to wine – blind man sees – raised the dead – healed the sick

We believe that God is still in the miracle business – We are a Church that believes in it

Of all the miracles the resurrection of Jesus is the greatest – We don’t serve a God who is dead but alive

(Romans 8:11 NLT)  The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. (Same power lives in you & works in you – wherever there is death or a place you need a miracle) And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.

  • We can not only celebrate the resurrection, we can also experience it.

You are candidate for God to do something powerful in your life

Jesus at this point in ministry needed others to help, crowds were so big

Not just 12 but commissioned 72

(Luke 10:17-20) The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Resurrection can happen in your marriages, families, finances, jobs, dreams But that is not the greatest

The greatest resurrection isn’t the resurrection of things

It’s the resurrection that we leave this pain on earth & eternally with God

Jesus died & rose again – One out of one person is going to die

Be more positive – I’m positive and I am positive that will happen

The hope we have & why earth doesn’t sting as much – We know there is more to life than this

Examples: Jesus said don’t be afraid of the one who can kill your body

All of us are – We’re careful, lock our doors, wear seatbelts, get insurance, eat right, exercise, – Trying to make this body last

God is saying do all that but don’t be afraid of the one who can kill your body – Be afraid of the one who can destroy body & soul

If you would put some of the energy you put into your temporal body

Into your eternal existence you would be doing a lot better

Real way to look at life is you are a blip on the screen compared to eternity

Life is a mist it’s here then gone (David said teach me to # my days) – Those miracles are great but God is wanting us to focus on eternity

Second example: Disciples of Jesus struggling – about Jesus leaving

(John 14:1-2 NIV) “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. (They brought an earth problem & Jesus talks about Heaven) My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?

Don’t be discouraged you’re getting out of here

  • Jesus offers more than a better now. He offers a better place.

When you have that hope it changes everything about how you live on earth

1 CORINTHIANS 2:9 NIV However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” 

Pope Francis said, Hope helps believers to be open to the surprises God has in store for us.

(John 11:25-26 NIV) “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

•Death does not conquer you, Death does not defeat you 

Scripture says where oh death is your victory & where oh death is your sting

•It never stings those who have the hope of Heaven – Even though you die you will live – We’ve passed from Death unto life.

•I am reminding you – a lot of us are feeling the sting of earth – Seems like things are getting worse

•In the middle of what we are facing – God can intervene. There is a resurrection available to us through Christ

Story: The generations before us had this hope / reminding my church I grew up in Jewett Oh.  I remember the songs being about Heaven

Favorite songs: When we all get to Heaven, “I’ll Fly Away….” What a Day that will be, Oh I want to see him, In the Sweet by and by,  Soon and Very Soon….

•That hope is what held them on – Jesus is saying this Easter, I died & rose again so you can have that experience

1 Peter 1:3-4 (Mes) “What a God we have! … Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven, and the future starts now!”

It’s the ultimate resurrection – We want miracles on earth but the greatest miracle is Heaven

(1st Thessalonians 4:13-18 NIV) Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again, (We don’t feel the sting of death because Jesus conquered death) and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him…Therefore encourage each other with these words.

Revelation 21:1-4 NIV Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

•Live your life for others – People need hope – Hope changes everything

Everyone is going through something – that’s earth/life – We can join in prayer on earth & see the miraculous happen

If it doesn’t work out here on earth & you have the hope of eternal life

You have the ultimate resurrection & nothing can ever defeat you

My message for you church…Summarized in this statement

  • Believe on Jesus…

Earth is as close to hell as you’ll ever get.

It only gets better.

The opposite is true – If you haven’t believed on Jesus yet…

Earth is as close to Heaven as you’ll ever get – It only gets worse

Colossians 3:2 NIV–“Set you mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.”

C.S. Lewis said, “ If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world”

•He also said – “Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave with regret?  There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.”

I would say to you – This is an opportunity to change your heart – It’s getting hope. How?

(1st John 5:13 ASV) These things have I written unto you, that you may know that you have eternal life, believe on the name of the Son of God.

God wants way more than just believing in Him but believe on Him

What’s the difference?

