Less Than 2%

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Less than 2% (Gideon’s Guide to Church Building) By Steve Light

Today we are going to take a look at an Old Testament story that has powerful and important lessons for us as church. We are going to examine the story of Gideon in the book of Judges and dive into how the Lord was able to use very few people, very few resources and very little faith to accomplish an amazing feat.

And why study this story? Because we live in a world where Christians define success by worldly measures – the size of church membership, the size of church programs, the size of the building and the size of the budget. In doing so, churches are at a high risk to not leave room for God’s blessings and provisions, His direction and most importantly room for the Holy Spirit.

This story also gives us a roadmap as a church on how to be faithful to the Lord and keep everything we do at the center of His will and His guidance.

 It requires us to be full of faith, active in prayer, driven to obedience and embracing humility.

 And if we listen and we learn from Gideon’s story, there is no doubt God will bless Gracetown. With less than 2% of what we think is needed to grow, I believe God will show us he can give us 500x more than we can imagine.

Let us pray….

Father, as we read your word, let us remember Proverbs 2:10-11…”For wisdom will enter your mind, and knowledge will delight your heart. Discretion will watch over you, and understanding will guard you”. I ask that the Holy Spirit be present, to fill our hearts and mind that we would hear, learn and act as Your perfect will would guide us. Amen.

Midian Oppresses Israel (Judges 6:1-10)

Judges 6:1-2 (HSCB)“The Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. So the Lord handed them over to Midian seven years, and they oppressed Israel. Because of Midian, the Israelites made hiding places for themselves in mountains and caves”.

  • Right away we learn that God’s people are being wicked and so there is accountability. God calls people to live a holy life. Salvation is the start but sanctification – a life long focus on living righteous – is required and when we don’t stay focused on this, God creates storms in our lives to get us back on track. He does this because he cares just like a parent correcting a child.
  • Who were the Midianites? Arabs from the northwestern part of the Arabian Peninsula.

Why is the number seven showing up frequently through this story?

  • Seven is the number of completeness and perfection both physical and spiritual within Bible
  • It is used 735 times
  • The Israelites had suffered under the Midian’s for 7 years – God was driving them to repentance

And we see this is in Judges 6:6 – “So Israel became poverty-stricken because of Midian and the Israelites cried out to the Lord”.

Lesson #1 – They repented. They turned away from the world and focused on God.

The Lord Calls Gideon (Judges 6:11-24)

As we read the passages between Judges 6:11-24 we are going to learn a lot about Gideon and his faith in God.

I call this Gideon seeing his relationship with God in 3-D.

  • Doubt, Disobedience and Distance

We will see that when God shows in his everyday, ordinary life Gideon does two things. First he questions why the world is so upside down. He does not seek to learn from God the lesson of the situation, but instead merely wants relief. Second, and most importantly, he blames God for the tumultuous situation of Israel.

Here I am reminded of Leo Tolstoy’s spot on quote that “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no thinks of changing himself”.

Gideon is called by the Angel of the Lord to lead the people against Midian and his first reaction is doubt in his ability to be successful. He goes on to argue with God, to be disobedient despite the command. He makes a veiled attempt at humility claiming he is from the weakest clan and he is the least of this clan. Finally, instead of taking a leap of faith towards God, he seeks to distance himself from God out of fear and doubt.

Scripture teaches us in these moments how to be faithful, courageous and strong to God’s call…

Proverbs 3:5-6 (HSCB)“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths”.

Ephesian 3:20 (HSCB)“Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us”. The power is the Holy Spirit.

Gideon then runs to pull together a “gift” for the Angel of the Lord – which is a test. Is this real? Will he be there when I return? Gideon goes and gets a young goat, unleavened bread and broth. He brings it back to make a meal. But the Angel of the Lord gives him a sign. He takes the simple and ordinary – meager provisions from Gideon and supernaturally completes the meal – pulling fire from a rock.

The lesson here…Gideon brings basic effort and resources and God elevates it and glorifies it. This shows Gideon that God is truly in his presence and He worships God.

Let’s read Judges 6:11-23 and look for blame, the doubt, the disobedience and the distance away from God’s will and His blessing.

So Gideon is full of the Spirit of God and is ready to take on the Midianites now, right? No. It’s the first steps of the journey. He has to do hard things, say hard things. Things that will put him at odds with his family, with his community and with the world. Things that runs counter to culture. And where do we find him. Timid, afraid…but…at least taking the first steps in faith and obedience.

Gideon Tears Down the Baal Alter (Judges 6:25-32)

 Later that night, Gideon hears from God with crystal clear instructions…

Judges 6:25-26“Take your father’s young bull and a second bull seven years old. Then tear down the alter of Baal that belongs to your father and cut down the Asherah pole beside it. Build a well constructed alter to the Lord your God on the top of this rock. Take the second bull and offer it as a burnt offering with the wood of the Asherah pole you cut down”.

Baal and Asherah – male and female fertility gods of Canaanites

Gideon follows God’s command, but let’s see how he does this…

Judges 6:27“But because he was too afraid of his father’s household and the men of the city to do it in the daytime, he did it all at night”.

Gideon lacked courage. He lacked integrity. He was more concerned with the opinions of the other people than God. He had a chance to be bold and he whimpered.

Galatians 1:10 teaches…“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ”.

We cannot allow our fears of the world’s reaction to our call to diminish our sharing of the Gospel and engaging the world. We have to be bold. How did the men of the village react to the torn down altar? Now remember these are Israelites that are violating God’s law in being idolatrous. They are breaking the very first law – there shall be no other gods than Jehovah. These guys are outraged and want blood. They want death for Gideon. They are completely blinded by his call to repentance. His father steps in and wisely calls to let Baal defend himself. He tells everyone to wait for Baal to punish Gideon, essentially questioning if he is real and has any real power.

Joash – his father, also gives Gideon a new name – Jerubbal, which means “contender against Baal”.

The Sign of the Fleece (Judges 6:33-39)

Now we see that the Sprit of the Lord has descended upon Gideon. He starts to rally his clan and other tribes in the region. Yet we find he still doubts. He continues to move forward but has not yet full released his trust completely to God. But there is a critical lesson here…Gideon goes to God for confirmation and clarity. This principle is asking God to reveal with clarity His will. It is seeking out signs for confirmation that the direction is right. This often comes through discussions with others, circumstances around us – doors opening and doors closing. We have to be mindful and spirit filled to see and discern these things.

How does Gideon do this? He asks God to do some supernatural signs using some simple tools. And he doesn’t just ask once, but TWICE!. God is truly patient. Let’s read Judges 6:36-39 and look for how Gideon sought to get confirmation and clarity from the Lord.

God Selects Gideon’s Army

Notice here that the message is NOT Gideon selected his army, but the Lord did. Gideon, now full of faith and spirit, goes on the move. He has 135,000 Midianites camped in a valley north of him. He rallies 32,000 people. Not good odds. He has 1 Israelite for every 4 Midianites. VERY tough to complete the task with such limited resources. He needs volunteers but there are not enough.

 

What does God say to this? Does he bring more people, more money, and more resources? No. He tells Gideon that he has too much for the task at hand. He simplifies it. He demands faith and obedience and in that the Lord brings the necessary provisions.

Let’s look at Judges 7:2…“The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many people for Me to hand the Midianites over to you, or else Israel might brag: “I did this myself”.

God instructs Gideon with a test of wisdom. He tells Gideon to have each man drink from the water. Anyone who kneels to drink put in one group. Anyone who laps water with his tongue like a dog put into another group. Why this test? The men that lapped water like a dog where wise for battle – they got nourishment while being able to keep their eyes up and alert. But those that kneeled put their eyes down and were at risk of being blindsided.

What were the results? Judges 6:6 tells us “the number of those who lapped with their hands to their mouth was 300 men. In verse 7 “The Lord said to Gideon, “I will deliver you with the 300 men who lapped and turn the Midianites over to you”.

300 men? To wage war against 135,000 Midianites that had been terrorizing the nation of Israel for 7 long, difficult, horrible years. Was God crazy? He was sending Gideon to battle with only 1.4% (see the tie in now to the less than 2%?) of the men he started with. 300 Israelites against 135,000 Midianites. How could he succeed?

