Uncommon Families

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Uncommon Families

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but “Leave it to Beaver” has left, Mayberry is a distant memory, and the Waltons have said, “goodnight!”,  The Brady Bunch has left the building. The little house we live in no longer resembles the one on the prairie! We have moved from “Father Knows Best” to we aren’t sure daddy knows anything! and The Partridge Family ain’t singing no more.The day we live is different. The climate has changed. This modern age has impacted and shaped our families. And as we are seeing now the goal of this modern age is not really to shape but to redefine family. Unfortunately, we will never be able to go back to yesterday. Therefore, we must learn to deal with today and tomorrow. However, even though we are in the modern age I believe there are still some old truths that modern family’s need today.

What has gone wrong with America’s Family?

· Did you know that in the US, every 8 seconds of every school day a child drops out of school?

· Every 26 seconds a child runs away from home.

· Every 47 seconds a child is either abused or neglected.

· Every 7 minutes a child is arrested for a drug offense.

· Every 36 minutes a child is either hurt or killed by a gun.

(Jeremiah 6:16 ESV) Thus says the Lord: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’

“The family has always been the cornerstone of American society. Our families nurture, preserve, and pass on to each succeeding generation the values we share and cherish, values that are the foundation for our freedoms. In the family we learn our first lessons of God and man, love and discipline, rights and responsibilities, human dignity and human frailty.” Ronald Reagan

Condition of Today’s Family

• Distracted.

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

STAT: Average father spends 7 minutes a day with his kids. That’s 49 minutes for the week

• Divided.

 (Mark 3:25 ESV)  And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand“ (NLT) A family splintered by feuding will fall apart.”

• Disrespectful.

(Titus 3:3 ESV) For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.

• Dysfunctional.

(James 3:14-16 NLT) “But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.”

Dysfunction is Dangerous – dys means dangerous, impaired in function. A dysfunctional family is one functioning dangerously

Family is not an important thing , it’s everything!

Nehemiah 4:14 NIV After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”

  1. Nehemiah faced the awesome task in the restoration of Jerusalem. But he was surrounded with: 1. Unbelief  2. Opposition
    1. He lacked resources and he was operating in hostile territory with a meager number of supporters.
    2. He had to have a plan that had enough power and energy to overcome obstacles.
    3. Nehemiah put the people on two Unshakable Foundations:
      1. The Sovereign power of God
      2. The nearly unlimited protective power that comes from men and women when they fight for their families
      3. Nehemiah’s Strategy was that he was to station the rebuilders in front of their own house (Nehemiah 3:4)

How to be an Uncommon Family

If you don’t have kids these are amazing principles for your life – If you do have kids these are principles that will help grow your child

  1. Love and Serve God

Deuteronomy 6:4-5 NIV – Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

Kids Who Become Active Christ-followers as Adults

If mom and dad went to church:     72% of kids will as adults.

If mom only went to church:            15% of kids will as adults.

If dad only went to church:              55% of kids will as adults.

If neither mom nor dad:                   06% of kids will as adults.

(Joshua 24:15 NIV) But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Joshua made a choice for his home. His choice was for his household to serve one God only. A choice against idolatry and for faithfulness. Regardless of the choices of others Joshua’s wife and children knew which way he would lead them.

•The challenges of Joshua’s day are no less than those we live among today. We have to choose to live according to God’s design for us IN OUR HOMES and FAMILIES.

•Is Christ is the head of this house, The unseen guest at every meal, The silent listener to every conversation.

The Most Important thing in Life

Matthew 22:37-38 NIV  Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.

Do you love God with all of your heart or some of your heart?

2.  Make God’s Word the standard.

•With so many “experts” running around with all of their ideas and inventions, It can sometimes be confusing to know who to listen to. The Bible specifically outlines God’s original design for the family. As long as we live according to His will, we can avoid the world’s less than perfect lifestyle and live in His perfect peace.

(1 Corinthians 3:19 NIV)  For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness

•Arguments and division need to be squelched with a higher authority than opinions or out of control emotions. To be a functional family in the plan of God, we must live according to Biblical principles. What is right for this situation according to the scriptures? How can this problem be solved with a Biblical mindset?

(Psalm 119:24 NIV) Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors.

Obeying God’s Word brings blessings to the family – Obedience is our Success

Deuteronomy 5:29 NIV – Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!

Deuteronomy 12:28 NIV – Be careful to obey all these regulations I am giving you, so that it may always go well with you and your children after you, because you will be doing what is good and right in the eyes of the Lord your God.

Remember: Our instruction to our kids is never better than God’s

Proverbs 1:7 NIV – The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

3. Lead Your Family

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 NIV – These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.

“The thing that impresses me most about America is the way the parents obey their children.” Edward, Duke of Windsor

Girl from (COYFC) comment – “I looked at my parents and family of an example of what not to be and do”.

Proverbs 22:6 ESVTrain up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Train: to initiate, dedicate, or train.

  1. Train them to manage God’s money. (Prov. 3:9-10) 2) Train them to carefully select friends. (Prov. 13:20) 3) Train them to watch their words. (Prov. 4:24) 4) Train them to be responsible. (Prov. 6:6-8) 5) Train them to guard their minds. (Prov. 23:7) 6) Train them to be generous. (Prov. 11: 25) 7) Train them to fear God. (Prov. 1:7)

Are you leading your children or are your children leading you?

4. Pray for and with your Family

Prayer is the way we write the future. It’s the difference between letting things happen and making things happen!

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

We have 2 options – We can Panic or Pray -You decide – Martin Luther said, “Pray and let God worry”

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

Remember this  – You’ll never be a perfect parent, but you can be a praying parent.

 

Ill.—little boys staying overnight in backyard in a tent. Dad listened to them talk… “my daddy knows the mayor!”/ “governor!”/then he heard the voice of his own little boy say, “that’s nothin’, my daddy knows God!” (top that!) They said, he does not! “does too!” How do you know? “I heard him talkin’ to him just this morning!” 

When you face unexpected problems and pressures, when you have a crisis, who do you turn to? God says,”Turn to Me first when you’ve got a problem.” Many people, when they’re in a tight situation, prayer is the last resort, not the first option. They do everything they can physically to try to correct the problem then they say, “I guess now all we can do is pray.” Like it must really be hopeless! Prayer should not be your last resort, it should be your first option.

Make God your first resort in difficulty. He says He is an ever present help a refuge in time of need. God is waiting. He commands us to turn to Him first.

Psalm. 50:15 “Call upon Me in your day of trouble and I will deliver you and you will honor Me.”

Some people get embarrassed and think, I don’t talk to God much when times are good and I don’t want to bother him with my problems. God says, “Bother Me. It’s no bother. I can handle your and every other person’s problems at the same time. Bring it to me. Don’t carry it all yourself.”

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

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

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

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

I Thessalonians 5:7 NLT – Never stop praying

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

One prayer can change ANYTHING. one prayer can change EVERYTHING

A Prayer for Family

Heavenly Father, Please shine your light upon my family. Give us strength to overcome all of the difficulties that we are dealing with now and protect us against any and all problems we may encounter in the future. O Lord, please bring us together as we are meant to be. May the love that binds us only grow stronger as we fulfill the destiny you have laid out for us.

Grant my family forgiveness for any sins we have committed. May we also forgive one another Lord, as it is sometimes difficult to do. Father, let no sickness, disease, harm, division, distruction, or injury come upon us, protect us, have your angels encamped around us and protect us. Stop the assignment of the enemy. We will prosper, be in health, and our souls with prosper. Bless us Lord, In your name I pray, Amen

ENDING

If we’ve failed or messed up in these areas (and most likely we all have) – we can make a fresh start today! 

Acts 3:19-20 NIV – Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20 and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus.

Lamentations 5:21 MSG Bring us back to you, GOD—we’re ready to come back. Give us a fresh start.

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

My Evening Prayer Liturgy

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My Evening Prayer Liturgy

The Call To Prayer 

May the Lord Almighty grant and those I love a peaceful night and a perfect end.

†OPENING From the rising of the sun to its setting, Let the name of the Lord be praised. YOU, O LORD, ARE MY LAMP. MY GOD, YOU MAKE MY DARKNESS BRIGHT. Light and peace in Jesus Christ our Lord. THANKS BE TO GOD.

Psalm 63:7-8 When I think of you upon my bed, through the night watches I will recall that you indeed are my help, and in the shadow of your wings I shout for joy. 

O God make speed to save me, O Lord make haste to help me. I need you.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me.

Confession of Sin

Almighty God, My heavenly Father, I have sinned against you, through my own fault in thought, and in word, and deed, in what I have done and what I have left undone. For the sake of your Son our Lord Jesus Christ, forgive me all my offenses; and grant that I may serve you in newness of life, to the glory of your name.  In Jesus Name. Amen.

Psalm 51 NIV Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. 5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. 6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place. 7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. 8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. 9 Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. 10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. 13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you. 14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. 15 Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise. 16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. 17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. 18 May it please you to prosper Zion, to build up the walls of Jerusalem. 19 Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous, in burnt offerings offered whole; then bulls will be offered on your altar.