Story: Charles Blondin French Tightrope walker walked 1,100 feet suspended on a tiny rope 160 feet above the raging waters of Niagra Falls several times back and forth between Canada and the United States as huge crowds on both sides looked on with shock and awe.  Once he crossed in a sack, once on stilts, another time on a bicycle,  one blind folded, and once he even carried a stove and cooked an omelet!  Then he pushed a wheelbarrow.It was then that Blondin posed the question – “Who will get in the wheelbarrow?’ Of course…none did. The crowd had watched his daring feats. They said they believed, but their actions proved they truly didn’t.

It’s one thing for us to say we believe in God. It’s true faith though when we believe God and put our faith and trust in His Son, Jesus Christ.

Faith in God is the same way – Just can’t believe he did it

God is looking for us to take another step

Not Belief in is not enough but Belief on

That’s faith / it’s taking a risk

(2 Peter 3:13-14 NIV) “But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.

The Invitation

Brennan Manning said, “For me the most radical demand of Christian faith lies in summoning the courage to say yes to the present risenness of Jesus Christ.”

•The good news is not that Jesus Christ lived and died, but that he lived, died, and he lives.

Ask that for the next 3 minutes (music begins playing) No one move or distract others – Very important moment

Take the “Connection Card” out – I want everyone to take this spiritual survey with me

On the card – I’ll want you to mark an A, B, C, or D – Spiritual Survey

Let me explain these and then I’d like you to check one – You are one of these four

If you’d say, “Rob, I am certain that I am a Christian.  I have made Jesus the Lord of my life and I’m in a personal relationship. Jesus has already brought me out.”  You check A – I’m already in a relationship with Jesus.

If you’d say, “Rob, I need God to rescue me.  I need a real relationship with God.”  You check B – I’m believing today – I need a fresh start Check B – I’m beginning a real relationship with God today.

If you’d say, “Rob, it sounds good but I’d like to consider it a little bit more first. I’d like to check it out.” I’d appreciate you checking C – I’d like to consider what God wants to do in my life.

If you’d say, “Rob, I don’t ever intend to give my life to God.

I don’t think I need God in my life.  In fact I intend to live my life my way.”  Check “D”.

Why? Have the guts to be honest & come to terms where you are at

I want to ask you to respect those around you – Please stay seated, quiet and fill out this card  – We’ll take a minute – Bow your head when your done

I want to pray with you right now

First, I’m going to pray for you then you can follow me in a prayer

“Father, there are people here today who, in one way or another, are dying. And only You can give them life again. I thank you today that You bring us out from the bondage of slavery – that you save us. So today, I pray that You will move in their life in a powerful way so they can know you personally and experience real life.”

Choosing Heaven means choosing to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  Such a relationship brings a foretaste of Heaven in this life, and an eternity of happiness.  You can make your decision today!

(Romans 10:9-10 NIV) “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.”

If you checked “B” say this prayer with me …

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!

If you made a decision to follow Christ this is your next step…Fill out Connection card – We want to send you some information this week in your emailIf you need prayer our team will be here at the end of service – Party in the Front and Prayer in the Back

Beautiful Things Pt.3 – A Beautiful God

Beautiful Things Pt.3 – A Beautiful God 

Colossians 2:13 – Discover the depths of our brokenness – and the heights of God’s Love for us. Even out of the dust of our lives, God can make beautiful things. 

Lucy and Linus are gazing out the window at a staggering downpour of rain.

“Boy, look at it rain, ” Lucy says, fear etched on her face. “What if it floods the whole world?”   “It will never do that, Linus responds confidently. “In the 9th Chapter of Genesis, God promised Noah that would never happen again, and the sign of the promise is the rainbow.”   “You’ve taken a great load of my mind, ” Lucy says with a sigh of relief. Linus replies, “Sound theology has a way of doing that.”

That is my aim in this message today! To articulate the good theology (study of God) that God is a good God contrary to what someone may have said about Him, or our past perceptions.

I googled God. turns out there are 564 million results. My conclusion after the first few pages….Everyone has an opinion about God. 

