Unshakeable Peace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Thorns

Then to the Praetorium – Military headquarters for Roman guards

The guards mocked & messed with Jesus for hours

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

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

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

Thorns about 1 inch that were forced into his head

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

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

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

Through the thorns he brought us peace 

  • He was punished; We have peace. 

Why?  He took the punishment that brought us peace

That punishment gave power to restore our mind

Many people misunderstand this peace

Jesus did not come to earth to bring peace

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

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

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

Trouble

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

  • Confusion.

There are times & seasons when you do not understand life

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

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

Even Jesus felt that way…

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

Why am I going through all this pain?

There was a moment that Jesus felt far from his Father

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

Jesus went through this pain to put your heart at peace

Not to give you all the answers

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

  • Depression.

On the rise in this nation like never before

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I remember how it used to be”

Our minds are tormented by wishing it was different

Worship is always a part of the solution

Remind yourself of what God has done & who He is

  • Worry and fear.

Begin to spend emotional energy on things out of our control

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

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

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

Jesus said it adds no value to your life

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

No benefit of worrying

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

I have to carry this burden for him

We have to trust that God has everything worked out

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

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

At Peace

How do you find this peace?

1. Accept God’s grace.   

Have to understand what Jesus has done for you

Most NT letters open or close by wishing Grace & Peace

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

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

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

It’s hard to wrap our human minds around grace

Greek word for Grace is the word “charis”

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

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

God’s message to us is you cannot earn it

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

Paul was wrestling with a situation like ours

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

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

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

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

2. Surrender to the Holy Spirit.   

The enemy attacks you in your mind

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

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

Ask the Holy Spirit to help guide your thoughts

You need the Holy Spirit’s activity in your life

He’ll bring counsel, direction, peace

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

3. Pray about everything that bothers you.

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

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

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

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

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

Peace comes to guard your hearts and minds

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

Beautiful Things Pt.1 – What To Do on the Most Difficult Day of Your Life

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Beautiful Things Pt.1 – What to Do on the Most Difficult Day of Your Life

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

There comes a time in everyone’s life when you have to confront the unexplainable absences of God, a season in life when God gives no explanations.

Questions such as…

Why do bad things happen to good people?

Where is God when I hurt?

Why did my family member or friend have to die too soon?

Everyone is going to have their Dark Night of the soul. Facing Difficult times

•economic uncertainty, stress, pain, grief, loss, divorce, brokeness, sin, tragedy

The fact is We grope in the darkness of our grief, pain, hurt, and questions for answers – If we knew the answers, our hearts would not hurt any less – Because Broken hearts are not healed by explanations but by God’s presence, grace and love.

The Bible doesn’t flinch from telling the stories of hardship and tragedy visited on God’s people.

•The overarching storyline of the Bible is not, “Once upon a time, they lived happily ever after.” Instead, the divine story of God’s people has plenty of moments where the narrative, in effect, says, “Then all hell broke loose.”

The glorious things about the chronicles of Scripture is that disappointments, grief, hurt, and pains are never the end of the story – not for those who believe God.

I Samuel 30:1-8 NIV – David and his men reached Ziklag on the third day. Now the Amalekites had raided the Negev and Ziklag. They had attacked Ziklag and burned it, and had taken captive the women and everyone else in it, both young and old. They killed none of them, but carried them off as they went on their way.When David and his men reached Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep. David’s two wives had been captured—Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel. David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God.Then David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelek, “Bring me the ephod.” Abiathar brought it to him, and David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I pursue this raiding party? Will I overtake them?”“Pursue them,” he answered. “You will certainly overtake them and succeed in the rescue.”

The most difficult day of David’s life. The year 1012 B.C. He was 29 yrs old. Forced to leave the royal household and roam the hillsides of Judea with a mercenary band of 600 men because Saul was trying to kill him. David and his men were fighting the Phillistines while expanding and securing the borders of Israel.

The city of Ziklag was their temporary home in the southern border of Judea (1 year and 4 months)

•Ziklag was not Bethlehem, the place of his beginning, nor was it Jerusalem, the place of his destiny. It was somewhere in between. (We all spend time there – it’s not where we come from, it’s not where we are going. It’s somewhere in between our prophecy and destiny.

In one day – David lost it all – His possessions were stolen, his home burned down, and family kidnapped.

God Allows Difficult days in our Lives

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

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

Remember – God weaves everything together for our good – even though it may be good at the time. We have a limited view of God

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

It is in facing and triumphing over the great trials of life that you learn what it means to overcome the world and to live more than a conqueror.

I Corinthians 15:57 NIV But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Victory is never the absence of trouble, hurt, pain, or grief. Victory is defined as success in a struggle against difficulties and overcoming an enemy.

I John 5:4 NIVfor everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.

Faith is the victory that overcomes – even on the most difficult day of your life.

I realize every situation is different and every individual is unique. But God has a pattern and principles that will assist you on the most difficult day of your life. Don’t abandon hope. All is not lost.

What To Do on the Most Difficult Day of Your Life

1. It’s Okay to Weep

I Samuel 30:4 NIV – So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep.

The only outlet David and his valiant men (champions) could find for the fear, the anger, grief, and the pain that seized their soul was weeping. So much, that it Drained them of there power.

