Summer Concert Series Pt.4 – Take it Easy

Summer Concert Series Pt.4 – Take it Easy

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

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

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

Take it Easy Chorus 

Take It easy, take it easy 

Don’t let the sound of your own wheels 

drive you crazy – Lighten up while you still can 

don’t even try to understand 

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

Movie – Michael Douglas stars in Falling Down

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

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

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

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

Where are you going to live? Tribulation? Or Christ

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are living in Overload

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

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

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

Weariness is a trap. 

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

Rest is a choice. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

How To Take it Easy

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

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

1. Relax and Be still. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Take the Time to Pray. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How you can practice Relaxing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summer Concert Series – Landslide

Landslide – How to Handle Change in Life

It has been said that the only thing that is constant is change. Change can be a little scary. It shakes up what we know and puts us in the most uncomfortable place of what we don’t know.

Landslide Lyrics: 

I took my love, I took it down Climbed a mountain and I turned around 

And I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills ‘Til the landslide brought it down

Oh, mirror in the sky What is love?

Can the child within my heart rise above?

Can I sail through the changin’ ocean tides?

Can I handle the seasons of my life?

Well, I’ve been afraid of changin’ ‘Cause I’ve built my life around you

But time makes you bolder Even children get older And I’m getting older, too

When it comes to life change, what is God’s part and what is our part?

Philippians 2:12-13 ESV – Therefore, my beloved, fas you have always gobeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for hit is God who works in you, both to will and to work for ihis good pleasure. 

What would you like to change in your life? As I was growing up, I heard people say, “Jesus changed my life.” How does Jesus change your life? Does He do surgery or brain wash you? Zap you with something and all of a sudden you’re changed? There’s a lot of confusing advise coming out now days on how God changes us. Some people say, “Just wait on the Lord.” A passive approach. Other people say, “If it’s to be, it’s up to me.” An activist viewpoint. What am I supposed to do in order to grow? Is it all me or is it all God or is it a combination? Paul deals with this very issue. When it comes to your spiritual growth, the fact is God has a part and you have a part. Paul uses two phrases to explain this cooperation:

To “work out” means to cultivate or develop. He doesn’t say you earn your salvation. He says you make the most of what you’ve already got. You work “out” what God is working “in”.  

“…work out your salvation…” He’s talking about an individual assignment. Accept personal responsibility for your growth. Your salvation, not somebody else’s. Yours. Individually. God does not want cookie-cutter Christians. He doesn’t want a bunch of spiritual clones walking around, everybody copying each other. You are unique and individual. He wants you to be you.

Ready or not Change happens. Change imposes itself on you. It doesn’t even wait on you to be ready. It doesn’t ask for your permission. But change is not a bad word.

“Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by Change.”

Why People Resist Change

•Fear – Unknown threatens our comfort zone

•Insecurity – Thinking we will be worse off

•Power -We will lose it

•Inertia – Easier to maintain the status quo

•Energy – Takes lots of work to change

The question is, “How will you respond to it? What kind of attitude will you have toward it?”

I. DON’T FOCUS ON WHAT WAS, BUT ON WHAT CAN BE

Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV –  “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it. I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland

No one likes change EXCEPT a baby with a wet or dirty diaper. Change can be intimidating and frightening. It can be a “Landslide”. You can change and not grow…but you can’t grow without change!

•Life span for modern technology is less than 6 months

•The American worker will face up to multiple career changes

•Over 500,000 graduates have degrees in a field that becomes non-existent every year

John 5:6 ESV – When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?”

-Jesus felt it necessary to ask! You Must Want Change!

Changes in life bring changes in you!  By Product – Growth & Transformation

We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are!

II. Three Tools God Uses to Change Us

1. God Uses the Bible 

2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV – All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God[a] may be complete, equipped for every good work.

The Bible changes our thoughts so it changes us. If you want to get serious about change, you need to get into this book. Read it, study it, memorize it, meditate on it, live it in your life. The more you get the Word of God in your life, the more you’re going to be changed.