To Know what God is like, look at Jesus

John 1:1-5, 14 ESV – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life,[a] and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son[a] from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Incarnation – enfleshment of God. God revealing Himself in the nature and character of Jesus (Not just an event, but the whole life of Jesus) – I believe Jesus alone is perfect theology.

He was not a man who became God, He is God who became a man

John 5:39 ESV-  You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me,

Matthew 26:59-64 NIV The chief priests…were looking for false evidence against Jesus so they could put Him to death. But they did not find any… Then they said, “Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God.” “Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied.

John 14:9 NIV Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

God is Exactly like Jesus 

God is like Jesus – Jesus is what God has to say to the world. Jesus is the full and faithful witness to how God is to be understood. Jesus did not come to save us from God – Jesus came to reveal God as savior. He came to reveal God’s love. (John 3:16) – absorbing, forgiving and taking away the sins of the world. (Jesus the icon of the invisible God)

Hebrews 1:3 NIV – The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

Colossians 1:15-19 NLT 15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, 16 for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. 17 He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together. 18 Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything. 19 For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ…

Colossians 2:9 NKJV  – For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily

A person’s perception of understanding of the nature of God will determine their level of faith in His ability or desire to help them.

I Corinthians 15:34 MSG – Ignorance of God is a luxury you can’t afford in times like these”

J.I. Packer said: “What were we made for? To know God. What aim should we set ourselves in life? To know God. What is the best thing in life, bringing more joy, delight, and contentment, than anything else? Knowledge of God.”

“I have found God to be cordial and generous and in every way easy to live with.”- A.W. Tozer

I. What You Must Know about God

“Truth is true even if no one believes it, and falsehood is false even if everyone believes it.” Ravi Zacharias

1. God is Powerful

Isaiah 40:28-31 ESV – Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

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.

God is more powerful than your sickness, disease, problem, etc…(Easter series – Miracles “God’s Power to Change your Life”)

•The Proof of God’s Power is not in an explanation but in a changed life – The world doesn’t need an explanation but a demonstration of the power of God.

Buechner said, “God cannot be expressed but only experienced”

Jesus is Powerful – Lazarus Come Forth, Blind Bartimaeus, Casted out 3000 plus demons out of the man and put them in pigs, woman with the issue of blood (who touched me?)

2. God is Good

Psalm 31:19 NIV – How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you

The Bible connects the name of the Lord or God or Jesus or the Holy  Spirit with “good” or “goodness” 370 Times.

Psalm 34:8 ESV – Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

God cannot cease from doing good, because HE is GOOD!

Psalm 103:1-5 ESV – Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s

Jesus went everywhere doing good to people

    1. Acts 10:38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
    1. Jesus healed the sick, cleansed the lepers, opened the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf. He had compassion on the needy and proclaimed good news to the poor. Jesus said in John (10:11) referred to himself as the “Good Shepherd”

3. God is Gracious and Merciful

Psalm 145:8-16 NIV 8 The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. 10 All your works praise you, Lord; your faithful people extol you. 11 They tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might, 12 so that all people may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. 13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.[a]14 The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.15 The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. 16 You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

Ephesians 2:8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.”

•Grace is God giving people credit for something they didn’t do! 

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.”

Psalm 103:9-10 NIV “He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.”

Do not freeze frame a certain time in your life and condemn your future based on that moment. God is gracious and merciful

Jesus is Gracious and merciful 

John the Baptist – Jesus the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Luke 15:1-2 ESV – Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

Woman caught in Adultery – I don’t condemn you, Go and sin no more

Paralyzed man – Your sins are forgiven

II. What God Wants You to Know about HIM

1. To know that God loves me.

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

2. To know that God has a plan for me.

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.

2 Corinthians 4:16-17 NIV – “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”

3. To know that God will bring me through.

2 Timothy 4:18 NIV “The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

Philippians 1:6 NAS  “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

III. My Prayer for you

Ephesians 1:17 NIV “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.”

Jeremiah 29:13 NIV “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

Everybody surrenders to something or someone in life. If not to God, you’ll surrender to popular opinion, money, resentment, or fear, to your own pride, lust, and ego.

