Miracles Pt.5 – Immediate Miracles

Miracles Pt.5 – Immediate Miracles 

God is able and willing to work miracles in and through any person who has a heart to believe in His unlimited power and unlimited possibilities. Miracles are for YOU today!

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

Declaration:

“God wants my life to be full of Miracles. My Life itself is a Miracle. Miracles are happening to me continuously . I wake daily and experience the miracle of living. My miracles are expanding and accelerating. Today I expect and happily receive miracles.”

There is NO such thing as a hopeless situation. Every single circumstance of your life can change.

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

Acts 10:44 NIV – While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message.

Something IMMEDIATELY happened when they HEARD the WORD OF GOD. 

Romans 10:17 ESV So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

If what you hear preached doesn’t cause faith to come and build faith in your spirit, then it either isn’t the Word of God or else you’re not hearing it

1. God’s Word is Everything God is (Miraculous, Spirit, Breath, Life, Presence, Power)

John 1:1-5 NIV – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome[a] it.

John 6:63 NIV – The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. 

2 Timothy 3:14-16 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,

Inspiration is compound of the words “Theos” (God) and “Pneuma” (Spirit) – God Breathed – Inspiration of God

God’s Word is not the product of elevated human consciousness or enlightened human intellect. This is God breathing HIS very own breath and presence into something.

2. God’s Word has the ability to create, destroy, and perfect

Hebrews 11:3 NIV – By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

•We use words to describe, God uses Words to Create (Genesis 1)

Colossians 1:16 NIV – For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.

Mark 11:12-14, 22-24 NIV12 The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. 13 Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. 14 Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it. 22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23 “Truly[d] I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

•Your Mountain needs to hear God’s Word and Your Voice

By getting God’s Word deep into your spirit and speaking it boldly out your mouth, you release spiritual power to change things in the natural circumstances.

3. God’s Word is Living (All 66 books, 1, 189 Chapters, 31, 273 Verses)

Hebrews 4:12 NLT – For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.

Isaiah 40:8 NIV – The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.

Matthew 24:35 NIV – Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

I Peter 1:23-25 NIV – For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.24 For, “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall,25 but the word of the Lord endures forever.”[a] And this is the word that was preached to you.

Abideth – To dwell, To remain, to last

4. God will Perform His Word

•Perform – to carry out an action or pattern of behavior; To begin and carry through to completion;

•Believing God’s word means What God says will come to pass

• Instead of believing what you see – Choose to believe what Jesus said!

Jeremiah 1:12 ESV – Then the Lord said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it.”

Isaiah 55:8-11 NIV – “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it

Ezekiel 12:28 NIV – Therefore say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: None of my words will be delayed any longer; whatever I say will be fulfilled, declares the Sovereign Lord.’”

Hebrews 10:35-38 ESV – Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. 37 For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay;38 but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.”

5. God’s Word Can Produce Immediate Miracles

•Immediately – without delay

•Quit saying WHEN, and Start saying NOW

•Faith says I have it NOW – Hope says I’ll get it later. Bring your Faith into the NOW Realm.

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

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

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

Ephesians 3:20 NKJV – NOW to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,

In the Amplified version is says:…His power is able to do superabundantly, far over and above all that we dare ask or think {infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams}

WE can Expect Immediate Miracles

Psalm 31:5 NIV – Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me.

Psalm 69:17 NIV – Do not hide your face from your servant; answer me quickly, for I am in trouble.

Psalm 79:8 NIV – Do not hold against us the sins of past generations; may your mercy come quickly to meet us, for we are in desperate need.

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

What has taken time, can begin to happen IMMEDIATELY – We have a right to believe God for Immediate miracles

The Proof of Immediate Miracles 

Proof – the establishment of the truth of anything; demonstration. establishes validity

Luke 5:24-25 NIV 24 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 25 Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God.

Acts 14:8-10 NIV In Lystra there sat a man who was lame. He had been that way from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed 10 and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk.

Acts 3:1-9 NIV – One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. When all the people saw him walking and praising God,

Mark 5:21-29, 38-42 NIV  When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. 22 Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. 23 He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” 24 So Jesus went with him. A large crowd followed and pressed around him. 25 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26 She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” 29 Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.

38-42- When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. 39 He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” 40 But they laughed at him.After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). 42 Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished

NOW IS YOUR TIME FOR YOUR MIRACLE 

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

Beautiful Things Pt.2 – The Beauty of Grace

Beautiful Things Pt.2 – The Beauty of Grace

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

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

Romans 5:15-20 NIV15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! 18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. 20 The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more. (MSG: When it’s sin versus grace, grace wins hands down.)

1. Everyone is Broken

Tony Campolo’s Story – A party for Grace and Love

We fall short of our own expectations; we don’t need religion to tell us that we really aren’t all that good.

Life is filled with challenges, twists, and turns. Times of doubts, wandering, and weakness.

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

Hemingway said, “The world breaks everyone, and afterwards some are stronger in the broken places

Every human being is broken. We’re all broken people. And that’s because we are all sinners because of the fall humanity took back in the Garden of Eden.

James 2:10 (NIV) – For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 

The cause of a broken life is very simple. We experience brokenness when we try to live by our terms instead of by God’s terms

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

Romans 3:23-24 NIV – 23 for ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and ALL are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Light shines best through cracks. None can boast of perfection. We are all broken. We need Jesus to shine through the cracks (my broken rib-painful)

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

Stop Beating yourself up – Jesus is a greater savior than we are a sinner!

At 82, John Newton (Amazing Grace) said, “My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things, that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great savior.”

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

But God is in the healing business and wants to mend what’s broken.

Listen to what Job said, “My spirit is broken, my days are extinguished, the grave is ready for me.” (Job 17:1 NKJV)

Now, that’s not an encouraging statement, but though the prophet Isaiah, this is what is said about Jesus’ purpose.