Here’s the greatest truth of this story – Gideon could not on his own. Not by his human strength or intelligence. Not without making room for God. Not without trusting God. Not without having faith completely, without reservation, that God would provide EVERYTHING they needed with 300 men. And not without the Holy Spirit.

Gideon Spies on the Midianites Camp (Judges 7:9-14)

 Gideon, as you can imagine, is unsettled. He has built up his faith in the Lord only to return to fear now that he has 300 men assigned by God. God rouses Gideon from sleep and tells him to go the Midianites camp and “listen to what they say; and then you will be strengthened to go to the camp”.

God knew Gideon’s heart. He was full of doubt and fear. So God tells him in verse 10 – “if you are afraid to go to the camp, go with Purah your servant”.

God reminded Gideon to surround himself with someone he trusted. Someone that would be encouraging and knew him well. Someone that could lift him up.

  • God had a better opinion of Gideon that he did at himself at this point. God always sees us differently from the way we see ourselves.
  • When Gideon answered the call of God his life changed and his family and friend’s opinion of him changed. I am sure he felt isolated and alone. But, like Gideon, we are not alone. God’s promises never fail and he never gives up on us.
  • His family was living in the wrong way – witchcraft, idolatry – things that blocked the blessings of God. He needed to be around faithful people.
  • Gideon needed fellowship – he had a small group with Purah. Someone he could talk to, lean on and be built up by.

Our growth as Christians and as a church requires God to take us to uncomfortable places so God has the room to show us our true selves and to help us grow into a life that is joyful, peaceful and blessed.

Gideon and Purah go to the camp at night and heard a man speak of a dream that a “loaf of barley bread came tumbling into Midinite camp, struck a tent, and it fell.” His friend replied, ”This is nothing less the sword of Gideon…God has handed the entire Midianite camp over to him”. (Judges 7:13-14).

It would be preposterous to think that a simple loaf of bread could roll over a tent. Yet with God nothing is impossible. If we listen for the small voice of God in the world around us, we get the confirmation and clarity of His guidance for us.

Isaiah 30:21 teaches…“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying “This is the way; walk in it”.

Direction from God should be clear and should give us peace.

Gideon finally, with the faith in the Lord, and the fellowship of Purah had his peace. It was time to do God’s work with less than 2% of what Gideon originally thought he needed.

Gideon Attack the Midianites (Judges 7:15-23)

 Following God’s instruction, Gideon and the 300 men took three things to battle. A sword, a shield and a helmet. Right? No. They took a bow, arrows and a spear. Right? No. They took a trumpet, an empty water pitcher and a torch. If they did it there way, they would have used weapons and attacked using their strength. And they would have lost. But letting God lead, they submitted to His wisdom. The split up into three groups and in the middle of the night surrounded the camp of Midianites. They began to blow the trumpets, smashed the pitchers and held up the torches shouting…”The sword of the Lord and of Gideon”. God’s Spirit created a confusion and madness that swept the camp. The Midianite warriors set their swords against each other. The result was the 120,000 warriors slaughtered one another. And the remaining 15,000 fled the camp. Gideon and his men pursued them with a larger force and routed the Midianites for good.

Gideon was living out Isaiah 12:2 – “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid” and Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength”.

Gideon’s Legacy (Judges 8:22-28)

There are two final critical lessons for us in this story that we need understand and apply to our lives and to our church.

  1. We need to give God complete control
  2. We need to work constantly on living right as Christians – when we are at peace we are at risk to fall back into bad ways

The battle is over and naturally the men said to Gideon in Judges 8:22 – “rule over us, you as well as your sons and your grandsons, for YOU delivered us from the power of Midian”.

Wow. All that work by God and these guys do not give God credit. Gideon is wise. He says ”I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you; the Lord will rule over you” (Judges 8:23) Gideon rightly gave glory to God.

Lesson one – our faith and our mission it is not about any human leadership.  It is only about Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Our hearts and minds need to focus on entirely making Him the King of our homes and our church.

Scripture tells us in Judges 8:28…”so Midian was subdued before the Israelites, and they were no longer a threat. The land was peaceful for 40 years during the days of Gideon”.

God answered their prayers. They repented and trusted in Him for guidance and provision using only 1.4% of what they thought they needed. He brought them salvation, peace and prosperity.

But….

Judges 8:33-34…”When Gideon died, the Israelites turned and prostituted themselves with the Baals and made Baal –berith their god. The Israelites did not remember the Lord their God who had delivered them from the power of the enemies around them”.

Lesson two – when life is good, things are working well and there are no issues, we forget about God and tend to focus on ourselves, our desires and our wants.

The Israelites knew this lesson well, but ignored it. They knew that life came from God. That all resources came from God. That all blessings (and curses) came from God. His command was simple. Seek Him first, live holy, love and care for others and worship Him alone.

Let’s read from Deuteronomy 8 that was the law that the Israelites had in the Torah…

Deuteronomy 8:11-13…“Be careful that you don’t forget the Lord your God by failing to keep His command – the ordinances and statues – I am giving you today. When you eat and are full, and build beautiful houses to live in, and your hers and flocks grow large, and your silver and gold multiply, and everything else you have increases, be careful that your heart doesn’t become proud and you forget the Lord your God…”

“You may say to yourself, my power and my own ability have gained this wealth for me, but remember that the Lord your God gives you the power to gain wealth…”

So I stand here today asking all of us to answer a simple question as a church… Why type of Gideons do we want to be? Afraid, lacking faith, trying to do it ourselves? Or bold, trusting God and ready to build God’s kingdom on less than 2% of what the world tells us we need when we have the Holy Spirit guiding us, teaching us and caring for us?

Let’s pray together….Father, we give thanks to You, Lord, for You are good. Your faithful love endures forever. Remember us, Lord, when You show favor on Your people. Come to us with Your salvation so that we may enjoy the prosperity of Your chosen ones, rejoice in being Your people and boast about Your heritage. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Survive the End of the World Part 3

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How To Survive the End of the World Part 3

Introduction: 

The world we currently live in has changed whether we like it or not. In JRR Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring, Galadriel, the Elf queen says about the change happening in middle earth; “The world has changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was is lost…

Yes the world has changed. We are living in an increasingly post christian culture. America was once a christian nation whose values were aligned with judeo christian values and ethics. Charles Dickens penned this opening statement in his classic, A Tale of Two Cities;

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…

The World around us has drastically changed over the past 40 years or so. In our increasingly post christian culture, the influences and values shaping emerging generations are no longer aligned with Christianity.

Tolerance? Tolerance may be a virtue and buzz word in todays culture but its not extended to Christianity.

•we are driven from public life

•denied 1st amendment rights

•actively discriminated against for our beliefs

We live in a quickly changing world. You might feel safe in the church world you and I live in, but step outside into the real world and things aren’t quite the same anymore.

So How should we live in this world in the last days?  The Call is to Live Biblically. To live as Christ lived.

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

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

What does it mean to be a Christian?

  1. Jesus explained what it meant to be a Christian in Matthew 16:24 (NLT). He said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross, and follow me.” 
    1. Put aside your selfish ambition – The desires we naturally have are in opposition to that which God desires (Gal. 5:16-17). But the Holy Spirit makes us a new person (2 Cor. 5:17) and gives us new desires (Rom. 8:9).
    2. Shoulder (Carry) your cross – The cross as a vivid pic that the disciples fully understood. To take up your cross meant to face death spiritually & possibly physically. Our sinful way of life dies (Rom. 6:6, Gal. 5:24) and Christ’s new life lives in us (Gal. 2:20). And for some, following Christ would cost them their lives physically.
      1. To sacrifice is to give up something for the sake of something else that is much better.
      2. What is my cross? The place of our greatest pain

The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places. Ernest Hemingway

  1. Follow me – To be a Christian, we must follow Christ. We must act the way he acted. We must speak the way he spoke. We must love the way he loved.
    1. Embrace God’s will no matter what the cost

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

1. With Humility 

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

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less. . . . Humble people are so focused on serving others, they don’t think of themselves.” – Rick Warren

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

“Humility is self-forgetfulness.” – C.S. Lewis

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

It recognizes how inadequate we are by ourselves.