What do you do when trouble hits you so hard that it knocks the wind out of you and makes you feel that it must be the most difficult day of your life? Go ahead and cry.

We tend to believe that weeping shows that we are weak

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

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

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

•Living by Faith is not living without Feelings.You may be extroverted or introverted, it doesn’t matter – God made you to feel things deeply. Joy, peace, excitement, anger, sadness – why? we are humans. To deny emotions is to deny our humanity.

•You can’t even worship God without involving your emotions – David would Sing, Shout, and Dance in his praise of God.

Weeping is Not Inconsistent with Faith – Some of the greatest giants of faith in the Bible wept: 

•Abraham, the father of faith wept at the death of his wife Sarah

•When Jacob met his future bride Rachel, he was so overwhelmed that he wept

•When Joseph was reunited with his estranged brothers, he wept.

•Hezekiah wept when he received the bad report that he would die from his illness.

•Job wept in the midst of his trial, after losing his home, health, and family

•Peter wept over his failure and betrayal of Jesus.

•Paul wept in the middle of his trials

•Even Jesus wept at the death of his friend Lazarus.

– He cried as a baby, as a child, and as a man. A man of sorrows acquainted with grief. He shed the tears of God

Hebrews 5:7 ESV – In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.

-“Loud cries and tears” is a description of the “agony” of Jesus.

Luke 22;41-44 ESV – He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

Tears Cannot be Denied – It would be an added cruelty to deny yourself or others tears in times of tragedy or deep personal pain.

Psalm 34:17-18 (MSG) Is anyone crying for help? God is listening, ready to rescue you. If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.

Ecclesiastes 3:4 NIV – a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,

In the course of my own life and ministry – I’ve had many days and nights of weeping

Examples – Hurtful Words and actions of people, in the hospital room with parents who just lost a child, family member, etc… overwhelming stress due to money, problems, and people.

Then there’s been times of tears still too personal to talk about.

Our tears lead to our liberation of the dominion of sorrow

Psalm 30:5 NIV – For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning

There is a night of weeping  – but there is a dawn of faith. David did it and you will too.

God wants to comfort you When You Weep.

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

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

2. It’s Okay to Worship

I Samuel 30:7-8 NIVThen David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelek, “Bring me the ephod.” Abiathar brought it to him, and David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I pursue this raiding party? Will I overtake them?”“Pursue them,” he answered. “You will certainly overtake them and succeed in the rescue.”

Ephod – Official garment of the high priest for his duties of worship. David wore it to worship God at different times.

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

Psalm 43:4-5 ESV – Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God. Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

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

•When you are feeling no joy, go to God, who will release to you His joy through worship. (Example: Tricia in hospital, Worship at Dave’s funeral)

•I have found that many times, when I can’t go on, worship lifts me up.

Psalm 42:11 NIV – Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

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

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

Psalm 100:1-5 NIV Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. 2 Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. 3 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. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. 5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

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

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

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

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

Prayer: 

Father, we are here before you, just ordinary people who walk through ordinary days. There are some good moments and there are some hard moments. There are some moments that we think could never ever get any better. And there are moments that we think that we’ll never recover from. God, to know that no matter what that darkness might look like for us, to know that you are there, you are close, you are personal, you are intimate, you call us by name, that you are the God who can intervene in those dark places. And that you are the God who has lovingly hidden in our darkness treasure, riches that will make us spiritually healthy and wealthy enough to be able to fulfill the calling that you have on our lives. That’s the kind of God we trust. That’s the kind of God we love. That’s the God we worship. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

All I Want for Christmas Pt.4

All_I_want_for_Christmas

All I Want for Christmas Pt.4 – Joy

One of the best parts of the story – joy of that night

There was so much turmoil – under Roman rule – miserable – God brought “great joy”

God’s Antidote for a weary Religion

Luke 2:8-14 ESV – And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

I think one of the missing things in Christmas and in life today – joy For many – Christmas isn’t so holly jolly and not so merry and bright

There are things that steal our joy:

  1. Past experiences become Dim
  2. Present Burdens become heavy
  3. Future Hope becomes distant

John 15:11 ESV– “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

The Twin Joy Robbers 

• Bad Things That Shouldn’t Happen, But Do

• Good Things That Should Happen, But Don’t

Today – Joy to the World – how to enjoy your life – have fun – laugh

Don’t you love to laugh?  I do – and love to listen to people laugh

Happiness is usually what we want, but JOY is what we need! 

Remember- for every minute of anger, you lose 60 seconds of joy

Joy – intense, ecstatic, exultant happiness, expression of that feeling, to enjoy, fill with pleasure and satisfaction.

Words that describe Joy – amusement, animation, bliss, cheer, comfort, delight, gladness, good humor, jewel, luxury, rapture, refreshment, wonder, sport, treasure

(Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4)  “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven…a time to laugh.”

It’s one of the healthiest things you can do is laugh

(Psalm 2:3)  “The One enthroned in heaven laughs.”

1. Joy will Change my approach to Life

Think about all the different aspects of your life. Emotions will affect it more than anything else.

Nehemiah 8:10 ESV  “ Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

You are stronger when your attitude is strong – emotions are solid – It will give you an uncommonly positive perspective on life

2. Joy will turn my problems into blessings.

It has the ability to turn bad things into good things –

Psalm 126:5 ESV Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!