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor…He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted.” (Isaiah 61:3 NKJV)

It is this very Scripture that Jesus quoted about Himself and how God had sent Him to heal what was broken within us. (Luke 4:18)

•Thief on the Cross – “Remember Me” 

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

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

A mosaic is a work of art made up of broken pieces.

Ephesians 2:10 NLT – For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

2. Because of GRACE, God is not holding anything against anyone

Grace – God doing in and for us what we cannot do ourselves. A Gift.

Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV – For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is 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!

2 Corinthians 5:19 NIV19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

The Call of Salvation is not “Come and get right so God will love you and bless you” The Call of Salvation is Come! You Are Loved! God loves imperfect people, moral misfits, broken burned out believers, religious incompenants.

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

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

I John 3:1 NIV – See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 

Nothing we have ever done could make God love us any less: not any sin, not any failures, not any guilt, not any regrets – We are the Beloved of God.

Psalms 145:8 The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.

Grace cleans up what we messed up!

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

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

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

God has one disposition towards us & it is revealed in Christ. Ceaseless, endless, unconditional love. He never gives up on us

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.” 

Romans 3:22 LB “God says He will accept and acquit us – declare us “not guilty‟ – if we trust Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in the same way, by coming to Christ, no matter who we are or what we have been like.” 

For every person who has ever failed in their past, there is a forgiveness that forgets! Stop standing in Guilt and start standing in Grace.

It’s been said, “Every saint has a past and every sinner a future.” Jesus came for those who are less than perfect, those who are far from perfect, and those who are anything but perfect. God made Jesus who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor 5:21).

Conclusion

Their is a story that begins in 2 Sam.4 when the dynasty of King Saul was coming to an end. King Saul had a son named Jonathon who had a 5 yr old son named Mephbosheth. The city was under attack and the nanny for little Mephibosheth was fleeing the city when she tripped and dropped him… his legs did not heal properly from the fall and Mephibosheth was crippled for life.

Fast forward to… 

2 Samuel 9 to read an amazing story of love and grace.

The story begins as King David is reminiscing back on his life and specifically on his friendship with Jonathon (the son of King Saul). As David remembers that great friendship he asks “Is there anyone left in Saul’s family that I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”

Those who heard him sent for One of Saul’s servants named Ziba… Ziba… David asks… Is there someone in Jonathan’s house I can show Gods kindness to?  Ziba answered There is still a son of Jonathon; he is crippled in both feet.

David sent for him and when he arrived (v.7) David said “Don’t be afraid… I will show you kindness today because of your father Jonathon.” I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul… I will order his servants to farm the land on your behalf… and you will always eat at my table. 

(v.08) Mephibosheth says… “What did I do that you should notice a dead dog like me?… What did I do to deserve this?”

God pursued him with HIs Grace. He went from a place of Brokeness to a place of Blessing. 

Listen to me closely as we close today: God says to every one of us in this room who is deformed and crippled by sin, brokeness, mistakes, “You are my son” or “You are my daughter.” How do we know this to be true? Because over and over and over in the Bible God tells us as much. He loves you, no matter what you’ve done, no matter who you are.

We are a spiritually broken people , BUT God has been pursuing us with His Grace and His Grace brings complete Restoration – New Identity, Empowerment, and New Life! 

Grace is God kissing the unkissable. Not because we are good, deserving, or right, but because HE LOVES US and FORGAVE US.

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

All I Want for Christmas Pt.4

All_I_want_for_Christmas

All I Want for Christmas Pt.4 – Joy

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

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

God’s Antidote for a weary Religion

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

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

There are things that steal our joy:

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

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

The Twin Joy Robbers 

• Bad Things That Shouldn’t Happen, But Do

• Good Things That Should Happen, But Don’t

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Joy will Change my approach to Life

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

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

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

2. Joy will turn my problems into blessings.

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

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

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

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

  • Take three tablespoons three times a day. 

a. Take it when you feel like it!

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

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

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

3. Joy will affect those around you.

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

Don’t take yourself too seriously

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

The Secret To Joy

1. Take responsibility for your own emotions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

You cannot determine what happens to you

But you can determine what happens in you

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

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

Dear Lord,

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

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

2. Develop a high appreciation for life.

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

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

Life can change in a moment!

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

Story of senior being admitted into a nursing home

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

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

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

We cannot choose how many years we will live

But we can choose how much life those years will have

We cannot control the beauty of our face

But we can control the expression on it

We cannot control life’s difficult moments

But we can choose to make life less difficult

We cannot control the negative atmosphere of the world

But we can control the atmosphere of our minds

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

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

How?  People who have a high appreciation of life…

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

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

3. Find something positive in everything

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

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

(Philippians 4:8 NIV)  “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”

This is spiritual warfare – pull down negative thoughts

Attitude and faith are very similar – way you view something

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

(2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV)  “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

4. Say something positive in every conversation.

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

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

Best way is to pray daily…

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

People can frustrate you – must train our eyes

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

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

5. Express gratitude to God and others daily.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE WELLS OF JOY (Genesis 26) 

A. THE PHILISTINES STOPPED UP ALL THE WELLS 

1. They thought this would drive Isaac away.

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

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

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

 B. GOD COMMANDED ISAAC TO REDIG THE WELLS 

1. Some of you need to redig the wells.

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

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

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

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

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

All I Want For Christmas Pt.1 – An Amazing Life

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All I Want for Christmas Pt.1 – An Amazing Life

John 10:10 NLT The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

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

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

– 31%: Keep it

– 30%: Hide it

– 13%: Toss it

– 12%: Give it away

– 6%: Return it

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

Gift: Webster’s dictionary defines a gift as

1 a thing given willingly to someone without payment; a present: a Christmas gift | [ as modifier ] : a gift shop.

• an act of giving something as a present: his mother’s gift of a pen.

• informal a very easy task or unmissable opportunity: that touchdown was an absolute gift.

2 a natural ability or talent: he has a gift for comedy.

