Living the Ultimate Life Pt.2

Living the Ultimate Life Pt. 2 – Seize the Day

The scene is a prep school somewhere in New England. On a beautiful fall morning the bright young men have gathered in English Literature class, fearing the worst—long, boring hours arguing about Beowulf and the intricacies of iambic pentameter. But lo, it is not to be. Their teacher is brand-new, a graduate years ago of that same school. To him, English Literature is not about names and rhymes; it’s about life—living, dying, loving, caring, feeling. He aims somehow to impart the vision to his young charges.

Suddenly he says, “Follow me,” and leads the class out into the hallway, down to the glass cases that contain the pictures of former students, now long gone, grown up, many of them gone forever from the face of the earth. “Look,” he says, “Look closely, do you see them?” The pictures are old, cracked, faded, but you can still see them, the youthful faces of long-ago. “Look at them carefully. They were once young like you are. They had hopes and dreams just like you do. They had grand ideas too.” Then the teacher lowers his voice and says, “Listen, can you hear what they are saying?” The young men press closer to the glass as if to hear the voices of the past come floating up from the cracked and faded pictures. “They’re calling out to you. If you listen, you can hear them. They’re calling out “Carpe diem.” These young men don’t know Latin, so the phrase is a mystery to them. “Carpe diem,” they mumble to each other. “Yes!” he cries out. “That’s it. Carpe diem. They’re saying, ’Carpe diem.’ Can you hear them?” Then he turns to the class egghead, the one with the glasses. “Mr. Meeks, do you know what Carpe diem means?” The young man looks quizzical for a moment. Then the meaning comes to him. “Seize the day! Carpe diem means Seize the day!” “That’s right!” cries the teacher triumphantly. “Seize the day boys! Make your lives extraordinary!” They are calling out to you from the past—Seize the day!”

If you have seen the movie Dead Poet’s Society, that scene is forever etched in your mind. The past calls to the present—Carpe diem—”Seize the day!” The future looks to the past and says, “Carpe diem”—”Seize the day!” No message is more timely for us than this message.

The point of the poem is that a person does not know what the future holds so one should make the most of the what a person has at the moment. Enjoy the moment.

“Waking up this morning, I smile. Twenty-Four brand new hours are before me. I vow to live fully in each moment.” Thich Nhat Hanh

How to Seize the Day and Live the Ultimate Life

ultimate – the best achievable or imaginable of its kind. the best or most extreme of its kind

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

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

Life – Greek word Zoe (The God Kind of Life) – Not only duration of life but Quality of life

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

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

1. Realize Every Moment of Every Day is a Gift from God

Ben Franklin said, “Dost thou love life, then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff Life is made of”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our reception of God’s abundant life depends upon our choices that we make

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

When you choose life with God, you choose the Ultimate Life!

Augustine said: “God is more anxious to bestow his blessings on us than we are to receive them.”

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

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

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

2. You Must Make Today Count

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

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

“Your success tomorrow begins today”

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

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

We have a tendency to over exaggerate yesterday

We have a tendency to over estimate tomorrow

We under estimate today

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do Something TODAY that your future self will Thank you for

3. Live Today with Passion

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ecclesiastes 11:8a NIVHowever many years anyone may live, let them enjoy them all….

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

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

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

James 4:14 (NLT) How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.”

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

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

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

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

•At the end of your life it won’t matter How much money was in your bank account, how many awards you won, how many goals you achieved. Did you love God? Did you love the people in your life?

2 Corinthians 6:2 (NIV) For he says,“In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.”[a] I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.

Carpe diem, Rise up and seize the day.

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

 

Summer Concert Series Pt.4 – Take it Easy

Summer Concert Series Pt.4 – Take it Easy

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

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

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

Take it Easy Chorus 

Take It easy, take it easy 

Don’t let the sound of your own wheels 

drive you crazy – Lighten up while you still can 

don’t even try to understand 

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

Movie – Michael Douglas stars in Falling Down

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

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

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

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

Where are you going to live? Tribulation? Or Christ

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are living in Overload

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

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

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

Weariness is a trap. 

