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

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

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

Opportunities Missed 

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

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

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

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

I.  Live GENEROUSLY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Your standard of giving reflects your standard of living”

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

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

•A quality of heart and mind opposed to meanness

•A nobleness of soul that is empowered to bestow favor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

II. Live Boldy 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

III. Live Gratefully

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Miracles Pt.4 – How To Receive a Financial Miracle

Miracles Pt. 4 – How to Receive a Financial Miracle

Today some will “Get this” and others will “Forget this!” Be the person who Get’s It! (Tap yourself on your head and heart and say, “I’m getting This”)

Psalm 77:14 NIV – You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples. 

Need a financial miracle?  The wrong place to look for answers and direction is Google Search.I did a search on “how to pray for financial miracles.”

The first reference was an ad offering me a miracle prayer cloth.

I believe in prayer cloths. . .I have given them away in times past and may even do so again because Paul gave them away in the book of Acts when the anointing was strong.  However, I don’t think a prayer cloth is the first key to your miracle.

The second reference began by saying:

“Dear Lord, we pray for a favor that financial miracles may come our way the soonest. We don’t ask for more than what we need Lord.

We just need the right amount we need to clear all our debts as well as my spouse’s. Nothing more than that Lord.”

Ok, I’m good with the prayer cloth. . .but let me tell you I’m going to ask for more than what I need. . .because there’s a world that needs my help as well.  Money is not just about me and mine.

Anyone who would limit or restrict God’s blessing flow needs a check-up from the neck-up. . .and a better understanding of the Word.

Miracle – an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs. A supernatural manifestation of divine power in the external world. a spontaneous expression of God’s elemental power.

No matter what your current economic status is, God can and desires to bring Financial Miracles into your life and family. Expect it!

Luke 1:37 ESV37 “For nothing will be impossible with God.” 

•NIV – For no word from God will ever fail.

Mark 10:27 NIV27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

  1. You can Expect Miracles of Divine Provision for Your Needs

Expectation – is to have a strong desire and be filled with anticipation and confidence in obtaining what is hoped for and expected

Expectation Believes What God says will come to pass

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

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

•Expectation is believing in things when common sense tells you not to

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

Have faith in God to provide supernaturally in spite of the natural, physical, and economic situation. I believe God can supply miracles of provision when there seems to be no possible way for the provision to come to us.

Genesis 22:14 NIV – So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

Psalm 78:23-25 NIV – Yet he gave a command to the skies above and opened the doors of the heavens; 24 he rained down manna for the people to eat, he gave them the grain of heaven. 25 Human beings ate the bread of angels; he sent them all the food they could eat

We can move into our financial miracle when all normal resources have been exhausted. My scarcity doesn’t determine God’s capacity for miraculous generosity.

I Kings 17:1-16 NIV – Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe[a] in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.”Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah: “Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.” So he did what the Lord had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. Then the word of the Lord came to him: “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.” 10 So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” 11 As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.” 12 “As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.” 13 Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. 14 For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’”15 She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. 16 For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah

So, Don’t Worry

I can assure you that He will supply your financial needs.

You won’t have to worry about having a roof over your head because He will supply. You don’t have to worry about food or clothes because He will supply.

Don’t Worry About Your Finances – God Knows and He Will Supply

Luke 22:22-24 NIV – Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!

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

2. Activate Your Faith to Receive a Financial Miracles 

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

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

You Must Believe who God is

You either have a history of Believing God or a history of Forgetting God!

Jeremiah 24:7 NIV  I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart. 

1 Thessalonians 2:13 NIV –  We also thank God continually because, when you received the Word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it, not as the word of men, but actually as it is, the Word of God, which is at work in you who believe. 

Believing is called Faith

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

The Bible says in Matthew 9:29 “According to your faith it will be done unto you.”   What are you expecting God to do in your life?  This is the law that God has established.  It’s called the Law of Faith.  The fact is, we get what we expect out of life.  We see what we expect to see.  We  hear what we expect to hear.  We feel the way we expect to feel.  We inevitably accomplish what we expect what we’re going to accomplish.  This is the law of faith.  God says you get to choose.  Because “According to your faith it will be done unto you.”

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

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

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

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

•“Faith is like a light bulb. You turn it on when you can’t see” 

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

Ephesians 1:17-19 NIV17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit[a] of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength

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

Believing is the process of receiving and manifesting the reality of our hopes into our lives. For Christians, faith in action is believing and obeying the Word of God. Christians are called believers for a reason – they believe.

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

•There is no situation in your life too difficult for God to turn around. Only believe! We get what we believe for!

The PRAYER of FAITH – It’s you asking God for a particular outcome, whether its a job, money, a person, whatever.

Mark 11:22-24 ESV22 And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. 23 Truly, I say to you, whoever SAYS to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received[a] it, and it will be yours.

FAITH MOVES GOD TO ACT ON MY BEHALF

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

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

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

3. Ask God Specifically for your Financial Miracle 

Do you want a raise?  How much?  When do you want the raise to become effective? Money for a vehicle?

When do you plan to pay off your first debt?  How will you do it?  What’s your plan?  When and how will you pay off your second debt?

Our God is a God of being specific –  which is why you must be specific in your miracle prayer request. Being Specific greatly increases the likelihood of greater results.

Matthew 7:7-8 ESV – 7 “Ask (Not whine or complain), and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

Ask – to want or desire something, to inquire, to request, to crave, to call for, to demand.”