(Proverbs 17:22 NIV)  “A cheerful heart is good medicine.”

•God’s got some good stuff for you!  No aweful side effects

  • Take three tablespoons three times a day. 

a. Take it when you feel like it!

b. Take it when you don’t feel like it!

c. And take it when you don’t know how you feel!

Psalm 30:5 ESV For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime.[a]Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

3. Joy will affect those around you.

It’s contagious – Can totally change the dynamic of your Christmas

Don’t take yourself too seriously

Psalm 126:1-2 NIV “When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’”

The Secret To Joy

1. Take responsibility for your own emotions.

So easy to blame others – but it’s up to you

Choosing the way you’re going to view life – people

For most of us – our attitude will not take care of itself

Remember – it’s not a feeling – it’s a choice

If you don’t like the situation that faces you – change it

(Hebrews 12:1 ESV)  “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,”

You cannot determine what happens to you

But you can determine what happens in you

RememberThe walls we build around us to keep out the sadness also keep out the joy

The best way is to start off each day – decide – get rid of stuff

Dear Lord,

So far today, I am doing all right.  I have not gossiped, lost my temper, been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish, or self-indulgent.  I have not whined, cursed, or eaten any chocolate. However, I am going to get out of bed in a few minutes, and I will need a lot more help after that.  Amen.

(Psalm 19:14 ESV)  “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

2. Develop a high appreciation for life.

We’ve been given a priceless resource called TIME – You can’t save it or buy it. 18 times a minute you breath, 25,920 times a day FREE of Charge.

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

Life can change in a moment!

The question is not how will you die, but how will you live life?

Story of senior being admitted into a nursing home

“Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time.  Whether I like my room or not doesn’t depend on how the furniture is arranged.  It’s how I arrange my mind.”

John Wooden said—“Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.”

(Ecclesiastes 5:19 NIV)  “When God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work–this is a gift of God.”

We cannot choose how many years we will live

But we can choose how much life those years will have

We cannot control the beauty of our face

But we can control the expression on it

We cannot control life’s difficult moments

But we can choose to make life less difficult

We cannot control the negative atmosphere of the world

But we can control the atmosphere of our minds

Too often – we try to choose and control things we cannot

Too seldom – we choose to control what we can – our attitude

How?  People who have a high appreciation of life…

Know that God is going to work it out for the good

(Romans 8:28 NIV)  “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

3. Find something positive in everything

How?  Think positively – glass is half empty – or half full

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

(Philippians 4:8 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.”

This is spiritual warfare – pull down negative thoughts

Attitude and faith are very similar – way you view something

Either the “yes” or “no” – either doubt or faith

(2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV)  “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.”

4. Say something positive in every conversation.

This is hard – but can change the dynamic of every situation – Some people have NO filter

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

Best way is to pray daily…

(Psalm 141:3 NIV)  “Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.”

People can frustrate you – must train our eyes

Look for the best in them – bring out their positive qualities

(Philippians 2:3-4 NIV)  “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.  Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

5. Express gratitude to God and others daily.

If you’re thankful for everything – can’t be disappointed

Consider all of life a gift from God – That breath you just took, it’s a gift

“It’s not happy people who are Thankful, It is thankful people who are happy”

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

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

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

God wants to restore your joy – This is what the gift of Christmas is all about – Getting your joy back

Phillipians 4:4 ESV – Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. (prison letters)

•Happiness is an emotion, but joy is a decision. And your decisions must rule your emotions, not vice-versa.

THE WELLS OF JOY (Genesis 26) 

A. THE PHILISTINES STOPPED UP ALL THE WELLS 

1. They thought this would drive Isaac away.

2. They attempted to cover up his source of refreshing and strength.

3. The devil would like to do the same to you.

4. He wants to stop up your JOY WELL and cover it up.

 B. GOD COMMANDED ISAAC TO REDIG THE WELLS 

1. Some of you need to redig the wells.

2. You need to uncover the well which the devil has sought to hide from you.

3. Isa 12:3  “Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of  salvation.” 

4. The devil may try to stop your JOY-WELL up, but you’re going to unstop those wells.

John 16:24 NIV  “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name.  Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” 

Psalms 43:4 – “I will go to your altar and you my exceeding joy in PRAISE”!

All I Want for Christmas Pt.2

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All I Want for Christmas Pt 2 – Peace

Looking for Peace? Most of us are more familiar with tension, stress, and anxiety, rather than peace. Lack of peace is a result of our complex, accelerated and stressed out world. People say…

•I’m ready to throw in the towel •I am at the end of my rope •I am just a bundle of nerves •I am at my wits end •I feel like resigning from the human race •I am in over my head

Peace in today’s society is a commodity much desired and rarely found. Peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise or trouble. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.

Isaiah was describing a time of darkness, oppression, war, and death. War was looming between Israel and Judah

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

Peace – (def) – freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility; freedom from war or violence. (Hebrew) shalom (greeting of Hello or Goodbye) – means fulness. Having everything you need to be whole and happy. prosperity, harmony, peace, completeness.

A time of violent roman occupation

(Luke 2:6-14 NIV) “While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”[d]

Peace on Earth?