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

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

Matt. 11:29 NIV “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

2. With Simplicity 

Freedom from complexity. We live mismanaged lifestyles

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

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

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

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

Psalms 131:1-2 Amp Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty; neither do I exercise myself in matters too great or in things too wonderful for me. Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with his mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me [ceased from fretting].

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

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

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

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

3. With Possibility (Faith)

Potentiality for favorable or interesting results.

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

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

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

•Believing when I donʼt see it. 

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

certain of what we do not see.” 

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

•Obeying when I donʼt understand it. 

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

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

something that had never happened before.” 

•Persisting when I donʼt feel like it. 

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

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

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

Trusting if I donʼt get it. 

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

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

something better…”

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

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

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

4. With Charity (Love)

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

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

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

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

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

“Take away love and the earth is a tomb.” – Robert Browning

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

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

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

How?

•Accept others unconditionally.

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

you, in order to bring praise to God.”

“The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for, and deserted by everybody.” – Mother Teresa

•Encourage others continually.

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

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

“If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.” – Booker T. Washington

•Serve people cheerfully.

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

to serve others…”

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it to anyone else.” – Charles Dickens 

•Forgive others freely.

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

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

“When you forgive someone, you set a prisoner free… and then you find that the prisoner was you.”

5. With Priority 

Priority – Something given special attention

Luke 12:30-31 NLT These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. 31 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.

“If you don’t live by priorities, you’ll live by pressures. Either you determine what’s important in life or other people will determine it for you.” – Rick Warren

Matt. 10:39 The Message “If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me.”

What are your priorities? 

Relationship with God (Church, Prayer, Worship, devotions, God’s Word, telling others, giving) & Your Family (Time)

I HAVE DECIDED:

To follow the example set by Christ.

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

Christ.

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

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

tells him to, he is a liar.

To declare my commitment publicly.

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

also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever

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

Here’s what you need to know before the End of the World

1. God loves us and does not want us to perish.

John 3:16,17 — For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

1 Timothy 2:4 — [God] desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

2. All people have sinned. Sin causes separation from God.

Romans 3:23 — For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

James 2:10 — For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.

3. Heaven is a free gift. You cannot earn or deserve heaven.

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

Ephesians 2:8,9 — For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast.

4. We receive God’s forgiveness through faith, by trusting in Christ.

John 1:12 — But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become the children of God, to those who believe in His name.

Romans 10:9,10 — …if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Ghost Stories Part 2

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Welcome today to Part 2 of “Ghost Stories”

This not so spooky series about the Holy Spirit is going to be powerful. So open up your heart to the Supernatural

In Christianity never been an area that has brought more

Anxiety, misunderstanding, disagreement, controversy. I am going to teach from a Biblical perspective on the Holy Spirit. (not a denominational, etc..)

Set the record straight what we believe here at GraceTown Church

Here’s what I need from you…Give me a blank page – Be here

Throw out all you’re preconceived ideas, notions, places of abuse, and concern. We have preconceived notions not because of what the bible says But because of what people have done

Sometimes we carry an old way of thinking of who God is – There is more

More to God then just calling on him when you are in trouble

Holy Spirit is like gas to a car, oxygen to our bodies…Can’t live without him

In scripture you see He’s not outdated, not unbiblical, He’s wonderful

Acts 19:1-2 (NIV) – While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you Believed? They answered, No we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit”.

If you missed 1st message of this series you need to listen to it!

(2 Corinthians 13:14 Message) “The amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit, be with all of you.” 

God is not mad at you but madly in love with you

Intimate friendship – Jesus sent the Holy Spirit intentionally

Story: He wants to be your best friend

A best friend is a friend that is different from normal people

Comfort level that you can be you

May our comfort level change so we can be comfortable with the Holy Spirit

Why the disconnect with the Holy Spirit?

He is the Holy Spirit – KJV – Ghost – NIV – Spirit

Not the correct English word for Him – 800x spirit is said

Literal translations of the Holy Spirit is…

The Spirit of God 

Ruwach – a wind, breath, a violent exhalation, blast of breath.

(Genesis 1:2) “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.                    Pneuma – a current of air, blast of breath, a strong breeze.

Not a goofy weird experience – Giving you literal translations of those words – Unique Characteristics associated with Him

Three things unique to wind & breath…Understand it you will be comfortable – Associate it with the spirit of God…Wind is unseen

1. He’s unseen

You can feel him but you don’t see him – You know he’s there

Someone once said “We don’t run on feelings”

You need to feel what you are running on

He always intended for his presence to be experienced

Hopefully you felt that during worship

We were inviting the actual manifest presence of God to be in the room

That is our hope more than good music or preaching

Story: People new to our church impacted by God’s presence

Some of us don’t like the fact that he is unseen

We want him seen – Packaged (put in a denominational box)

I believe the reason why it is we, because want something we can control

Uncomfortable with what we can’t see/can’t control

I don’t think we would like it if we saw the wind – Couldn’t see anything else

Jesus spent about 40 days on earth before he ascended to Heaven

Doubting Thomas was missing

Disciples tried to tell Thomas they saw Jesus

Jesus comes into the room & he still says that’s not him

Unless I see the holes in his hands & side

(John 20:29) Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” 

God is looking for a generation of people who don’t always need to “see” it

Have faith enough to believe Him – Experience him

Wind & Breath of God is here – Need to quit be so skeptical

Wind & breath can be unpredictable

2. He’s unpredictable

Story: Wind changes all the time – Evan loves to know the weather. In the natural it’s fun – bring it to the Holy Spirit & say its strange

Struggle with human nature is we want God to do what we want our way

We love to put God in a box

Some denominations form certain doctrines around one person’s experience

Spirit of God is unpredictable…He’s wind & breath

(John 3:8) Jesus answered…(Talking to Nicodemus be born again) The wind (pneuma) blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (pneuma)

If your going to be close to God must be ok with the unpredictable nature of God

Wind is powerful

3. He’s powerful. 

God is powerful – Some fine with a powerless God

People want a God they can wrap their minds around

Which means God will never be bigger than your brain

Some want to serve God on an intellectual level – It’s a disease

We want God to be studied, learned & understood in our minds

We live in a time where we need more than words & intellect – supernatural

Stuff we face today we need the power of God

Story: People suffering with sickness and disease

God is still in the power business – Still does miracles today

(Acts 1:5-8) “For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.” 

You don’t need to always know stuff – you need power

Want to get you comfortable with the spirit of God – He’s unseen, unpredictable & has power

As the Pastor of this church I want it!

(Zechariah 4:6) “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit (Ruwach) says the Lord Almighty.”

We need more of God’s presence – More of his wind/breath

(1 Thessalonians 1:5) “…our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction.”

For some have been turned off by Him or think this is crazy

He’s a breath of fresh air

We are so drawn to it in the natural – A nice breeze

We need to be drawn back to it in the spiritual

Catch Your Breath

(Ephesians 5:18) “…be filled with the Spirit.” Be filled with his wind, breath

We have heard terms in the church, If you get filled with the spirit you will get it with the evidence of…name things

In other words if you have it this is what will happen to you

Here’s why I don’t like the term “The Evidence Of”

Because that allows you to judge my level of spirituality

You didn’t get what I got

Holy Spirit creates unity not division

It’s not evidence it’s benefits that God gives you

To be filled with the Holy Spirit is to be filled with Christ

If I am filled I am led & empowered by the spirit to live for Him

Resurrection power & life works through you

In scriptures you find places where God’s spirit fell on people

You will find it’s probably different than what you thought

1. Rest. 

(Isaiah 63:14) “They were given rest by the (Ruwach) Spirit of the LORD. This is how you guided your people to make for yourself a glorious name.” 

If the presence of God is working in you, guess who doesn’t have to work

Truth is a bunch of you are tired – serving God out of human effort or intellect

You are worn out – You need His breath & rest to your life

It’s not a goofy expression, but it’s peace!