My Favorite Christmas Movie – “It’s a Wonderful Life”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 139:14 NIV – I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

If I Had My Life To Live Over – by Erma Bombeck

The following was written by the late Erma Bombeck

after she found out she had a fatal disease.

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.

Sometimes Life is not so merry and bright

Charles Dickens said, There are dark shadows on the earth, but its lights are stronger in the contrast.

•Life seems useless.

Ecclesiastes 1:2-4 NLT “Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless!”What do people get for all their hard work under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth never changes.

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

•Life seems tiresome.

Ecclesiastes 1:4-8 NLT Generations come and generations go, but the earth never changes. The sun rises and the sun sets, then hurries around to rise again. The wind blows south, and then turns north. Around and around it goes, blowing in circles. Rivers run into the sea, but the sea is never full. Then the water returns again to the rivers and flows out again to the sea. Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content.

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

•Life seems unfulfilling.

Ecclesiastes 1:8-10 NLT  Everything is wearisome beyond description. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied. No matter how much we hear, we are not content.History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. 10 Sometimes people say, “Here is something new!” But actually it is old; nothing is ever truly new.

•Life seems uncontrollable.

Ecclesiastes 1:15 NIV What is crooked cannot be straightened; what is lacking cannot be counted.

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

What Matters Most in Life

1. God matters. 

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

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

2. People matter. 

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

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

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

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

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

Our Response this Christmas

1. Live Well

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

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

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

(2 Corinthians 4:16-18 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. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

We cannot choose how many years we will live

But we can choose how much life those years will have

We cannot control the beauty of our face

But we can control the expression on it

We cannot control life’s difficult moments

But we can choose to make life less difficult

We cannot control the negative atmosphere of the world

But we can control the atmosphere of our minds

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

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

2. Live your life in view of eternity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ps. 70:4 NIV “But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who long for your saving help always say,“The Lord is great!”

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

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

Be A Life Giver

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Be A Life Giver

John 16:21 NIV – A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world.

The pain…followed by the Joy…of being a life giver. I’m sure that every mom in this room can relate to this verse. Giving life isn’t easy but experiencing the life you labor for exceeds the pain of the process!

Life giving doesn’t stop for a mom when she gives birth…she continues to BRING LIFE day in and day out. 24-7…12 months of the year…24 hours a day!

In a similar way, Scripture refers to the church as the bride of Christ…the spiritual  mother, the life giver…the life bringer in the world today. We are all children of the church…GIVEN life to GIVE life. Loved by God to love the world. Lifted by God to lift the world. Blessed by God to bless the world.

EX: In natural life…children, the recipients of life become life givers. In a similar way, children of the church… become the church…we are given life…we now give life.

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

The Greek word translated “life” in this verse is zoe. Zoe is the God-kind of life.

(ZOE); life in motion and in activity, life as the principle of life – in the absolute sense of being really life; hence, God’s life, the highest life, almost always with “the eternal” life.

John 6:63 NIV –  The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit[a] and life.

-I pray like David…”Let the words of my mouth…”

Everything about Jesus was about being a life giver. About bringing spiritual life… When some people walk in the room it’s like they take the life out of the room… When other people walk in the room it’s like they bring life into the room…

Remember this – “You can be something that people have to overcome, or something that helps people overcome.”

Today, I want to encourage those of you who are life bringers…provide you with some perspective and help you be the best life giver you can be!

1) LIFE GIVERS ARE BUSY PEOPLE

You’re not going to be able to get around “the BUSY.” You’ve got people counting on you…You’re the resource…the provider…the one who makes things happen.

•YOUR JOB/BUSINESS/EDUCATION IS IMPORTANT TO YOU.

•YOUR SPOUSE/MARRIAGE/CHILDREN ARE IMPORTANT TO YOU

•CHURCH LIFE/COMMUNITY/SMALL GROUP IS IMPORTANT TO YOU

•FRIENDSHIPS ARE IMPORTANT TO YOU

•HEALTH IS IMPORTANT TO YOU

>You’re not willing to negotiate your time and investment in any of these things which means you’re constantly on the go!! You’ve got people counting on you…You’re the resource…the provider…the one who makes things happen.

2) KNOW THAT BUSY ISN’T BAD

>Busy doesn’t mean you have to be stressed out!

>Some people talk about how busy they are as if it’s a bad thing.

>There are some people when you ask them how they’re doing…that’s the only way they know how to answer…”I’m busy…” (with the look of sadness and heaviness on their face).

•Remember, When you’re busy it means you’re living the dream!! You have the opportunity to receive an Education, have a Career, To be married, have kids…to have people need you…

>Don’t make any part of your blessed life the enemy…the villain…

•Your job, Your spouse, The kids, The church, The friends

When you’re tempted to…take a step back…take a deep breath remember how blessed you are!!! Busy is not bad!!

Rather than always answering… I’m busy with a sad look…answer I’M blessed OR I’m living the dream!!…with a happy look!!

But what about when I’m tired?…really tired?…

>Schedule a nap…call a time out…. But don’t go around with an “I’m so busy” mindset…don’t let yourself believe that busy is bad!!…or busy is a villain….

Keep your attitude thankful for what you have, what you’re a part of and press into work, press into love, press into church, press into the abundant life!!

3) ASSOCIATE WITH ENERGETIC, MOTIVATED PEOPLE

When you’re in your role…really busy…especially the middle years of your life…there will always be plenty of people who will tell you to take it easy, slow down…smell the roses…put guilt on you for going hard at life.

EX: If you’re familiar with the Disney movie Lion King, there are 2 characters Timone and Pumba. (fat pig and a Meer cat) who find the young lion Simba when he’s starting to feel the pressure, demands of his calling, destiny. They are fun…happy… sing a song “Hakuna Matata”…You can’t help but smile as they sing and dance.