I adore You, my God, and I love You with all my heart. I thank you for having created me, for having made me a Christian, and for having preserved me this day. Pardon me for the evil I have done today. If I have done anything good, be pleased to accept it. Protect me while I take my rest and deliver me from all dangers. May your grace be always with me. Amen.

Luke 6:12 ESV In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.

Oh Lord, I pray you to visit our home and drive from it all snares of the enemy. Let Your holy angels dwell in it to preserve us in peace; and let Your blessing be always upon us. Protect us, Lord, as we stay awake; watch over us as we sleep, that awake, we may keep watch with Christ, and asleep, rest in his peace. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Psalm 4:8 I will lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, O Lord make me dwell in safety.

PSALM 131 O Lord, my heart is not lifted up, my eyes are not raised too high; I DO NOT OCCUPY MYSELF WITH THINGS TOO GREAT AND TOO MARVELOUS FOR ME. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother;  MY SOUL IS LIKE THE WEANED CHILD THAT IS WITH ME. O Israel, hope in the Lord FROM THIS TIME ON AND FOREVERMORE. 

Expressions of faith

Lord, You have always given bread for the coming day;

and though I am poor, today I believe.

Lord, You have always given strength for the coming day;

and though I am weak, today I believe.

Lord, You have always given peace for the coming day;

and though of anxious heart, today I believe.

Lord, You have always kept me safe in trials;

and now, tried as I am, today I believe.

Lord, You have always marked the road for the coming day;

and though it may be hidden, today I believe.

Lord, You have always lightened this darkness of mine;

and though the night is here, today I believe.

Lord, You have always spoken when time was ripe;

and though you be silent now, today I believe.

Psalm 141:2 Let my prayer be incense before you; my uplifted hands an evening sacrifice. My uplifted hands: the gesture of supplication.

Be present, O merciful God and protect me and my family through the silent hours of this night, so that we who are fatigued by the changes and chances of this fleeting world, may repose upon your eternal changelessness. Let no sickness, disease, harm, or injury come to any of us.

Amos 5:8 NIVHe who made the Pleiades and Orion, who turns midnight into dawn and darkens day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out over the face of the land – the Lord is his name.

The Lord’s Prayer 

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Concluding Prayer

O Lord, all treasures of wisdom and truth and holiness are stored up in your boundless being. Grant that through our constant fellowship with you, those graces of Christian character may more and more take shape within me:

The grace of a thankful and uncomplaining heart;

The grace to await your timing patiently and to answer your call promptly;

The grace of courage whether in suffering or in danger;

The grace to endure any hardship in the fight against evil;

The grace of boldness to stand up for what is right;

The grace of being adequately prepared for any temptation;

The grace of physical discipline;

The grace of truthfulness;

The grace to treat others as I would like them to treat me;

The grace of sensitivity, that I may refrain from hasty judgement;

The grace of silence, that I may refrain from thoughtless speech;

The grace of forgiveness toward all who have wronged me;

The grace of tenderness toward all who are weaker than myself;

The grace of faithfulness in continuing to desire that you will answer these prayers.

And now, O God, give me a quiet mind as I lie down to rest. Dwell in my thoughts until sleep overtakes me. Do not let me be worried by the small anxieties of this life. Do not let any troubled dreams disturb me, so that I may wake refreshed an ready for all that tomorrow brings. In Jesus Name, Amen!

Running the Race

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Running the Race of Life

It’s that time that rolls around every four years, when Olympians remind us all of just how out of shape we all are!

•Someone posted on instagram the other day: There are 16 year olds competing at the Olympics and I still push on pull doors and struggle getting through the whole day without a nap LOL

Paul taught these lessons in his time, drawn from the experience of the Corinthian Games.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NIV Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

Paul talks about the Corinthian games which in ancient Greece was second in importance only to the Olympics.  They were held every three years.  I did a little research this week to study what those games were all about.  I thought I’d share a little of this with you.  I discovered that the games including running, leaping, spear throwing, boxing, wrestling, chariot racing and racing in armor (my favorite).  Everyone that competed were required to take an oath that “I trained for at least ten months and I will not resort to unfair tricks.”

There were many benefits to being a winner in the Olympic games first, your name and hometown were shouted out as you were awarded a wreath.  Then you would be given a triumphal parade in your town.  You would be given five hundred drachmas of money.  You would be given the right to sit at a place of honor for all succeeding games for the rest of your life.  Then if you won in the Corinthian games your children would receive a free education for life, you would be exempt from military duty for the rest of your life, and you were released from paying taxes the rest of your life.  Is there any wonder that everybody competed in the Corinthian games?

Paul uses these games as an illustration for life.  He pulls out of them four principles for successful living.  Four things you have to do if you’re going to win at what matters most.  We’re going to look at them today.  But the number one analogy for the Christian in the Bible is that of an athlete.

The Bible says in these verses in 1 Corinthians 9 that there are four things it takes to win in life.

1.  It takes desire.  I must want to win.

2.  It takes direction.  I must focus on a goal.

3.  It takes discipline.  I must be willing to work.

4.  It takes determination.  I must never give up.

What It Takes To Win In Life

1. IT TAKES DESIRE.      “I must want to win!”

1 Corinthians 9:24 NIV Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

“Go for the gold! Aim for victory!  Run to win in life! Have a passion to make your life count!

Reality: Most- live mediocre lives.

Goal: make enough money to retire!  God didnt put you on this earth just to retire! Don’t take your gifts, abilities, passions to heaven with you. Heaven doesn’t need it. The world needs it. When you die, die empty! .  He put you here for a purpose, for a reason.  He wants you to make your life count.

Why would anyone NOT want to win?

o Maybe guilt – “I dont deserve..”

o Background- “You’ll never amt to anything!”

o Fatalistic attitude: “Whatever happens…

o Think its unspiritual

4 years ago Eight badminton players were swatted from the Olympics this week for not trying to win. They were trying to fix the bracket where they would not face tough opponents until the finals. The crowds booed at the embarrassment and finally the officials put an end to it.

Truth: God wants you to Succeed in Life (and your kids)

Then there’s some people who think that they don’t want to win in life because they think success is being selfish.  It’s being unspiritual.  If I try to make my life a success I’m being unspiritual.  Did you know that God wants you to succeed in life?

Psalm 35:27 NIV – May those who delight in my vindication shout for joy and gladness; may they always say, “The Lord be exalted, who delights in the well-being of his servant.” “(The Lord is pleased with the success of his servants.”)

Tragedy: We settle for less than God has planned. The tragedy of life is that most people settle for second best.

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,

Ask yourself this question – What do I want most in life?

Don’t be flippant about that.  Maybe take a few days, a week or so to think about it.  What do I really want most in life?  Everything starts with desire.  Nothing happens until you start getting God’s dream for your life.

Desire is the starting point but it’s not enough.  I know a lot of people who’d like to be successful.  They had the desire.  But it takes far more than desire.

2. IT TAKES DIRECTION.         “I must focus on a goal!”

I Corinthians 9:26 NIV – Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.

(Living Bible)“I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step.  I fight to win.  I’m not just shadow boxing or playing around.”

I read a sign one time: If most people drove their cars the way they plan their lives they’d never get out of the driveway.  Most people have never really clarified where they’re headed in life.  People say, Where you going?  To lunch.  What do you want to do with your life?  I don’t know.  They’re just kind of drifting aimlessly all around.  They just try to coast through life.

When you’re coasting, you’ve heard me say this before, you’re always going down hill.  You never coast up a mountain.  Your life is going downhill if you’re coasting

Proverbs 17:24 NIV A discerning person keeps wisdom in view, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth 

•Good news Bible- “An intelligent man aims at wise action but a fool starts off in many directions.”

If -want your life to count- must settle your direction:

Must know exactly what you want…If you don’t decide what’s really important in your life other people will be glad to do it for you.

Philippians 3:12-14 The Message I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.

God says forget the past and press on

Ask: What is the FOCUS OF MY LIFE?

3. IT TAKES DISCIPLINE!          I must be willing to work!

I Corinthians 9:25 NIV – Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

•Living Bible – To win the contest you must deny yourselves many things that would keep you from doing your best. An athlete goes to all this trouble just to win a blue ribbon or a silver cup,[a] but we do it for a heavenly reward that never disappears.

These two words – discipline and self-denial – are not exactly popular words in the American culture.  

Discipline is what we need most and want the least in our lives.  Yet it is the thing that turns ability into achievement.  The difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is simply this: successful people are willing to do things and develop habits that unsuccessful people aren’t willing to do.  They’re not willing to pay the price.  That’s the difference.  It’s your choice.

•We want beautiful bodies without exercise. We want wealth without work. We want success without sacrifice.  We want spiritual maturity without service and study.  It is absolutely impossible.

Proverbs 13:4 LB – Lazy people want much but get little, while the diligent are prospering.

•The mark of a great achiever is personal discipline. The habits you establish today – determine tomorrow

The third question you have to ask yourself if you really want to succeed in life is Am I willing to pay the price?