2. Focus & Direction. Benefit – The Counselor – He knows the future

He wants to be a voice, conviction & peace to lead you – He knows your future and wants to guide you there

(Romans 8:26-27) “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, (God knows what you want but he knows His plan for you) because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with Godʼs will.”

(John 16:13) “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” 

Story: God wanted this church planted – We had to follow his direction

Don’t be turned off by what others have tried to package this

3. Freedom. 

Romans 7 Paul talks about how hard it is to stay Holy

Expresses this frustration – What will we do

(Romans 8:9) “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.”

God uses the spirit to purify, to prompt, to produce

Holy Spirit creates a desire to help us become more like Jesus

Primary job of the Holy Spirit is to purify my heart, make me more like Jesus

Let the spirit of God live inside of you to change you

Freedom to not just overcome sin but to love God

Freedom to worship – lot of our eyes are on people not God

(2 Corinthians 3:17) “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

4. Power. 

Welcome power in your life – Jesus said greater works will you do

(1 Corinthians 2:4-5) “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, (If we don’t have it then we are another argument out there of another religion) so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.” 

God’s wants people’s faith to not rest on man’s intellect but His power

5. Ministry. (He gives spiritual gifts many focus on just one)

The gifts are always a tool used to help people

We made it about the gift God just cares about the person

A spiritual gift is a special supernatural ability that God gives to each of His children, so that together they can advance His purposes in the world.

(Luke 4:18-19) The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

1 Peter 4:10 NLT – “God has given gifts to each of you from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Manage them well so that God’s generosity can flow through you.”

SALVATION CALL

Dream Big Pt.4 – God’s Dream for Your Life

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Dream Big Pt.4 – God’s Dream for Your Life

Jeremiah. 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not hard you, plans to give you a hope and a future!” 

God’s Dream for you is PERSONAL and God’s Dream for you is POSITIVE

We have been programmed to live within the limitations that other people have set for us. I want to elevate our perception of what is possible for us.

Example: 2 young men at Stanford U named Larry Page and Sergey Brin had a dream tp build a search engine bigger than Yahoo. The Dream came true. Google has become the most popular and comprehensive search engine on the internet.

•If a human dream can be so powerful, how much more a God given dream? The difference between a human dream and a God given dream is that the human dream has a time span. But a God given dream takes you into eternity because it has eternal value and significance.

Psalms 37:4 -5 NIV – ”Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.”

Desire – To long or hope for, to express a wish for, impulse toward an object or experience that promises satisfaction. The Desires God puts in us indicate His will.

•God has placed within our heart hopes and dreams that HE wants to fulfill for us.

A person with big dreams is more powerful than a person with all the facts. Because if the dream is big enough, the facts don’t count.

Divinely Revealed Events Awaiting Manifestation

Nothing happens in this world until someone starts dreaming!

God’s Dream for your life will always REQUIRE FAITH

If a dream comes from God you cannot do it on your own. You can only do it by faith!

Ephesians 3:20 Living Bible – Now glory be to God, who by his mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of—infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes.

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

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

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

Mark 9:23 ESV – And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.”

God’s Dream will never CONTRADICT GOD’S WORD

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.

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

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

1. Dedicate All My Life to God

You’ve got to be willing to do whatever God wants you to do, even before he tells you.

Romans 12:1-2 NIV – Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

•God doesn’t want just a part of our life, He wants ALL of US, every part of who we are and what we do.

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

Acts 20:24 NLT – But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.

2. Reserve Time Alone with God 

You cannot get God’s dream unless you spend time with God.

Prayer is the activating force that puts authority and the power of God to work in your life and make your dreams come true

Job 37:14 NLT – “Pay attention to this, Job. Stop and consider the wonderful miracles of God! (pause a moment…and listen)

Catherine Marshall says, “There is no limit to what this combination of dreams and prayer can achieve.”

God speaks to people who take time to listen

I Kings 19:11-12 NIV – The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.

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

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

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

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

3. Evaluate My Abilities

Ephesians 2;10 NIV – For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

We are saved to serve. Use your talents and gifts to help other people!

I Peter 4:10 Living Bible – God has given each of you some special abilities; be sure to use them to help each other, passing on to others God’s many kinds of blessings.

•“In my view, people are never closer to living out the teachings of Christ than when they are adding value to someone else’s life. And people who are far from God are rarely more impacted than when they see 21st-Century Christ-followers behaving as Christ behaved.” ~Bill Hybels

Tertullian said, “He who lives only to benefit himself confers on the world a benefit when he dies.”

4. Associate with Godly Dreamers

Hang out with people who are trying to discover God’s dream for their life. There’s no such thing as a neutral friend. They’re either pulling you toward God’s dream or pulling you away from it.

Proverbs 27:17 NIVAs iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

Andrew Carnegie said, “It marks a big step in your development when you come to realize that other people can help you do a better job than you can do alone.”

Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”

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.

I Corinthians 15:33 NIV Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”

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

Disconnect from 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

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NIV – Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:10  If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up 11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

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

5. Make my Dream Public

Visualize the dream, then verbalize the dream! Because it will get you started, it will attract other people’s support, and it will release God’s Power.

Habakkuk 2:2-3 NKJV – Then the Lord answered me and said: “Write the vision And make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry.

The Mouth is the expression of your thoughts, dreams, and vision. What you are dreaming is expressed in what you say and do.

2 Corinthians 4:13 NIV  It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.”[a] Since we have that same spirit of[b] faith, we also believe and therefore speak,

Your future and dreams does not respond to anyone’s voice but your own

Mark 11:23 ESV – 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.

Start saying things you dream about that you want to happen in your life, not what you don’t want to happen! Jesus said to speak to the mountain, not about the mountain.  Jesus said you can have what you say, but you have been saying what you have

I Thessalonians 5:24 NIV – The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.

Because Knowing God Changes Everything Part 2

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Because Knowing God Changes Everything Part 2

In a world created by God, sustained by God, and renewed by God, nothing is more important than knowing God

J.I. Packer said: “What were we made for? To know God. What aim should we set ourselves in life? To know God. What is the best thing in life, bringing more joy, delight, and contentment, than anything else? Knowledge of God.”

I Corinthians 15:34 MSG – Ignorance of God is a luxury you can’t afford in times like these

God wants us to know Him to lead us to a higher place of worship, a greater level of faith, wisdom to act wisely, and a deeper level of commitment

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.

Jonathan Edwards wrote, “Seek not to grow in Knowledge chiefly for the sake of its applause, and to enable you to dispute with others; but seek it for the benefit of your souls.”

“Nothing can be rightly known, if God be not known; nor is any study well managed, nor to any great purpose, if God is not studied. We know little of the creature, till we know it as it stands related to the Creator…”~Richard Baxter

OUR Knowledge OF GOD Comes From the WORD OF 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,

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.”

All 66 Books, 1,189 Chapters, 31,273 verses  – is God Breathed

John 8:31-32 ESV – So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

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

John 1:1-5 ESV – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life,[a] and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

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

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

“If we are not interested in the Word of God, can we really be interested in God?” ~Robert Godfrey 

The Result

•Knowing God will transform our nature and character 

 II Corinthians 3:18 (amp) – “And all of us, as with unveiled face, (because we) continued to behold (in the word of God) as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever increasing splendor & from one degree of glory to another; (for this comes) from the Lord (Who is) the Spirit.”

a. Knowing God  means to Seek Him – To know God means to constantly be searching Him out in His Word.  The word “behold” in t his passage means “to continually explore and look into.”

b. Knowing him produces Change

c. •The Proof of God’s Power is not in an explanation but in a changed life

Be Assured 

•(Hebrews 10:22)  “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith…”

A person’s perception of understanding of the nature of God will determine their level of faith in His ability or desire to help them

1. God is there. 

  •(Psalm 139:7-8 “Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” 

•(Hebrews 13:5)  “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

•(Hebrews 4:13 LB) “He knows about everyone, everywhere. Everything about us is bare and wide open to the all-seeing eyes of our living God; nothing can be hidden from Him…” 

2. God is never late. 

2 Timothy 4:18 NIV “The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

Philippians 1:6 NAS  “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

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

3. God knows best. 

•(Hebrews 11:39-40)  “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.  God had planned something better…” 

 (Isaiah 55:8-9 LB)  “This plan of mine is not what you would work out, neither are my thoughts the same as yours!  For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than yours, and my thoughts than yours.” 