But the problem was that they didn’t encourage him in his destiny…they led him to believe that his best life was in “Hakuna Matata”…removing himself from his responsibilities… commitments… purpose… But fortunately, he had a wake up call and after having tried to pursue an easy, trouble free life…he returns to his place, his roles, his responsibilities… as a king. Rather than listening to the Timone and Pumba, surround yourself with people who are energetic and motivated,…LIFE GIVERS…LIFE BRINGERS!

4) CONSISTENTLY DEFRAGMENT YOUR LIFE

EX: In the world of computers and hard drives there’s something called defragging. It’s short for defragment. So, what happens is that hard drives store information in “blocks” or “files”… fragmentation happens when those blocks/files get separated and are far away from each other. Rather than making the computer more efficient…the separation of information actually slows down the computer and makes it operate less efficient. So the defragmentation is the process of pulling it together…making it faster and more efficient.

>One common tendency of people is to view life that is not separate and compartmentalized as being out of control.

>We imagine our lives are more productive and easier when they are separate files and folders.

(Integrate your life…pull your nonnegotiable values together) Don’t separate them…think of them as opposing one another…enemies of each other…When you start to do that… DEFRAGMENT YOUR LIFE!!

5) PUSH FOR LIFE

We all know that when a baby is being born…the famous words to the mom are PUSH!!…GIVE IT EVERYTHING YOU GOT! PUSH FOR LIFE…PUSH TO BRING LIFE…

Colossians 3:23 NIV – Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,

EX: A couple of years ago Pope Francis was speaking to a group of nuns from around the world. His word to them was this: be spiritual mothers, not “old maids.” But the Pope’s remark got me to thinking a lot more broadly this week about what it means to take up the calling of motherhood.

Proverbs 16:15 (Message) says, “Good tempered leaders invigorate lives; they’re life spring rain and sunshine.”

Are you Life Giving or Life Grabbing?

•    Life-grabbing people guard and protect themselves. Life-giving people risk and seize opportunity.

•Life-grabbing people do the bare minimum. Life-giving people go the second mile.

•For life-grabbing people, life is scarce. For living-giving people, life is abundant.

Let’s Speak life – Let’s Stir up life – Let’s Sing life – Let’s Bring our worship – Let’s Bring the encouragement

Jesus Is…The Real Deal

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Jesus Is…The Real Deal

Gandhi once said, Jesus is ideal and wonderful, but you Christians – you are not like him.

Real Deal – True, exact, no fault, no fake, thrust worthy, clear, absolute. A person or thing considered to be a genuine or supremely good example of their kind

(1 Corinthians 2:1-2 Message) “You’ll remember, friends, that when I first came to you, I didn’t try to impress you with polished speeches and the latest philosophy. I deliberately kept it plain and simple: first Jesus and who he is; then Jesus and what he did.”

Pray – let the words of my mouth…

“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said wouldn’t be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on a level with a man who says he is a poached egg – or else he’d be the devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was and is the son of God, or else a madman or something worse.You can shut him up for a fool or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us.” – C.S. Lewis

Who do you say that He is?

(Mark 8:27-29 NIV) Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Christ.”

“The moment God is figured out with nice neat lines and definitions, we are no longer dealing with God.” ― Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith

The Search for Jesus

•Tradition

(Matthew 15:7-9 NIV) “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.”

•Intellect

(1 Corinthians 2:4-5 NIV) “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.”

•A personal Encounter

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

(2 Timothy 1:12 NIV) “…I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able…”

(2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV) “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

•The Proof of Jesus is not in an explanation but in a changed life

The Real Deal

John 1:14 ESV – And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 8:58 NIV “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”

He was not a man who became God, He is God who became a man

1. “I am the bread of life.”

He offers real fulfillment.

(John 6:35 NIV) Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.”

“Jesus did not come to earth just to die, He came to teach us how to live”

Matthew 4:4 NIV – “Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

John 6:63 NIV –  “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.”

Truth is, I think, if God just gave us our daily bread, many of us would be angry. ‘That’s all you’re going to give me? You’re just going to give me enough to sustain me for today? What about tomorrow or next year or 10, 20, 30 years from now? I want to know that I’m set up.’ And yet Jesus says just pray for your daily provisions. Francis Chan 

We will never be more spiritual than we are scriptural. 

John 8:31-32 NIV – “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 5:39 NIV – You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me,

We must read & build our lives upon God’s Word. It is what will transform us

Matthew 7:24-27 NIV– “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

2. “I am the light of the world.”

He offers real forgiveness. 

 (John 8:12 NIV) When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Why? Because we are all sinners! Romans 3:23 — For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Jesus is not the man at the top of the stairs; He is the man at the bottom, the friend of sinners, the savior of those in need of one. Which is all of us, all of the time. Tullian Tchividjian

The Law reveals our Guilt, God love reveals God’s Grace, and the Light reveals Our Hope

The Fact of God’s Forgiveness

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.

The extent of God’s Forgiveness

Psalm 103:12 NIV – “As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

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

Matthew 9:1-8 NIV – Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!”Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” Then the man got up and went home. When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to man.

• God is a greater savior than we are a sinner 

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

3. “I am the Good Shepherd.”

He offers real guidance, provision, correction, and protection.

John 10:10-11 ESV The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

Four Challenges of being a Sheep

  1. Sheep get lost easily
  2. Sheep are defenseless
  3. Sheep are very stubborn
  4. Sheep are dirty

(Psalm 100:3 NIV) “Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.”

Let me tell you why I love this attribute of Jesus – b“Shepherd” is the same word used in Scripture for “Pastor” – Let me say it this way – Jesus is your Pastor

To have a shepherd literally means – We submit to the care of Him as our Pastor

It’s good to have a pastor – even a pastor needs a pastor – I have those in place in my life – Jesus has been shepherding/pastoring me – When I am struggling or having tough days I know he is my Shepherd!

We still need a regular pastor too – Bible calls me a shepherd – I put this verse in your notes too. Written to pastors…

(1 Peter 5:2-4 NIV)  “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers–not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.”

