Summer Concert Series – Landslide

Landslide – How to Handle Change in Life

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

Landslide Lyrics: 

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

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

Oh, mirror in the sky What is love?

Can the child within my heart rise above?

Can I sail through the changin’ ocean tides?

Can I handle the seasons of my life?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why People Resist Change

•Fear – Unknown threatens our comfort zone

•Insecurity – Thinking we will be worse off

•Power -We will lose it

•Inertia – Easier to maintain the status quo

•Energy – Takes lots of work to change

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

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

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

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

•Life span for modern technology is less than 6 months

•The American worker will face up to multiple career changes

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

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

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

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

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

II. Three Tools God Uses to Change Us

1. God Uses the Bible 

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

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

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

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

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

2. God Uses the Holy Spirit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. God Uses Circumstances

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

Romans 8:28-29 NIV – And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 

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

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

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

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

Three Ways We Can Cooperate with God and Change

1. I Can Choose What I Think About    

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

•Meditation is Thought Digestion

Philippians 4:8 NIV  Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things

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

2. I Can Choose to Depend on The Holy Spirit

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

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

Fruit is an inside job

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

3. I Can Choose My Response to Life

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

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

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

Don’t ask why, ask What

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

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

The Best Year of Your Life Pt.4

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The Best Year of Your Life Pt.4 – Habits

We are designed by God to be creatures of habit, and many of us are stuck in a pattern of negative ones.

Most people are plagued with the “Someday Syndrome” Your SOMEDAY must be TODAY.

Someday, things will get better in my life.

Someday, I will start to tithe and serve

Someday, I will start to pray and read my Bible

Someday, I will earn more money

Someday, I will get healthier

Someday, I will spend more time with my family

Unfortunately, “SOMEDAY” never comes – Today is the day we have.

Example – The Domino Effect

•One habit triggers other habits causing an accumulative effect on your life – good or bad.

•Habits and human behavior are tied to one another – Habits are seeds that produce a harvest.

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

I am your constant companion.

I am your greatest helper or heaviest burden.

I will push you onward or drag you down to failure.

I am completely at your command.

Half the things you do you might just as well turn over to me, and I will be able to do them quickly, correctly.

I am easily managed – you must merely be firm with me. Show me exactly how you want something done, and after a few lessons I will do it automatically.

I am the servant of all great people; and alas, of all failures as well. Those who are failures, I have made failures.

I am not a machine, though I work with all the precision of a machine plus the intelligence of a human being.

You may run me for a profit or turn me for ruin – it makes no difference to me.

Take me, train me, be firm with me, and I will place the world at your feet.

Be easy with me and I will destroy you.

Who am I?

I AM HABIT.

You will never change your life until you change something you do daily.

H-A-B-I-T…When 95% of people hear this word, a negative thought pops up in their minds. Typically, most people think of a habit being negative. If there are negative habits that can destroy people’s lives then there are also positive habits that can build our lives.

The secret to your future lies in your daily habits so ask yourself right now, “Are my habits today going to help me achieve my success and shift in life?”

“Successful people are simply those with successful habits”

Habits – a usual way of behaving : something that a person does often in a regular and repeated way; a pattern of behavior. Habit comes from a Latin word which means to “hold” or “live in”.

The Roman poet Ovid said, “Nothing is stronger than habit.” Dr. Samuel Johnson, said, “Habits are chains that are too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.” Habits can become stronger than life itself. An old Spanish proverb says, “Habits begin like threads in a spider’s web, but end like the chains in a prison.”

Some people are always late, while others are never late

Some people always see the problems, while others always see the possibilities

Some people are predictable frowners, while others are predictable smilers

•the habit of making yourself look good

•the habit of not giving and serving

•the habit of giving up too early

•the habit of not telling the whole truth

•the habit of taking the easy way

•the habit of getting angry all the time

•the habit of blaming others for everything

•the habit of feeling sorry for yourself

•the habit of ducking your responsibilities

Do I need to go on? Have I named your bad habit yet?

In 1989 Steven Covey wrote a bestselling book entitled “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” which outlined 7 habits which he promises guarantee success in life.