Listen…We don’t ASK too much of God, but far too little

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

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

Anything: any thing whatever; something, no matter what: a thing of any kind. in any degree; to any extent; in any way; at all:

•If you want to see Extraordinary Results in prayer, then be specific when you ask God for what you want, need, or desire. Clarity is the key.

If you are not clear, Faith cannot bring you what you want, need, or desire. a mixed frequency with your asking may produce no results. Get SPECIFIC with God and ASK Him.

Matthew 21:22, Whatsoever you ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive.

•“Whatever & Anything” is an Extraordinary promise. What is your Financial Anything?

4. Practice Generosity through Tithes and Offerings 

God wants to bless you and prosper you in your finances and in all areas of your life, but there is a spiritual principle that we must follow in obeying and giving that unleashes God’s supernatural provision!

Malachi 3:10-12 ESV10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. 11 I will rebuke the devourer[a] for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts. 12 Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts.

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

Tithe – means returning a tenth (10%) to the Lord- It’s God’s idea.

•Tithe puts us all on the same level of sacrifice. It is worship to God. It must be returned to God. Returning not Giving.

Tithing is not a mosaic innovation, but it is a legalization of what Abraham had done VOLUNTARILY 400 years before the Law came. He tithed to the Lord as a lifestyle principle, not a ritual or rule.  

Deuteronomy 14:23 LB “The purpose of tithing is to teach you to always put God in first place in your life.”

Years ago John D. Rockefeller was the Bill Gates of America.  He was the wealthiest man in the world, president of Standard Oil.  He was asked, “What is the secret of your prosperity?”  He said this. “Tithe ten-percent, save ten-percent and live on the rest.” That’s the 10-10-80 principle.

John G McCoy, Pres/CEO of Bank One told Les Wexner when he was a young man and just starting out, that he should start Tithing financially and he did. Les said he was so nervous he thought they were calling in his loan and he was on the verge of passing out. 🙂

Proverbs 3:9-10 NIV “Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.”

OfferingsAnything you deem necessary to give over and above your Tithe.

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

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

  • Your giving and generosity should be directly tied to what God allows to come into your life.

    2 Corinthians 9:6-8, NIV 6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work
  • •••”There’s no reason to be the richest man in the cemetery. You can’t do any business from there” Col. Sanders  (he gave $2 million to the AG missions prior to his death)

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

Luke 6:38 NIV – Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

When you believe God’s promises and obey His Word, you can activate a season of miracles in your life TODAY!

Declaration – We declare that God’s favor is on your life! That your work, career and company are successful and fulfilling, and your finances are blessed. We declare that your out of debt and your every need is met and You have plenty more to put in store and you will lend and not borrow. And that you will have more than enough for you and your family, able to share with others, and generously sow into God’s Kingdom. My miracles are expanding and accelerating. Today I expect and happily receive financial miracles.”

Prayer – Father, Your Word declares in 3 John 1:2 Beloved, I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers. It is your desire for us that we would experience prosperity in all that we put our hands to do.

For there is great need in this world, and we desire to be in a position that we can give to every good work, that the Kingdom may advance and lives can be transformed by your amazing love.

We speak forth promotions, business ideas, divine connections and partnerships.

We stir up the same creative spirit that made the heavens and the Earth, to bring forth new ideas and inventions for the betterment of this world, that we can be a blessing to many. In Jesus Name, AMEN.

The Best Year of Your Life Pt.2 Today Matters

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

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

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

•Who am I going to marry?

•What is going to happen in my career?

•Am I going to be Successful?

•Is my marriage going to last?

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

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

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

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

TO RESOLVE: to decide, settle, determine, purpose 

RESOLUTION: a firm determination to do something

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

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

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

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

The Truth About LIFE

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

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

1. Life is Fleeting

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

2. Life is Valuable

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today Matters!

Choose to make today a ridiculously amazing day!

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

We have a tendency to over exaggerate yesterday

We have a tendency to over estimate tomorrow

We always under estimate today

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

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

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

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

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

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

This year I’m going to…

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

3. Live Today with Passion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quotes:

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

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

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

3 Things To Remember and 3 Things To Do in 2016

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3 Things To Remember and 3 Things To Do in 2016

3 Things To Remember

(Colossians 1:28-29 NLT) “So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ. That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me.”

1. Help People find Jesus. 

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

(1 Corinthians 9:22 LB) “…yes, whatever a person is like, I try to find common ground with him so he will let me tell him about Christ and let Christ save him.”

•The church is the primary place where people come to faith in Christ and begin to live as Christians. Lost people matter to God & therefore ought to matter to the church.

•65 Fresh Starts/salvations and 24 water baptisms in 2015

(Luke 14:23 LB) “Go out into the country…and urge anyone you find to come in, so that My house will be full.”

•Be a Bringer! Who can you bring with you in 2016

2. Help People find relationships.
(James 5:16 NIV) “
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” 

(Romans 12:5 NLT) “…Since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others.”

•GraceTown Life Groups Starting 3 week in January

3. Help People Grow Spiritually. 

(Ephesians 4:11-13 NLT) “Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.” 

(2 Timothy 3:16-17 NLT) “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.”

•God’s Word is the the primary catalyst for transformation and spiritual growth. You will never grow up as fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ on a diet of spiritual twinkies.

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

Knowing God’s Word is the Pathway to Knowing God. You will never be more spiritual than you are scriptural!

•Upcoming spiritual growth class – The Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster starting next Sunday with Teacher Steve Light 8am & 9am in Kidstown Classroom.

3 Things To Do

1. Pray.

(Matthew 9:37-38 NIV) “Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’”

(Ephesians 1:17-18 NIV) I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.