But Jesus is the Chief Shepherd – I want you to know Him in this way – I want you to voluntarily put yourself under His care – Let me pastor you – but look to Him as your Chief Pastor

Psalm 23 is probably one of the most famous – most quoted Psalms – A lot of us grew up memorizing this – This famous passage is all about Jesus – Describes the qualities of a shepherd – Let’s say the whole Psalm aloud together…

(Psalm 23:1-6 NKJV)  “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

4. “I am the resurrection and the life.”

He offers a real future.

(John 11:25-26 NIV) Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Our Future – Heaven

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

“Heaven doesn’t make this life less important, it makes it more important.”
– Billy Graham

I John 2:15-17 NIV – Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father[a] is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

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

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

Paul set his sights on heaven with enthusiastic expectation 

II Timothy 4:7-8 NIV– I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing

Phil. 3:20 NIV– “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Hebrews 12:1-4 (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, 2 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. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

Altar call – Only through repentance and faith in Christ can anyone be saved. No religious activity will be sufficient, only true faith in Jesus Christ alone.

One way to define spiritual life is getting so tired and fed up with yourself you go on to something better, which is following Jesus. Eugene H. Peterson

Jesus is…Your Friend

Jesus Is_Screen

Jesus Is…Your Friend

Our prayer through this series is that you grow closer to Jesus

There are a lot of opinions about Jesus

Most are based on tradition – not what the Bible says

Most really don’t know Him at all

(1 Corinthians 2:1-2 Message)  “You’ll remember, friends, that when I first came to you, I didn’t try to impress you with polished speeches and the latest philosophy.  I deliberately kept it plain and simple: first Jesus and who he is; then Jesus and what he did–Jesus crucified.”

We’re going to look at Jesus – who He is – what He did – Let’s pray…

Jesus was accused of being a friend of sinners. That was the word on the street in first-century Palestine.

Matthew 11:19 ESV – 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.” (Luke 7:34)

Remember, If your theology doesn’t lead you to love people more then you should question your theology. If you think doctrine is more important than love….you already have bad doctrine.

They called him this because it was true. He was a friend of sinners. Jesus himself said that he didn’t come for the spiritually healthy, but for the sick. “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:31–32).

God doesn’t pick people like people pick people. Where people see problems, God sees potential.

Jesus didn’t have a rating system for sin. He was willing to accept anyone and love anyone.

Luke 19:1-10 ESVcHe entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And dhe was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into ea sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for fI must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and greceived him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all hgrumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods iI give to the poor. And if I have jdefrauded anyone of anything, I restore it kfourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since lhe also is a son of Abraham. 10 For mthe Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Talk about Zacchaeus – a short Gangster, Chief Tax Collector. Professional cheat, an embezzler. Tax Collectors were looked at as thieves and pimps. jews who worked for the roman govt. Hated and feared.

He encountered Jesus and was changed!

You Don’t have to be good to be Jesus’s friend. You just have top be honest

“Everyone is screwed up, broken, clingy, and scared, even the people who seem to have it more or less together.” ~@ANNELAMOTT

John 8:1-11 ESV – but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. bEarly in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and che sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now din the Law Moses commanded us eto stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said fto test him, gthat they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, h“Let him who is without sin among you ibe the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, j“Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on ksin no more.” 

•Jesus is not your accuser or prosecutor – He’s your friend!

•Jesus doesn’t care about the scandal – He cares about the scandalous

He Understands

Jesus didn’t come just to teach and ultimately give His life

He came to experience every part of life

In fact – Jesus spent most of His life as a carpenter

Why did He become a carpenter?

There’s a theological reason – identification

The reason Jesus can be your best friend is He was a human

Before He ever preached, taught anything, healed, died

He lived out every part of life

(Hebrews 2:17-18 Message)  “That’s why he had to enter into every detail of human life. Then, when he came before God as high priest to get rid of the people’s sins, he would have already experienced (it) = (meaning life) all himself—all the pain, all the testing—and would be able to help where help was needed.”

– It’s hard to identify with people’s pain when you haven’t been through it.

Ultimate sympathy – when you’ve been through it

He understands your struggle on earth.

– There is absolutely nothing in life that you have gone through or you will go through that Jesus doesn’t understand.

Here’s the message – the One on the throne was a human and He understands

1. He understands relationships.

(Mark 6:3 NIV)  “Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?”

He had 4 brothers and at least 2 sisters

You know they got along perfectly – you have children

You know they duck taped Jesus to a chair.

No – He knows what it’s like to have a brother

He knows what it’s like to be single – and married

The bible describes him as the groom and the church as the bride of Christ.

He knows what it is like when friends betray him even at the most critical moment, Peter denied him

He had family who thought He was crazy…

(Mark 3:21 NIV)  When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”

2. He understands life.

Pictures are always with Him in a white robe

Jesus went into business at around 12 and did that until 30

I’d love to see jeans, t-shirt, and a tool belt

He looked that way longer than the robe

He didn’t have a nail gun and a power saw

He had calluses – blisters

He had customers – unhappy clients – people trying to cheat Him

He paid taxes – dealt with the economy slowing down

(Hebrews 4:15 NIV)  “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin.”

3. He understands pain

(Isaiah 53:3 NIV)  “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.”

(I dedicate this part of the message to young people who have been picked on, bullied, rejected, and despised)

Emotional pain – illegitimate birth – ridiculed

Ridiculed by His hometown – Nazareth

Ridiculed until His last breath

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

Physical pain – beaten – He bore our sickness in His body

Pain is real. But so is hope

I LOVE THAT God uses broken people to do big things

My Best Friend

All of that means this – Jesus qualifies to be your best friend

(Proverbs 18:24 NIV)  “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

A lot of us have had failed relationships – Jesus is the most faithful friend you’ll ever have. So what should our response be?