There is always some kind of darkness or danger of some kind overshadowing our world: warfare, cancer, poverty, broken relationships, murders, cruelty, suffering, etc…

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

A not so silent night. There was no peace in Israel at this time. Gloom, anguish, and contempt were just some of the adjectives used to describe this darkness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

•Unavoidable circumstances.

Much of life is out of our control, On an airplane – baby crying, Stuck in traffic. Couples trying to have a baby, Singles who want to get married

When things are out of our control – We get frustrated and lose our peace of mind

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

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

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

•Unbearable people.

Have you ever thought…? Life would be great if it weren’t for all these people – You make all of these great plans – people will not cooperate

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

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

1. Who helped you in your difficult time

2. Who left you in your difficult time

3. Who put you in your difficult time

•Unexplainable problems.

Then there is the whole “unexplainable” part of life – Things don’t turn out right – don’t understand why

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

3 Reasons for life’s problems

1. Sin – Imperfect world

2. Satan – Common Enemy

3. Self – we make mistakes

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

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

•Uncontrollable worry.

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

God doesn’t want you to worry!

The truth is – Christmas season is anything but peaceful for people. We all love this time of year – but produces so much worry, stress, anxiety, and depression.

I find that men and women worry about different things at Christmas Women worry about, Did I buy enough?  Do we have enough?  Have I done enough?  Are the kids going to be happy? Did I forget anybody?

Guys worry about at different things at Christmas – really two How am I going to pay for all of this? And, How long are the relatives going to be in town?

Worrying never solves tomorrow’s problems – Worry only robs today of its peace

I know there’s a lot of stuff here that we’re worried about Some real legitimate, pretty serous things

Health issues, financial problems, family crises, Are my kids going to be all right? Am I going to have a job next year? What’s the doctor going to say?

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

Focus on God, not the problem! 

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

2 Options – Panic or Pray / worry or worship

The question is – How do you really find peace of mind?

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

1.Receive God’s Grace. 

You were made to live in harmony with God – When you are not – it causes stress

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

Psychologists will tell you that a main source of stress – guilt – There is nothing more peaceful than a clean slate

Justified – just as if I’d never done it – But you need to accept it – even some Christians don’t

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.

God is eager – it’s the best part of His day – Think about it – total forgiveness – completely clean – That would give peace of mind

2. Run to God’s Presence.

This one is hard to explain – you have to experience it – There is a tangible presence of God

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

Peace is a mindset – but can’t get it through secular meditation – Comes through focusing on what God says about you

– Prayer – the Word of God

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

Back story – 180,000 enemy troops were about to attack Israel

God says – “chill out” – sit still – hurry aggravates worry – Be still “And know” – intimacy not knowledge

3. Obey God’s principles.

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

If we’re honest – most of our stress comes from ignoring His principles – What has God told you that you haven’t done yet?

Peace Comes through obedience to God’s word

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

4. Rely on God’s provision.

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

•Trust God to take care of things beyond your control

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

•Live one day at a time:

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

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

Today on this second Sunday of Advent, identify areas in your life in which turmoil is reigning rather than peace.

I admonish everyone of us today to Trust in God’s Provision and Care

Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and don’t lean on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.” 

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

Don’t fall to pieces – Follow Peace – April Osteen Simons

Daring Faith Pt.6 What Happens When You Have Faith

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Daring Faith Pt.6 – What Happens When You Have Faith

Romans 1:17 NIV “The Gospel shows us how God makes people right with himself – that it begins and ends with FAITH. The Scripture says those who are right with God will live by trusting in Him.”

Hebrews 11:6 NIVWithout faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes  to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

BIG Q:  WHAT IS FAITH?

NOT DESIRE – you can wish, and hope, and pray, and sincerely want something with all of your heart, but…..Desire may lead you to faith, but it is not faith.

NOT PRETENDING  TO BELIEVE A LIEFaith is always based upon the truth.  It is based on facts. How do you know the truth?  GOD’S WORD . Not  conning yourself into believing something that isn’t true.

NOT A FEELING – in fact, feelings OFTEN get in the way of faith.  Faith moves ahead even when my feelings  say “don’t!”

NOT BARGAINING WITH GOD “Lord, if you’ll do this, I’ll do that”  God never bends to pressure tactics.

Hebrews 11:1 NLT – “What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for IS going to happen and to be certain of things we do not yet see.”

•Agree? More than 1 way to look at things!

Ephesians 1:18 NLT I pray that the eyes of your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can see the wonderful future God has promised to those he called.”

Song – “Open the eyes of My Heart” “Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus” Meaning?   There is an unseen dimension

•Bible – many examples where God opened people’s eyes

•In life-always looking  at you future… in faith or fear – family… problems…career…health

 

2nd Question: What happens when we see with eyes of fear/faith?

Example: Numbers 13+14 – Moses had led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt

– 2 years wandering – wilderness.

– Came to Kadesh -edge of Promise Land

– 12 spies selected to go see… A VISION TRIP for fact finding & due diligence

– Returned with 2 reports:  10-neg. /  2-pos.  The people Accepted the majority report

Because they failed to see with eyes of faith:

– lost opportunity to possess the Prom. Land!