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

“When we work, we work; but when we pray, God works.”- Max Lucado

•If you and I are too busy to Pray, we give our spiritual life a funeral! Prayer is a necessity, not an option!

•Make a commitment of 10-15 minutes to start your day each morning with prayer and devotion to God. 

•Churchwide Call To Prayer and Fasting for 7 Days starting January 11-18 – we will spend 7 days focused and seeking after God

One prayer can change ANYTHING. one prayer can change EVERYTHING

2. Serve.

(Ephesians 2:10 NIV) “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

The Big Idea: In the world, greatness is determined by how many people SERVE YOU; but, in God’s kingdom, greatness is determined by how many people YOU SERVE.

(Galatians 6:4 MSG) “Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that.”

“This is a story about 4 people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did. Somebody got angry with that because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought that Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody would not do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.”

“Hillsong Church is not built on the gifts and talents of a few, but on the sacrifice of many.” Brian Houston

•Use your gifts, talents, and abilities to serve and be a part of the Dream Team at GraceTown

3. Give.

(Luke 18:29-30 GW) “I guarantee this. Anyone who gives up anything for the kingdom of God will certainly receive many times more in this life and will receive eternal life in the next world to come.”

(Mark 8:35 LB) “If you insist on saving your life, you will lose it. Only those who throw away their lives for My sake and for the sake of the Good News will ever know what it means to really live.”

THE KEY TO A Godward LIFE IS A HEART OF GENEROSITY.

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

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

• Your giving and generosity should be directly tied to what God allows to come into your life.

•Challenge you to do 3 things:

  1. Be a Tither – 10% of your income to be returned back to God, 
  2. Give offerings (whatever you decide) 
  3. Give to our future (building fund) 

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

Go togracetownchurch.com/give

Shift Part 1

Shift-Series

Shift Part 1

What is the size of your faith? You might have a pint of faith, a gallon of faith, or a truck size faith, but chances are whatever level faith you have: God has something for you that is waiting just beyond the level of your faith right now.

Numbers 11:31 NIV Now a wind went out from the LORD and drove quail in from the sea. It scattered them up to two cubits deep all around the camp, as far as a day’s walk in any direction.

“God shifted the wind and brought quail in from the sea and caused it to fall in their camp.”

Explain Israel’s situation coming out of Egypt – manna everyday, people were complaining – they wanted meat –

Is there anybody here can use a Shift in your life?

You can go from the back to the front, weakness to strength, poverty to plenty – we call it Holy Shift.  Say Holy Shift!

•A Holy Shift is for those who want to break out of a place of sufficiency and into a new level of God’s favor and blessings.

• A Holy Shift comes when we believe bigger than the current conditions of our lives.

• A Holy Shift causes favor to come from unlikely places, and can end a season of waiting.

•A Holy Shift goes beyond sustaining us, to blessing us.

Why settle for less than all God wants to give us?

When a Holy Shift happens, I like to think about it like a car shifting gears. When you shift from second gear up to fourth, the engine is still functioning at the same level. It’s not working harder, but you’re going faster. You’re covering more ground.

The higher gears have greater capacity. They are designed to go faster. In the same way, when a Holy Shift comes in your life, you will go further, faster — not because you’re working harder but because you have experienced a divine shift in your everyday. All of a sudden, your momentum picks up and you’re in the fast lane, surging forward.

1. Believe Bigger than the current conditions in your life

Romans 10:17 NKJVSo then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Base your faith on God’s Word, power, and ability  rather than your conditions.

•God’s word is powerful no matter how you feel.

Mark 9:23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

Believing is called Faith

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

The Bible says in Matthew 9:29 “According to your faith it will be done unto you.”  That’s one of my favorite verses in the Bible.  What are you expecting God to do in your life?  This is the law that God has established.  It’s called the Law of Expectation.  The fact is, we tend to get what we expect out of life.  We tend to see what we expect to see.  We tend to hear what we expect to hear.  We tend to feel the way we expect to feel.  We inevitably accomplish what we expect what we’re going to accomplish.  This is the law of faith.  God says you get to choose.  Because “According to your faith it will be done unto you.”

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

•“Faith is like a light bulb. You turn it on when you can’t see” 

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

Mark 11:22-24 NIV22 Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23 “Truly[a] I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

•There is no situation in your life too difficult for God to turn around. Only believe! We get what we believe for. Believe Bigger than your current conditions

2. A holy shift can cause favor to come from unlikely, even distant places

Favor – The guarantee of His presence and the provision of His power to accomplish His special purpose in and through my life.

Psalm 84:11 NIV –For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.

Leviticus 26:9 NIV – I will look on you with favor and make you fruitful and increase your numbers, and I will keep my covenant with you.

Make a habit to Tithe

MAL. 3:10 NIV Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.

Tithing opens the windows of heaven, Offerings determines what comes out!

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

Favor produces supernatural increase and promotion. 

Genesis 39:21 But the Lord was with Joseph, and showed him mercy, and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. 

Favor produces restoration of everything that the enemy has stolen from you.

Exodus 3:21 And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians: and it shall come to pass, that, when ye go, ye shall not go empty.

3. A holy shift can end a season of waiting and make things happen faster than normal

Rom. 8:22-25 The Message – All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.

Some of us are impatient 

•waiting – 1. The act of remaining inactive or stationary. 2. A period of time spent waiting.

We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.

Waiting Renews Our Strength 

Isa. 40:31 ESV but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

“The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg—not smashing it.” – Arnold Glasow

Col. 1:11 ESV May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy,

Waiting Refines Our Character 

Rom. 5:3-4 KJV And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope

Patience is not simply the ability to wait – it’s how we behave while we’re waiting. Joyce Meyer

Isa. 64:4 ESVFrom of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him.