Hebrews 4:12 ESV For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

The Bible is authoritive not just bc it is a manual for living, but bc it reveals to us JESUS who has the power to CUT through all our BOLONEY and change our lives!

“The Scriptures were not given to increase our knowledge but to change our lives”

2. God Uses the Holy Spirit

Romans 8:11 ESV –   If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus[a] from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

God puts His Spirit in us. This is where the power comes from to change. Romans 8:11: “Once the Spirit lives within you, He will bring to your whole being new strength and vitality.” God will bring power into your life. The Holy Spirit is God Himself. When you commit your life to God, He comes into your life.

II Corinthians 3:18 Living Bible – But we Christians have no veil over our faces; we can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord. And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him.

The Holy Spirit in you gives you the desire and the power to change. God’s number one purpose in your life is not to make you happy, but to make you like Jesus.

(1 Thessalonians 5:19, 23 NIV) “Do not put out the Spirit’s fire…May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

“Every time we say “I believe in the Holy Spirit,” we mean that we believe that there is a living God able and willing to enter into human personality and change it” JB Phillips

God’s ideal is to tell us how to change through His word and give us the power to change through His Spirit. You read it and then He empowers you to do it. Unfortunately, we don’t always follow the ideal. So God has to use a third way to change us when we don’t respond to the Word or the Holy Spirit.

3. God Uses Circumstances

Problems, pressures, headaches, difficulties, stress always gets our attention.

Romans 8:28-29 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. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 

There is nothing that could come into the life of a believer without God’s permission. He doesn’t say they are all good, but He will use them for good to fit into a pattern. There is a divine pattern.

Proverbs 20:30 Good News Translation – Sometimes it takes a painful experience to make us change our ways.

We rarely change until we get desperate. We don’t change too often when we see the light, but we always change when we feel the heat. God lights a fire under us and we get moving. Often we will put up with things we know needs to be changed in our lives until we being to be uncomfortable. God sometimes has to bring some thunderstorms into our lives to say, “Do something. I want you to change. Don’t get stuck in a rut.” (A rut is just a grave with the ends kicked out.)

Learn to see the Purpose in the Pain – God is more interested in your character than your comfort.

Three Ways We Can Cooperate with God and Change

1. I Can Choose What I Think About    

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

Your Thoughts not only shape your life, your thoughts are your life! You will never change your life until you change the way you think.

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

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

Change begins in your Mind. Your mind is the drawing room for your tomorrow. What happens in your mind will happen in time.

Psalm 1:1-3 NIV – Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.

The key to success is meditating on God’s Word. Another word for meditation is “rumination” – what a cow does when it chews it cud. The cow is straining every once of nourishment it can out of that grass

•Meditation is Thought Digestion

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

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

2. I Can Choose to Depend on The Holy Spirit

John 15:4-5 ESV – Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

A branch is totally dependant upon the vine. When it is cut off from that vine, it won’t bear any grapes, or figs, or whatever. A branch cannot produce fruit by itself. It’s got to be connected. Jesus is saying that’s the way we have to be with God. We have to be plugged in. God has the power. But it’s not automatic. It’s when you’re plugged in, tuned in to God that the power comes through you.

Fruit is an inside job

Galatians 5:22-23 ESV – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

3. I Can Choose My Response to Life

Romans 5:3-4 ESV– Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,

You cannot control all the circumstances in your life, but you can control how you choose to respond to them. It’s not what happens to us that matters; it’s what happens in us that makes the difference.

James 1:2-4 ESV – Count it all joy, my brothers,[a] when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Don’t ask why, ask What

II Corinthians 4:17-18 NLT  For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

What do you want to change the most about yourself? The power to change comes from God’s power and your choices. When you choose to do the right thing, God gives you the power. What God tells you to do He gives you the power to do. Whatever you want to change it takes cooperation with God. He will work it in if you will work it out. God has promised to give you both the desire, the will power and the ability to make those changes. He will do it through His word and through His spirit. He will energize your life to make those changes. But it starts with our choices

How to Radically Improve Your Life Pt.3 – Making Decisions

How to Radically Improve Your Life Pt.3 – Making Decisions 

The personal manager had advertised a job opening, and a large group of applicants was waiting in her waiting room. The first young man was ushered into her office, and she began explaining the job to him. “We need someone in this job who can make fast decisions,” she said, “someone who can really think on his feet. Can you show me that you’re capable of doing that?” Without a word, the young man got to his feet, stuck his head out the door, and announced to the waiting applicants, “Okay, you guys. You can all go home- the job’s just been filled.”