4. God cares. 

•(James 5:11 Message)  “Youʼve heard, of course, of Jobʼs staying power, and you know how God brought it all together for him at the end. That’s because God cares, cares right down to the last detail.”

Getting Our Attention

Jim Bakker, the televangelist who built the huge PTL empire spent 5 years in prison for mail fraud and for bilking his followers out of millions of dollars. In his book called, I Was Wrong, he admits that his whole view of God was faulty. As he recounts his spiritual journey behind bars, he finally comes to the conclusion that God sent him to prison for a very specific purpose. He had become so concerned with building a name for himself that he somewhere along the way forgot all about God. According to Bakker, God sent him to prison so that he could get to know God for who He really is. It’s as simple as that.

If knowing God is that important, I wonder what He’ll have to do to get our attention? Our biggest problem is not that God isn’t speaking, it’s that we’re so busy we can’t — or won’t — slow down long enough to hear His voice. Psalm 46:10 urges us to “Be still and know that I am God.”

What then should we do? Hosea 6:3 challenges us to “…press on to acknowledge the Lord.” To press on means to move toward the goal with undiminished vigor. It means to set your focus on knowing our Knowable God ­ and letting nothing get in your way. Do you have a passion and vigor for God this morning? 

Tony Evans uses a great illustration: “I can’t fully explain what it means to know God. I can use the terms, but it’s like defining a kiss. Webster calls a kiss ‘a caress with the lips; a gentle touch or contact.’ But anyone who has kissed someone knows that a kiss is really much more than that. You can’t explain it, but Lord have mercy, it’s good when you get it! I can’t fully explain what getting to know God feels like, but I know that you will like it when it happens. (Our God is Awesome, p. 34)

Friends, you will never understand God until you begin to know Him personally. I can’t define it fully, but when you encounter God Almighty, your life will never be the same again. Which is why Psalm 34:8 says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” He is good ­and He’s good all the time, but you’ll never know until you taste Him for yourself!

My Prayer for you

Ephesians 1:17 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.”

Jeremiah 29:13 NIV “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

Everybody surrenders to something or someone in life. If not to God, you’ll surrender to popular opinion, money, resentment, or fear, to your own pride, lust, and ego.

Surrender is not the best way to live; it is the only way to live. Nothing else works. All other approaches lead to frustration, disappointment, and self-destruction.

So give it all to God: your past regrets, your present problems, your future ambitions, your fears, dreams, weaknesses, habits, hurts, and hang-ups. Put Christ in the driver’s seat of your life, and take your hands off the steering wheel. Don’t be afraid; nothing under his control can ever be out of control.

Prayer of Commitment

I’d like you to stand this morning and we’re going to pray a prayer together. This prayer originally appeared in A.W. Tozer’s book called, “The Knowledge of the Holy.”

“O majesty unspeakable, my soul desires to behold Thee. I cry to Thee from the dust. Yet when I inquire after Thy name it is secret. Thou art hidden in the light which no man can approach unto. What Thou art cannot be thought or uttered, for Thy glory is beyond comprehension.

Still, prophet and psalmist, apostle and saint have encouraged me to believe that I may in some measure know Thee. Therefore, I pray, whatever of Thyself Thou hast been pleased to disclose, help me to search out as treasure more precious than fine gold: for with Thee shall I live when the stars of the twilight are no more and the heavens have vanished away and only Thou remainest. Amen.”

The Baggage of Busyness

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The Baggage of Busyness

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

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

If I Had My Life To Live Over by Erma Bombeck

If I had my life to live over, I would have talked less and listened more.

I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.

I would have eaten the popcorn in the ‘good’ living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.

I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.

I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.

I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television – and more while watching life.

I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.

I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren’t there for the day.

I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn’t show soil or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.

Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I’d have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, “Later. Now go get washed up for dinner.”

There would have been more “I love you’s”.. More “I’m sorrys” …

But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute… look at it and really see it … live it…and never give it back.

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

Some of us are overwhelmed by the pace of life. 

•The term 24/7 – nonstop. It’s become a mantra for our American culture. Everything is MORE. (It’s not a scheduling issue but a life issue)

Eccl. 7:29 JB God made man simple; man’s complex problems are of his own devising

There was a recent survey, where they discovered, that many would rather work than play, . . . that, we enjoy employment, . . . over enjoyment. We’re going to look at, a prescription, for people, . . . under pressure.

Quiz to find out, . . . if you’re a workaholic:

  1. Are you always, . . . in a hurry?
  2. Is your “To do” list, . . . always, unrealistically long?
  3. Do you use days off, . . . to catch up, on unfinished work?
  4. Has more than one person, . . . ever told you, to slow down?
  5. Do you feel guilty, . . . when you relax?
  6. Do you have to get sick, . . . to take time off?

This is not the kind of life God wants you to live

Psalm 127:2 (The Message) “It’s useless to rise early and go to bed late, and work your worried fingers to the bone. Don’t you know he enjoys giving rest to those he loves?”

Psalm 23:2 “He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters.”

He’s referring to rest and refreshment. God is interested in your rest and recreation. He wants you to live a whole, balanced and complete life. He wants you to not be working all the time.

A CNN pole recently said that 59% of all Americans would like to slow down and relax more. A Harris pole said we have 8.5 hours less leisure time than we did a decade ago. We’re working more and enjoying it less.

A prescription for pressured people: God’s Way to RELAX and UNWIND

1. REALIZE MY WORTH

The reason, most people, overwork, is because they confuse, their work, . . . and, their worth.  We think that, if we work a whole lot, achieve a lot, . . . we’re worth a lot.  We confuse, what we do, with who we are.  In America, we get our primary identity, from what we do.  When we meet someone, after we find out their name, usually the second question is, “What do you do?”  We get our worth, we think, . . from our work.

The Bible doesn’t, teach that.  It says our worth, is regardless, . . of what our work is.  The real reason, you overwork is, you say, . . . “I’ll show them.  I will prove my worth, by my accomplishments, my achievements.”  You never accomplish, enough, . . . to feel satisfied.

The antidote is to realize what God says about you.

James 1:18 (NCV) “God decided to give us life through the word of truth so we might be the most important of all the things he made.”

God says you matter more than the rest of creation. You can relax; you don’t have to prove your worth. If you were made by God, you’re worth it. You don’t spend your whole life, . . . trying to win the approval, of other people.  You don’t need the approval, of other people, . . . to be happy.  But, you do need to realize, . . . how valuable you are, to God.

Matthew 6:26 NIV Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

1) You will never understand how much God loves you here on earth.

2) There is nothing you can ever do in life that will make God love you more than He already does.

3) There is nothing you can ever do that will make God love you any less. His love is not based on your performance. It’s unconditional love. It’s based on who He is.

You don’t have to prove your worth by overworking. God says you are OK.

Isaiah 49:16 NIV – See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.

2. ENJOY WHAT I ALREADY HAVE

Ecclesiastes 3:13 ESV – also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.

Can you be so preoccupied in getting more that you don’t enjoy what you’ve got? Sure. Can you so busy trying, with the desire to acquire more and more that you don’t enjoy what’s already in your garage?

We get into a syndrome: The desire to acquire. They’ve got that so we’ve got to get that. They’ve moved up so we’ve got to move up. We’re trying to keep up with the Jones’s not realizing they just refinanced or filed for bankruptcy. We buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t even like. We try to get more and more and we get overextended financially.

Ecclesiastes 4:6 Good News Translation – Maybe so, but it is better to have only a little, with peace of mind, than be busy all the time with both hands, trying to catch the wind.

As a pastor I’ve been at a lot of death beds. I have never had one person say at their final breath “I wish I had spent more time at the office.” Many have said “I wish I had spent more time with my kids (wife, husband, building relationships, with God)”

Enjoy what you have while you’ve got it and don’t be worrying about getting more all of the time.