Faith for immediate results

Psalm 102:2 NIV Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress. Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly.

Matthew 20:34 NIV Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.

When God moves He can do things quickly – Acceleration happens because of a shift

2 Peter 3:9 NIV  The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you…

4. The Goodness of God goes beyond sustaining us to Blessing us

Blessed – Happy, Fortunate, to be envied. To endue with power for success, prosperity, abundant, (profuse, excessive, super, overflowing, extraordinary) supply, longevity, as to live in health, To invoke divine favor and good upon. Peace

God is associated with blessing about 700 times in scripture. 

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

God is a God of more than enough – Jehovah Jireh

Psalm 72:18 – Praise be to the Lord God, the God of Israel,
who alone does marvelous deeds.

“However many blessings we expect from God, His infinite liberality will always exceed all our wishes and our thoughts.”
– John Calvin

You don’t have to be in a desperate situation but if you just want to break out of a place of mediocrity. New levels are possible

Think about What God said to Abraham

Genesis 22:17 NIV – I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies,

God wanted Abraham to look beyond the place, conditions, circumstances he was in right then

Genesis 12:2 NIV – “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.

Why settle for less than all of what God wants to give us?;

Money, marriage, relationships, career…

You are moving into a season of Greater Favor and Blessings

God instructed his leaders to declare blessings and peace upon His People

Numbers 6:22‐27The Lord said to Moses, Tell Aaron and his sons, this is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. So they will put My name on the Israelites and I will bless them.”

In 40 of the 68 NT uses of the word blessing, the word used is “e_u_l_o_g_i_a_”, a word which means: To speak well of, and to praise 

This is where we get our English word eulogy, which is looking to speak well of another person who has passed away; like at a funeral.

Is.55:11 My word will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

The Love of God

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The Love of God 

I John 3:1 NIV – See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

3 Facts that Drive me to Communicate the Love of God

1. Everyone is Looking for Love

“Bart, with $10,000 dollars, we’d be millionaires! We could buy all kinds of useful things like…love.” Homer J Simpson

The quest is around us everyday in the music we hear and the movies we watch, and the books we read. The desire is woven into the fiber of our being. From the moment we came out of the womb, we have been looking for someone to feed us, hug us, care for us, affirm us, forgive us when we mess up, support us, and tell us that we matter.

No matter who we are, there is a universal need among human beings to be loved.

2. Just as there is a universal quest for love, there is a universal answer to that quest

If everyone has the same problem, there must be a universal solution. The answer is God.

3. There’s a tragic disconnection between the universal need and the universal answer.

There are 6 billion people in the world who are desperate for love and there is a God with limitless resources who wants to love them.

Defining the Love of God

God’s love is his holy disposition toward all that he has created that compels him to express unconditional affection and selective correction to provide the highest quality of existence, both now and forever, for the object of his love.

We can’t provoke, trick, convince, earn, or win God’s love. God doesn’t love us for who we are or what we do, but  because of who He is.

Agape – Unconditional, giving, sacrificial, and boundless love:

Matthew 5:44 NIV – But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

John 15:13 NIV – Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

God Loves us Unconditionally

Romans 5:8 ESV – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

The Love of God is a rhapsody in red, a swirling narrative of blood and forgiveness

•God doesn’t love us for what we do, but He loves us because of who he is.

•man bases love on performance….If you….I will

•God loves us for what He finds in Himself – LOVE.

•No matter what you do – God cannot stop loving you.

“God sees the best in the worst of us, knows the worst about the best of us, and loves us all without condition or exception.”

•When you know that God loves you unconditionally, you can love people unconditionally.

Christianity is a love affair. NOT a code of ethics, rules, or Philosophy of Life. The Cross of Christ was not to produce a nice moral people – but LOVERS OF GOD!

I John 4:7-8, 21 NIV Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

Dimensions of God’s Love 

Ephesians 3:17-19 NIV – so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

There is no instrument that can measure how much God, out of His infinite being, cares for you and wants your best!

CS Lewis said, “Though our feelings come and go, God’s Love for us does not.”

Psalm 36:5 NIV– Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. 

How God Thinks about YOU

1. God’s Thoughts, intentions, desires, and plans are always for your good and never for your harm. 

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

When God thinks about you, he thinks about goodness and blessings. No matter how the immediate surroundings may look, God sees the big picture and has plans for your benefit.

James 1:17 NIV – Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

“God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.” Augustine

2. God is kind, open, approachable, frank, and eager to be your friend 

John 13:12-15 NIV – When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.

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

He is the most loyal and attentive friend you could possibly have

Romans 5:10-11 NLT – For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. 11 So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.

Joseph Scriven penned the words of that great hymn, What a friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry Everything to God in prayer! Oh, what peace we often forfeit, Oh, what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry Everything to God in prayer!

3. God emotionally identifies with your pain, joy, hopes, and dreams, and has chosen to allow your happiness to affect his own. 

John 11:33-36 NIV –  When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. 35 Jesus wept. 36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

Although he is an infinite God of the universe, our pain causes him pain, our joy gives him a life, our hopes bring excitement to his heart, and when there is tragedy he weeps with us.

This self existing God needs no one, yet he has chosen to be so emotionally identified with our ups and downs, and our dreams and hopes.

Hebrews 4:15 NIV – For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.

4. He takes pleasure in you just for who you are completely apart from your performance and / or accomplishments

God is telling these rebellious people how he stands over them singing and rejoicing.