You cannot make Progress or Improvements without making Decisions.

Introduction: The life you experience in many ways is the sum total of the decisions you make. Our study today speaks to us of the importance of decisions. Our life is shaped largely by the decisions we make. I am what I am—for both good and for bad—as a Christian, as a husband, as a father, as a worker, and as a person mostly because of past decisions I have made in my life.

The average person makes 70 conscious decisions every day. That 25,550 decisions a year. Over 70 years that’s 1,788,500 decisions. You put all that together and that’s basically your life.

One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words. It is expressed in the choices one makes. In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility. Eleanor Roosevelt

You are where you are today mainly because of the decisions you have made. 20 years from now you will arrive at the destination your decisions carry you to.

Interestingly, the number one influencer of the decisions is not the info you are given, it is your state of mind when you make the decision.

The sad fact is – most of the biggest decisions a person makes are made from a BAD state of mind. Never make a major decision when you are angry, tired, or frustrated. Never make permanent decisions based on temporary feelings.

The greatest power that has been given into the hands of man is the power to make decisions for himself.

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?

• What we are going to wear

• When we are going to get up in the morning

• Where we are going and how we are going to get there

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.

God never intended us to operate on a hit or miss basis. Things do not happen because of fate.There are 5 Causes of incidents in our lives:

1. God influences, leads, and directs us

2. Satan comes to steal, kill, or destroy

3. Other people make decisions and those actions affect me

4. Natural physical incidents in the world impact us

5. I make decisions & carry them out

Galatians 6:7-8 NIV – Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

Don’t go through life allowing things to happen, instead make thing things happen! Your Life now is a reflection of your past decisions.

Unsuccessful people make decisions based on their current situations. Successful people make decisions based on where they want to be.

1. Your Successes and Failures are Determined by Your Decisions

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

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

We have the power to: come and go, make friends or enemies, choose good and evil, obey or disobey, change our ways ore remain the same, handle our finances or ignore them, build or terminate our relationships, live or die, etc!

Decision are not usually made in a vacuum. They are created by the influences that are around you. Your culture-Your training-Your beliefs-your family-your friends

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.

What makes the difference in the quality of people’s lives?  Any study of history shows that the difference in human beings comes down to one thing: an ability to harness the power of decision, often in spite of adverse conditions. The history of our world is the result of decisions.

Hebrews 11:23-27 NIVBy faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.

•What happens TO you in life, not as imp as decisions u make

•Choices matter more than circumstances

•You make your choices, then they make you

-Never allow yourself to be defined by someone else’s opinion. Refused to be defined by others.

• Moses had an Identity Crisis – Born of Hebrew slaves but raised as Egyptian royalty palace; Had to decide: Who am I?   It would affect rest of life!

God didn’t create you to be what someone else wants you to be!

It’s the power of decision that caused:

•Rosa Parks to remain in her seat and state, “No, I will not go to the back of the bus.”  It would change the structure of society, racism, social justice, and the world.

George Jones was a country music icon from the old school. A lot of his songs are the stereotypical country “cheat’n & drink’n” songs. And the fact that George Jones had a drinking problem was no secret. But on March 6, 1999 country music fans were horrified to hear that Jones was critically injured when he crashed his Lexus into a bridge in Nashville. The investigation showed that George had been drunk at the wheel. Thankfully he recovered, and two months later his new album called “Cold Hard Truth” came out and on it was a hit song titled “Choices”, and ironically the hook line says, “I’m Living And Dying With The Choices I Made”.