4. IT TAKES DETERMINATION.      I must never give up! 

I Corinthians 9:27 NIV – No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

Paul: “I do whatever it takes to keep on going!! Nothing could keep him down. Whatever it takes I do that to keep going.  I am not going to stop in the middle of the race.  I’m not going halfway through and quit.  I’m going to make it to the finish line.  That’s determination.

I believe Success is achieved by ordinary people with extraordinary determination

Philippians 3:14 NIV – I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus

Persistence is the fourth key to winning.  Determination, diligence, endurance.  Great people are just ordinary people with an extraordinary amount of determination.  They don’t know how to quit.  Most people give up too soon.

Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV – Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Notice he says that in order to finish the race in life there are some things you have to let go of and there are some things you have to hold on to.  You’ve got to do them both and don’t get them confused.

ASK What is holding me back?  What is it that’s keeping me from becoming all that God wants me to be? past? addiction? relationship? habit? hurt?

The key: Keep your eyes on Jesus! Reason we give up too soon: We get distracted.

Remember the movie Chariots of Fire.  One of the dramatic scenes in that movie about the Olympics was where the coach of Abraham was scolding Abraham because in the race he was running and he was winning and then he could not stop the urge to look sideways to see if Little was coming up to catch him.  When he looked sideways Little passed him up and he lost the race.  The coach said, “Never take your eye off the goal!”  Don’t do it!  The moment you start looking at the competition you start looking sideways you’re dead in the water.  Don’t do it.

Paul refused to be sidetracked.

2 Tim 4:7 NIV – I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

What matters in life is not all the awards and the acclaims and the salaries and the perks and the onuses and getting your picture on the cover of some newspaper.  What matters is the eternal rewards which you will celebrate for eternity.

1 Corinthians 9:25 NIV – Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

Focus on running the race that God intends for you

One of the most dramatic ex. of determination: Derrick Redmon- 1992 Barcelona Olympics 400 m runner from Eng.- pulled hamstring  WATCH THIS: VIDEO

Catch what he said?

Derrick: “I felt an arm around me & I shrugged it off. But then my Father said my name!”

Father: “We started this together. We’ll finish it together.”

Derrick:”I’m glad he was there. Because he was the only 

person who could understand what I’ve been through.”

Sometimes the race of life is tough. You get hurt.

You feel like you cant go another step.  Worn out & discouraged.

o But your Heavenly Father is waiting to help.

o He calls your name & puts his arm around you.

o You lean on him… & he helps you finish the race!

Psalm 60:12 NIV – With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies. (“We can win with God’s help.” )

– We have no guarantee of tomorrow. – Whatever you’re going to do with your life- get on with it! Get on track with God today. The race starts with knowing Jesus.

“Dear God. I realize you made me for a purpose. You have a race for me to run. It is my desire to be what you meant me to be. Today, I’m asking you for direction. Jesus Christ, be my guide & lead me where you want me to go.  Please help me to be more disciplined.  Help me to let go of the things that hold me back. And help me to not get discouraged and give up when things get tough. Help me to keep my eyes on you Jesus. Father, I thank you that we  dont have to run the race of life alone.

Extraordinary Pt.3

ExtraOrdinary

Extraordinary Pt. 3 

You will never have an Extraordinary life until you change the way you think

Joke: A little girl once found a book in her home and asked her mom what it was. The mom replied, “It is God’s book, the Bible.” The little girl replied, “Why don’t we send it back to him…since we aren’t using it.” (Everyone say WOW)

Ephesians 2:10 AMP –  For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us].

“I think it’s possible for ordinary people to choose to be extraordinary.”

You are a remarkable person who has extraordinary qualities – You have more talent and abilities than you could use in 100 lifetimes. What you can do with your life from this day forward is limited ONLY by your Thinking or imagination

•Your brain contains about 100 billion neurons, each of which is connected to as many as 20,000 other cells in a complex network.

•This means that the possible thoughts and combinations of thoughts that you could think would be equal to the number one followed by 8 pages of zeros; this number is greater than all the molecules in the known universe.

•The only question is, “What are you thinking?” Are you ann optimist or pessimist?

Have you ever said, “What was I thinking?” Some people just don’t think right. 

Extraordinary – beyond unusual, exceptional, amazing, astonishing, astounding, sensational, stunning, incredible, unbelievable, phenomenal; or remarkable. (1) a very special thing (2) something ordinary with something extra

The quality of your thinking determines the quality of your life!

•The better you think, the better decisions you make. The better decision you make, the better actions you take. The better actions you take, the better the better results you get.

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,

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

Nothing limits extraordinary achievement like small thinking; Nothing expands possibilities like unleashed extraordinary thinking.

The truth is – some people have some stinking thinking (Mind viruses – A virus is a small infectious agent that replicates only inside the living cells of other organisms.), so nothing is working!

Mark Twain once said, “Take your mind out every now and then and dance on it. It is getting all caked up.”

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

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

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

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

1. It’s often the small things that no one sees that result in the extraordinary things everyone wants.

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

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

2. You life will always move in the direction of your strongest thoughts.

Proverbs 4:23 NIV – Above all else, guard your heart,for everything you do flows from it. (NCV “Be careful what you think because your thoughts run your life.”)

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

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

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

Our thoughts determine our destiny.

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

2 Functions of our mind

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

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

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

Einstein said, Logic will take you from A to B, but imagination will take you everywhere!

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

 a. Negative thoughts never lead to a Extraordinary positive life.

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

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

•Renewing your mind will Transform your life!

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

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

b. Unlock the power of possibility thinking.

Stop focusing on the impossibilities

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

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

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

Audrey Hepburn said, Nothing is impossible. The word itself says I’m Possible!”

3. Extraordinary thinking will change my life.

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

Philippians 4:8-9 NIV “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things… and the God of peace will be with you.

•Think true thoughts.

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

•Think powerful thoughts.

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

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

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

•Think pure thoughts.

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

•Think positive thoughts.

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

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

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

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

The Extraordinary thinker sees the opportunity in every difficulty!

•Think God thoughts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What to do with What you Think

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

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

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

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

Thoughts = Schemes

1. We are in a war for control of our thoughts.

(Ephesians 6:10-13 NLT) “A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.”

2. We take every thought captive.

(2 Corinthians 4:4 NIV) “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

3. We make every thought obedient to Christ.

(Philippians 4:7-8 NIV) “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything

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

Extraordinary Pt.2

ExtraOrdinary

Ephesians 2:10 AMP –  For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us].

Extraordinary – beyond unusual, exceptional, amazing, astonishing, astounding, sensational, stunning, incredible, unbelievable, phenomenal; or remarkable. (1) a very special thing (2) something ordinary with something extra

“Extraordinary achievers choose what losers won’t and pay the price that others don’t.”

Many people go through life with low self esteem, focusing on the negative, feeling inferior or inadequate, always dwelling some reason why they can’t be Extraordinary. Others put off being extraordinary till some future date:

•Someday, things will be better in my life

•Someday, I will be caught with my work long enough to enjoy making memories with my family

•Someday, I’ll earn more money, and I won’t have to worry about how I will pay the bills

•Someday, I’m going to get in better physical condition

•Someday, I’ll have a better relationship with God and enjoy more of His goodness

Unfortunately, “Someday” never comes – Today is the only day we have. We can’t do anything about the past, and we don’t know what the future holds. But we can start to be Extraordinary right now!

Psalm 118:24 ESV – This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

One of the greatest enemies in our culture today is the Entitlement mentality…The idea that somebody owes me something has created a society that is soft on personal responsibility for our own lives. When we realize that the world doesn’t owe us anything, we are then able to focus on the incredible potential that God put within us… uncover and release the greatness that’s within us!

To Be Extraordinary We must Form Better Habits 

It’s often the small things that no one sees that result in the big things everyone wants.

People do not decide their future. They decide their habits…and their habits decide their future.

Discipline is choosing between what you want now and what you want most.

Hebrews 12:11 NIV “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

I am your constant companion.

I am your greatest helper or heaviest burden.

I will push you onward or drag you down to failure.

I am completely at your command.

Half the things you do you might just as well turn over to me, and I will be able to do them quickly, correctly.

I am easily managed – you must merely be firm with me. Show me exactly how you want something done, and after a few lessons I will do it automatically.

I am the servant of all great people; and alas, of all failures as well. Those who are failures, I have made failures.

I am not a machine, though I work with all the precision of a machine plus the intelligence of a human being.

You may run me for a profit or turn me for ruin – it makes no difference to me.

Take me, train me, be firm with me, and I will place the world at your feet.

Be easy with me and I will destroy you.

Who am I? I AM HABIT.

You will never change your life until you change something you do daily.

H-A-B-I-T…When 95% of people hear this word, a negative thought pops up in their minds. Typically, most people think of a habit being negative. If there are negative habits that can destroy people’s lives then there are also positive habits that can build our lives.

The secret to your future lies in your daily habits so ask yourself right now, “Are my habits today going to help me achieve an extraordinary life?” Are they an asset or liability?