Surrender is not the best way to live; it is the only way to live. Nothing else works. All other approaches lead to frustration, disappointment, and self-destruction.

So give it all to God: your past regrets, your present problems, your future ambitions, your fears, dreams, weaknesses, habits, hurts, and hang-ups. Put Christ in the driver’s seat of your life, and take your hands off the steering wheel. Don’t be afraid; nothing under his control can ever be out of control.

Prayer of Commitment

I’d like you to stand this morning and we’re going to pray a prayer together. This prayer originally appeared in A.W. Tozer’s book called, “The Knowledge of the Holy.”

“O majesty unspeakable, my soul desires to behold Thee. I cry to Thee from the dust. Yet when I inquire after Thy name it is secret. Thou art hidden in the light which no man can approach unto. What Thou art cannot be thought or uttered, for Thy glory is beyond comprehension.

Still, prophet and psalmist, apostle and saint have encouraged me to believe that I may in some measure know Thee. Therefore, I pray, whatever of Thyself Thou hast been pleased to disclose, help me to search out as treasure more precious than fine gold: for with Thee shall I live when the stars of the twilight are no more and the heavens have vanished away and only Thou remainest. Amen.”

The Best Year of Your Life Pt.3 – A Focused Future

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The Best Year of Your Life Pt.3 – A Focused Future

Most people share a common curiosity about the future. People want to know:

•What’s going to happen in my life tomorrow, next week, & next year?

•Who am I going to marry?

•What is going to happen in my career?

•Am I going to be Successful?

•Is my marriage going to last?

People often view themselves as victims of fate. Waiting for a “good break” or “to get lucky” in the events of life. (cross your fingers philosophy)

It is God’s plan and His will that you have a great future!

“How you see your future is much more important than what has happened in the past.”– Zig Ziglar

Jeremiah 29:11 NIV  For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “ (good) plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a (good) future.

I. Get a Vision for your 2017

Life is a journey and every journey has a destination. Everybody ends up somewhere in life. A few people end up somewhere on purpose.

“Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life, because you become what you see and believe.”

Think about this. How many times have you seen people in your family….people at church…whose attention is constantly pulled into the past?

•Maybe they are living with regrets of what they did or did not do…I could have said this….Why did I do that?….What was he thinking? What was I thinking?

• Maybe they are constantly re-living a season in their life that is over…it could be a past relationship that ended or it could be an offense that they still carry with them towards someone. It could just be that they have imagined the past as being the best days of their life….so they keep re-living it.

*Whether the past is good or bad…there’s no future in it!!

Take your eyes off your past, because your past is not your potential! Choose to liberate your future!

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

“Don’t freeze frame a certain time in your life and condemn your future based on that moment. God is not done with you”

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

What is vision?

A Vision is born in the soul of a man or woman who is consumed with the tension between what is and what could be. Anyone who is frustrated, or brokenhearted about the way things are, in light of the way they believe things could be, is a candidate for vision.

Helen Keller said, The only thing worse than being blind is the one who has sight but no vision.

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

A vision is a compelling image of an achievable future – Vision brings your world into focus. Vision brings order to chaos. A clear vision enables you to see everything differently.

Webster’s definition – The ability to force or perceive something not actually visible, as though mental or spiritual acuteness.

Get a vision for your life that makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning! Why?  Because you will never go beyond where you see yourself going. 

Proverbs 29:18 KJV – Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

Yogi Berra said, “If you don’t know where you are going, your likely to end up someplace else.”

It is vision that moves us forward in God. Without it we have a tendency to get caught up in drifting aimlessly in God not really knowing what we are doing, where we are going nor even what we are all about.

The World is just waiting for you to….

Get a VISION of your life that is so big the hair on the back of your neck will stand up!

Get a VISION so awesome that your toes curl!

Get a VISION so big that 100 years from now, future generations birthed from you  will look at your picture and say, “Thank you!”

Ordinary people believe only in the possible. Extraordinary people visualize not what is possible or probable, but rather what is impossible. And by visualizing the impossible, they begin to see it as possible.