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

Rest is a choice. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

How To Take it Easy

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

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

1. Relax and Be still. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Take the Time to Pray. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How you can practice Relaxing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Miracles Pt.1 – The Miracle of Heaven

Miracles Pt.1 – The Miracle of Heaven 

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

Jesus did some incredible things during His life on earth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not just 12 but commissioned 72

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

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

The greatest resurrection isn’t the resurrection of things

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Into your eternal existence you would be doing a lot better

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

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

Second example: Disciples of Jesus struggling – about Jesus leaving

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You have the ultimate resurrection & nothing can ever defeat you

My message for you church…Summarized in this statement

  • Believe on Jesus…

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

It only gets better.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s the difference?

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

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

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

God is looking for us to take another step

Not Belief in is not enough but Belief on

That’s faith / it’s taking a risk

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

The Invitation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I want to pray with you right now

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Morning Prayer Liturgy

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My Morning Prayer Liturgy

O Lord, let my soul rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun.

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

Psalm 119:47 – Early in the morning I cry out to you, for in your word is my trust.

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

Father God, creator of heaven and earth, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, God of Israel, God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, True and living God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Who is One God and all your fullness is in Christ, Have mercy and hear my prayer

O Lord, open my Lips and my mouth shall proclaim your praise

All Glory be given to Jesus, as it was in the beginning is now, and will be forever. Amen

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

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

Confession of Sin

Most merciful God, I confess that I have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed

By what I have done, and by what I have left undone.

I have not loved you with my whole heart; I have not loved my neighbor as myself. I have not thought right thoughts, I have not said right things.

I am truly sorry and I humbly repent.

For the sake of your son Jesus Christ, have mercy on me and forgive me;

That I may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your name. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Read a Psalm

Read a passage from the Gospels

Confession of Faith in the Apostles Creed

I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only son, our Lord.

He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.

He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.

He descended to the dead.

On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of the saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have mercy on me

Psalm 23

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. 3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 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. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Psalm 91:1-2 ESV 

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

Prayers for My Family

Psalm 103:1-6 

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! 2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, 3 who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, 5 who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. 6 The LORD works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.

The Lord’s Prayer 

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

Petition, Intercession and Praying in the Spirit

Making needs known and praying for others

Prayer of Contemplation

Sitting in Silence and mediation

The Beatitudes

Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to Him, 2 and He began to teach them, saying: 3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Prayer for Peace

O God, you have made of one blood all the peoples of the earth, and sent your blessed son to preach peace to those who are far off and to those who are near; Grant that people everywhere may see after you and find you; bring the nations into your fold; pour out your Spirit upon all flesh; and hasten the coming of your kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prayer of St. Francis 

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is injury, pardon;

where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;

where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;

to be understood as to understand;

to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Prayer for the Week

(From the Common Book of Prayer)

Prayer of Thanksgiving

Almighty God, Father of all Mercies,

I am your unworthy servant and I give you humble thanks

for all your goodness and lovingkindness

to me and to all whom you have made.

I bless you for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all for your immeasurable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory.

And, we pray, give me such an awareness of your mercies, that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth your praise, not only with my lips, but in my life,

by giving up myself to your service, and by walking before you

in holiness and righteousness all our days;

through Jesus Christ our Lord,

to whom, with you and the Holy spirit,

be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen

Prayer for Mercy

Lord, Have mercy

Christ, Have mercy

Lord, Have mercy

Confession of the Mystery

Christ has died

Christ is risen

Christ will come again

Jesus Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have mercy on me

Prayer for Grace

Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought me in safety to this new day; preserve me with your mighty power, that I may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all I do, direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

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

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

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

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

•Who am I going to marry?

•What is going to happen in my career?

•Am I going to be Successful?

•Is my marriage going to last?

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

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

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

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

I. Get a Vision for your 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is vision?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The World is just waiting for you to….

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

Get a VISION so awesome that your toes curl!

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

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

Oh the Places You Will Go – Dr. Suess

How to Make the Vision Happen

  1. God Must Be First

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

Give focus and energy to the things that really matter

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

We put God first by giving Him the First of Everything

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

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

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

The First always has the power to bless the rest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First of Your Week – Sunday Worship and Life Groups

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First of Your Month – Fasting

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

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

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

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

The RESULT

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

The Gospel

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The Gospel

(Jesus Christ and GraceTown is about New beginnings, It’s about messes & mistakes turning into miracles & messages, it’s about having more chances, it’s about seeing potential in everyone.)

I’m not preaching to the perfect today! But to those of us who don’t have it all together. The hurting, hopeless, and helpless. The stressed out, the successful, the prosperous & the poor. The messed up, misfits, frustrated , those of us with flaws, the imperfect, people who have had moments of indiscretion, weakness’s & failures. I’m talking about Noah who got drunk, David who murdered & commit adultery, Abraham who lied, Thomas who doubted, & Simon Peter who denied & cursed Christ.