Habits – a usual way of behaving : something that a person does often in a regular and repeated way; a pattern of behavior. An acquired pattern of action that is so automatic it’s difficult too break. Habit comes from a Latin word which means to “hold” or “live in”.

The Roman poet Ovid said, “Nothing is stronger than habit.” Dr. Samuel Johnson, said, “Habits are chains that are too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.” Habits can become stronger than life itself. An old Spanish proverb says, “Habits begin like threads in a spider’s web, but end like the chains in a prison.”

Some people are always late, while others are never late

Some people always see the problems, while others always see the possibilities

Some people are predictable frowners, while others are predictable smilers

•the habit of making yourself look good

•the habit of giving up too early

•the habit of not telling the whole truth

•the habit of taking the easy way

•the habit of getting angry all the time

•the habit of blaming others for everything

•the habit of feeling sorry for yourself

•the habit of ducking your responsibilities

Do I need to go on? Have I named your bad habit yet? You must identify your bad habits and consider the long term implications. Be honest 

Success often depends on the habits you develop. The Greek philosopher Aristotle once said, We are what we repeatedly do.  Being Extraordinary…is not an act, but a habit.”

Habit is either the best of servants or the worst of masters

Isaiah 55:7-9 NIV – Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.8  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,”declares the Lord.9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Bad Habits are difficult to Break

Repeat anything long enough and it will start to become you.

Bad habits are easy to develop, and often hard to deal with and remove. The best time to deal with a bad habit is NOW! To delay only allows the habit to get entrenched deeper in our lives.

JC Penney said, The best way to stop a bad habit is never to begin it

•The results of your bad habits usually don’t show up until much later in life

A bad habit is something you find yourself doing even though it is destructive either physical, mentally, emotionally, relationally or spiritually. Or you consistently do something you wish you wouldn’t do, but you find yourself doing it any way.

Romans 7:15, 18-19, 20-21, 25 NIV 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[a] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. 21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature[a] a slave to the law of sin.

•Confused. •Conflicted. •Discouraged.

ILL. I heard the story of how elephants are brought into captivity. Have you ever been to a circus and seen a giant elephant with a small rope around its ankle? Did you ever stop to think, hey, wait a minute? Physically speaking, there is no way that small little rope can hold back that giant elephant! And did you ever wonder how it happened that a giant elephant could be held in place by something that does not have the power to contain him.

Here’s how it works. When trainers begin taming a baby elephant, they place a heavy chain around its ankle and stake the chain into the ground. Day after day, hour after hour, the baby elephant struggles to escape. But his efforts are in vain. He simply cannot break free from the grips of that powerful chain. Eventually he surrenders. He resolves in his mind that there is no possible way he can escape that chain. So he relinquishes forever the struggle to be free.

Then when he has given up trying, his masters replace that giant chain with the small little rope. If the elephant ever opened his eyes to the truth, he could break free at any moment. All it would take is one try, but since the elephant doesn’t know that, he doesn’t take a step in the right direction of freedom.

And so it happens that ten, twenty, thirty years later, the giant elephant remains held in bondage by something that really has no power to control him, except the power he chooses to give it.

Destructive, bad habits form unseen chains that make a slave out of you – and finally destroy you.

The Promise is: 

Galatians 5:1 ESV– For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

True freedom is not the right to do what I want but the power to do what I ought!

Romans 12:2 NIV– “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Harness the Power of a Good Habit – Bad habits must be replaced by good ones

It’s not so much that we break bad habits; we must replace them. 90% of our normal behavior is based on habits.

example– Worry needs replaced with trust in God, negative thoughts with faith filled positive thoughts

Ex: An old Cherokee tale tells of a grandfather teaching life principles to his grandson. The wise old Cherokee said Son on the inside of every person a battle is raging between 2 wolves. One wolf is evil… It’s angry, jealous, unforgiving, proud and lazy. The other wolf is good. It’s filled with love, kindness, generosity and self control… the 2 wolves are constantly fighting. The little boy thought about it and said Grandfather, which wolf is going to win? The grandfather smiled and said whichever one you feed.

Ephesians 4:17-24 NIV – So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Extraordinary People Have Extraordinary Habits

The fact is if you keep on doing things a certain way you will always get a predictable result. Negative habits breed negative consequences. Extraordinary habits create extraordinary rewards. 

•Luke 4:16 – Jesus had a habit of going to church every Sabbath

•Daniel 6:10 – Daniel had a habit of giving thanks to God in prayer three times a day

•Psalms 34:1 – David had a habit of praising God continually

When you change habits, by improving them, you literally change and improve your life. 

•A change of habit can change your financial position… you can be in a completely different position 3 months from now…

•A change of habit can put you in better relationships… (attend life group)

•A change of habit can change the atmosphere of your Home

•A change of habit can add incredible insight to your life… (reading books)

•A change of habit can add years to your life and increase the quality of your life…

OUR LIFE GETS BETTER WHEN WE GET BETTER. 

When you practice good habits you produce good fruit. (results) Good habits will make your life easier, more successful, and more productive.

Matt. 12:33 NIV “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.

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

Habits are like gravity; they will always pull you towards them.

First We make a Habit, then a Habit makes us

Nobody is going to compete in the Olympics without first embracing a lifestyle of Habit. Champions have champion habits.

If you want to rise above mediocrity…If you want to create a positive force that will move you towards massive success….then you must develop good habits.

(1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NIV) Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

(Hebrews 12:1 NIV) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,

“We sow our thoughts, and we reap our actions. We sow our actions and we reap our habits. We sow our habits, and we reap our character, and we reap our destiny.”

When You change your Habits, by replacing them, You literally improve your Life 

Bad habits are not one time experiences. When what you do repeatedly changes, your life changes

Life Style habits that change our lives when we change them:

Spending habits, driving habits, social habits, talking habits, dressing habits, eating and drinking habits, giving habits, reading habits, sexual habits, church attendance habits, and exercise habits.

If you could change one habit, what would you change? Whatever the answer is, make every effort to add to who you already are as a person

2 Peter 1:5-8 NIV – For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Never Stop Changing Never stop replacing Habit for Habit. Whenever negative habits are allowed to linger in our lives, they steal the possibilities of a new and extraordinary life!

It’s not what you HEAR that makes you extraordinary, It’s what you DO

Your life does not get better by chance. It gets better by CHANGE. Don’t be a victim of your habits.

James 1:22-25 ESV – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

Be careful of your thoughts, for your thoughts become words

Be careful of your words, for your words become actions.

Be careful of your actions, for your actions become habits.

Be careful of your habits, for your habits become your character/

Be careful of your character, for your character becomes your destiny.

Jesus Is…The Real Deal

Jesus Is_Screen

Jesus Is…The Real Deal

Gandhi once said, Jesus is ideal and wonderful, but you Christians – you are not like him.

Real Deal – True, exact, no fault, no fake, thrust worthy, clear, absolute. A person or thing considered to be a genuine or supremely good example of their kind

(1 Corinthians 2:1-2 Message) “You’ll remember, friends, that when I first came to you, I didn’t try to impress you with polished speeches and the latest philosophy. I deliberately kept it plain and simple: first Jesus and who he is; then Jesus and what he did.”

Pray – let the words of my mouth…

“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said wouldn’t be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on a level with a man who says he is a poached egg – or else he’d be the devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was and is the son of God, or else a madman or something worse.You can shut him up for a fool or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us.” – C.S. Lewis

Who do you say that He is?

(Mark 8:27-29 NIV) Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Christ.”

“The moment God is figured out with nice neat lines and definitions, we are no longer dealing with God.” ― Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith

The Search for Jesus

•Tradition

(Matthew 15:7-9 NIV) “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.”

•Intellect

(1 Corinthians 2:4-5 NIV) “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.”

•A personal Encounter

(John 9:17, 25 NIV) Finally they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him?” He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”

(2 Timothy 1:12 NIV) “…I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able…”

(2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV) “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

•The Proof of Jesus is not in an explanation but in a changed life

The Real Deal

John 1:14 ESV – And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 8:58 NIV “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”

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

1. “I am the bread of life.”

He offers real fulfillment.

(John 6:35 NIV) Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.”

“Jesus did not come to earth just to die, He came to teach us how to live”

Matthew 4:4 NIV – “Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

John 6:63 NIV –  “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.”

Truth is, I think, if God just gave us our daily bread, many of us would be angry. ‘That’s all you’re going to give me? You’re just going to give me enough to sustain me for today? What about tomorrow or next year or 10, 20, 30 years from now? I want to know that I’m set up.’ And yet Jesus says just pray for your daily provisions. Francis Chan 

We will never be more spiritual than we are scriptural. 

John 8:31-32 NIV – “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 5:39 NIV – You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me,

We must read & build our lives upon God’s Word. It is what will transform us

Matthew 7:24-27 NIV– “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

2. “I am the light of the world.”

He offers real forgiveness. 