Oh the Places You Will Go – Dr. Suess

How to Make the Vision Happen

  1. God Must Be First

Psalm 27:4 NIV – Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Give focus and energy to the things that really matter

Exodus 20:1-3 NIV – And God spoke all these words: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before[a] me.

We put God first by giving Him the First of Everything

The problem with the American Church – we make everything about “getting” from God. Church has become about entertaining people instead of worship and devotion to God.

Leviticus 27:30 NIV – A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord.

Deuteronomy 14:23 LB – Bring this tithe to eat before the Lord your God at the place he shall choose as his sanctuary; this applies to your tithes of grain, new wine, olive oil, and the firstborn of your flocks and herds. The purpose of tithing is to teach you always to put God first in your lives.

The First always has the power to bless the rest

Proverbs 3:6-10 NIV – 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.[a]7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. 8 This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. 9 Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; 10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.

How you you handle your finances reveals what is first in your life

First of Your Finances – The Tithe 10% of your Income

•God says money is the number one test of our priorities

Billy Graham said, “Give me 5 minutes with a person’s checkbook, and I will tell you where there heart is.”

Martin Luther said, “There are 3 conversions necessary for every man: the conversion of the heart, the mind, and the wallet.”
Malachi 3:10 NIV –  Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.

•Tithing unleashes God’s Favor and Provision for your life

•Tithing is a witness that you have conquered greed and mastered the love of money.

•Tithing creates a memory in the mind of God that you are Honoring Him first in your life.

•Tithing breaks the back of lack and lifts the financial curse off your life.

•Tithing creates a financial flow in your life. God always prospers and promotes tithers and givers.

How you spend your time reveals what is first in your life

First of Your Week – Sunday Worship and Life Groups

Hebrews 10:25 NLT – And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

You can be committed to Church but not committed to Christ, but you cannot be committed to Christ and not committed to church. – Joel Osteen

First of Your Day – Prayer, Meditation, and Bible Reading

Put God first in your life and day and you will have more time! Don’t allow anything to rob you of your time with God.

God wants to remove the noise of your life and create a space in which He can speak to you

Psalm 5:3 NIV – “In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.”

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

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

C.S. Lewis once said, “The moment you wake up each morning, all your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists in shoving it all back, in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other, larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in.”

Mark 1:35 NIV  Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

First of Your Month – Fasting

“The discipline of fasting releases the anointing, the favor, and the blessing of God in the life of a Christian.” Jentezen Franklin

Matthew 6:16-18 NIV “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” 

“When the Holy Spirit calls your to fast, He is preparing you for what is ahead.”

Fasting confirms our utter dependence upon God by finding in Him a source of sustenance beyond food. Dallas Willard

The RESULT

Romans 12:2 MSG – Fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. 

The Best Year of Your Life Pt.2 Today Matters

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The Best Year of Your Life Pt. 2 – Today Matters

Most people share a common curiosity about the future. People want to know:

•What’s going to happen in my life tomorrow, next week, & next year?

•Who am I going to marry?

•What is going to happen in my career?

•Am I going to be Successful?

•Is my marriage going to last?

People often view themselves as victims of fate. Waiting for a “good break” or “to get lucky” in the events of life. (cross your fingers philosophy)

It is God’s plan and His will that you have a great future!

“How you see your future is much more important than what has happened in the past.”– Zig Ziglar

Jeremiah 29:11 NIV  For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “ (good) plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a (good) future.

TO RESOLVE: to decide, settle, determine, purpose 

RESOLUTION: a firm determination to do something

The story is told of a young boy who asked his father what his New Year’s resolution was; and, his father told him he was going to do everything possible to make his mother happy in the coming year. The boy, then, asked his mother what her New Year’s resolution was; and, she replied: “To do everything possible to ensure that his father kept his resolution!”

Jesus intended for you to have the best year of your life

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

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

The Truth About LIFE

Dearly beloved…We are gathered here today…To get through this thing called “life” – Prince

Isaiah 22:13 NLT – But instead, you dance and play; you slaughter cattle and kill sheep. You feast on meat and drink wine. You say, “Let’s feast and drink, for tomorrow we die!”

1. Life is Fleeting

(Psalm 39:4-5 NLT) “Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered—how fleeting my life is. 5  You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath.”