– spent next 38 yrs wandering!  Entire generation died in the desert!

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE SEE WITH EYES OF FEAR?

1. We EXAGGERATE OUR DIFFICULTIES.

Amazing-God had just delivered them from Egypt-most powerful…Now worried about some local tribe!   How quickly we forget!

Fact: When you look at your problems w/eyes of fear — BIGGER!

Numbers. 13:27-32 NLT – 27 This was their report to Moses: “We entered the land you sent us to explore, and it is indeed a bountiful country—a land flowing with milk and honey. Here is the kind of fruit it produces. 28 But the people living there are powerful, and their towns are large and fortified. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak! 29 The Amalekites live in the Negev, and the Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites live in the hill country. The Canaanites live along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea[a] and along the Jordan Valley.”30 But Caleb tried to quiet the people as they stood before Moses. “Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said. “We can certainly conquer it!”31 But the other men who had explored the land with him disagreed. “We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!” 32 So they spread this bad report about the land among the Israelites: “The land we traveled through and explored will devour anyone who goes to live there. All the people we saw were huge.

-DEVOUR – eat up  “Eat our lunch!”  Cannibals!

-Giants –Nepheelim – bullies, tyrants.. NFL linebackers

Only 2 of the spies had faith. Joshua & Caleb: God is with us!

-People who trust God are always in the minority.

– Always more worriers… naysayers… fretful…fearful.. negative

Problem: negative attitudes are contagious!

How Ironic: 38 yrs later-finally…Enemy said: “ We’ve lived panic of  you for 40 yrs!  Heard about Egypt-10 plagues.  Ready to surrender!

2. We underestimate OUR ABILILTIES.

Numbers 13:33 NLT –We even saw giants[a] there, the descendants of Anak. Next to them we felt like grasshoppers, and that’s what they thought, too!”

Talk about low self-esteem! We’re insects! “They will eat us for lunch!” “cant do it!” (Quit talking about what you can’t do)

That’s what they thought too” –we project our fears on others

Problem: been slaves-400 yrs.  Tho free – still mentally enslaved conditioned: Still saw selves as helpless!   Enslaved by an idea!

– Yrs ago-people said hurtful things about you Maybe labeled:  “You’re stupid… a failure …ugly …uncoordinated

Those people aren’t around anymore-yet you’re still believing it!

ILL: Spies saw some tall people: “giants!” Later: the tall people weren’t even warriors! PERSPECTIVE is what defeats us! (I Jn 4:4)

3. We EVENTUALLY GRIPE, GIVE UP & BLAME GOD!

Numbers 14:1-3 NLT – Then the whole community began weeping aloud, and they cried all night. Their voices rose in a great chorus of protest against Moses and Aaron. “If only we had died in Egypt, or even here in the wilderness!” they complained. “Why is the Lord taking us to this country only to have us die in battle? Our wives and our little ones will be carried off as plunder! Wouldn’t it be better for us to return to Egypt?”

Held a giant pity party!  Poor us!

•Some people all they talk about is where they’ve been

•Second guessing… Good ol days in Egypt. Had so much fun there! Slavery but safety! You can deny responsibility if a slave!

•Some of you are confusing slavery with safety!

“I know it’s a bad situation but at least it’s predictable”

“I know  this habit is self-defeating- but comfortable”

There is no real freedom without taking risks!  Takes faith! If you feel you’ve been wandering in circles- Don’t die in the desert!  Move ahead in faith!

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE SEE WITH EYES OF FAITH?

1. FAITH SHRINKS MY PROBLEMS

Faith gives you a new perspective – When you see problems from God’s point of view, they seem more manageable

ILL: When you give your problem to the Lord and then trust Him to work it out, you stop worrying.

•How will it be solved?  THAT’S GOD’S PROBLEM!

Genesis 18:14 NLT “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”

•Ignoring the Giants (Problems) is not what made their reports good or evil.

•You are not admitting doubt when you recognize a problem – Faith is never ignoring the obvious.

•Faith says We are well able to overcome the Giants! Faith says you ought to see the size of these Grapes!

 Luke 1:37 ESV “For nothing will be impossible with God!” 

With Faith, the 2 Spies were Giant Killers and Grape Tasters and the 10 other spies were Grasshoppers. Which will you be? 

•Grasshoppers major on problems and obstacles. Giant Killers & Grapetasters focus on the possibilities and opportunities.

2. FAITH OPENS THE DOOR FOR A MIRACLE

It can move mountains. Throughout history, everytime God did a miracle…

Mark 11:22-24 NIV – Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23 “Truly[a] I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

God has set up the universe so that the law of faith Is the only law that supersedes the laws if nature.  That’s miracle!

Faith is a spiritual force based on the eternal laws of God that can change things in the natural.

*Does God still perform miracles today? Of course he does!  (Financial, family, personal, etc.)

*What is your mountain that needs to be moved today?God is in the mountain-moving business,

BUT   – MUST NOT DOUBT!

Matthew 13:58 NIV “And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.

3. FAITH MOVES GOD TO ACT ON MY BEHALF

Now don’t get me wrong, God is neither a servant nor a slot machine.  He is not there to cater to your every whim

Matthew 9:29 NLT –  Then he touched their eyes and said, “Because of your faith, it will happen.”