3. LIMIT MY LABOR

We must make, a conscious decision, to make time, for other things, . . . besides work.  We have to decide, how many hours, I realistically want to spend working, each week, . . . and, then, we need to stick to it.  We need to schedule time, for ourselves, with God alone, with our family — those are important elements, in our life, . . . as well as work

Our best requires rest. You can get so many irons in the fire, you put out the fire.

Ecclesiastes 10:15 Good News Translation (GNT) 15 Only someone too stupid to find his way home would wear himself out with work.

Exodus 20:9-11 MSG – Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Work six days and do everything you need to do. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to God, your God. Don’t do any work—not you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your servant, nor your maid, nor your animals, not even the foreign guest visiting in your town. For in six days God made Heaven, Earth, and sea, and everything in them; he rested on the seventh day. Therefore God blessed the Sabbath day; he set it apart as a holy day

God says that one day off every week is the rule. This is the fourth commandment; it’s in the Big Ten. It’s so important that God put it up there with “Don’t commit adultery” and “Don’t murder”. That’s how serious God takes this.

Why? The Bible calls it the Sabbath. Sabbath means a day of rest.

Mark 2:27 NIV – Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.

Colossians says it doesn’t matter, what day you choose, . . . as long as, you choose one, . . . every week.  {Sunday is not, my Sabbath, . . . it’s a work day.}

What should you do on your day off, your Sabbath?

1) Rest my body. If you don’t take time to rest your body, your body will make time to rest itself — either in the hospital or with a cold or flu. Our best requires rest. During the French Revolution they outlawed Sunday as a day of rest. Within a few years they had to reinstate it. Not for religious reasons but because the health of the nation had collapsed. They were all burnt out.

Do you feel guilty when you relax? Jesus didn’t. He took time off. Are you busier than Jesus? Is what you’re doing more important than what Jesus did?

2) Recharge your emotions. What things recharge you emotionally? You need quietness. You need recreation —play, meditate, pray, Be still, be with your family.

3) You need to refocus your spirit. The Bible calls this worship. Worship brings things into perspective.

When you come into church with a big problem, worship puts things into perspective. You have more energy to deal with the problem and more understanding. You need time alone with God every day. If you’re too busy for God you’re too busy. You’re missing out on one of the very things you were made for.

Worship affects me deeply. God soothes me more in worship than in any other way. I can see God and His power, His joy, and His love.

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

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

Salvation in this verse does not mean eternal salvation. It means deliverance, or the sense of helping someone out of their difficulty.  This is what God does during times of heaviness. He will deliver you.

4. Adjust My Values

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

In order to reduce busyness in my life I must change my thinking about what is important.

Ecclesiastes 4:4 NIV – And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

(“I’ve learned why people work so hard to succeed; it is because they envy the things their neighbors have.”)

Mark 8:36 NIV – What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?

Is it worth it? Ask yourself this question about every area in your life. What’s, more important?  Things, . . . or, family?  More busyness, . . . or, your church family?

5.  EXCHANGE MY PRESSURE, . . . FOR GOD’S PEACE

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

Where are you going to live? Tribulation? Or Christ

This gets at the very root of your stress. There are three kinds of fatigue:

There is physical fatigue — tired muscles. That can be replenished pretty quickly.

There is emotional fatigue — tired emotions, feelings.

There is spiritual fatigue — a dry spirit. This is the deepest.

You may need a vacation. But a vacation will not help these last two. You need more than just time off to recharge your emotions and focus your spirit. You need a relationship to God. You can take a two week vacation in Tahiti but when you come back you’re still going to have the same problems. The pressures are still going to be there. It means more than just taking time off; it means readjusting my values and exchanging my pressure for God’s peace.

We need to learn how to Take it easy, chill, relax, and rest! 

Philippians 4:7-9 NIV – And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

A little child does not like to lie down, to rest. Resistance to rest is a mark of immaturity.

In Psalm 23:2 “He makes me lie down.” That’s a forcing. Has God ever had to make you lie down? If you don’t slow down, sometimes God will just make you lie down. He cares about you. You matter to Him.

You need a relationship to Christ who will help you set the pace of your life.

Paraphrase of Psalm 23:

The Lord is my pacesetter, I shall not rush. He makes me stop and rest at intervals. He provides me with images of stillness to restore my serenity. He leads me in the way of efficiency to calmness of mind and this guidance is peace. Even though I have a great many things to accomplish this day, I will not fret for His presence is here. His timeliness, His all importance will keep me in balance. He prepares refreshment and renewal in the midst of my activity, anointing my head with the oils of tranquility. My cup of joyous energy overflows. Surely harmony and effectiveness shall be the fruits of my hours, for I shall walk in the pace of my Lord and dwell in His heaven forever.

You need a pacesetter to set the pace of your life so you don’t go too slow or too fast. The only person wise enough to do that who knows you inside and out better than you even know yourself is Jesus Christ.

Psalm 46:10  “Be still, and know that I am God; (Msg – “Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.”

  1. Still – to abate, to cease, to let go, or to stop.
  2. Becoming still is an important key to knowing God. If we don’t fulfill the prerequisite of finding a place of stillness the implication is that we won’t know God.

You need a relationship to Him where you exchange His peace for your pressure. When you live for God, it’s not only the right way, it’s the healthy way, the whole way, the balanced way, and the most relaxing way.

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

Closer: Looking UP Living UP

Closer-Full Screen

Closer: Looking UP Living UP

Lovers of the English language might enjoy this. It is yet another example of why people learning English have trouble with the language.  Learning the nuances of English makes it a difficult language. (But then, that’s probably true of many languages.)

There is a two-letter word in English that perhaps has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that word is ‘UP.’  It is listed in the dictionary as being used as an [adv], [prep], [adj], [n] or [v].

It’s easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP?

At a meeting, why does a topic come UP ? Why do we speak UP, and why are the officers UP for election and why is itI> UP to the secretary to write  UP a report? We call UP our friends and we use it to brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver, we warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen. We lock UP the house and some guys fix UP the old car.

At other times the little word has a real special meaning. People stir UP  trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses.&bsp;

To be dressed is one thing but to be dressed UP is special. And this UP is confusing: A drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP. We open UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at night. We seem to be pretty mixedUP about UP !

To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP  , look the word UP in the dictionary. In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4 of the page and can add UP to about thirty definitions

If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used. It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don’t give UP, you may wind UP with a hundred or more.

When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP . When the sun comes out we say it is clearing UP. When it rains, it wets UP the earth. When it does not rain for awhile, things dry UP.

One could go on & on, but I’ll wrap it UP , for now  ……..my time is UP , so time to shut UP!  Oh…one more thing: What is the first thing you do in the morning & the last thing you do at night? U      P  Don’t screw UP.   Now I’ll shut UP

Text: Colossians 3:1-4 MSG – So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective. 3-4 Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.

The Definition of worship is trapped in a lot of modern terms. Use examples

It is really what our main focus is in life

I. Don’t Shuffle along, Head down, absorbed with the things Right in front of you

Look UP! When you look down you have limited scope and perspective. When you look down you don’t see the bigger picture.

Do you want a bigger better life? Look Up!

Hebrews 13:15-16 ESV – Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God

What Does Looking Up Mean?

  1. Looking Up Heightens Our Awareness of God in Everyday Life

Don’t be unaware of God and His Presence.

Psalm 121:1 NIV – I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from?

Gandhi said, “When I admire the wonder of a sunset or the beauty of the moon,, my soul expands in worship of the Creator.”

Psalm 123:1 NIV – I lift up my eyes to you,  to you who sit enthroned in heaven

Time with God: Use to be “Devotion”, “Church”, “Bible Study”, then the rest of our life. Don’t make time for God, DO life with God. No such thing as “a Spiritual Life” in Hebrew. We capartmentalize our lives. Open up your whole life to God!

Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV – Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Since Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith, this means He is also at work right now with our lives. As long as we keep looking to him we will find the sufficiency to move forward in the many areas we are daily being challenged in.