Romans 1:16 ESV For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

Gospel – Good News. It’s the message of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ through which the believer is saved from sin and into life. Our broken relationship with God is restored. Salvation through grace.

The central message of the Bible is the gospel, or good news, about the person and work of Jesus Christ. In 1 Corinthians 15:1–4, Paul provides the most succinct summary of the gospel: the man Jesus is also God, or Christ, and died on a cross in our place, paying the penalty for our sins; three days later He rose to conquer sin and death and give the gift of salvation to all who believe in Him alone for eternal life.

Enemies of the Gospel

1. Religion

Religion – Salvation through moral effort

The great reformer Martin Luther rightly said that, as sinners, we are prone to pursue a relationship with God in one of two ways. The first is religion and the second is the gospel. The two are antithetical in every way.

a. Religion says that if we obey God He will love us – The Gospel says that it is because God loves us we can obey

b. Religion says that the world is filled with good people and bad people – The gospel says the world is filled with people who are either repentant or unrepentant.

c. Religion says that you should trust in what you do as a good moral person – The gospel says that you should trust in the perfectly sinless life of Jesus because he alone is the only good and truly moral person who will ever live.

d. Religion is about what I have to do – The Gospel is about what I get to do.

e. Religion leads to an uncertainty about my standing before God because I never know if I have done enough to please God – The Gospel leads to a certainty about my standing before God because of the finished work of Jesus on my behalf on the cross.

f. Religion ends in either pride (because I think I am better than other people) or despair (Because I continually fall short of God’s commands) – The gospel ends in humble and confident joy because of the power of Jesus at work for me, in me, through me, and sometimes in spite of me.

John 14:6 NIV Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

•The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (1886)

• Dr. Jekyll comes to realize that he is an incongruous compound of good and evil.

•He comes up with a potion that can separate his two natures

•He describes his evil self using classic christian terminology

“I knew myself, at the first breath of this new life, to be more wicked, 10fold more wicked,, sold a slave to my original evil; and the thought in that moment, braced and delighted me like wine…Edward Hyde’s every act and thought centered on self.”

•his name is Hyde not just because he is hideous by because he hidden. He is selfish, egotistic, self centered, and is self absorbed

•Once Jekyll realizes his capacity for evil he decides to clamp down  on this terrible self centeredness and he gets religion. He devotes himself to charity and good works for atonement for what Hyde has done.

•While siting on the bench in Regents Park, he begins to gloat and take pride in all the good he had done. He said, “as I compared myself with other men and comparing my goodwill…at that very moment of vain glorious thought, a qualm came over me, a horrid nausea and the most dreadful shuddering…I looked down….I was once more Edward Hyde.”

•Involuntarily, without the potion – this was the beginning of the end. Unable to control his transformations – Jekyll kills himself.

•Stevenson’s insight here is profound. Like so many people, Jekyll knows he’s a sinner, so he tries to desperately cover his sin with great piles of good works. Jekyll becomes Hyde, not in spite of his goodness, but because of his goodness.

The Gospel of Grace is inviting to the unrighteous and threatening to the self righteous.

2. Sin

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

James 4:17 ESV So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

Romans 3:23 NIV for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Consequences of Sin – Spiritual death, eternal separation from God

Isaiah 59:2 NIV – But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.

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

JI Packer said, “Men are opposed to God in their sin, and God is opposed to men in His holiness”

God cannot simply overlook sin. Our debt was so great that while man alone owed it, only God could pay it.  God’s holiness demands punishment for human stain.

Explain: (OT sacrifices,  In NT John the Baptist – Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world)

The Gospel gives us other Chances

Mark 16:1-7 (NIV) 1 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. 2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3 and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”

 4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

 6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’

The reference to Peter, on this first Easter morning, was intentional. Peter in previous hours had denied knowing and following Jesus… and now he was being included in with the close group of followers Jesus wanted to hang out with the most. (VIP list) By singling him out and calling Peters name,) Heaven was sending him a message that even though I don’t approve of what you have done….I do approve of you.” 

Heaven wants to get that message to all of us today 

Verse 7 – What a line!  It’s as if all of heaven had watched Peter fall – and it’s as if all of heaven wanted to help him back up again!  Peter your not left out! One failure doesn’t make a flop!