Success often depends on the habits you develop. The Greek philosopher Aristotle once said, We are what we repeatedly do. 

A doctor was counseling his patient about a problem with his weight. “I don’t know what the problem is doctor. I just can’t seem to get rid of this flab. Maybe I have an overactive thyroid.” To which the doctor replied, “Listen, I’ve run tests and your thyroid is fine. If anything’s overactive it’s your fork.” LOL

•Ouch! That’s not what we like to hear! It’s not always easy to get rid of unhealthy habits, is it? It’s not always easy to develop new healthy habits you’ve never practiced before. But the truth is your habits really can make you or break you. One of the keys to living life to the fullest is to develop healthy habits not only of body, but of mind and spirit.

I want to look to a better book than Covey’s—I want us to look at God’s book, the Bible, where we can discover habits which can guarantee success in your life-not success in the stock market, or success as the world measures success, or lasting success in the eyes of God.

Isaiah 55:7-9 NIV – Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.8  “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.

1. Bad Habits Are Difficult to Break 

Destructive, bad habits form unseen chains that make a slave out of you – and finally destroy you.

Repeat anything long enough and it will start to become you

Bad habits are easy to develop, and often hard to deal with and remove. The best time to deal with a bad habit is NOW! To delay only allows the habit to get entrenched deeper in our lives.

JC Penney said, The best way to stop a bad habit is never to begin it

A bad habit is something you find yourself doing even though it is destructive either physical, mentally, emotionally, relationally or spiritually. Or you consistently do something you wish you wouldn’t do, but you find yourself doing it any way.

(Romans 7:15, 18-19, 20-21, 25 NLT) “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. 18 I want to do what is right, but I can’t. 19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. 21 I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.”

•Confused. •Conflicted. •Discouraged.

ILL. I heard the story of how elephants are brought into captivity. Have you ever been to a circus and seen a giant elephant with a small rope around its ankle? Did you ever stop to think, hey, wait a minute? Physically speaking, there is no way that small little rope can hold back that giant elephant! And did you ever wonder how it happened that a giant elephant could be held in place by something that does not have the power to contain him.

Here’s how it works. When trainers begin taming a baby elephant, they place a heavy chain around its ankle and stake the chain into the ground. Day after day, hour after hour, the baby elephant struggles to escape. But his efforts are in vain. He simply cannot break free from the grips of that powerful chain. Eventually he surrenders. He resolves in his mind that there is no possible way he can escape that chain. So he relinquishes forever the struggle to be free.

Then when he has given up trying, his masters replace that giant chain with the small little rope. If the elephant ever opened his eyes to the truth, he could break free at any moment. All it would take is one try, but since the elephant doesn’t know that, he doesn’t take a step in the right direction of freedom.

And so it happens that ten, twenty, thirty years later, the giant elephant remains held in bondage by something that really has no power to control him, except the power he chooses to give it.

The Promise is: 

Galatians 5:1 NLT – So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.

True freedom is not the right to do what I want but the power to do what I ought!

Romans 12:2 NLT – “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

Harness the Power of a Good Habit – Bad habits must be replaced by good ones

It’s not so much that we break bad habits; we must replace them.

example– Worry needs replaced with trust in God, negative thoughts with faith filled positive thoughts

Ex: An old Cherokee tale tells of a grandfather teaching life principles to his grandson. The wise old Cherokee said Son on the inside of every person a battle is raging between 2 wolves. One wolf is evil… It’s angry, jealous, unforgiving, proud and lazy. The other wolf is good. It’s filled with love, kindness, generosity and self control… the 2 wolves are constantly fighting. The little boy thought about it and said Grandfather, which wolf is going to win? The grandfather smiled and said whichever one you feed.

Ephesians 4:17-24 NIV – So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

2. To Have a Great Year You Must Have Great Habits

•Luke 4:16 – Jesus had a habit of going to church every Sabbath

•Daniel 6:10 – Daniel had a habit of giving thanks to God in prayer three times a day

•Psalms 34:1 – David had a habit of praising God continually

When you change habits, by improving them, you literally change and improve your life. 