1. Make Jesus your best friend.

One of my goals in this message – change your relationship Facebook styles status to BFF

A lot of people don’t think of Jesus as a friend

But that’s the way Jesus thinks about you

Jesus said…

(John 15:15 NIV)  “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”

2. Talk to Him.

Prayer is not an event – it’s an ongoing conversation, a lifestyle

Like the way you email and text your friends

Pray without ceasing

God listens to the prayers of His children even when they are marred by human weakness. Richard Foster

What do you talk about?

If He really understands

Don’t you think it’s about time to tell Him what’s going on?

Talk to Him about your relationships, life, and pain

Here’s what you will find…

(Hebrews 4:16 NIV)  “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

You won’t get judgment – you’ll get someone who understands

3. Trust Him with your life.

Take it one step further – give Him control of your life

Make a commitment to Him – Let Jesus be your BFF

(John 1:12 ESV)  “But to all who did receive him, swho believed in his name, the gave the right uto become vchildren of God,”

(Psalms 37:5 NLT)  “Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you.” 

Your past is just a story, and once you realize this, it has no power over you.

“Don’t freeze from a certain time in your life & condemn your future… 

Salvation Call- Jesus died for you paid the price for our sins!

“Lord Jesus I need You.  I know that I am a sinner – and I am sorry for my sins.  Forgive me – for living my life my way.  Today I invite You – to be the Lord of my life.  Take control of my life – make me the kind of person – You want me to be.  Give me the power to change.  In Your Name I pray.  Amen.”

Jesus Is…The Miracle Worker

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Jesus Is…The Miracle Worker

Welcome to Part 2 of Jesus Is. There are a lot of opinions about Jesus. Most are based on tradition – not what the Bible says. Most really don’t know Him at all

(1 Corinthians 2:1-2 Message)  “You’ll remember, friends, that when I first came to you, I didn’t try to impress you with polished speeches and the latest philosophy.  I deliberately kept it plain and simple: first Jesus and who he is; then Jesus and what he did–Jesus crucified.”

Over the next several weeks – looking at the traits of Jesus. Get to know Him better – the way the Bible describes

Most people want to believe that God still does miracles today. There is a lot of frustration – seems hard to understand. My goal is to help you get to know Jesus better

Let’s Pray…We’re going to look at the first miracle. Law of Bible study – purest truth at the first mention

Running on Empty

Let’s start with the very first miracle that Jesus ever performed – What’s interesting is – is that it happened at a wedding – It’s an important detail

Because weddings are tough – people’s expectations are so high. I’ve either been at, apart or have officiated a ton of weddings. I’ve seen some of the most beautiful – some disasters. I’ve seen brides trip – vows all messed up – grooms pass out. Unity candles that absolutely refused to burn/ Wicks cut off by the groomsmen – cell phones. Family get into arguments

Weddings are tense – because of high expectations

What a picture of life – high expectations

Many people’s hopes dashed – hope deferred – heart sick

Jesus’ first miracle takes place when people’s expectations were high

Let’s look at the story…

(John 2:1-3 NIV)  “On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding.  When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, ‘They have no more wine.”

That might not seem like a social disaster to you – not like wicks

Need to understand the cultural implications

In a Jewish wedding – not about ceremony – but feast/reception

And they ran out of wine

It would be like having a wedding reception without food

This story gives us a picture of something much deeper

There is a Jewish saying – “Without wine, there is no joy”

In this story – wine is a symbol of joy – and now it’s gone

Jesus’ first miracle deals with the emptiness of life

How our expectations are dashed – disappointment

Jesus’ first miracle touches real dis-ease – greater sickness

This Message dedicated to those – whose life is less than expected

So many people today – Running on Empty – the wine is gone

Successful on the outside – miserable on the inside

Depressed – lonely – hurting – angry – empty

Maybe you’re dealing with disappointment

Marriage – kids – finances – dreams – body – spiritually

In those situations – it’s almost impossible to have faith for a miracle

You begin to believe that God doesn’t do miracles anymore

We end up doing the same thing they did…

1. We focus on feelings instead of faith.

We tend to focus on the natural problem – not the spiritual solution

(John 2:3)  “When the wine was gone…”

Here is a happy couple – newly married – But there’s great despair because of something superficial

How many times do we go through a difficult situation?

And we lose our perspective – earthly facts take over

We think our world is falling apart – God is nowhere

We try to figure out what’s going on – come to wrong conclusions – Become convinced that God is disinterested – deaf – dead

We forget that the Bible says…

(2 Corinthians 5:7 NIV)  “We live by faith, not by sight.”

The second thing we do when God seems to ignore us….

2. We take matters into our own hands.

Jesus and His mother are guests – but feels like she needs to intervene

(John 2:3 NIV)  “…Jesus’ mother said to him…”

Who knows why she got involved – it wasn’t her wedding

Sometimes we get impatient – try to play God

Begin coming up with our own solutions

A lot of times – we make matters worse

(Isaiah 30:15 NIV)  “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.”

(Isaiah 30:16-18 NIV)  “You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’ Therefore you will flee! You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses.’ Therefore your pursuers will be swift…till you are left like a flagstaff on a mountaintop, like a banner on a hill.  Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!”

God wants us to stay steady – patient – instead we take over

Here’s the last thing we see in this story…

3. We exaggerate the negative.

Mary didn’t come to Jesus with hope and expectation

She could have said – “here’s a chance to do something great”

Instead she focused on the problem

(John 2:3 NIV)  “…They have no more wine.”

Must be careful of exaggerating the negative – Even when we pray – We spend more time telling God about our problem Than telling your problem about our God

(2 Corinthians 1:20 NIV)  “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ.”

His promises will happen – He does not lie – He always fulfills

But what do we do when it doesn’t look that way at all?

The Miracle Worker

Jesus is the miracle worker – I want you to notice how this miracle happened – It gives us the steps we need to use today…

1. Do what Jesus says to do.

Mary remembers that her Son Jesus is God

(John 2:5 NIV)  “His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.”