Zephaniah 3:17 NIV – The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

“God loves us; not because we are lovable but because He is love, not because He needs to receive but because He delights to give.”- C.S. Lewis

Psalm 145:8-16 (NIV)  8 The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. 

Psalm 103:4-5 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

How Do We Respond to God’s Love

1. We Must Receive

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

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

I John 2:2 NIV – He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

Titus 2:11 NIV – For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.

2. We Must Believe

I John 4:13-16 NIV – This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

3. Saturate Your Mind with the Truth of God’s Love for us

Romans 8:38-39 NIV – For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God wants us to know that nothing – not even our own junk – can separate us from his love

4. Then Give it All Away

Jesus Last instructions to his disciples

John 13:34-35 NIV – A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

“The significance of the law of love is precisely that it is not just another law, but a law which transcends all law.”- Reinhold Niebuhr

The more of God’s love we give away, the more he supplies. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

I John 3:16-18 NIV – This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

“The litmus test of our love for God is our love of our neighbor”  – Brennan Manning

I Corinthians 13:13 NIV –  And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Why is love greater than faith and hope? Faith involves the present. Hope involves the future. But love transcends time. Love existed before anything existed.

Love will never need a casket because it has no funeral! Salvation is a sticky story, a messy manuscript, but it’s also a lovely one. Love is the bond that glued God to humanity.  Nothing can pry apart what God has welded together!

In 1923 Fredrick Lehman penned the words to his classic Hymn “The Love of God”

The love of God is greater far , Than tongue or pen can ever tell.

It goes beyond the highest star, And reaches to the lowest hell.

The guilty pair, bowed down with care, God gave His Son to win;

His erring child He reconciled And pardoned from his sin.

O love of God, how rich and pure! How measureless and strong!

It shall forevermore endure— The saints’ and angels’ song.

When hoary time shall pass away, And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall;

When men who here refuse to pray, On rocks and hills and mountains call;

God’s love, so sure, shall still endure, All measureless and strong;

Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—The saints’ and angels’ song.

Could we with ink the ocean fill, And were the skies of parchment made;

Were every stalk on earth a quill, And every man a scribe by trade;

To write the love of God above, Would drain the ocean dry;

Nor could the scroll contain the whole, Though stretched from sky to sky.

Closer: How Should We Worship?

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Closer: How Should We Worship? 

Psalm 100:1-4 NIV – Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. 2 Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. 3 Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his[a]; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name

Luke 19:37-40 ESV37 As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, 38 saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39 And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” 40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

What is worship?

Worship means to “attribute worth to an object”. Worship is not defined in the Bible but its meaning can be determined from the terms employed and the context of the passages. In the New Testament the most common word is ‘proskuneo’ which means to revere and is from two Greek words meaning ‘kiss towards’. Another word often used – ‘sebomai’ – is derived from a word meaning fear or revere.

John 4:23-24 NIV – Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

It doesn’t say we can worship God anyway we want, but we “must worship Him in spirit and in truth”. The word “must” makes it absolute. There is no other way we can worship God and be acceptable to Him. The word “must”, according to Webster, expresses “an obligation, a requirement, a necessity, a certainty, and something that must be done”. When “must” is used it means that it is not optional.

Since God is the object of our worship, He and He alone has the right to determine how we are to worship Him.

Jeremiah 10:23 NIV , Lord, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps.

We are not granted the option of directing our own ways in religion. God is the One who we look to for guidance and direction in our lives. The worship God has prescribed is the only way we can be pleasing to Him in this life

example: “You worship God your way, I will worship God my way” – There is NO my way. Only God’s Way

•Worshiping “in spirit” means that you mean it; that you’re worshiping inside out, not just going through the motions.

•Worshiping “in truth” means that you’re worshiping the true God and not some idol you’ve created. And it means you’re being truthful with your words and thoughts that you bring to worship; you’re not trying to put on a religious act to impress someone.

Throughout history, Christians have agreed that several key elements are important in worship:

1) Praise. Giving honor and glory to God with words, songs or art.

2) Confession. Worship means acknowledging who God is (holy and good) and who we are (not so holy and not so good) in relation to him. This means admitting and confessing our sin, and accepting God’s forgiveness.

3) Prayer. In worship, we speak directly to God about what’s on our minds (our needs and the needs of others) and what’s on God’s mind (his desire for love and justice and redemption in the world).

4) Hearing God’s Word. This means reading the Scripture. It also means listening for what God is saying to you through the music, the sermon and everything that happens in worship.

5) Remembering Christ’s sacrifice. This is most clearly done by taking Communion. Thinking about how God saved us from sin is at the very center of our worship.

6) Responding to God’s love. Worship doesn’t end when the service is over. Worship means we leave the service so aware of God’s greatness that we find ways to obey and honor and serve him throughout the week.

How Should We Worship?

Remember: We Must Have a Theocentric View of Worship

Worship is not about us! We are not at the center of worship with our styles, preferences, song choices, etc… It’s not about what we want and what we can get.  Worship is about GOD.

We must be careful that we do not exclude certain forms of worship simply because we are uncomfortable with them.  Rather, we should seek to understand why we are uncomfortable & make adjustments that will challenge our comfort zone

Psalm 103:1 ESV – Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me,  bless his holy name!

Halel – (root for Hallelujah) to rave, boast, to enjoy, celebrate. to audibly praise the Lord, to be clamorously foolish

Psalm 22:26 NIV The poor will eat and be satisfied; those who seek the Lord will praise him—may your hearts live forever!

Psalm 113:1 ESV – Praise the Lord! Praise, O servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord!