•A change of habit can change your financial position… you can be in a completely different position 3 months from now…

•A change of habit can put you in better relationships… (attend life group)

•A change of habit can change the atmosphere of your Home

•A change of habit can add incredible insight to your life… (reading books)

•A change of habit can add years to your life and increase the quality of your life…

OUR LIFE GETS BETTER WHEN WE GET BETTER. 

When you practice good habits you produce good fruit. (results) Good habits will make your life easier, more successful, and more productive.

Matt. 12:33 “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.

“For things to change, you have to change. For things to get better, you have to get better. For things to improve, you have to improve. When you grow, everything in your life grows with you.” Jim Rohn

Habits are like gravity; they will always pull you towards them.

First We make a Habit, then a Habit makes us

Nobody is going to compete in the Olympics without first embracing a lifestyle of Habit. Champions have champion habits.

If you want to rise above mediocrity…If you want to create a positive force that will move you towards massive success….then you must develop good habits.

(1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NLT) “Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should.”

(Hebrews 12:1 NLT) “…Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us.”

“We sow our thoughts, and we reap our actions. We sow our actions and we reap our habits. We sow our habits, and we reap our character, and we reap our destiny.”

When You Change your Habits, by replacing them, You literally change and improve your Life 

Bad habits are not one time experiences. When what you do repeatedly changes, your life changes

Life Style habits that change our lives when we change (Shift) them:

Spending habits, driving habits, social habits, talking habits, dressing habits, eating and drinking habits, giving habits, reading habits, sexual habits, church attendance habits, and exercise habits.

Those Change of Habit: 

Can qualify you for a promotion,

Can open the door for new and better relationships to enter your life

Can increase and position you in a place of prosperity

Can change the atmosphere in your home

Can add years to your life and increase the quality of your life

If We are not making positive habits in our lives, then negative habits (changes) are making us.

When it comes to God’s plan for your life and year, your habits will hold you back or move you forward.

•If you could change one habit, what would you change? Whatever the answer is, make every effort to add to who you already are as a person

2 Peter 1:5-8 NIV – For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Never Stop Changing Never stop replacing Habit for Habit. Whenever negative habits are allowed to linger in our lives, they steal the possibilities of a new and better life!

It’s not what you HEAR that makes you Change, It’s what you DO

Your life does not get better by chance. It gets better by CHANGE. Don’t be a victim of your habits.

James 1:22-25 ESV – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

Be careful of your thoughts, for your thoughts become words

Be careful of your words, for your words become actions

Be careful of your actions, for your actions become habits

Be careful of your habits, for your habits become your character

Be careful of your character, for your character becomes your destiny

3. The Next step towards having the best year of your life is to DECIDE you’re not going to stay where you are.

Your Future is Determined by Your Decisions

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

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

Your Best year of your life starts by the Habits your make TODAY.  NOW is the TIME to fix the Next 10 years!

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

•You are one good habit away from a domino effect of having a great year!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

•Who am I going to marry?

•What is going to happen in my career?

•Am I going to be Successful?

•Is my marriage going to last?

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

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

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

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

I. Get a Vision for your 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is vision?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The World is just waiting for you to….

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

Get a VISION so awesome that your toes curl!

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

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

Oh the Places You Will Go – Dr. Suess

How to Make the Vision Happen

  1. God Must Be First

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

Give focus and energy to the things that really matter

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

We put God first by giving Him the First of Everything

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

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

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

The First always has the power to bless the rest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First of Your Week – Sunday Worship and Life Groups

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First of Your Month – Fasting

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

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

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

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

The RESULT

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

The Best Year of Your Life Pt.1 – The One Thing

 

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The Best Year of Your Life Pt. 1 – The One Thing

Every year in January, people make new choices which they call New Year’s resolutions. The problem with New Year’s resolutions is we usually make them about trivial issues, not the most important things in life

According to USA.gov the top ten resolutions that Americans make every New Year’s Day are the following:

Top Ten New Year’s Resolutions 

1. Lose Weight

2. Manage Debt/Save Money

3. Get Physically Fit

4. Eat Healthy

5. Learn Something New

6. Drink Less Alcohol

7. Quit Smoking

8. Reduce Stress

9. Take A Trip Somewhere

10. Volunteer To Help Others

As you can see One is the top New Year’s Resolutions each year is to lose weight. Anyone one here have that as a resolution?