 (John 8:12 NIV) When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Why? Because we are all sinners! Romans 3:23 — For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Jesus is not the man at the top of the stairs; He is the man at the bottom, the friend of sinners, the savior of those in need of one. Which is all of us, all of the time. Tullian Tchividjian

The Law reveals our Guilt, God love reveals God’s Grace, and the Light reveals Our Hope

The Fact of God’s Forgiveness

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.

The extent of God’s Forgiveness

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

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

Matthew 9:1-8 NIV – Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!”Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” Then the man got up and went home. When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to man.

• God is a greater savior than we are a sinner 

God’s power to save us is greater than our sin that condemns us”

3. “I am the Good Shepherd.”

He offers real guidance, provision, correction, and protection.

John 10:10-11 ESV The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

Four Challenges of being a Sheep

  1. Sheep get lost easily
  2. Sheep are defenseless
  3. Sheep are very stubborn
  4. Sheep are dirty

(Psalm 100:3 NIV) “Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.”

Let me tell you why I love this attribute of Jesus – b“Shepherd” is the same word used in Scripture for “Pastor” – Let me say it this way – Jesus is your Pastor

To have a shepherd literally means – We submit to the care of Him as our Pastor

It’s good to have a pastor – even a pastor needs a pastor – I have those in place in my life – Jesus has been shepherding/pastoring me – When I am struggling or having tough days I know he is my Shepherd!

We still need a regular pastor too – Bible calls me a shepherd – I put this verse in your notes too. Written to pastors…

(1 Peter 5:2-4 NIV)  “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers–not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.”

But Jesus is the Chief Shepherd – I want you to know Him in this way – I want you to voluntarily put yourself under His care – Let me pastor you – but look to Him as your Chief Pastor

Psalm 23 is probably one of the most famous – most quoted Psalms – A lot of us grew up memorizing this – This famous passage is all about Jesus – Describes the qualities of a shepherd – Let’s say the whole Psalm aloud together…

(Psalm 23:1-6 NKJV)  “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

4. “I am the resurrection and the life.”

He offers a real future.

(John 11:25-26 NIV) Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Our Future – Heaven

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

“Heaven doesn’t make this life less important, it makes it more important.”
– Billy Graham

I John 2:15-17 NIV – Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father[a] is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

C.S. LEWIS 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.”

C.S. Lewis also 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”

Paul set his sights on heaven with enthusiastic expectation 

II Timothy 4:7-8 NIV– I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing

Phil. 3:20 NIV– “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Hebrews 12:1-4 (NIV)Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

Altar call – Only through repentance and faith in Christ can anyone be saved. No religious activity will be sufficient, only true faith in Jesus Christ alone.

One way to define spiritual life is getting so tired and fed up with yourself you go on to something better, which is following Jesus. Eugene H. Peterson

Spiritual Priorities: How Should We Live

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Spiritual Priorities: How Should We Live

Introduction: Beware Of Terrorist Groups In Church

Latest news reports are that five terrorist cell groups have been operating in many of our churches.

They have been identified as: Bin Sleepin, Bin Arguin, Bin Fightin, Bin Complainin, and Bin Missin. Their leader, Lucifer Bin Workin, trained these groups to destroy the Body of Christ.The plan is to come into the church disguised as Christians. and to work within the church to discourage, disrupt, and destroy.

However, there have been reports of a sixth group. A tiny cell known by the name Bin Prayin, is actually the only effective counter terrorism force in the church. Unlike other terrorist cells, the Bin Prayin team does not blend in with whoever and whatever comes along. Bin Prayin does whatever is needed to uplift and encourage the Body of Christ.

We have noticed that the Bin Prayin cell groups has different characteristics than the others. They have Bin Watchin, Bin Waitin, Bin Fastin, and Bin Longin for their Master, Jesus Christ to return.

NO church is exempt, however, you can spot them if you bin lookin and bin goin!!

TEXTS:

1 John 2:6 LB Anyone who says he’s a Christian should live as Christ did.”

I Peter 2:21 NIV “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.”   WWJD?

This decision and opportunity of Spiritual formation and maturity happens over a lifetime, not overnight – We grow like oak trees, not dandelions.

What does it mean to be a Christian?

  1. Jesus explained what it meant to be a Christian in Matthew 16:24 (NLT). He said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross, and follow me.” 
    1. Put aside your selfish ambition – The desires we naturally have are in opposition to that which God desires (Gal. 5:16-17). But the Holy Spirit makes us a new person (2 Cor. 5:17) and gives us new desires (Rom. 8:9).
    2. Shoulder (Carry) your cross – The cross as a vivid pic that the disciples fully understood. To take up your cross meant to face death spiritually & possibly physically. Our sinful way of life dies (Rom. 6:6, Gal. 5:24) and Christ’s new life lives in us (Gal. 2:20). And for some, following Christ would cost them their lives physically.
      1. To sacrifice is to give up something for the sake of something else that is much better.
      2. What is my cross? The place of our greatest pain
    3. Follow me – To be a Christian, we must follow Christ. We must act the way he acted. We must speak the way he spoke. We must love the way he loved. He is the Ultimate example of life.
      1. Jesus came not just to teach us how to be “spiritual” but how to live as a human (purpose of the incarnation)
      2. Embrace God’s will no matter what the cost

2 Reasons People Don’t Become Christians

1. The’ve never met one    2. They have met one

I love Jesus, but sometimes “Christians” frustrate me. Why? They fight & argue about the dumbest things. Too judgmental, act holier than thou, incredibly condescending.

Ghandi said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” 

Dear Christian: Don’t load Bible verses like bullets in your gun to fire at your theological opponents. Scripture is too sacred for that!

How Should We Live?

Matt. 11:29 MSG – “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.”

1. Live With Humility 

Humility – Modest opinion of one’s own importance or rank. To lower oneself; lowly; abasing yourself, “down to earth”.

Humility – The discipline of putting others ahead of self -the choice to value others above self – its a matter of faith

Matt. 5:3 NLT “God blesses those who realize their need for him…”

It recognizes how inadequate we are by ourselves.

James 4:10 NIV “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up”. 

People who are not humble think they know everything, no one can correct them, and they believe they have the answers to everything

Proverbs 16:18 ESV – Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

2. Live With Simplicity 

Freedom from complexity. We live mismanaged lifestyles

Luke 12:15 NIV “Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

•We have become slaves to our belongings – St Francis of Assisi insisted that true freedom lies in the abundance of life, not the abundance of possessions. Many times those possessions that we have acquired exercise power over us.

Matt. 16:26 NLT “How do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your soul in the process? Is anything worth more than your soul?”

Living simply means that we carefully examine what it means to fully live. How? By focusing our efforts on things that are true, beautiful, and essential. Like Faith, Family, Healthy, Friends, and our Church, our Community

Psalms 131:1-2 MSG – God, I’m not trying to rule the roost, I don’t want to be king of the mountain. I haven’t meddled where I have no business or fantasized grandiose plans. 2 I’ve kept my feet on the ground, I’ve cultivated a quiet heart. Like a baby content in its mother’s arms, my soul is a baby content.

•’I think the devil has made it his business to monopolize on 3 elements: noise, hurry, crowds… Satan is quite aware of the power of silence.”

•”The Value of our western culture demands us to be busy…”

Eccl. 7:29 – “God made man simple: man’s complex problems are of his own devising”

“To much clutter in your mind leaves insufficient room for devotion to Christ” Remember – Your NO to others will soon translate into a YES for God!

3. Live With Faith

Potentiality for favorable or interesting results.

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

“The life of faith is not a life of mounting up with wings, but a life of walking and not fainting.” ―Oswald Chambers

Matt. 19:26 NLT “With God everything is possible.”

Mark 9:23 NIV “Everything is possible for him who believes.” 

“Our faith develops out of the most difficult aspects of our existence, not the easiest.” Eugene Peterson

•Believing when I donʼt see it. 

  (Hebrews 11:1 NIV)  “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and 

certain of what we do not see.” 

•Obeying when I donʼt understand it. 

(Hebrews 11:7 NLT)  “It was by faith that Noah built an ark to save 

his family from the flood.  He obeyed God, who warned him about 

something that had never happened before.” 

•Persisting when I donʼt feel like it. 

(Hebrews 11:27 NIV)  “By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the kingʼs 

anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.” 

“In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins.  Not through strength, but through persistence.”- Unknown

“Feelings are notorious liars, especially in matters of faith.” Eugene Peterson

Trusting if I donʼt get it. 

(Hebrews 11:39-40 NIV)  “They were all commended for their faith yet 

none of them received what had been promised.  God had planned 

something better…”

”Faith is to believe what we do not see; and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe” –Augustine

•The law of faith is the greatest law in the Word of God. Believe and ye shall receive.

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

4. Live With Love

C.S. Lewis said, “If you love deeply, you’re going to get hurt badly. But it’s still worth it.”

I Cor. 13:1 NIV – “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge…but have not love, I am nothing.”

•The more spiritual you become, the more love you will show to others.

Matt 5:44 MSG “I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer.”