Why would she say that?  She knew He wouldn’t make sense

Mary had been around Jesus long enough to know

“I don’t know how He’s going to do it – but it’ll be great”

Don’t analyze it – don’t theologize it – just do it

Remember – we walk by faith – not by sight

Isaiah says it this way…

(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.”

Story – John 9 healing the blind guy. Guy brings his sick friend – Jesus spits – makes mud

Do you want to know why He did that?  I don’t have a clue!

Here’s the point – you’ll never get a miracle…

If you insist on understanding it

God’s never asked to be understood – He’s looking for obedience

2. Focus on what God wants to do in you.

(John 2:6 NIV)  “Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.”

Jesus took the opportunity to solve the problem – teach a truth

Totally unrelated to the original problem

I call it a “two-fer”

He took something known for external ceremonial cleansing

Shows how He wants to bring life to dead religion

God wants to take care of your needs – He’ll do a miracle – But He is always more interested in doing something in you

For some of us – that’s why the miracle is delayed

God is using the trouble the devil brought

To do a miracle – and to shape your character

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

Story – Planting a church is a lot of work both in the natural/spiritual

There has been a lot the enemy has been trying to attack me with

I know God is doing a deep work in me/My dependency is on Jesus

Here’s some great advice

When you’re trusting for a miracle – and it’s taking a long time

Don’t pray – “God why are you taking so long”

Say – “God what do you want me to learn – I’m all ears”

3. Believe the unbelievable.

Look at the next part of the story…

(John 2:8-9 NIV)  “Then he told them, ‘Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.’  They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew.”

Even when Jesus did the miracle – people still couldn’t believe it

Let me say it again – we serve a God of miracles – still in the business – And it wouldn’t be called a miracle if it didn’t boggle your mind

We cannot limit God down to the size of our brain

1st Corinthians 2:9 NIV “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”

The way God works is foolishness to man scripture says…

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

4. Expect the best.

(John 2:10 NIV)  “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

Whatever He does – however He does it – It will be the best – He does all things well (Mark 7:37)

Let’s not doubt our God – but believe the best about Him – Raise your level of hope

(Ephesians 3:20 NIV)  “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”

 

A Moveable Feast

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A Moveable Feast

Luke 13:29 ESV – And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at the table in the kingdom of God. 

Food matters. Meals matter. Drinks matter. Our life at the table, no matter how mundane, is sacramental – a means in which we encounter the mystery of God.

Food and drink connects. It connects us with family. It turns strangers into friends.

3 times in scripture – it says “The Son of Man came…” 1. not to be served but to serve (Mark 10:45), 2. too seek and to save the lost…(Luke 19:10) 3. Has come eating and drinking…”(Luke 7:34)

•The first 2 statements are his purpose, the 3rd is his How.

•Jesus was called a glutton and drunkard and a friend of sinners

•Jesus’s mission strategy of evangelism and discipleship was around a table with some grilled fish, a loaf of bread, and a pitcher of wine.

Luke’s Gospel is full of stories of Jesus eating and drinking with people:

•Luke 5 Jesus eats with tax collectors and sinners at the home of Levi

•Luke 7 Jesus is anointed at the home of Simon the Pharisee during a meal

•Luke 9 Jesus feeds the 5000

•Luke 11 Jesus condemns the Pharisees and teachers the law at a meal

•Luke 14 Jesus is at a meal when he urges people to invite the poor to their meals.

•Luke 19 Jesus invites himself to dinner with Zacchaeus

•Luke 22 is the account of the Last Supper

•Luke 24 the risen Christ has a meal with the 2 disciples in Emmaus, and then later eats fish with the disciples in jerusalem.

In Luke Jesus is either going to a meal, at a meal, or coming from a meal. Why? It represents a shared life. These excessive meals were a type of God’s excess grace, mission, & friendship

(My memories of great meals – with family and friends, christmas, China, Paris, Mexico, Romania)

My title A Moveable Feast is best known as the memoir by Ernest Hemingway about his time in Paris in the 20’s. If you were a young aspiring writer Paris was the place to be.

But the term actually comes from the liturgical calendar. A moveable feast is a feast day without a fixed date, like Easter. In this sermon A Moveable Feast is about the ministry of Jesus. In the Gospels Jesus moves from meal to meal, feast to feast, announcing and enacting the kingdom of God.

Nearly 1/4 of the events of the Gospels occurs around a table. Everything Jesus talks about and enacts is the Kingdom of God. Healing the sick, raising the dead, preaching and teaching, forgiving sins, and the table practice of radical inclusiveness and hospitality.

•Eating and drinking with sinners was the most controversial things he did. Which was morally and ceremonially unclean, and found upon by the religious system and leaders of that day. •Holiness was defined and considered by what you ate and who you were with. Highly controversial.

•Jesus comes and blows that out of the water. Jesus comes on the scene as a movable feast.

Mark 2:15-17 ESV – 15 While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

•Even the first Miracle of Jesus was turning the water into wine. Why? he didn’t want the feast, the wedding, the dinner to end. Keep it going.

The context of our scripture was that Jesus was asked a question about how many people would be saved. He didn’t give them a number or a percentage. He talked to them about their salvation. He said people would be surprised who.

Jesus was telling the Jews that because they couldn’t think of that as ethenicity, nationally and culturally, because they did.

Jesus described salvation as participation in the kingdom of God

Luke 13:23-30 ESV  And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ 26 Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ 27 But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ 28 In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out. 29 And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. 30 And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

When we talk about the kingdom of God we have to use metaphors (Jesus did) – The kingdom of God is like… best understood as a Table.

The Church is not a kind of temple – The Church is a Table

•Temple is exclusive – lots of restrictions, heirarchy, status conscience, enforced purity codes, certain people are not allowed in (women, gentiles, sinners…)

•Table is inclusive – pull up a chair, affirming, family style, party, everyone is welcomed

In Jewish culture they had the feasts and they had a Tabernacle – But it was moveable. Israel wanted a temple (David,Solomon) But God didn’t want a temple. He was fine in a tent.