  1. Results of Bad Decisions 

Someone once said Bad decisions make good stories LOL 

How many people do you know who have ruined their lives or ended them because they made a bad decision? How many people do you know who when they reach a crossroads in their life, they take the wrong turn and end up regretting it.

A young man asked the old man, “What’s the secret of your success?” Good decisions, he replied. How do you learn to make good decisions? You get that by experience. How do you get experience? By making bad decisions.

1. Tom Selleck turned down the Lead role of Indiana Jones

2. A thief stole 2 live lobsters and decided to stick them down his pants

3. Bank robber in Germany pulls out a gun & demands $. Teller said she needed his ID. So he gets it out, takes the cash and leaves the ID.

4. The girl who told Bill Gates, It’s the computer or me

5. Pausing for a moment, when your wife asks you, “Do I look fat in this?”

6. Illus. – At seven o’clock on the morning of December 7, 1941 two US soldiers were on duty at a small radar station in the Pacific ocean. Suddenly, their radar screen filled up with hundreds of dots, until entirely filled. These soldiers quickly notified their young supervisor, a lieutenant. No other officer was around, it being a Sunday, so the lieutenant thought these must be planes from California, and without another thought, said these critical words: “Don’t worry about it.”

Twenty minutes later, at 7:50, the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor began. 353 Japanese airplanes swarmed over the harbor, and within a couple of hours, America lost 8 battleships, 6 major airfields, almost all its planes, and 2,400 men.

There would have been time to scramble the planes at Pearl Harbor, prepare the battleships, and shelter the men, but this lieutenant, in the most important moment of his career, made a very simple, seemingly insignificant decision that had momentous consequences.

The Prodigal Son’s Decision:

Luke 15:11-20 NIV –  Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

This young man comes to his senses after a bad decision and starts thinking about what his life SHOULD be like instead of what his life IS LIKE. Making a right decision is the key! He decides to leave the pig pen!

•The floodgates can be open with ONE DECISION. Bringing us joy or sorrow, prosperity or poverty, companionship or solitude, long life or early death.

Our pig pens (Bad decisions) come in many forms but all have a common denominator: “A place where people end up, but never planned on going to.”

You make decisions and decisions will make you.” – Lester Sumrall

Decision is the ultimate power—and there are three core decisions each of us makes every moment we’re alive. These decisions have the capacity to empower, advance, frustrate or derail us, depending on what we choose:

“The greatest power that a person possesses is the power to choose” J Martin Kohe

Questions to ask before making major decisions

•How does this decision line up with my mission and purpose for life? How does this help me achieve my mission in life or fulfill my purpose in life?

•What does the Bible tell me about this decision?

•Is this decision based on myself or is it focused on others?

•Have I sought the will of God in this decision?

•Have I spent time in prayer to seek God’s guidance in this decision?

2. Decision Guidelines To Improve Your Life

Recognizing that you may be facing a difficult decision right now, or soon will be, I want to give you some “guidance guidelines” from Proverbs that will help you make wise choices.

  1. Lordship. Is Jesus occupying first place in your life? Are you willing to do His will, whatever it will be?                                                                                                                                   Proverbs 3:7 NIV – Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil 
  1. Scripture. What principles, commands, or prohibitions from the Bible apply to the decision you need to make? Has God given any promises or motivating verses on the subject? Most of the situations we’re faced with are already dealt with in the Word of God. Proverbs 13:13: “He who scorns instruction will pay for it, but he who respects a command is rewarded.”
  1. Prayer. Have I prayed about the decision? Am I seeking the Lord daily and allowing Him time to give me His direction? Most of the bad decisions I make are the result of not taking the necessary time to lay things out before the Lord. Here’s a principle: When possible, choose to pray and ponder for at least 24 hours before making a decision. Solomon wrote in Proverbs 21:5 NIV: “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.”
  1. Wise counsel. We’ve already mentioned this one but don’t underestimate its importance. Proverbs 19:20: “Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise.” When faced with a decision, find a faithful friend or two and ask for their input.