God does not bow to pressure or bargaining but he loves to answer requests made in genuine faith.

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

•Faith sees the invisible, believes the incredible, and receives the impossible

•Faith is not believing that God can but that God will!

2 Corinthians 1:20 NIV – For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.

•Faith is the KEY that releases the resources of God into our situation

God Makes Outrageous Promises About What He Does WHEN WE HAVE DARING FAITH

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

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

John 3:16-18 MSG – “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.

“Just because you don’t get everything you want when you want it, Should NEVER stop you from having Daring Faith and Trust in God”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Storms never dictate God’s Direction

•He’s never surprised of the storm

•He will lead you through the storm

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

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

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

What to remember about storms

1. Storms are inevitable.

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

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

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

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

Stormy season in America right now

•National Debt is $19 Trillion Dollars

•War on Terror

•Killings of Black men and cops

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

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

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

•Our faith is strong on Sunday but absent on Monday

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

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

2. Storms are unpredictable.

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

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

3. Storms are temporary.

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

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

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

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

4. Storms are opportunities.

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

God wants to build your faith in the storms of life

•Can find purpose in the middle of a storm

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

•Our faith is tested by the storms of life

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

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

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

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

Where’s Your Faith?

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

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

  1. Refuse to be Negative and Fearful.

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

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

Focus on the positive

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

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

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

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

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

When your faith becomes bigger, the storms become smaller.

2. Remember that God is with me.

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

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

•Your storm is Satan’s desperation to stop.

•Your greatest breakthrough comes from your greatest storm

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

3. Rely on God’s protection and guidance.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daring Faith Pt.4 Waiting on God

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Daring Faith Pt.4 – Waiting on God

Isaiah 40:28-31 ESV – Have you not known? Have you not heard?

The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth; He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. 29  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; 31but 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.

  • Few things make us more irritable than having to wait. in traffic …a  waiting room .. a line at Disneyland…restaurants… =long lines

Waiting is perhaps the hardest discipline of the Christian life. Most of us hate to wait. I know I do. Probably all of us are waiting for something at this very moment.

Waiting for your grades.

Waiting to graduate.

Waiting to be accepted to college.

Waiting for your first job offer.

Waiting to see if the bank will give you a loan.

Waiting for the right time to start a family.

Waiting for your loved ones to come to Christ.

Waiting to meet the right guy or the right girl.

Waiting to be married.

Waiting to find out what God wants you to do.

Waiting for someone to buy your house.

Waiting for your prayers to be answered.

Waiting for your husband to come home from a business trip.

Waiting for your prayers to be answered

We all have to wait whether we like it or not. Truth be told, most of life is waiting.

For instance, when you watch a football game on TV, most of the time nothing happens. By rule the actual game takes 60 minutes to play, but the average NFL telecast lasts three hours. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, in the average NFL telecast the actual playing of football takes up eleven minutes. If that’s true, then what happens the rest of the time?  In that three-hour block of time, you have . . .

60 minutes for commercials.

75 minutes when the players are standing around.

17 minutes for replays.

After a few other miscellaneous things are thrown in (such as crowd shots and talking heads in the booth and shots of the cheerleaders), what you are left with is . . .11 minutes of actual football.

– Technology has made us more impatient- expect it FAST!

And yet waiting is an important part of life & character development. We learn things while WAITING- – learn no other way.

Every child must learn difference between; “No”  & “Not Yet”

Our inability to wait is the source of so many problems = Debt…  broken hearts   

– Ever been in a hurry when God wasn’t?   Frustrating. You can rush your kids, but you cant rush God!

Some of you are  waiting for God ….to open a door….answer a prayer  ….give direction…  meet a need…give direction…   heal a relationship… remove a pain

Obvious that God has his own timetable.

“The idea of waiting for something makes it more exciting – Andy Warhol

Ecclesiastes 3:11 NLT  Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

WHAT TO REMEMBER WHILE WAITING ON GO

1. REMEMBER THERE’S A NATURAL DELAY BETWEEN PLANTING and HARVESTING!  “season”

Ecclesiastes 3:1-5 NIV – “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: 2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, 3 a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, 4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, 5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, 

ILL: Many have planted seeds of faith – you wont harvest immediately (Gen 8:22)WRITE “ I reap in a different season than I sow”

Waiting quietly, patiently & expectantly is faith!

2.  REMEMBER THERE’S AN UNSEEN BATTLE GOING ON.

A Spirit war between good & evil.   God & Satan    angels & demons and We’re caught in the middle

Ephesians 6:12 NIV – For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

• Satan throws darts of doubt & discouragement WHILE you wait

We don’t know much about this “unseen battle” but amazing glimpse in Daniel that show why some of our prayers are delayed:

DANIEL 10:11-13 NLT “ And the man said to me, “Daniel, you are very precious to God, so listen carefully to what I have to say to you. Stand up, for I have been sent to you.” When he said this to me, I stood up, still trembling.12 Then he said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer. 13 But for twenty-one days the spirit prince[a] of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels,[b] came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia

Write: A delay is not a denial!