Yadah – means to worship with raised hands, to throw out the hands. Being active not passive

Psalm 63:4 ESV  So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands

Psalm 134:2 ESV – Lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the Lord!

Barak – to bless by kneeling or bowing in a worshipful attitude and declare God as our total source of blessing, prosperity, power, strength, and victory. (an expectation to receive that blessing from God)

Psalm 96:5 ESV – Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!

I Chronicles 29:20 ESV– Then David said to all the assembly, “Bless the Lord your God.” And all the assembly blessed the Lord, the God of their fathers, and bowed their heads and paid homage to the Lord and to the king.

Zamar – making music to God with strings.

Psalm 92:1 NIV – “It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High.”

Psalm 33:1-2 ESV – Shout for joy in the Lord, O you righteous! Praise befits the upright.2 Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre; make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!

Shabach – to address in a loud tone, to shout unto the Lord. A loud vocal expression of Victory, crying out to God in a loud praise.

Psalm 35:27 ESV – Let those who delight in my righteousness shout for joy and be glad and say evermore, “Great is the Lord, who delights in the welfare of his servant!

Psalm 47:1 ESV – Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!

Tehillah – exuberant singing. Throughout scriptures we are to celebrate audibly and we can do that by singing. Whether you have a voice of an angel or a bullfrog – SING!

Psalm 34:1 NIV “I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.”

Psalm 30:4 ESV – Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name

One Result of Praise & Worship To God

1. Our Spiritual Enemies (problems) are Silenced

Psalms 8:1-2 NKJV – O Lord, our Lord, How excellent is Your  name in all the earth, Who have set Your glory above the heavens! 2  Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength, Because of Your enemies, That You may silence the enemy and the avenger.

Silence – To cause to fail, to put down, to take away. When we Worship God we cause the enemy to fail!

•3 Different Armies had gathered against Judah and Jehoshaphat was faced with insurmountable odds . He receives prophetic strategy from a 14 yr old Musician / Worship Leader

2 Chronicles 20:21-22 ESV  And when he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the Lord and praise him in holy attire, as they went before the army, and say,“Give thanks to the Lord, for his steadfast love endures forever.” 22 And when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed.

God’s Mercy is in the destruction of our spiritual enemies (Problems)

Psalms 143:12 ESV – And in your steadfast love you will cut off my enemies, and you will destroy all the adversaries of my soul, for I am your servant.

Your Praise To God changes your Position from being under problems to being over them

I Peter 2:1-5, 9 NIV – Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house[a] to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

RESET Our Relationships

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RESET Our Relationships

Philippians 2:1-8 ESV – So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,[a] who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[b] being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross

Here is a fact: God has made us to have relationships.

We can have a relationship with Him and we can have a relationship with other people. Since the fall of Adam and Eve – maintaining relationships have been a major struggle between man and man – and man and God.

God sends people into our lives. How we treat them determines whether they stay

God gives us things to use and people to love, NOT things to love and people to use.

Relational Preconditions

Our relationships determine the direction and quality of our lives.

1. Am I willing to change? 

Matthew 18:3 NIV  And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

You will never change your life until you change the way you think.

Romans 12:2 ESV  Do not be conformed to this world,[c] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

2. Am I willing to put others first? 

Mark 9:35 ESV  And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”

You can tell how successful a person is by the way they celebrate the success of others

We have not come together to compete with one another, but to complete one another

Philippians 2:3 MSG “Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead.”

If you have a choice between making yourself or people around you look good, choose people around you!

3. Am I willing to let go of the past? 

I Corinthians 13:4-5 NIV Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Much criticism has to do with the unfortunate nature of people and their selfishness, arrogance, and jealousy

Colossians 3:13 ESV – bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive

Apologizing does not always mean you are wrong, it just means that you value your relationships more than your ego

4. Am I willing to Love as Jesus did? 

John 13:34-35 ESV – A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Jesus was saying that The Church is not about religion, it’s about relationships.

Romans 12:10-11 ESV-  Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit,[a] serve the Lord.

How to RESET Relationships

1. Strengthen my Important Relationships

When right people enter your life, right things happen. Right people are those who will build you and not tear you down. They are excited about your potential and dreams.

Galatians 5:13-15 NIV – You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other

Dr Carl Menger said, Our environment shapes us more than our DNA or heredity

2. Heal my Strained Relationships

Romans 12:17-18 NIV – Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

I dare you to make that call! Go make that visit!

Colossians 3:13 ESV – bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

James 5:16 “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”

3. Disconnect from Harmful Relationships

People who take you down and not up, they make withdrawals but never deposits. They abuse and misuse you. They gossip about you instead of guard you

I Corinthians 15:33 ESV Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals

People who are more critical than complimentary

Proverbs 13:20 ESV – Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm

II Corinthians 6:14 NIV – Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?

(2 Corinthians 6:14-17 Message)  “Don’t become partners with those who reject God.  God himself put it this way: ‘I’ll live in them, move into them; I’ll be their God and they’ll be my people.  So leave the corruption and compromise; leave it for good,’ says God.  “Don’t link up with those who will pollute you.”

4. Initiate new Meaningful Relationships

Ephesians 2:19 NIV – Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household

Your spiritual family, the Church, will last for eternity

Proverbs 18:24 NIV – One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Questions to Ask Myself About meaningful relationships In My Life

  • Are my relationships inspiring me to love God?
  • Are my relationships inspiring me to love the church?
  • Are my relationships inspiring me to make wise choices?
  • Do my friends love and accept me for who I am?