It’s not what we do ONCE in a while that counts, but our consistant actions and decisions we do.  What you do daily determines your future

“Success and failure are not overnight experiences. It’s the small decisions along the way that cause people to fail or succeed.” –Anthony Robbins

Is there anything you are not happy about in your life, career, health and money? Make a decision Right Now about how you are going to change it.

Don’t waste your life! Don’t settle for second best! Don’t go through life just existing, coping, or getting by!

The more Decisions you make, the better you become at making them. (Muscles get stronger with use)

Choose to Serve God Today 

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

“God takes full responsibility for the life that is totally yielded to Him.”

My Evening Prayer Liturgy

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My Evening Prayer Liturgy

The Call To Prayer 

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

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

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

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

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

Confession of Sin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Expressions of faith

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

and though I am poor, today I believe.

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

and though I am weak, today I believe.

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

and though of anxious heart, today I believe.

Lord, You have always kept me safe in trials;

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

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

and though it may be hidden, today I believe.

Lord, You have always lightened this darkness of mine;

and though the night is here, today I believe.

Lord, You have always spoken when time was ripe;

and though you be silent now, today I believe.

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

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

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

The Lord’s Prayer 

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

Concluding Prayer

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

The grace of a thankful and uncomplaining heart;

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

The grace of courage whether in suffering or in danger;

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

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

The grace of being adequately prepared for any temptation;

The grace of physical discipline;

The grace of truthfulness;

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

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

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

The grace of forgiveness toward all who have wronged me;

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

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

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

The F Word: Finding Success in Failure

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The F Word: Finding Success in Failure

The Would Be Bankrobber

He felt like a failure! Everything he attempted seemed to turn out wrong. He began to fantasize about being rich. He would do the one thing he could do to make the most money in the briefest period of time. He would take up the occupation of bank robbing.

The would-be bank robber began to plan his strategy. He sat up late at night working on detailed plans, drawing sketches and going over steps he would take in robbing the bank. But he could never seem to get around to robbing the bank. He would plan each night, but when morning came, his anxiety paralyzed him, again.

One night he determined that his mind was made up. Regardless of his feelings he would force himself to rob the bank the next morning. The next morning an anxiety attack paralyzed him again. Finally he came through it and forced himself to get into his car and go to the bank.

The reluctant bank robber sat in the car in the parking lot from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. trying to force himself out of the car. Finally, he got out of the car and went into the bank. At the teller’s window he handed the teller his pistol. He stuck his brown paper bag in her face and said, “Don’t stick with me. This is a mess-up.”

Psalm 37:23-25 NIV – The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; 24 though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand. 25 I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.

How do you respond when you have failed? Do you avoid taking risks for fear of failure? A successful person is not one who never fails. A successful person is one who learns from his/her mistakes and failures and grows from them. Be developed by failure, instead of destroyed by it.

7 years old — Family lost their home. He went to work to support them.

9 years old– A backward, shy little boy …. his mother died.

22 years old– Lost his job as a store clerk …. couldn’t fulfill his dream of going to law school. Didn’t have enough education.

23 years old– Became a partner in a small store …. three years later his business partner died leaving him a huge debt that took years to repay.

28 years old — He proposed marriage to a young lady he had been seeing for four years. She said, “No.” He had earlier been in love with a young lady and she with him, but it ended in heartache when she died.

37 years old– He was elected to Congress on his third try.

39 years old– He failed to be re-elected …. had a nervous breakdown.

41 years old– In the midst of a very unhappy marriage, his four year old son died.

42 years old– He was rejected for position of Land Officer.

45 years old– He ran for the Senate and lost.

47 years old– He was defeated in his nomination for Vice President.

49 years old– He ran for the Senate and lost again.

* Add to this an endless barrage of criticism, false rumors and misunderstandings.

51 years old– He was elected President of the United States …. second term in office was cut short by an assassin’s bullet

— As this man lay dying …. Edwin Stanton, one of his former opponents and bitterest enemies said: “There lies the most perfect ruler of men the world has ever seen …. now he belongs to the ages.” …. This man’s name: Abraham Lincoln.