Jesus wanted Peter to know he was looking forward to seeing him – Aren’t you glad that God sees the best in the worst of us, knows the worst about the best of us, & loves us all without condition or exception.

(Micah 7:8 NIV) – Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.

Do not freeze frame a certain time in your life and condemn your future based on that moment. God is not done with you!

•The fact that you failed is proof that you are not finished!

•Failures & Mistakes can be a bridge not a barricade!

•The difference between average people & successful people is their perception and response to failure.

•Just ask Peter: You can have a another chance! 

•One minute Peter felt lower than a snakes belly and the next he was the high hog at the trough.

•Even the Angels wanted this discouraged, distraught, depressed fisherman to know it wasn’t over!

Heaven said, “Be sure to tell Peter ( the one who Sinned, failed, denied Christ, blew it, lost it, messed up BIG TIME!) that he gets to bat again.

What you were is not what you will be! 

The Gospel sets us up for more chances, not failures. Even though we fail, sin, and make plenty of mistakes:

Peter’s Painful Regret

John 13:36-38 (NIV) 36 Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” 37 Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38 Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!

John 14:1-3 (NIV)“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[a]; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

1. Stop beating yourself up

•The good you do won’t finally save you and the bad you do won’t finally condemn you.” – Martin Luther

Psalms 38:4-8 NIV  4 My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear. 5 My wounds fester and are loathsome because of my sinful folly. 6 I am bowed down and brought very low; all day long I go about mourning. 7 My back is filled with searing pain;  there is no health in my body. 8 I am feeble and utterly crushed;   I groan in anguish of heart.

I John 3:18-21 NIV – Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.19 This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: 20 If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God

c. Your heart registers right and wrong

•You do good, your heart says nice

•You do bad, your heart says Yuk, u suck, sinner, liar, hypocrite, fake, bad, dirty, Quit. Don’t run from God when we fall, but rather run to Him. The Gospel cleaned up what we messed up! 

Hebrews 4:16 NIV – 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

d. Your accuser says, GUILTY GUILTY GUILTY but JESUS says FORGIVEN FORGIVEN FORGIVEN (If we confess our sin…)

Jesus is a greater savior than we are a sinner!

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

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

John 3:16-17 NIV – For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

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

2. We can begin again a Fresh Start  

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

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

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

The Gospel gives my life meaning and direction and the opportunity to start over no matter what my circumstances.

3. God invites us to receive Salvation.

Definition: Deliverance from the power or penalty of sin; redemption. Preservation or deliverance from destruction, difficulty, or evil. Harm, ruin, or loss.

Revelation 3:20 NIV “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”

I John 1:9  NIV If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Eternal life isn’t a reward for good people; it’s God’s gift for-given people

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

Will You Receive the Gospel Today?

“Dear God, You know every pain Ive had in my life. you know the confusion and the doubts. You know I’ve spent a lot of my time in guilt, shame, and condemnation. I’m ready for a change. I don’t want to stay the same. I need a fresh start with You. I want to live in joy, freedom, and victory. Jesus, I will learn to trust you and love you. Come into my life lead me and guide me everyday. I will rely on your power and not my own.  Thank you for giving me a brand new fresh start and saving my life. In Your Name I pray. Amen.”

Developing a Meaningful Quiet Time with God Part 2

praying-in-church

Developing a Meaningful Quiet Time with God Part 2

Matthew 11:28-29 The Msg – “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

I. Why Should we have a Quiet Time?

1. Because we need fellowship with God

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

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

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

-You make time for things that are important

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

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

Put God first in your life and day and you will have more time! Don’t allow anything to rob you of your time with God. It’s your number 1 spiritual priority.

2. Because we give devotion to God

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

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

    worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.

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

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

God seeks our worship 

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

3. Because we gain tremendous benefits from it

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

Here are the results:

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

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

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

Isaiah 40:29-31 ESV – He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. 30 Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; 31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

II. How to Have a Meaningful Time with God 

•Start with the Proper Attitudes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

•Select a Specific Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

•Choose a Special Place

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

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

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

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

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

• where you can pray aloud without disturbing others.

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

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

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

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

•Follow a Simple Plan – a Liturgy

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

Liturgy is simply your pattern of worship and prayer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

A PRAYER OF COMMITMENT

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

Recommended Prayer Books

Celtic Daily Prayer Book

 Common Prayer

The Daily Hours Manual for Prayer – Phyllis Tickle

The Valley of Vision Puritan Prayer book