In the midst of temptations, problems, difficulties, sorrows, various tasks and opportunities that will come your way during this coming year, stay focused on Christ, who is the Author and Finisher of your faith. He is there to hope you though any circumstance you may encounter.

Psalm 28:7 NIV – The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him

Secular vs Spiritual examples: Music, marriage, Movies, etc… You can find God outside religious settings

Don’t limit your worship to 20 minutes on Sunday. Worship is for Everyday!

Psalm 34:1 ESV – I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

2. Looking up is presenting your everyday life as an offering to honor and glorify Christ

Colossians 3:17 NIV –  And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Your Job is Working for God – Your skills, business, talent, etc…. Came from God! You are what you are because of Why you are! It’s Worship to God

God belongs in the context of your everyday life (Ex: Tricia is called to the medical field)

Eric Liddell (1924 Olympics – Chariots of Fire Movie) His father said to him, “Eric you can worship God by peeling a spud if you peel it to perfection. Don’t compromise. Run in God’s name, and let the world stand back and wonder! He honored God with his life! He had 2 great passions: China and Running. When he served both he felt God’s pleasure.

Do what God called you to do! 

Romans 12:1-2 MSG  1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

Our Lives Are To Be An Act Of Worship.

Hebrews 12:28 ESV – Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe,

3. Looking Up is Constant Communication with God

I Thess 5:16-18 NIV  Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Prayer is our lifeline. Prayer is our communion with God. Prayer is the means by which we speak to God. And whatever it is that God has designed for us to do in praying is what we ought to do and not something else.

Matthew 6:9-10 NIV – This, then, is how you should pray:“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10  your kingdom come,  your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven

Smart Phones – Text messages, Twitter (140 characters or less) = I communicate with u. Distance doesn’t matter

Talk with God through out the day

Psalm 141:2 ESV – Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!

You can engage in life and still be looking up! 

•Adam & Eve walked with God in the cool of the day

•Enoch walked with God and was not for God took him

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.

As a Result…

We Are in God’s Presence Every Moment of our Lives

Psalm 139:2-12 NLT – You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. 3 You see me when I travel and when I rest at home.You know everything I do. 4 You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. 5 You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. 6  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,too great for me to understand! 7 I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! 8 If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave,[a] you are there. 9 If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans,10  even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. 11 I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night—12 but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you.

A New Strength will Come to You! 

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

To Know God’s Word is the Path to Know God

Spiritual-Life-Bible-Keys

To Know God’s Word is the Path to Know God    

John 1:1-5 ESV – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life,[a] and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Lucy and Linus are gazing out the window at a staggering downpour of rain.

“Boy, look at it rain, ” Lucy says, fear etched on her face. “What if it floods the whole world?”   “It will never do that, Linus responds confidently. “In the 9th Chapter of Genesis, God promised Noah that would never happen again, and the sign of the promise is the rainbow.”   “You’ve taken a great load of my mind, ” Lucy says with a sigh of relief. Linus replies, “Sound theology has a way of doing that.”

That is my aim in this message today! To articulate the good theology (study of God) that  God is a good God contrary to what someone may have said about Him, or our past perceptions.

I googled God. turns out there are 564 million results. My conclusion after the first few pages….Everyone has an opinion about God. 

Problem in America today is that Christianity is 3000 miles wide and 1 inch deep. We need to leave the kiddy pool of christianity and launch out into the deep!

We really have a warped society that believes God is dead and Elvis is alive.

OUR VIEW OF GOD Comes From the WORD OF 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,

All 66 Books, 1,189 Chapters, 31,273 verses  – is God Breathed

John 8:31-32 ESV – So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

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

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.”

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…

I Corinthians 15:34 MSG – Ignorance of God is a luxury you can’t afford in times like these”

In spite of our ignorance here is the descriptive heart of God:

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. 10 All your works praise you, Lord; your faithful people extol you. 11 They tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might, 12 so that all people may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. 13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.[a]14 The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.15 The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. 16 You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

A person’s perception of understanding of the nature of God will determine their level of faith in His ability or desire to help them.

AW Tozer said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”

If you know Him as He is – – loving, kind, gentle, giving, generous, and liberal – – then you would not hesitate to ask from Him all that you need!

Matthew 7:11 NIV – If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

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

Myths About God

Myth – a usually traditional story of ostensibly historical events that serves to unfold part of the world view of a people or explain a practice, belief, or natural phenomenon

Greek Mythology – The Odyssey, The Iliad by Homer, Mt Olympus, Zeus, Hades, Athena, Apollo, Hermes, Prometheus, Atlas, The Clash of the Titans

1 Timothy 1:3-4 NLT “…stop those whose teaching is contrary to the truth. Don’t let them waste their time in endless discussion of myths and spiritual pedigrees. These things only lead to meaningless speculations, which don’t help people live a life of faith in God.”

I. What You Must Know about God

1. God is Powerful

Isaiah 40:28-31 ESV – Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; 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.

Isaiah 44:24 NIV – This is what the Lord says— your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb:I am the Lord, the Maker of all things,who stretches out the heavens, who spreads out the earth by myself,

Isaiah 45:12 NIV – It is I who made the earth and created mankind on it. My own hands stretched out the heavens; I marshaled their starry hosts.

Augustine said, “The very order, disposition, beauty, change, and motion of the world and of all visible things silently proclaim that it could only have been made by God.” 

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

•The Proof of God’s Power is not in an explanation but in a changed life

2. God is Good

Psalm 31:19 NIV – How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you

The Bible connects the name of the Lord or God or Jesus or the Spirit with “good” or “goodness” 370 Times.

Psalm 34:8 ESV – Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

God cannot cease from doing good, because HE is GOOD!

Psalm 103:1-5 ESV – Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s

3. God is Gracious and Merciful

Ephesians 2:8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.”

•Grace is God giving people credit for something they didn’t do! 

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

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

Psalm 145:8 NIV – “The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.”

•Because of Grace, God chose to clean up what we messed up

Micah 7:18 NIV “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.”

Psalm 103:9-10 NIV “He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.”

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

II. What God Wants You to Know about HIM

1. To know that God loves me.

Lamentations 3:21-23 NIV – “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORDʼs great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

2. To know that God has a plan for me.

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.

2 Corinthians 4:16-17 NIV – “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.”

3. To know that God will bring me through.

2 Timothy 4:18 NIV “The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

Philippians 1:6 NAS  “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

III. My Prayer for you

Ephesians 1:17 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.”

Jeremiah 29:13 NIV “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

Everybody surrenders to something or someone in life. If not to God, you’ll surrender to popular opinion, money, resentment, or fear, to your own pride, lust, and ego.

Surrender is not the best way to live; it is the only way to live. Nothing else works. All other approaches lead to frustration, disappointment, and self-destruction.

So give it all to God: your past regrets, your present problems, your future ambitions, your fears, dreams, weaknesses, habits, hurts, and hang-ups. Put Christ in the driver’s seat of your life, and take your hands off the steering wheel. Don’t be afraid; nothing under his control can ever be out of control.

Five Do’s for Single Parents

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Five Do’s for Single Parents By Dreva Deaton

  1. Have a personal relationship with God

It may seem as though your kids do not hear a word that you say perhaps, they don’t. However, they will see what you do. Such as, putting God first, having a prayer life, being committed to God’s word in all things.

  1. Honor Your Child’s Voice

Children from single parent households feel insecure and invisible. They are collateral damage with accidental wounds and spirits that are unintentionally slaughtered as a result of attacks whereby they were not the intended target yet, carry all the scars.  They must have validation. They must have valid measure of personal identity, social identity, and ego identity. All of which are often damaged when coming from a broken home. Hear your kids. Listen to your kids. Confirm your child’s words, fears, feelings, desires.   Give high respect to what they think. Esteem them.

  1. Apologize/ Forgive Everything

It is always right to apologize, especially to your child. We are flawed and broken. We will do the wrong thing, say the wrong words, and act with unacceptable behavior. There will be times you should apologize.

Forgive everything. Your children will break your heart, make you angry, ignore you, hurt you, blame you, and because they are flawed will make mistakes that you would never have thought possible. FORGIVE EVERYTHING. It is not personal and even if it is, you are the parent, they are the child.