How to do thisConnect (Life Groups) At GraceTown we believe that life change happens best in the context of relationship and community. Life Groups provide a place to care for one another, and partner for spiritual growth and kingdom impact. We promote a “free market” approach that capitalizes on existing relationships and affinities.

Acts 2:42-47 ESV – And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe[a] came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

RESET: Making your Spiritual Life a Priority

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RESET: Making your Spiritual Life a Priority

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

Is your life locked up? Are you on system overload? Panic sets in when our phones, computers, iPods lock up. We call tech support and often it’s simply a matter of a RESET. At different times, many of us take an honest look inside and realize we need our own RESET. How many resolutions and promises do we make that we don’t end up keeping? How can this time be different?

Reset – to move (something) back to an original place or position : to put (a broken bone) back in the correct position for healing; To set again, differently; to press a special button or to make changes so that a machine will work again or work in a different way

Mark 12:30 ESV And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’

Revelation 3:15-16 ESV ‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.You are as close to God as you chose to be! Spiritual growth happens by choice 

Critical Question

1 Timothy 4:7 ESV – Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness (Phillips) “Take the time and the trouble to keep yourself spiritually fit.”

3 John 1:2 ESV – Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.

What is Unhealthy in your life? Clean up your Spiritual Diet

• In a health screening, the Dr. will run tests & look for symptoms that might indicate ill health.

• Symptoms are red flags or warning signs that a part of your body is not functioning optimally.

• Spotting these symptoms early and making appropriated changes in diet & lifestyle can prevent a minor ailment from ballooning into a serious problem.

Spiritual growth is not determined how you act in church but how you respond to life.

•Hot – You are growing.

(2 Thessalonians 1:3 ESV) We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers,[a] as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing

‎”The soul’s deepest thirst is for God Himself, who has made us so that we can never be satisfied without Him.” FF Bruce

•Cold – You do not know God yet.   

(2 Corinthians 4:4 ESV) In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God

•Lukewarm – You are drifting.

(Hebrews 2:1 ESV) Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.

How to Get There

•Grow yourself daily. 

The Secret to your spiritual success is hidden in the daily routine

Proverbs 23:12 ESV Apply your heart to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge.

Jeremiah 29:13-14 ESV “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile

  1. Make Worship a Priority                                                                                                                                                                            •Psalm 100:4 ESV – Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!Give thanks to him; bless his name!                                                                           •Psalm 103:1 ESV – Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!     
    1. Everybody worships something. It is the response of what you value most.
    2. In every heart there is an altar and a throne. Follow the trail of your time, your affection, your energy, your money, your loyalty, your thoughts, dreams & ambitions, & your priorities. You will find who or what is sitting on the throne of your heart!
    3. •John 4:23 ESV – But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.
    4. Worship is from our heart – Don’t WAR over Worship Styles! It’s about GOD not music style
      1. Expressing my affection to God – Praise
      2. Focusing my attention on God – Prayer & meditation
      3. Using my abilities for God – Serving
      4. Tozer said, without worship, we go about miserable
  1. Value God’s Word 
    1. 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.
    2. The Bible is authoritive not bc it is a manuel for living, but bc it reveals to us JESUS who has the power to CUT through all our BOLONEY.
      1. “The Scriptures were not given to increase our knowledge but to change our lives”
    3. 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
    4. Psalm 119:11 ESV – “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

“People do not reject the Bible because it contradicts itself but because it contradicts them.”

    1. Mark Twain said, “It ain’t the those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.”

The Bible is not just a book; it is a God breathed, God indwelt, God inspired message. We are to believe what the Bible says, not what we think it says of what someone else says that it says.

It will outlast heaven & earth (Matt. 24:35)

In our pursuit of seeking God, we must become interested in the Word of God.

John Calvin said, “We owe to the scripture the same reverence which we owe God bc it proceeded from Him alone…

Knowing God’s Word is the Pathway to Knowing God   

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

Decide to start a Daily Bible Reading plan!

Spending time with God should be a lifelong habit, not a passing fancy. Research shows you need to do something for about six weeks straight to build a habit. Make God’s Word part of your life today — and for the rest of your life.

3. Be Faithful in Giving

•Over 800 verses in the Bible about the subject of Money. It’s addressed more than heaven and hell. 16 of 38 stories Jesus told were about money and man.

“Your standard of giving reflects your standard of living”

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

•Faithfulness in Giving doesn’t start when you have a lot, it starts when you have little!

  • Your giving and generosity should be directly tied to what God allows to come into your life.
  • 2 Corinthians 9:6-8, ESV The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully[a] will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency[b] in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work
  • We Put God first by GIVING Him the first of everything

Leviticus 27:30 ESV “Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the Lord’s; it is holy to the Lord.

  1. Tithe – means returning a tenth (10%) to the Lord- It’s God’s idea.

(Malachi 3:8-12 NIV)  Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. 10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. 11 I will rebuke the devourer[a] for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts. 12 Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts.

•Tithe puts us all on the same level of sacrifice. It is worship to God. It must be returned to God. Returning not Giving.

  1. Offerings – Anything you decide to Give                                                                                                                                                             2 Cor. 9:7 ESV – Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
  1. Alms – Giving to the Poor and less fortunate                                                                                                                                      Matthew 6:3-4 ESV – But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you

4. Make Prayer a Priority

PRAYER IS COMMUNICATING WITH GOD.

Psalm 5:1-3  ESV – Give ear to my words, O Lord; consider my groaning.2 Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray. 3  O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you[a] and watch

TALK TO GOD

  1. ABOUT EVERYTHING THAT MATTERS TO YOU.

Philippians 4:6  ESV – do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

1 Peter 5:7 ESV –  casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

2. CONTINUTALLY.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18  ESV Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Pray, Until, Something, Happens

1 Samuel 1:12-13  ESV As she continued praying before the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. 13 Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli took her to be a drunken woman.