Luke. 6:37 NIV”Do not judge, and you’ll not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

When grace is pierced, it bleeds pardon. When grace is crucified, it doesn’t condemn.

“Love deems this world worth rescuing.” – Philip Yancey

•Love takes no account of the evil done to it. Love does not filter its current emotional state through the screen of past hurts and offenses. Instead, it shows the grace and forgiveness of the Lord Jesus Christ who loved us while we were yet sinners, even suffering the shame of the cross

What really happens when we are critical towards people: “Criticism is the disapproval of people, not for having faults, but having faults different from your own.”

Love is ever ready to believe the best of every person. Natural human love requires a person to prove themselves before love is given. However, Christ-like love offers itself to those who are both lovable and unlovable. Instead of assuming the worst, it tirelessly looks for the best in others. True love hopes all things and lives with an expectant faith towards others.

In Jesus parable, the rich man ends up in hell, not bc he failed to believe the right things, but bc he failed to love Lazarus. @BrianZahnd

(1 Corinthians 14:1 LB) “Make love your greatest aim…”

How?

•Accept others unconditionally.

(Romans 15:7 NIV) “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted

you, in order to bring praise to God.”

•Encourage others continually.

(1 Corinthians 13:7 LB) “If you love someone…you will always believe

in him, and always expect the best of him…”

•Serve people cheerfully.

(1 Peter 4:10 NIV) “Each one should use whatever gift he has received

to serve others…”

•Forgive others freely.

(Colossians 3:13 NIV) “Bear with each other and forgive whatever

grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

“Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a permanent attitude.” Martin Luther King

•It is useless to meet revenge with revenge: it will heal nothing. FRODO.

Choose to be kind and compassionate rather than critical and condemning. Decide to build up instead of tear down.

I HAVE DECIDED TO LIVE AS CHRIST LIVED:

To follow the example set by Christ.

(1 Corinthians 11:1) Follow my example, as I follow the example of

Christ.

(1 John 2:4 LB) Someone may say, “I am a Christian; I am on my

way to heaven; I belong to Christ.” But if he doesn’t do what Christ

tells him to, he is a liar.

To declare my commitment publicly.

(Matthew 10:32-33) “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will

also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever

disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.”

Developing a Meaningful Quiet Time with God Part 2

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Developing a Meaningful Quiet Time with God Part 2

Matthew 11:28-29 The Msg – “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.”

I. Why Should we have a Quiet Time?

1. Because we need fellowship with God

Martin Luther, the Father of the Reformation once said, “I have so much to do today that I must spend at least 3 hours in prayer.” – The busier he was, the more time he needed with God.

If you are too busy to a quiet time, then you’re too busy.

”I just don’t have the time” is the excuse we hear so often. Every person has exactly the same amount of time each week – 168 hours. 

-You make time for things that are important

-You don’t have time for everything – you must make time for things that count. It’s not a matter of time, it’s a matter of priorities.

Matthew 6:33 ESV – But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

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. It’s your number 1 spiritual priority.

2. Because we give devotion to God

Quiet time with God is to Give to God, not to get

Psalm 29:2 ESV – Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;

    worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.

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.

Why people leave – “Im just not getting much out of it anymore. I need more…” Christianity has become a self centered religion.

God seeks our worship 

John 4:23 ESV – But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.

3. Because we gain tremendous benefits from it

God has promised many things to those who take the time to get to know Him through prayer and His word.

Here are the results:

1. Joy – The most joyful christians are those who meet with God daily.

Psalm 16:11 ESV – You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

2. Strength – We get our spiritual batteries recharged and gain perspective as an eagle

Isaiah 40:29-31 ESV – He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. 30 Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; 31 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.

3. Peace – We have peace when we know that God is in control of all things.

Isaiah 26:3 ESV – You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you

4. Stability – When we have regular time of prayer, worship, and Bible reading, our lives become stable.

Psalm 16:8-9 ESV – I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. 9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being[a] rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure.

5. Answered Prayer – As we spend quality time with God daily, we claim this promise and be assured of our prayers being answered.

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

6. Success – The only promise of success in the Bible is connected to the condition of daily meditation on the Word of God

Joshua 1:8 ESV – This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

II. How to Have a Meaningful Time with God 

•Start with the Proper Attitudes

In God’s eyes, why you do something is far more important than what you do.

I Samuel 16:7 ESV – But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

It is quite possible to do the right thing with the wrong attitude. This was Amaziah’s problem

2 Chronicles 25:2 ESV And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, yet not with a whole heart.

If you want to have a meaningful time with God, you should have these attitudes:

1. Expectancy. Come before God with anticipation and eagerness. Expect to have a good time of friendship with Him and receive a blessing from your time together. That was what David expected:

Psalm 63:1 ESV – O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

2. Reverence. Don’t rush into God’s presence, but prepare your heart by being still before Him and letting the quietness clear away the thoughts of the world. Listen to the prophet Habakkuk:

Habakkuk 2:20 ESV – But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.”

Coming into the presence of the Lord is not like going to a football game or some other form of entertainment.

3. Alertness. Get wide-eyed awake first. Remember that you are meeting with the Creator, the Maker of Heaven and earth, the Redeemer of men. Be thoroughly rested and alert. The best preparation for a quality time with God in the morning begins the night before. Get to bed early so you will be in good shape to meet with God in the morning.

4. Willingness to Obey. This attitude is crucial: you don’t come to your time with God to choose what you will do or will not do, but with the purpose of doing anything and everything that God wants you to do. Jesus said,

John 7:17 ESV  If anyone’s will is to do God’s[a] will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking the on my own authority.

So come to meet the Lord having already chosen to do His will no matter what.

•Select a Specific Time

The specific time has to do with when you should have your quiet time and how long it should be. The general rule is this: The best time is when you are at your best! Give God the best part of your day—when you are the freshest and most alert. Don’t try to serve God with your leftovers (leftover time). Remember, too, that your best time may be different from someone else’s.

Early Morning? In the morning our minds are uncluttered from the day’s activities. Our thoughts are fresh, we’re rested, tensions have not yet come to us, and it’s usually the quietest time

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.

In the Evening? If you are a night person, have your time with God in the evening. The point is God deserves your full attention, not your leftovers. Whatever time you set, be consistent in it. Schedule it on your calendar;

Matthew 14:23 ESV –  And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,

The Call to prayer – Church bells & the Muslim Adhan (islamic temple next to my hotel while in china – 5am, 5 times a day)

In the first century church after Christ went to heaven – ancient christian practice instructed believers to pray the Lord’s prayer 3 times daily (morning, noon, and night). (The Didache)

Luke 11:1-6 ESV – Now Jesus[a] was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. 3 Give us each day our daily bread,[b]4 and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.”

We don’t just read the Lord’s prayer – we pray it! 

“How much time should I spend with the Lord?” 

If you’ve never had a consistent quiet time before, you may want to start with 7-10 minutes and let it grow naturally. You should aim to eventually spend not less than 15 minutes a day with the Lord. Out of 168 hours we all have during a given week, 1 hour and 45 minutes seems terribly small… especially when you consider that you were created to have a relationship (fellowship) with God.

•Choose a Special Place

The location where we have our time with God is important. The Bible indicates that Abraham had a regular place where he met with God

Genesis 19:27 ESV – And Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the Lord.

Jesus had a custom of praying in the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives.

Luke 22:39 ESV – And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him.

Your place ought to be a secluded place. This is a place where you can be alone, where it’s quiet, and where you will not be disturbed or interrupted. In today’s noisy world, this may take some ingenuity, but it is necessary. It ought to be a place…

• where you can pray aloud without disturbing others.

• where you have good lighting for reading (perhaps a desk).

• where you are comfortable. (WARNING: Do not have your time with God in bed, that’s too comfortable!)

Your place ought to be a special place. Wherever you decide to meet with the Lord, make it a special place for you and Him.

Your place ought to be a sacred place. This is where you meet with the living God. You don’t have to be in a church building. People have had their quiet times in their cars parked in a quiet place, in a special room or an empty closet at home, in their backyards or a local park, and even in a baseball dugout. Each of these places has become sacred to them.

•Follow a Simple Plan – a Liturgy

Liturgy is a Bible word. It means worship or minister. It means work of the people. Worship and devotion is not a kind of spiritual entertainment, worship is a work of spiritual formation.

Liturgy is simply your pattern of worship and prayer.

Some people say Liturgy is dead and dry? Brian Zhand in his book “Water to Wine” said, “Liturgy is neither alive nor dead. Liturgy is either true or false. What is alive or dead is the worshiper. So what we need is a true liturgy and a living worshiper.”

Someone has said, “If you aim at nothing, you are sure to hit it!” To have a meaningful quiet time, you will need a plan or some kind of general outline to follow. The main rule is this: Keep it simple.

You should obtain the following items for your planned times with God:

  • A Bible—a clear, modern translation with good print.
  • A notebook—for writing down what the Lord shows you, and for making a prayer list.
  • A Devotional or Prayer book – To read brief devotions to draw you closer to God. To pray established prayers that will that will spiritually form you.