  1. Be Committed To Being Second

Your children should always come first. Whatever their needs are, put them first. Whatever is best for your kids, choose that. If what they want seems frivolous, insignificant, urgent – do it, it probably represents their whole world in their life perspective. Do it. Be there. Take them. Show up. Say yes.   Commit to your children and your relationship with them. Commit to putting yourself and what you want behind your children.

  1. Be Consistent

Growth, security, trust, and many other life affirming characteristics are contingent on consistency. Be consistent with your prayer, your word, and your actions. Be bold in the face of adversity when it seems change may be an easy answer or quick fix. With the insecurity children from single parent homes face, children need a consistency to bridge the gap between what is and what can be. Let what you say and what you do be consistent with each other. Over time, consistency will effect faith through unchanging behavior and process.

About Dreva:

Dreva believes that ministry should be about building relationships, and helping others grow in Christ and find their place in God’s kingdom. As a minister and music director for more than two decades, she has mentored and taught many through example by worshipping and putting God first.

Dreva is a Cleveland native and resides in North Royalton, OH. As a pastor’s daughter and oldest of four, Dreva prides herself in her loyalty to family, putting her two teenage boys first and being the best friend that she can be. In her free time, Dreva is with her boys or with friends going to events that are happening around town. Dreva is an accomplished musician, song writer, and recording artist.

Parenting: Dealing with the D Word

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Parenting – Dealing with the D Word

“Before I was married I had three theories about raising children. Now I have three children and no theories.” – John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester

(Proverbs 3:11-12 NIV) My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in

Discipline is training that corrects, mold, or strengthens a person’s mental faculties and character

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

Our instructions to our children is not better than God’s. If we think that then we are a fool.

Don’t despise what God has to say to in His word concerning your family.

•It is natural for children to do wrong. We are to deal wisely with them. Not to leave them to the guidance of their own will. As children, we need to think for them, judge for them, and act for them. They do not know what is good for their mind & soul, anymore what is good for their body. We are teaching and training them.

Four Problem Parenting Styles Today

  1. Dependent Parents: Goal is to control their child’s behavior and feelings.
  2. Domineering Parents: To Control their child’s behavior
  3. Doting Parents: To Control their child’s Feelings
  4. Detached Parents: To Avoid Responsibility for their failure

Our Goal: Discipling Parents: To Develop Christlike Character in their Child. So they can become wise, secure, confident, compassionate, & Caring.

Discipline is correction driven by love. 

(Hebrews 12:5-6 NIV) “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves…”

(Proverbs 19:18 NIV) “Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death.” Discipline isn’t something you do to your child, but for your child.

Parents, we need to understand that there is a major battle going on for who is going to be in charge in our households, and this is a battle that we must win, and we must win it decisively.  If you find yourself consistently nagging and yelling and bribing and threatening, you are losing the battle and the tide must turn, and it must turn now.  But you say, “I don’t want to be mean to my kids.  I don’t want to discipline my kids.”  This is what someone told me years ago.

DISCIPLINE ISN’T SOMETHING YOU DO TO YOUR CHILD, BUT FOR YOUR CHILD. 

Proverbs 13:24 NIV – Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.

“A child who has not been disciplined with love by his little world will be disciplined without love by the great big world.”  Zig Ziglar

Correct Discipline will…Cause Children to respect their parents, to do right, and live at peace

•Children need your TIME – 100 years ago, parents spent 54% of waking hours with their children, Today it is less than 15%

•It’s easy to come in after a high pressured day, preoccupied with life and all its ups and downs. Childhood is too short to waste and an open heart and mind is to precious to ignore. Make time!

•There is no magical number of minutes but you can maximize opportunities to interact, engage in conversations, & stay connected to their world. You have ONE shot & a limited time period to raise champion children.

Tell them you love them EVERYDAY! Hug them! Kiss them! Don’t be afraid to share your heart. There is nothing wrong with that. Contrary to how you were raised. If not, they will feel rejected!

Don’t spend all the time criticizing them and pointing out their weaknesses. Your words have power and your children will become what your words say about them.

Be a stimulator instead of a reactor.

Undisciplined Parents

1. Lifeguard Parents: Often rescue a child from consequences.

Little Johnny’s in trouble.  Super mom sweeps in to save the day.  “Oh, little Johnny, it’s going to be okay.  I’ll save you again!”  Okay?  How do you know if you are a lifeguard parent?  Well, you are a lifeguard parent if you delivered little Johnny his lunch three or more times in the last semester because he forgot his lunch.  If little Johnny’s a sophomore in college, you’re the worst kind of lifeguard parent there is.  Okay?  It’s not allowing our children to face the consequences of their own sins.  Now, why is it so important to let them face their consequences?

(Galatians 6:7 NIV) “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”

In other words, in God’s divine economy, He set up the world with a system of consequences.  You live according to His Word and there will be blessings.  You live outside of the parameters of His Word, and there will be consequences.  We must give our children the gift of facing the consequences of bad decisions.

Kids must have some responsibility – ex: our kids

2. Etch-A-Sketch Parents: Often inconsistent.

You know what an Etch-A-Sketch is?  Yeah, they use it for computers in Arkansas.  It’s kind of like a  [laughter]  just joking, okay?

An Etch-A-Sketch is a little dillymagetchee.  It is about the size of my Bible.  It’s got little knobs on it, and what happens if you turn the little knob?  What do you make?  The lines, right?  And then, what happens if you shake it up?  Where did it go?  They disappear.  A lot of us, we’ve got some lines in our households, and then, the next day, the lines move.  And our kids are saying, “Where are the lines?  Where are the boundaries?”  We are inconsistent oftentimes as parents.

(Proverbs 29:15, 17 NIV) “The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother…Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul.”

Notice, scripture doesn’t say discipline them today and then not tomorrow.  Have one line here today and then shake it up and let the line move tomorrow.  A lot of our kids want to know, where are the lines?  Why are they always moving?

we can be Nazi parents one day, all in line, and the next day we are like cruise ship director, “the love boat,”

•Being inconsistent is provoking your child. Yes means yes and no means no. Don’t waffle. No game of begging and pleading until you change your answer. If you play this one, they win every time.

Be consistent, don’t promise what you can’t deliver – If you’re constantly changing the rules and making promises you can’t fulfill, STOP. (example – if you don’t stop Im going to give you a time out. they don’t stop and then you don’t what you said – by product – you are a liar)

3. Split Decision Parents: Often divided.

(Amos 3:3 NIV) “Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?”

Parental Expectations

1. We expect first time and cheerful obedience.

(Colossians 3:20 NIV) “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.”

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

(Philippians 2:14 NIV) “Do everything without complaining or arguing.”

•Discipline more for attitude than actions.

2. We agree to never discipline in anger.

(Ephesians 4:26 NIV) “In your anger do not sin.”

Most parents discipline according to their moods. (good mood- let it go, bad mood – scream & overreact) = rebellion and frustration in them.

Harsh yelling, belittlement, nagging, name calling, or degradation of your child – wounds their spirit, causes low self esteem and behavior problems. Critique the behavior not the child.

What about Spanking? Only when a child defies your authority.

Proverbs 23:13-14 NIV – Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish them with the rod, they will not die. Punish them with the rod and save them from death.

Purpose: is for the child to associate wrong doing with pain.

•Never spank in anger or revenge, but rather in sorrow. “This hurts me more than it hurts you”

•Discipline in Private, not in the presence of others

•Explain the reason Why

•Verbally and physically comfort your child immediately after

•Spanking should be used only when productive. (Some children don’t require spanking to be repentant: others don’t respond to spanking)

Proverbs 22:15 NLT – A youngster’s heart is filled with foolishness, but physical discipline will drive it far away.

3. We will discipline promptly with instruction and reconciliation.

(Ephesians 6:4 NIV) “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

Exasperateinfuriate, incense, anger, annoy, irritate, enrage, antagonize, provoke

Proverbs 22:6 NIVTrain a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.

Take Every Opportunity to teach your Children Spiritual Truths

Deuteronomy 6:5-7 NIV – Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.