3. AND LISTEN FOR HIS RESPONSE.

1 Kings 19:12-13  ESV -And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.[a] 13 And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

John 10:27 ESV My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

Release your faith with absolute assurance in God’s Ability

I John 5:14-15 NIV – “This is the confidence we have in approaching God; that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us- whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him.”

•The power in prayer is not the person praying BUT God who is hearing.

Remember – Don’t forget to pray today because God didn’t forget to wake you up this morning

Christmas at the Movies: It’s a Wonderful Life

Christmas_Movies

It’s A Wonderful Life

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10 NIV

OPEN: A Sunday school teacher once asked her class of children: “What is Christmas a time for?” Many of the kids gave the usual answers—Jesus’ birthday, a time of joy… but one child responded it was “a time for sportsmanship, because you don’t always get everything you want.”

Everybody gets gifts they really don’t want during this season and several years ago “USA Today” conducted a survey among adults to find out what they do with that not-quite-right holiday gift:

– 31%: Keep it

– 30%: Hide it

– 13%: Toss it

– 12%: Give it away

– 6%: Return it

Every once in a while, everyone receives gifts that they’re really not sure that they want.

“God’s Greatest Gift is Life”

In the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” George Bailey had a gift that he wasn’t sure he wanted. His gift was the gift of life. And his life had seemingly fallen apart all around him. He just knew he was going to lose his business, his livelihood. He faced prison for something he hadn’t done. And as a result of all this… his family faced shame and poverty.

“At exactly 10:45 pm tonight, earth time, that man will be thinking seriously of thowing away God’s greatest gift.”  Franklin’s voice

“Oh dear, dear! His life!” Clarence’s voice

In desperation, he pleads with his arch-enemy (Mr. Potter) for a loan on his life insurance. Potter gleefully observes “George, you’re worth more dead than alive!”

And thus, George Bailey decides that his only solution is to throw himself off the bridge into the frigid waters below and at least supply his family with the money from his life insurance.

But God steps in and an angel is sent to earth to stop George Bailey before he can take his life.

But how do you convince a man that the gift he wants to throw away is in reality far too valuable to be destroyed?

The angel’s solution: to grant George Bailey’s wish and show him what life would’ve been like if he’d never been born. So, as George tries to get back to his home, he finds that…

• the town he’d worked so hard to build up and protect had become a den of iniquity and evil

• the pharmacist – who George saved from a tragic mistake – has become the town drunk

• his brother Harry whom he’d saved from falling thru the ice, dies because George wasn’t there to save him and the hundreds of men died that Harry would have saved during the war, because Harry wasn’t there to save them.

• and the beautiful woman he’d married and had had such wonderful children with ended up becoming a wretched, dejected and lonely spinster.

Clarence says to George, “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives and, when he isn’t around, he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”

George Bailey finally understood how wonderful his life had been because he was allowed to see how much would have been lost if he had never been born. That – which he’d been tempted to throw away – he came to realize was too valuable to lose.

Sometimes Life is not so merry and bright

•Life seems useless.

(Ecclesiastes 1:2-4 GN) “Life is useless, all useless. You spend your life working… but what do you have to show for it? … The world just stays the same.” 

•Life seems tiresome.

(Ecclesiastes 1:4-8 GN) “The sun rises and goes down… the wind blows round and round and back again. Every river flows into the sea… [then] the water returns to where the river began and starts all over again. Everything leads to weariness…” 

•Life seems unfulfilling.

(Ecclesiastes 1:8-10 LB) “No matter how much we see, we’re never satisfied; no matter how much we hear, we’re not content. History merely repeats itself.” 

•Life seems uncontrollable.

(Ecclesiastes 1:15 GN) “You can’t straighten out what is crooked;
you can’t count things that aren’t there!” 

What Matters Most in Life

  1. God matters. 

(Philippians 3:7-8) “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ…”

(1 John 2:17) “The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.”

  1. People matter. 

“God gives us people to love and things to use, not things to love and people to use”

Focus on your relationships and express your love to those closest to you.

(Galatians 5:13-15) “Serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” 

(Matthew 25:35) “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink…whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”

(Ecclesiastes 4:12 NLT) “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”

Our Response this Christmas

1. Live Well

(Proverbs 9:6 MSG) “Leave your impoverished confusion and live! Walk up the street to a life with meaning.”

95 year olds were asked – What if they lived life again what would they do differently?

  1. I would REFLECT more – Live
  2. I would RISK more – Love
  3. I’d do more things that live on after I’m gone – Legacy

(2 Corinthians 4:16-18) “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

2. Live your life in view of eternity.

The most important issue you will ever face in life pertains to where you will spend eternity.

CS Lewis said, “Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.”

(Deuteronomy 30:19) “This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life…”

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

3. The Result Of Christmas: You Can Know God Personally

“We were restored to friendship with God by the death of His Son while we were still His enemies, and we will be delivered from eternal punishment by His life. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God – all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us…” Rom. 5:10-11 (NLT)

“Let those who love your salvation exclaim, “What a wonderful God He is!” Ps. 70:4 LB

“For this reason God gave Jesus the name that is greater than any other name… (One day) all beings in heaven, and on earth, and in the world below will fall on their knees, and all will openly proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God.” Phil. 2:9-11 (GN)

We are not mistakes in need of correction, we are sinners in need of a savior!