3.  REMEMBER GOD IS PREPARING ME FOR HIS BLESSING

God usually has a bigger, better idea in mind. He needs to get you ready for this bigger blessing;  First, he wants to strengthen your faith:

1 Peter 1:6-7 (NLT) “There is wonderful joy ahead, even though it is necessary for you to endure many trials for a while. These troubles test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure, just as fire tests and purifies gold—and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold.” 

•Some of you are going thru the fire right now, Keep going!

Write:  Waiting is always a test!

Paul compares waiting on God to pregnancy:

Rom.8:24-28   (Mes) “Waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We don’t see what is enlarging us, but the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy. Meanwhile, when we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He prays in us and for us… He knows us far better than we know ourselves, and knows our pregnant condition… That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.”

Waiting never rejection Every timeI thought I was being rejected from something good, God was actually re directing me to something better. 

4.  REMEMBER I’M IN GOOD COMPANY WHEN WAITING ON GOD 

Millions of saints before you have sat in God’s Waiting Room

Hebrews 11:2 NLT – Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation.

 “People who lived in the past became famous because of their faith.” ((ICB) 

Hannah waited years to have a baby

Joseph – 14 yrs-in prison- a crime he didnt commit

Moses – 40 yrs in desert for his life purpose

Abraham – 100 yrs for a son thru Sarah

Noah – 120 yrs before rain

Jacob  – 20 Years

David – 12 years

Jesus waited 30 years

God waited 1000s of yrs to send Jesus!

Hebrews 6:15 NLT “Then Abraham waited patiently, and he received what God had promised.”  Leads to 5th remember

5.  REMEMBER GOD ALWAYS KEEPS HIS PROMISES!

Unlike others, you can count on God to come through.

So don’t focus on what U CAN’T do, Focus on what God CAN do!

Promises help you do that “Anything is possible if you have faith!”

Habakkuk 2:3 NLT – This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.

•“At the time I have decided, my words WILL come true. You can trust what I say about the future. It may take a long time, but keep on waiting— it will happen!”

– About 7000 promises

– God’s waiting room is a great time to memorize scripture

•We have to trust God even when His answer is “Wait”

SONG: ’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, Just to take Him at His Word; Just to rest upon His promise, And to know, “Thus saith the Lord!” Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him! How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er; Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

4 THINGS TO DO WHILE WAITING ON GOD: W.A.I.T. 

1. WRITE DOWN THE LESSONS I’M LEARNING   

Waiting is always the season to LISTEN & LEARN from God!

– God has some things he want to teach you first!

More interested in your character…

– But you’ll forget the lessons unless you write them down!

ILL: Like Moses- some of you are wandering in the wilderness!

Not an accident!    Waiting in wilderness for a purpose!

Write: The way to the Promised Land is thru the wilderness!

Numbers 33:2 (NLT) “At the Lord’s direction, Moses kept a written record of their progress.”

Keep a journal in while waiting! Write down every little thing God says to you!

Little lessons lead to Big successes”

Deuteronomy 11:2 NLT – Keep in mind that I am not talking now to your children, who have never experienced the discipline of the Lord your God or seen his greatness and his strong hand and powerful arm.

•“Remember what you have learned about the Lord through your experiences with him.”  

If you don’’t remember God has to take you there again!  Painful!

A good prayer to pray…Psalm 119:33 MSG “God, teach me lessons for living so I can stay the course.”

2. ACT AS THOUGH I ALREADY HAVE IT

We typically waste time 3 ways  when waiting :

We wonder- Why, Lord why?

      worry– How, Lord, how?

      whine = When, Lord, when?  Complaining never moves God

Instead ACT in FAITH

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

ILL: Every pregnant woman does this

– She carries inside her the promise of a baby.

Even tho she can’t see it, she knows that baby is there!

– So she starts preparing its arrival… eats…nursery, clothes

ALL IN ADVANCE!

They don’t call it “Expecting” for nothing! She KNOWS that the baby is coming- it’s just a matter of time! & She’ll wait as long as it takes!

Write: Waiting is not passivity!  Do all you can to get ready!

Difference: waiting passively & waiting expectantly in faith

Get prepared & Act as Though

Romans 4:17 NIV “As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.”[a] He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not”

ILL – Changed Abram’s name long before it happened! “I have made you a father of many nations.” 

3. IMITATE THE HABITS THAT GROW STRONG FAITH

Use the time while you are waiting to develop personal maturity!

1 Peter 1:6-7 (NIV) We do not want you to become lazy, but to IMITATE those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.” 

Philippians 4:9 (NLT) Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

WRITE: DON’T put my life on hold!

Waiting is NOT inactivity.. idleness… laziness ..passivity.. apathy

 WAITING IS THE TIME TO DEVELOP HABITS & SKILLS!

4 FAITH-BUILDING HABITS

o KEEP ON PRAYING 

Mt. 7:7 (NLT)“Keep on asking, and you WILL be given what you ask for. Keep on looking, and you WILL find. Keep on knocking, and the door WILL be opened!”

o KEEP ON SERVING

Rom. 12:11   (NLT) “Never be lazy in your work, but serve the Lord enthusiastically.”    This sharpens your skills

“Wait” = also means “SERVE!”  waiter/ lady in waiting

Don’t wait for s significant ministry. Make it one!

o KEEP ON SOWING

Ecclesiastes 11:6 NLT –  Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both.