A woman walked into her bathroom at home. As she did, she saw her husband weighing himself on the bathroom scales, sucking in his stomach. The woman thought to herself, ”He thinks that he will weigh less by sucking in his stomach.” So, the woman rather sarcastically said to her husband, ”That’s not going to help.” Her husband said, ”Sure it will. It’s the only way I can see the numbers.”

Those are all very good resolutions. The problem is 4-out-of-5 people who make them will break them. One-third of people who make resolutions won’t get past the end of January before they break them. That is why I believe what we need is not a New Year’s resolution, but what we need is a New Year’s revolution.

TO RESOLVE: to decide, settle, determine, purpose 

RESOLUTION: a firm determination to do something

For many people The date changes, but the destination hasn’t. We are still stuck in the same place. A psychology professor at Florida State University did a study of this. He came up basically two reasons why people fail to keep New Year’s resolutions.

  1. Resolutions are too general  (2) There are too many resolutions          •This professor said, ”Studies suggest that will-power is a limited resource. If you make too many resolutions you won’t have enough willpower reserves to stick to all of them.” This is his conclusion. ”It is better to make one resolution and stick to it than make five.’’

Fact – 93% of New Years Goals go unfulfilled. In fact, 30% are broken within the first week.

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

What Paul is admitting is he has not arrived. He doesn’t have it all together. Though he has done a lot there is still more to do. Though he has been to a lot of places there are still more places to go. Though he has reached a lot of his potential he has not reached all of his potential. I don’t care how old you are. As long as you are drawing a breath on this earth there are always more lessons to learn. There are always more principles to apply. There is always more room to grow. Paul gives us three simple steps that you can use at the beginning of every season, at the beginning of every month, at the beginning of every week and at the beginning of every day to make that year, that month, that week and that day the most productive day for you and the most pleasing day to God you possibly can.

•Two words in there make all the difference in the world, ”one thing.” Paul understood the power that comes in concentrating on just one thing.

I. Forget What Is Behind You

Like my friend Mark Edge said, I have decided to leave my past behind me…so if I owe you money, I’m sorry, I’ve moved on.

I want you to know that memory is precious to me.

‒ Old pictures are a thrill to look at.

‒ Childhood memories – home movies

‒ I do not want you to think I am encouraging us to lose our good memory.

“I am amazed by how many individuals mess up every new day with yesterday.  They insist on bringing into today the failures of yesterday and in doing so pollute a potentially wonderful day.”

Philippians 3:13 NIV – 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,

Two words in there make all the difference in the world, ”one thing.” Paul understood the power that comes in concentrating on just one thing.

•The first thing you need to do as you enter into a new season is put the old one behind you.

•You can’t focus on where you are going until you forget where you’ve been.

•Paul is usually using sports language. Specifically, he is talking about a race. He talks about straining forward, pressing on, going toward a goal, and reaching for a prize. Those are all racing terms.

•You cannot sail the ship of your life into the seas of the future with joy and peace if your anchor is stuck in the mud of the past. You can’t run forward if you are always looking backward.

•Don’t misunderstand what that word ”forget” means. It doesn’t mean ”to fail to remember.’’ There is no way you can ever totally erase the past from your memory. The word ‘’forget” literally means ”to not be influenced or affected by.’’

•••“From Peanuts – Linus said, ‘Maybe we should think only about today.’ Charlie Brown disagreed. ‘No, that’s giving up. I’m still hoping yesterday will get better.”

“Your past is always going to be the way it was. Stop trying to change it.”

Often you can see the residue – All kinds of disappointment, discouragement, offenses, strife, despair, rejection, failures, successes, pain, etc..

Lamentations 3:19-20 NIV “I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I will remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.” 

•Past problems.