Failure is the state or condition of not meeting a desirable or intended objective, and may be viewed as the opposite of success

God Anticipates our Failure 

Psalms 103:13-14 NIV – As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; 14 for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.

Romans 3:10 NIV – As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one;

“We are all failures- at least the best of us are.” J.M. Barrie

1 Corinthians. 10:11-12 MSG These are all warning markers—danger!—in our history books, written down so that we don’t repeat their mistakes. Our positions in the story are parallel—they at the beginning, we at the end—and we are just as capable of messing it up as they were. Don’t be so naive and self-confident. You’re not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence. 

“God uses people who fail – cause there aren’t any other kind around.” John Maxwell

Finding the Success in Failure

II Corinthians 4:7-10 NIV – But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body

  1. Failure is Unavoidable

Face the facts. You are human. No matter who you are, no matter what your walk of life, you will make mistakes. If you don’t make mistakes, there could be something wrong with you!

Ecclesiastes 3:6 AMP  “A time to get and a time to lose …” 

Theodore Roosevelt said, “The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything.” The simple reality is that failure is one of those ugly realities of life—a common experience to all of us

John 21:3 NLT “Simon Peter said, „I‟m going fishing.‟ „We‟ll come, too,‟ they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night.” 

2. Understand that Failure is a moment in your life, not a monument.

Too many times when people fail, they erect a monument to their mistake, and spend the rest of their lives re-living the event. To turn failure into success, take a moment and evaluate what went wrong, establish a new way of doing things, and then keep moving.

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

Failures only last as long as you allow them. Failure do not mean failure – unless you refuse to learn from them. Ask yourself what lesson you need to learn so that you can move on.

Don’t confuse Failure with being a Failure

Galatians 6:9 NLT   “So let‟s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don‟t give up.” 

Remember: I am not a failure until I give up!

Babe Ruth – With his reputation as the King of Home Runs came the title of the King of Strikeouts. Alongside his 714 career home runs stood a legacy of 1,330 strikeouts—a strikeout was only a momentary, if melodramatic, setback. He said “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run,”

Realize that there is One major difference between average and achieving people. How people see failures and deal with it impact every aspect of their lives

Failure in life may look like a fact, but its only an opinion.

You have to look at failure differently. You have the potential to overcome failures, misfortunes, difficulties, all you have to do is to learn to fail forward

3. Find the silver lining in the cloud of failure

Don’t allow a failure to go unsearched. Learning from a mistake, results in taking a major step toward success. When we see our mistakes and are willing to change, we position ourselves for success.

Proverbs 3:13 NIV – Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding,

“If God cushioned our every blow, we would never learn to grow.” Mike Murdock

“If stupidity got us into this mess, then why can’t it get us out?” Will Rogers 🙂

Begin to see Failure as your friend. Although they may seem uncomfortable and painful at the time, you can turn them around to your benefit.“No man ever became great or good except through many and great mistakes.” Failure is simply an opportunity to learn.

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

Failures and mistakes can be a bridge not a barricade

Thomas Edison invented the microphone, the phonograph, the incandescent light, the storage battery, talking movies, and more than 1000 other things. December 1914 he had worked for 10 years on a storage battery. This had greatly strained his finances. This particular evening spontaneous combustion had broken out in the film room. Within minutes all the packing compounds, celluloid for records and film, and other flammable goods were in flames. Fire companies from eight surrounding towns arrived, but the heat was so intense and the water pressure so low that the attempt to douse the flames was futile. Everything was destroyed. Edison was 67.

With all his assets going up in a whoosh (although the damage exceeded two million dollars, the buildings were only insured for $238,000 because they were made of concrete and thought to be fireproof), would his spirit be broken?

The inventor’s 24-year old son, Charles, searched frantically for his father. He finally found him, calmly watching the fire, his face glowing in the reflection, his white hair blowing in the wind. “My heart ached for him,” said Charles. “He was 67—no longer a young man—and everything was going up in flames. When he saw me, he shouted, ‘Charles, where’s your mother?’ When I told him I didn’t know, he said, ‘Find her. Bring her here. She will never see anything like this as long as she lives.’”