When I enter into time with God what I want and need is a true track that I can follow. I don’t want to depend solely on myself. That’s why I follow a liturgy of prayer.

•It’s not empty; it’s full of sacred truth

•It’s not dry; It’s as fresh as the Holy Spirit

•The locomotive may be full of steam but the train still needs the track.

My Morning Liturgy (devotion, quiet time) goes as follows

  1. I spend time in silence. Being still before God. Listening…Waiting…
  2. I pray prayers – I use prayers from the Book of Common Prayer, The Divine hours, The Valley of Vision. Prayer of confession of sin, The Lord’s Prayer, The Apostle’s Creed, and the Psalms (Jesus prayed the Psalms)
  3. I read selections of Scriptures from either the gospels, epistles, and/or old testament – Lectio Divina (sacred reading) – read aloud quietly. this helps you concentrate
  4. Meditate on the text or a verse you have read – memorize, reflect and remember (YouVersion of the Bible gives you a verse of the day)
  5. Journal and write down what God speaks to you about, thoughts revealed to you.
  6. Prayer – After God has spoken to you through His Word, speak to Him in prayer. This is your part of the conversation with the Lord, the time you make your requests known to God, time of praying in the Spirit

Conclusion

What if you miss a day? Don’t worry about it if it happens occasionally. Don’t go on a guilt trip. “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). Don’t get legalistic, because missing one day does not make it flop. Just don’t give up! If you miss a meal, it does not mean that you should give up eating because you’re inconsistent. You simply eat a little more at the next meal and go on from there. The same principle is true with your time with God.

Psychologists tell us that it usually takes three weeks to get familiar with some new task or habit; it takes another three weeks before it truly becomes a habit. The reason why many people are not successful in the times with God is because they have never made it past that six-week barrier. For your quiet time to become a habit, you must have had one daily for at least six-weeks.

A PRAYER OF COMMITMENT

“Lord I commit myself to spending a definite time with You every day, no matter what the cost. I am depending on Your strength to help me to be consistent.”

Recommended Prayer Books

Celtic Daily Prayer Book

 Common Prayer

The Daily Hours Manual for Prayer – Phyllis Tickle

The Valley of Vision Puritan Prayer book 

 

Spiritual Priorities: Developing a Meaningful Quiet Time with God Part 1

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Developing a Meaningful Quiet Time with God Part 1

Christianity is not a legal relationship, it is a love relationship. Ten thousand “don’ts” will never make you one iota more like the Lord Jesus Christ. The key is spending time with him.

Matthew 11:28-29 The Msg – “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.”

Rob Bell said, “Busy is a drug that a lot of people are addicted to”

We are so busy with a million pursuits that we don’t even notice the most important things slipping away. We are overwhelmed by the pace of life – 24/7 nonstop – it’s the mantra of our culture.

•We live in a very tense, uptight and fast paced world filled with stress.  We are frazzled, overwhelmed, complexed, & bewildered. We have heavier work loads, greater demands, higher stress than ever before, and we are busy busy busy.

Our need – Meaningful Quiet time with God 

E.M. Bounds once said, “The men who have most fully illustrated Christ in their characters, and have most powerfully affected the world for Him, have been men who spent so much time with God as to make it a notable feature in their lives. TO BE LITTLE WITH GOD IS TO BE LITTLE FOR GOD.”

I’ve never met a spiritually strong Christian who does not have a consistent meaningful time with the Lord. I’ve met excited Christians who soar with the eagles for a couple of weeks, only to come crashing down because they did not establish the routine of getting into God’s word and praying. It may not seem as exciting to create a routine (almost as exciting as eating right or exercising), but if you want to be a growing Christian, it is essential.

Here’s the fact – Thomas Merton said, “We do not want to be beginners. But let us be convinced of the fact that we will never be anything else but beginners, all our life!”

•YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD IS MEANT to grow. 

•SPIRITUAL GROWTH IS A LIFE-LONG journey. 

•DEVELOPING TIME WITH GOD WILL HELP YOU GROW on your own.

I Timothy 4:7 ESV – Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness;

The word for “train” is the word “discipline” here in the original language. It’s the word we get “gymnasium” from. The Lord is telling us, “If you want to be godly, if you want to be a strong Christian, then you’ve got to attack it the same way you attack physical exercise.” The walk of faith, It is a discipline, it is a training, plain and simple.

What is a Quiet Time?

It is an appointment with God, a block of time chiseled out of your day and set apart for God, a time of private worship. Think of it as a date with God; a time for just the two of you. Sometimes we call it “having a devotion,” “an appointment with God,” “meeting with God.” This simply means we are making time for God in our day.

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.

Solitary – being alone

The Gospel of Mark tells us that Jesus made time with God a priority. If Jesus needed to spend meaningful time with God, don’t you think that we need it even more?

1. A Time of Silence and Solitude

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

The busyness of things obscures our concentration on God … Never let a hurried lifestyle disturb the relationship of abiding in Him. This is an easy thing to allow, but we must guard against it.—Oswald Chambers

Solitude – the state or situation of being alone or uninhabited place. privacy, peace.

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

Teresa of Avila said, “Settle yourself in solitude and you will come upon Him in yourself.”

It causes us to look within first

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

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

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

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

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

Sometimes silence involves the absence of speech but it always involves the act of listening. A heart that listens to God.

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

When God seems silent it could mean that he wants u to be silent so he can speak to you. (Like Elijah)

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)

Ecclesiastes 5:1-2 ESV – Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. [b] Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Happens When I Spend Time With God?

1. The first thing that happens is that God changes my heart.

Psalms 51:10 ESV says, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right[a] spirit within me.” 

Create – describes the work of God, not something you do but God does.

Through Christ’s sacrifice for you and for me, we can be forgiven of our sins, standing before God as clean as if we had never sinned. When we spend time with God, He shows us those areas we must confess as sin, prompting us to ask forgiveness, and then He is able to cleanse us. He changes our hearts.

2. The second thing that happens is that God gives us direction for living.

Romans 8:14 ESV “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons[a] of God.” 

If we are His children, we can expect to be led by the Spirit of God. How are we going to get direction? By spending time talking to Him (through prayer), and through listening to Him (through His Word). This is the essence of a quiet time. When we spend time with Him, we get a different perspective on life.

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.”

How do we listen to that “other voice”? 

Psalm 119:105 ESV Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

God will enlighten our path and show us which way to go as we spend time in His Word.

3. The third thing that happens is there is a growing awareness of His presence during those difficult times.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ESV  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

How is God going to be able to comfort us, if we don’t spend time with Him?

Ending: You Can be friends with God

John 15:13-15 ESV – Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants,[a] for the servant[b] does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you

We are no longer in the dark as to what our Master is doing, but we have been graciously invited into the inner circle—the divine circle in this case—and privileged with the knowledge of what our Master is feeling, thinking, and doing.

Everything that Jesus has heard from his Father he has willingly made known to us. To open up your heart to someone, as God has done with us, is a gesture of friendship.

I Corinthians 1:9 ESV – God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord

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

Jesus has left his palace, moved across town, lived in the slums, and has rescued us for himself, so that we might enjoy his presence in friendship. Surely we can set aside time to be alone with him!

In Charles Dickens’s Tale of Two Cities there is a wonderful illustration of the extent to which Christ went to secure a friendship with us. In the story, Charles Darnay and Sydney Carton are two people who become close friends. Darnay happens to be thrown into a dungeon and faces the guillotine the next morning. Carton, on the other hand, a lawyer by profession, has piddled away his life through loose living in England. Carton hears of Darnay’s predicament and through a series of circumstances gets himself into the prison and the cell where Darnay is being held. He changes garments with Darnay and the next morning faces the guillotine while his friend Carton escapes to freedom. “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends!” Dickens even quotes this passage. So is Christ’s love for his friends!

I John 2:1-2 NIV – My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. 

Say YES to Jesus

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.”

Spiritual Priorities: The Sacrament of Communion

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The Sacrament of Communion

Exodus 12:26-27 ESV –  And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ 27 you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.’” And the people bowed their heads and worshiped.

Luke 22:15-20 ESV – And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you I will not eat it[a] until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. 18 For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

I Corinthians 5:7 ESV – …For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrifice

•Most Christians know that there is somewhat of a correlation between the Passover of the Old Testament and Communion in the New Testament.

Passover – Instituted when God was about to deliver Israel out of Egyptian bondage.

Communion – Instituted when God was about to deliver us from the bondage of sin.

Passover – A lamb without blemish was slain and sacrificed.

Communion – Jesus was identified as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

Passover – They were spared from death when they applied the blood to the door frames.

Communion – We are saved from the penalty of sin when we apply the blood by faith.

Introduction

The word Communion means:  A having in common; A partnership; A fellowship recognized and enjoyed; The share which one has in anything (Koinonia)

Communion is related to the words common and communication. The very word Communion implies being with someone. Communion is a celebration that binds people together. It is meant to be done together. It has to be done in community. all kinds of people together.