2. Life is Valuable

Psalm 90:12 NIV “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

“Life is a dash between two numbers on a tombstone, and everybody should enjoy that dash” Dr Neil Shulman (Movie Doc Hollywood)

Dash – Separating a beginning and an ending. What do you see? That 1 or 2 inch mark stands for a whole life.

18 times a minute you breathe, 25,920 times a day FREE of Charge

When you think about it, we don’t have much control over many things in life:

  1. Born, Parents, Time period/culture
  2. Death – Only God knows – Our lives are in His hands

One thing we do have control over – We get to decide how we are going to use our dash – How we will spend that time?

Deuteronomy 30:19 NIV – This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live

Choose – pick out or select (someone or something) as being the best or most appropriate of two or more alternatives.

Your future is not a matter of chance, but a matter of choice! Today’s decisions will have a big impact on your life and future.

Most people don’t lead their own lives—they accept their lives

Today Matters!

Choose to make today a ridiculously amazing day!

Ephesians 5:15-16 NIV  “Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”

We have a tendency to over exaggerate yesterday

We have a tendency to over estimate tomorrow

We always under estimate today

Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.

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

Most people are focused on the wrong day. It’s too late for yesterday – stop reliving yesterday. And you can’t depend on tomorrow – won’t magically get better. The best time to start is now

*Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “This new day is too dear, with its hopes and invitations, to waste a moment on the yesterdays.”

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

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

This year I’m going to…

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

3. Live Today with Passion

Mark 12:30 (Message) – “So love the Lord your God with all your Passion and prayer and intelligence and energy”

Passion is the spark of life. Without it life has no meaning. It means object of desire, deep interest, zeal, fervor, enthusiasm.

Luke 7:31,32 (NIV) “To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other: ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not cry.’”

Jesus is saying we played the music of life for you, but you didn’t dance. you didn’t enjoy life. You were always waiting to live. you were stuck!

•Then when the pain and problems came your way, you didn’t cry, you didn’t experience life. you tried to avoid risks at all costs.

Go ahead DANCE as though no one is watching you, LOVE as though you have never been hurt before, SING as though no one can hear you, LIVE as though heaven is on earth!

•You may be extroverted or introverted, it doesn’t matter – God made you to feel things deeply.

•Jack London eloquently described this kind of life: “I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy permanent plant. The proper function of man is to live, not exist. I shall not wast my days in trying to prolong them, I shall use my time.”

Remember: Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals.Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm and passion wrinkles the soul!

James 4:14 (NCV) “You do not know what will happen tomorrow! Your life is like a mist. You can see it for a short time. But then it goes away.”

The greatest enemy is not death, but a life unlived!

William Wallace said, “Every man dies; but not every man lives”

Neglect enough Today’s, and you’ll experience the “someday” you’ve wanted to avoid! 

When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love. Marcus Aurelius

Quotes:

The future starts Today, not Tomorrow – Pope John Paul II

The only limits to the possibilities in your life tomorrow are the buts you use today. Les Brown

I believe in living today. Not in yesterday, nor in tomorrow. Loretta Young

The Best Year of Your Life Pt.1 – The One Thing

 

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The Best Year of Your Life Pt. 1 – The One Thing

Every year in January, people make new choices which they call New Year’s resolutions. The problem with New Year’s resolutions is we usually make them about trivial issues, not the most important things in life

According to USA.gov the top ten resolutions that Americans make every New Year’s Day are the following:

Top Ten New Year’s Resolutions 

1. Lose Weight

2. Manage Debt/Save Money

3. Get Physically Fit

4. Eat Healthy

5. Learn Something New

6. Drink Less Alcohol

7. Quit Smoking

8. Reduce Stress

9. Take A Trip Somewhere

10. Volunteer To Help Others

As you can see One is the top New Year’s Resolutions each year is to lose weight. Anyone one here have that as a resolution?

A woman walked into her bathroom at home. As she did, she saw her husband weighing himself on the bathroom scales, sucking in his stomach. The woman thought to herself, ”He thinks that he will weigh less by sucking in his stomach.” So, the woman rather sarcastically said to her husband, ”That’s not going to help.” Her husband said, ”Sure it will. It’s the only way I can see the numbers.”