The next morning, Edison looked at the ruins and said, “There is great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God we can start anew.” Three weeks after the fire, Edison managed to deliver the first phonograph.

Vernon Sanders said, “Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, and the lesson afterwards.”

4. Don’t Let Failure Stop you before you Succeed 

Have you ever not started something because you felt that the conditions had to be perfect before you stepped out? If so, then chances are you never accomplished anything of great value. Don’t let failure cause you to stop short of complete victory and live to regret it later!

Hebrews 10:36-39 MSG – Remember those early days after you first saw the light? Those were the hard times! Kicked around in public, targets of every kind of abuse—some days it was you, other days your friends. If some friends went to prison, you stuck by them. If some enemies broke in and seized your goods, you let them go with a smile, knowing they couldn’t touch your real treasure. Nothing they did bothered you, nothing set you back. So don’t throw it all away now. You were sure of yourselves then. It’s still a sure thing! But you need to stick it out, staying with God’s plan so you’ll be there for the promised completion. It won’t be long now, he’s on the way; he’ll show up most any minute. But anyone who is right with me thrives on loyal trust; if he cuts and runs, I won’t be very happy. But we’re not quitters who lose out. Oh, no! We’ll stay with it and survive, trusting all the way.

Winston Churchill said, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

The fact that you’ve failed is proof that you are not finished

You don’t drown by falling in the water, you drown by staying there.

5. Failure is Forgivable 

There is grace when you make a mistake. Don’t allow discouragement to cripple you from trying or to keep you from getting back up again. Remain humble and teachable. When you make a mistake, admit it, confess it, and go on. Be honest with others and welcome their input so you can continue on your course without delay

1929 Rose Bowl

On New Year’s Day, 1929, Georgia Tech played University of California in the Rose Bowl. In that game a man named Roy Riegels recovered a fumble for California. Somehow, he became confused and started running 65 yards in the wrong direction. One of his teammates, Benny Lom, outdistanced him and downed him just before he scored for the opposing team. When California attempted to punt, Tech blocked the kick and scored a safety which was the ultimate margin of victory.

That strange play came in the first half, and everyone who was watching the game was asking the same question: “What will Coach Nibbs Price do with Roy Riegels in the second half?” The men filed off the field and went into the dressing room. They sat down on the benches and on the floor, all but Riegels. He put his blanket around his shoulders, sat down in a corner, put his face in his hands, and cried like a baby.

If you have played football, you know that a coach usually has a great deal to say to his team during half time. That day Coach Price was quiet. No doubt he was trying to decide what to do with Riegels. Then the timekeeper came in and announced that there were three minutes before playing time. Coach Price looked at the team and said simply, “Men the same team that played the first half will start the second.” The players got up and started out, all but Riegels. He did not budge. the coach looked back and called to him again; still he didn’t move. Coach Price went over to where Riegels sat and said, “Roy, didn’t you hear me? The same team that played the first half will start the second.” Then Roy Riegels looked up and his cheeks were wet with a strong man’s tears.

“Coach,” he said, “I can’t do it to save my life. I’ve ruined you, I’ve ruined the University of California, I’ve ruined myself. I couldn’t face that crowd in the stadium to save my life.”

Then Coach Price reached out and put his hand on Riegel’s shoulder and said to him: “Roy, get up and go on back; the game is only half over.” And Roy Riegels went back, and those Tech men will tell you that they have never seen a man play football as Roy Riegels played that second half.

Include God In My Failure 

Philippians 3:8 MSG – The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness.

TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR MY FAILURE

Proverbs 28:13 TLB  A man who refuses to admit his mistakes can never be successful. But if he confesses and forsakes them, he gets another chance.

I John 1:8-9 NIV – If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Let Go of my Guilt

Colossians 2:14 NIV having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.

Romans 8:1 NIV – Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,

Don’t let your failures bury you. Let them Inspire you! Yesterdays failures can become todays success! God is in the restoration and recovery business.

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.