The Church, the community of Faith is God saying: “I’m throwing a dinner, all you mismatched, messed up people are invited. Here, have some wine, eat some bread! Taste and see that the Lord is good! Enjoy!”

Karl Barth said, “Holy Communion is offered to all, as surely as the living Jesus Christ is for all, as surely as all of us are not divided in him, but belong together as brothers and sisters, all of us poor sinners, all of us rich through his mercy. Amen.” 

Communion is God transforming ordinary things into sacred, holy things – scraps of food into a feast and empty vessel into gallons of fine wine – communion says you are welcomed here God always is and is ever enough! 

Today this meal is known by many names – mass, holy communion, the Eucharist (Thanksgiving), the Lord’s Supper, The Table of the Lord, and is practiced in a myriad of ways. For some it marks the climax of every weekly gathering, for others it is observed just a few times a year.

The bread may come as a hot loaf straight out of the oven, an oyster cracker nestled in the palm, or a thin wafer consecrated by a priest and placed directly on the tongue. The wine may be served from an ornamental chalice, a bottle passed around the table, or in rings of little plastic cups – the wine may even be grape juice.

The elements and the meal are identified in different ways – the body of Christ, broken; the blood of Christ, shed; the Bread of heaven, the cup of salvation, the mystery of faith, the supper of the Lamb, or the cup of blessing.

JRR Tolkien said, “Out of the darkness of my life, so much frustrated, I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament … There you will find romance, glory, honour, fidelity, and the true way of all your loves upon earth.” 

What is the Lord’s Supper? 

1. It’s a Reminder

I Corinthians 11:23-24 ESV – For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for[a] you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

Remember what? 

“Remember” How God became one of us (John 1:1)? Remember how God ate with us and drank with us? Remember how God suffered for us, and died for us, and gave his life for the world? Remember, you are loved? Remember you are welcomed? Remember? Remember?

John 6:35 ESV – Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

Bread is considered a staple food—i.e., a basic dietary item. A person can survive a long time on only bread and water. Bread is such a basic food item that it becomes synonymous for food in general.

First, by equating Himself with bread, Jesus is saying he is essential for life. Second, the life Jesus is referring to is not physical life, but eternal life. Third, and very important, Jesus is making another claim to deity. This statement is the first of the “I AM” statements in John’s Gospel. The phrase “I AM” is the covenant name of God (Yahweh, or YHWH), revealed to Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3:14).

•The two disciples walking with Jesus on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35)

-Jesus was in another form – was not recognized by them. Disappointed.

-At Emmaus, they had bread.  Jesus blessed, and broke it and the bread hit the table and Jesus was gone. But the bread remained. (Don’t miss that) They knew it was Jesus.

Interesting to note also that the word “Bethlehem” in Hebrew means “house of bread”. Jesus used the word “bread” to refer to that when He said, “Man shall not live by bread alone.” Remember, Christ satisfies ALL hunger

Remember, Jesus is present with us as Bread on this table – We think God is a diety in a temple. It turns out that he is bread and wine at a table.

2. It’s a Symbol

I Corinthians 11:25 ESV In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

French philosopher Voltaire and American President John Adams are famous for their criticisms of Christianity because they thought it was a “bloody religion,” with all its wars, its frequent mention of blood, and the bloody death of its founder, Jesus Christ.

a. We gain bold access to God in worship and prayer

Hebrews 10:19 ESV – Therefore, brothers,[a] since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus,

“If the Cross is God’s masterpiece of His love, then the Eucharist is the centerpiece of our worship.”

•The Bible is clear that every person is alienated and separated from God because of our sin (Colossians 1:21).

•If you are a Christian today, you can have boldness and confidence as you approach God with your prayers and your worship, because you are no longer far away from God, “Now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been made near by the blood of Christ(Ephesians 2:13).

b. Forgiveness of sin

Ephesians 1:7 ESV – In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,

•He said, “For this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28).  He was telling His disciples that just as the blood of the lamb delivered the Hebrews from the night of terrors in Egypt, so Christ’s own blood would deliver the people who were covered by it from the judgment of God on the last day.

•The hymn, “Nothing But the Blood”

3. It’s a Statement of Faith

I Corinthians 11:26 ESV For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

Christianity is a confession, not an explanation. Listen, we will attempt to explain what we legitimately can, but we will always confess more than we can explain.

The Apostles Creed – I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord: Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

Fact: I fully confess that Jesus will come again! When we take communion we are saying We believe that, even if we don’t know how to explain it.

•Mystery is good for theology. Mystery is good for the soul. Christianity is a sacred mystery.

“The Lord’s Supper is a link between the Lord’s first coming and His second coming.”  Frederic Godet

What will I do?

I Corinthians 11:27-28 ESV – Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup

1. Examine Myself

Psalms 139:23-24 ESV – Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts![a]24 And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

Some people read this and begin to get under all kinds of condemnation.  “I’m so unworthy.  I missed it this past week.  I don’t deserve to take communion.”

examine – to observe carefully or critically, to inspect, to study, to analyze.

Having sinned does not disqualify a person from taking communion.  If it did, none would qualify.  This table is not for perfect people!

One commentator said: “If the table of Christ were only for perfect people none might ever approach it.  The way is never closed to the repentant sinner.  To the man who loves God and his fellow men the way is very open, and his sins, though they be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow.” (William Barclay)

I Corinthians 11:29-31 ESV29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.[a] 31 But if we judged[b] ourselves truly, we would not be judged.

Examining yourself is certainly not the same as condemning yourself.

Examine yourself…in the light of God’s love and mercy, in the light of His shed blood, in the light of His word

If you see an area where you need to make an adjustment, make it.  But know that God is for you, not against you. He wants to help you overcome, not condemn you, for having fallen short!

James 1:23-25 NIV – Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

•Mirror – reflects, reveals

2. Confess my Sins

I John 1:9 ESV – If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

One of the things we see at communion is ourselves – betrayal, sin, doubt, unbelief were all there at the table that night during the Lord’s supper. We all have the capacity to betray, abandon, and sin against Christ.

Communion reminds us to confront and confess our sins, and repent! (Turn away from sin and to Christ with a change of heart & mind)

Sin is living independently of God’s standard, missing the mark, taking a wrong turn – knowing what is right, but choosing what is wrong. It’s the one thing we all have in common but no one wants to talk about.

Consequences of Sin – Spiritual death, eternal separation from God

We take communion not because we are perfect, but because we are not. We have not arrived but we are traveling. We are not right. We are wrong. We are not divine, We are human. We are not full, but we are hungry.

Romans 6:23 NIV For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in[a] Christ Jesus our Lord. 

Jesus is a greater savior than we are a sinner!

There is hope! The Gospel has the hope. Jesus died on the cross to personally pay the penalty for our sins.

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

I John 2:1-2 NIV – My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. 

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

Confession of Sin

Most Merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you, in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; We are truly sorry and we humbly depend. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. In Jesus Name. Amen

Psalms 103:8-12 ESV – The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. 9 He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. 10  He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.11  For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;12 as far as the east is from the west,so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

3. Recommit My Life to God

Romans 12:1 NIV – Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship

Communion invites us to the Table of God. There we make things right.

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.”

Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending!

Romans 8:1-2 NIV –  1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a] free from the law of sin and death.

Any hope for you? YES!

Acts 2:36-39 ESV – Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

Rusty and Band – sing Doxology as the congregation stands and walks to the front to get communion 

Communion liturgy

Jesus said: I am the bread of life.

All who come to me shall not hunger,

and all who believe in me shall not thirst.

With Christians around the world

and throughout the centuries,

we gather around these symbols

of bread and wine—simple elements

that speak of nourishment and transformation.

Let us pray.

Loving God, we thank you 

that you are as close to us as breath, 

that your love is constant and unfailing.

We thank you for all that sustains life, 

and especially for Jesus Christ,

who teaches us how to live out 

an ethic of justice and peace,

and for the promise of transformation

made manifest in his life, death and resurrection.

We ask you to bless this bread and this cup.

Through this meal, make us the body of Christ,

that we may join with you in promoting the well-being of all creation. Amen.

We remember on the night

when Jesus and the disciples

had their last meal together,

Jesus took the bread, gave thanks,

and gave it to the disciples,

saying “This is my body, 

which is broken for you. 

Take and eat it, and as often as you do, remember me.”

[Distribution of the bread.]

In the symbol of the broken bread, we participate in the life of Christ

and dedicate ourselves

to being his disciples.

In the same way he took the cup,

and after giving thanks

he gave it to the disciples, saying:

Drink this, all of you. 

This cup is the new covenant,

poured out for you and for many

Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.

[Distribution of the wine.]“

In the symbol of the cup, we participate in the new life Christ brings.

Let us pray. We give thanks, loving God,

that you have refreshed us at your table.

Strengthen our faith; 

increase our love for one another.

As we have been fed by the seed that became grain, and then became bread, may we go out into the world to plant seeds of justice, transformation, and hope. Amen.

Bless One Another – A beautiful expression of worship, unity, forgiveness, and strength 

“The peace of Christ be with you – and also with you”