•“Keep on sowing your seed, for you never know which ones will grow–perhaps they all will!”  (LB) 

o KEEP ON BELIEVING

2 Timothy 3:14 NIV – But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it,

          •“You must keep on believing the things you have been taught. You know they are true.” (LB) 

       POINT; Stay active!  God can’t direct a parked car!

4. TRUST GOD instead of PANICKING 

Two facts you can trust:

1. God is never in a hurry.  2. God is never late. •His timing is perfect.

Anytime He seems late – He’s preparing you for a miracle!

ILL: Mary and Martha in the Bible had a brother named Lazarus. Lazarus was one of Jesus’ best friends. Lazarus got deathly sick and he lived in a city called Bethany. Bethany was just a few miles from where Jesus was. Maybe three or four miles. It’s just out of town, out of Jerusalem. They sent word to Jesus, Jesus can you come over to our house in Bethany. Your best friend Lazarus is sick. He’s deathly ill. 

And it takes Jesus three days to go about five miles. What’s going on here? When Jesus finally gets there he could have easily got there in an hour or two. It takes him three days to go a few miles to see his best friend who’s dying. And when he gets there they say, Too late Jesus. He’s already dead. We’ve wrapped him up and we’ve buried him in a tomb. You’re too late. Sorry. 

Jesus wasn’t late. Because Jesus already had in his mind what he was going to do. His goal was not to heal Lazarus. His goal was to raise him from the dead. His goal was not to just make him well. His goal was to do a miracle of astronomical proportions.

Sometimes God lets a situation get so bad only a miracle will do. Don’t give up your faith. Hold on. Hang on. Do the things I’ve just taught you how to do. Because you’re getting ready for a miracle. 

Jesus walks up to the tomb and says roll the stone away. They roll the stone away and he says Lazarus come forth. Now, I’m glad he said Lazarus because if he just said, Come forth, every dead person in the cemetery is going to come out at that point. But he calls him by name: Lazarus come forth. He comes out. 

 

Psalm 56:3 NIV When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”

LISTEN: Some of you are waiting for the fear to go away. IT won’t!You must move against it in FAITH!

STORY: BAMBOO!- Don’t get discouraged at year 6!

•Some bamboos grow very, very slow. And some grow very fast. And some grow slow, slow, slow and then fast. Here’s how you grow a typical piece of bamboo. You cut a piece of bamboo off and you cut it in half and you stick it in the ground. And you water it for a year and nothing happens. Nothing. And you water it for the second year, the bamboo, and nothing happens. And you water it for the third year and nothing happens. And you water it for the fourth and then the fifth year and nothing happens. And you fertilize it. And on the sixth year you water it and nothing happens. And on the seventh year it sprouts. But once it sprouts it takes off. Some bamboo can grow one meter or three feet in twenty four hours. Some bamboo can grow to nine feet in about four days. It just when it takes off it takes off.

Galatians 6:9 NIV –  Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

      •“So let us not get tired of doing what is right, for after a while, at the RIGHT TIME we WILL reap a harvest of blessing IF we don’t get discouraged and give up!”

It’s Always too soon to Quit!

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

Don’t Give up! Don’t Back Down! Tenacious Unsinkable people don’t quit bc of circumstances, rejections, or problems! They WAIT!

How To Respond to Tragedy

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How To Respond to Tragedy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. I Need to Release My Grief

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

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

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

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

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

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

God wants to comfort you in a tragedy.

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

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

2. I need to Receive from Others

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

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

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

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

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

3. I Need to Refuse to be Bitter

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

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

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

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

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

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

The antidote:

•Accept what cannot be changed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. I Remember What is Important

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. I Rely on Christ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Defeating Discouragement

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Defeating Discouragement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

•Elijah had a close relationship with God and was used powerfully by Him. Many people witnessed the greatness of God through the prophet.

•Elijah encouraged many people. He helped a widow and her son who were down-and-out and had only enough food for one more meal. Elijah told the widow that God would provide, and He did. Later, when her son died, Elijah asked God to bring him back to life, and God did. This widow’s hope was restored through Elijah.

•Elijah did many other amazing works by the power of God, but the Bible shows that even great people of God can get tripped up by the trials and challenges of living God’s way in a world under the sway of Satan. The story of Elijah’s descent into depression is a classic.

•Not only was Elijah hated and threatened with death by the evil Queen Jezebel, he also felt his work had been in vain and that no one else was supporting God. He felt totally alone, vulnerable and hopeless. Being human like you and me, all this started to get to him.

•Elijah got discouraged and wanted to quit.

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

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

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

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

What is depression? 

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

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

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

You Must QUIT Focusing…

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

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

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

  1. The Pain of Yesterday

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

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

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

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

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

2. The Pressures of Tomorrow

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

4 Principles that will Defeat your Discouragement

  1. Protect Your Mind

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Pray to God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prayer can change ANYTHING. Prayer can change EVERYTHING

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

3. Understand the Power of your Praise

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

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

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

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

•I have found that many times, when I feel discouraged, when I can’t go on, worship lifts me up. Turn on your iPod  and just start to sing and worship. I visualize the hope that I have in Christ when I listen or sing praises to Him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s Next

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

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

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

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

God gave Elijah something to do

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

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

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

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