Spiritual Priorities: How Should We Live

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Spiritual Priorities: How Should We Live

Introduction: Beware Of Terrorist Groups In Church

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

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

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

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

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

TEXTS:

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

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

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

What does it mean to be a Christian?

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

2 Reasons People Don’t Become Christians

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

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

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

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

How Should We Live?

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

1. Live With Humility 

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

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

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

It recognizes how inadequate we are by ourselves.

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

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

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

2. Live With Simplicity 

Freedom from complexity. We live mismanaged lifestyles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Live With Faith

Potentiality for favorable or interesting results.

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

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

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

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

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

•Believing when I donʼt see it. 

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

certain of what we do not see.” 

•Obeying when I donʼt understand it. 

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

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

something that had never happened before.” 

•Persisting when I donʼt feel like it. 

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

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

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

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

Trusting if I donʼt get it. 

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

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

something better…”

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

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

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

4. Live With Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How?

•Accept others unconditionally.

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

you, in order to bring praise to God.”

•Encourage others continually.

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

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

•Serve people cheerfully.

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

to serve others…”

•Forgive others freely.

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

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

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

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

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

I HAVE DECIDED TO LIVE AS CHRIST LIVED:

To follow the example set by Christ.

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

Christ.

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

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

tells him to, he is a liar.

To declare my commitment publicly.

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

also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever

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

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

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Developing a Meaningful Quiet Time with God Part 1

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

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

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

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

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

Our need – Meaningful Quiet time with God 

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

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

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

•YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD IS MEANT to grow. 

•SPIRITUAL GROWTH IS A LIFE-LONG journey. 

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

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

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

What is a Quiet Time?

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

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

Solitary – being alone

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

1. A Time of Silence and Solitude

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

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

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

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

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

It causes us to look within first

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Happens When I Spend Time With God?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do we listen to that “other voice”? 

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

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

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

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

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

Ending: You Can be friends with God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Say YES to Jesus

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

Spiritual Priorities: The Sacrament of Communion

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The Sacrament of Communion

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

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

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

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

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

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

Passover – A lamb without blemish was slain and sacrificed.

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

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

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

Introduction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is the Lord’s Supper? 

1. It’s a Reminder

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

Remember what? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. It’s a Symbol

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

b. Forgiveness of sin

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

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

•The hymn, “Nothing But the Blood”

3. It’s a Statement of Faith

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

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

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

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

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

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

What will I do?

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

1. Examine Myself

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

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

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

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

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

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

Examining yourself is certainly not the same as condemning yourself.

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

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

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

•Mirror – reflects, reveals

2. Confess my Sins

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

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

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

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

Consequences of Sin – Spiritual death, eternal separation from God

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

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

Jesus is a greater savior than we are a sinner!

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

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

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

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

Confession of Sin

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

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

3. Recommit My Life to God

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

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

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

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

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

Any hope for you? YES!

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

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

Communion liturgy

Jesus said: I am the bread of life.

All who come to me shall not hunger,

and all who believe in me shall not thirst.

With Christians around the world

and throughout the centuries,

we gather around these symbols

of bread and wine—simple elements

that speak of nourishment and transformation.

Let us pray.

Loving God, we thank you 

that you are as close to us as breath, 

that your love is constant and unfailing.

We thank you for all that sustains life, 

and especially for Jesus Christ,

who teaches us how to live out 

an ethic of justice and peace,

and for the promise of transformation

made manifest in his life, death and resurrection.

We ask you to bless this bread and this cup.

Through this meal, make us the body of Christ,

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

We remember on the night

when Jesus and the disciples

had their last meal together,

Jesus took the bread, gave thanks,

and gave it to the disciples,

saying “This is my body, 

which is broken for you. 

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

[Distribution of the bread.]

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

and dedicate ourselves

to being his disciples.

In the same way he took the cup,

and after giving thanks

he gave it to the disciples, saying:

Drink this, all of you. 

This cup is the new covenant,

poured out for you and for many

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

[Distribution of the wine.]“

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

Let us pray. We give thanks, loving God,

that you have refreshed us at your table.

Strengthen our faith; 

increase our love for one another.

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

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

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