Jesus came on the scene and was doing temple stuff at the table 

•when a person sinned they were to purchase an animal at the temple and give it to the priest to sacrifice it then you are forgiven

•But now Jesus is having a meal with sinners at the table with people and simply said, “Your sins are forgiven”

During the week prior to his death, Jesus protested, cleansed the temple and reformed the table

•Why? Only one guy (the high priest) could go into the holy of holies

Who is Jesus? He’s the incarnation of God, (To wit God was in Christ…) – the holiest of All, the Mighty God, the everlasting father, the prince of peace, Immanuel God with us, the son of God, Jesus is God sitting at the table.

•Who can eat with God? women, the lame, sinners, tax collectors, people shamed, misfits, imperfect, people with indiscretions  – the table is open to all, unlike the temple. 

He takes the passover feast and reforms it – the focus is now Good Friday. It’s no longer the sacrificed lamb in Egypt, its now Jesus the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Thats the center of the salvation story at the table. It’s now Whosoever will! Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. The table is now open to all! The table is no longer fenced. Through faith, baptism and obedience to Jesus

Luke 15:1-2 ESV – Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

Old Hymn“Come and dine,” the Master calleth, “Come and dine”; You may feast at Jesus’ table all the time; He Who fed the multitude, turned the water into wine, To the hungry calleth now, “Come and dine.”

I know there are several kinds of people that I will address. Some of you have never known what it means to be accepted by God, and perhaps even by anyone else. All your life you’ve been living in a performance trap, having to do this thing or that thing to gain someone’s acceptance.

Keith Hernandez was known as one of baseball’s top players. He carried a lifetime batting average of 300 and won numerous Golden Glove awards for excellence in fielding. He won a batting championship for having the highest average, the Most Valuable Player award in his league, and even the World Series. Yet with all his accomplishments, he missed out on something crucially important to him — his father’s acceptance and recognition that what he accomplished was valuable. Listen to what he had to say in a very candid interview about his relationship with his father: “One day Keith asked his father, ’Dad, I have a lifetime 300 batting average. What more do you want?’ His father replied, ’But someday you’re going to look back and say, “I could have done more.”’” 

Sadly, that’s the story of many people’s lives: maybe yours. Your grades weren’t good enough. Your job isn’t good enough. Your house or car or clothes aren’t good enough. You don’t play good enough. You’re too young, or maybe you’re too old. Maybe you made some mistakes and you were pushed away.

Some of you tried to respond to God’s leading by attending church, but you still weren’t good enough, didn’t wear the right clothes or just didn’t feel like the people wanted you around. Church people have been notoriously judgmental, critical and condescending.

Today Jesus pursues the Imperfect

Romans 3:23 ESV – for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Eugene Peterson said, “Every congregation is a congregation of sinners. As if that weren’t bad enough, they all have sinners for pastors.”

Luke 5:31-32 ESV And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

GraceTown needs to be about a Table, not a Temple. •••Let’s go look for people who are not included and let’s include them at GraceTown!

Song of Solomon 2:4 NIV – Let him lead me to the banquet hall, and let his banner over me be love.

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

Because of GRACE, God is not holding anything against anyone and welcomes all to His Table!

2 Corinthians 5:19 NIV19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

The Call of Salvation is not “Come and get right so God will love you and bless you” The Call of Salvation is Come! You Are Loved! God loves imperfect people, moral misfits, burned out believers, religious incompenants.

Conclusion

Today I want to urge you to place your trust in Christ.

In “The Whisper Test,” a lady by the name of Mary Ann Bird wrote something I want you to hear. She said,  I grew up knowing I was different, and I hated it. I was born with a cleft palate, and when I started school, my classmates made it clear to me how I looked to others: a little girl with a misshapen lip, crooked nose, lopsided teeth, and garbled speech. When schoolmates asked, “What happened to your lip?” I’d tell them I’d fallen and cut it on a piece of glass. Somehow it seemed more acceptable to have suffered an accident than to have been born different. I was convinced that no one outside my family could love me.

There was, however, a teacher in the second grade whom we all adored — Mrs. Leonard by name. She was short, round, happy — a sparkling lady. Annually we had a hearing test. … Mrs. Leonard gave the test to everyone in the class, and finally it was my turn. I knew from past years that as we stood against the door and covered one ear, the teacher sitting at her desk would whisper something, and we would have to repeat it back — things like “The sky is blue” or “Do you have new shoes?” I waited there for those words that God must have put into her mouth, those seven words that changed my life. Mrs. Leonard said, in her whisper, “I wish you were my little girl.”

Listen to me closely as we close today: God says to every one of us in this room who is deformed by sin, “You are my son” or “You are my daughter.” How do we know this to be true? Because over and over and over in the Bible God tells us as much. He loves you, no matter what you’ve done, no matter who you are.

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

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

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

Confession of Sin

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

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

Developing a Meaningful Quiet Time with God Part 2

praying-in-church

Developing a Meaningful Quiet Time with God Part 2

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

I. Why Should we have a Quiet Time?

1. Because we need fellowship with God

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

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

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

-You make time for things that are important

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

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

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

2. Because we give devotion to God

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

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

    worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.

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

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

God seeks our worship 

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

3. Because we gain tremendous benefits from it

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

Here are the results:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

II. How to Have a Meaningful Time with God 

•Start with the Proper Attitudes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

•Select a Specific Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

•Choose a Special Place

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

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

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

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

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

• where you can pray aloud without disturbing others.

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

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

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

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

•Follow a Simple Plan – a Liturgy

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

Liturgy is simply your pattern of worship and prayer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

A PRAYER OF COMMITMENT

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

Recommended Prayer Books

Celtic Daily Prayer Book

 Common Prayer

The Daily Hours Manual for Prayer – Phyllis Tickle

The Valley of Vision Puritan Prayer book