Those are all very good resolutions. The problem is 4-out-of-5 people who make them will break them. One-third of people who make resolutions won’t get past the end of January before they break them. That is why I believe what we need is not a New Year’s resolution, but what we need is a New Year’s revolution.

TO RESOLVE: to decide, settle, determine, purpose 

RESOLUTION: a firm determination to do something

For many people The date changes, but the destination hasn’t. We are still stuck in the same place. A psychology professor at Florida State University did a study of this. He came up basically two reasons why people fail to keep New Year’s resolutions.

  1. Resolutions are too general  (2) There are too many resolutions          •This professor said, ”Studies suggest that will-power is a limited resource. If you make too many resolutions you won’t have enough willpower reserves to stick to all of them.” This is his conclusion. ”It is better to make one resolution and stick to it than make five.’’

Fact – 93% of New Years Goals go unfulfilled. In fact, 30% are broken within the first week.

Text: Philippians 3:12-14 NIV – Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

What Paul is admitting is he has not arrived. He doesn’t have it all together. Though he has done a lot there is still more to do. Though he has been to a lot of places there are still more places to go. Though he has reached a lot of his potential he has not reached all of his potential. I don’t care how old you are. As long as you are drawing a breath on this earth there are always more lessons to learn. There are always more principles to apply. There is always more room to grow. Paul gives us three simple steps that you can use at the beginning of every season, at the beginning of every month, at the beginning of every week and at the beginning of every day to make that year, that month, that week and that day the most productive day for you and the most pleasing day to God you possibly can.

•Two words in there make all the difference in the world, ”one thing.” Paul understood the power that comes in concentrating on just one thing.

I. Forget What Is Behind You

Like my friend Mark Edge said, I have decided to leave my past behind me…so if I owe you money, I’m sorry, I’ve moved on.

I want you to know that memory is precious to me.

‒ Old pictures are a thrill to look at.

‒ Childhood memories – home movies

‒ I do not want you to think I am encouraging us to lose our good memory.

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

Philippians 3:13 NIV – 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,

Two words in there make all the difference in the world, ”one thing.” Paul understood the power that comes in concentrating on just one thing.

•The first thing you need to do as you enter into a new season is put the old one behind you.

•You can’t focus on where you are going until you forget where you’ve been.

•Paul is usually using sports language. Specifically, he is talking about a race. He talks about straining forward, pressing on, going toward a goal, and reaching for a prize. Those are all racing terms.

•You cannot sail the ship of your life into the seas of the future with joy and peace if your anchor is stuck in the mud of the past. You can’t run forward if you are always looking backward.

•Don’t misunderstand what that word ”forget” means. It doesn’t mean ”to fail to remember.’’ There is no way you can ever totally erase the past from your memory. The word ‘’forget” literally means ”to not be influenced or affected by.’’

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

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

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

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

•Past problems.

•Past mistakes. 

•Past relationships.

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

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

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

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

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

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

•DROP IT LIKE ITS HOT….

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

In spite of your past, God doesn’t give up on you and neither should you.

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

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

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

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

Don’t Judge yourself by your past, You no longer live there!

Turn when into now

Remember: “Yesterday Ended Last Night”

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “This new day is too dear, with its hopes and invitations, to waste a moment on the yesterdays.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Your success tomorrow begins today”

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

IF you can Forget the Past – You can FOCUS and FULFILL what’s in Front of You

Philippians 3:13-14 NIV – 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

The Greek word for ”goal” is ”skopos” which means ”to look at.” We get our word ‘’telescope” from that word. It means a small mark on which your eye is fixed.

•In other words, Paul said the key to living a productive life is to focus. Paul had a one-track mind, but his mind was on the right track.

CS Lewis said, “There are better things ahead than what we leave behind.”

Do You want to embrace your destiny, or do you want to flutter on the ground in your history? This is a decision only YOU can make!

Today, You can have a new year, but it won’t mean jack diddly if you don’t have a new life.

“You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep rereading the last one.”

Make a FRESH Start Today