•Past mistakes. 

•Past relationships.

You can’t go where you’re meant to go, carrying the things of your past! Get ready for where God wants to take you! Take off the old mind set! The Horse is dead: DISMOUNT!

To many people are focused on what hasn’t happened. yesterday is not tomorrow!  Your future is not determined by your past!

Two little boys got into a fight. But the next morning Johnny  took his cap and headed for Bobby’s house again. Surprised, an older member of the family said teasingly, “What! Going to  play with him again? I thought you had a fight last night and was never going to have anything more to do with him. Funny memory you have.” Johnny looked a little sheepish, dug his toe into the carpet for a moment, then flashed a satisfied smile as he hurried away. “Oh! Bobby and me’s good forgetters!”

We get in trouble when we linger too long in places we should leave mentally and emotionally

In a Nike advertisement some years ago, a voice came over the television saying, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” Those words were spoken by Michael Jordan, by most standards the greatest basketball player ever to play the game.

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

•DROP IT LIKE ITS HOT….

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

In spite of your past, God doesn’t give up on you and neither should you.

Psalm 103:10-12 NIV “He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities…as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from 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!

Don’t Judge yourself by your past, You no longer live there!

Turn when into now

Remember: “Yesterday Ended Last Night”

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

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

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

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

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

Spencer Johnson, the man who wrote the book The One Minute Manager wrote another book called The Perfect Present. In this book he said the perfect present is literally the perfect present. The present time. That’s all I have. That’s all I have to give to this world. Not next hour or next month but right now. That’s the gift that God has given to me so I ought to use it. That’s all I have — the present.

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

Today is the Good Old Days you’re going to talk about in 15 years. Enjoy now. Make the most of now.

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

Live one day at a time, that’s how God says to face the future. The future could be overwhelming but fortunately it comes in bite-size pieces, a 24-hour segment at a time. Plan for the future but you can only live now. I can’t live the future, I can only live today. Plan for the future but take advantage of the present. “Life is what happens to us while we’re planning something else.”

“Your success tomorrow begins today”

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

IF you can Forget the Past – You can FOCUS and FULFILL what’s in Front of You

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

The Greek word for ”goal” is ”skopos” which means ”to look at.” We get our word ‘’telescope” from that word. It means a small mark on which your eye is fixed.

•In other words, Paul said the key to living a productive life is to focus. Paul had a one-track mind, but his mind was on the right track.

CS Lewis said, “There are better things ahead than what we leave behind.”

Do You want to embrace your destiny, or do you want to flutter on the ground in your history? This is a decision only YOU can make!

Today, You can have a new year, but it won’t mean jack diddly if you don’t have a new life.

“You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep rereading the last one.”

Make a FRESH Start Today

The Holiday Hangover (2016)

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The Holiday Hangover

This holiday season has its share of people interacting with other people and hopefully those interactions created some positive, fun, enjoyable moments for you. Some of you might be wearing something today that someone gave you for Christmas…shirt, shoes,….It’s always good when you’re fortunate enough to receive some gifts you like…. or will wear. On the other hand some of you had some interactions that were not as positive…fun… and just maybe your wearing something that got “on you” in the process of interacting and engaging with others…

• The conversations •The comments •The social interaction

My goal this morning is to help you enter the New Year free of any residue that would hinder you from having your best year.

Q=Anybody want to have a greater year in 2017???

Tonight millions of party-goers will usher in 2017 singing that old traditional song, “Auld Lang Syne.”  I’m willing to wager that most people don’t know either what they’re singing or even why.  I was amazed to hear Katie Couric, confess that she didn’t know what the song was about and didn’t even know what language it was.  In fact, no one on the set of her show knew anything about the song!

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The text is from the Scots Presbyterian poet, Robert Burns, who lived between 1759 and 1796.  In a time of heightened Scottish nationalism in the face of England’s attempt to squelch the Jacobite cause, that tried to put Bonnie Prince Charlie on the throne of the United Kingdom, Burns wrote most of his poetry in what is known as Broad Scots or simply Scots.

The poem was often used at the end of special social occasions and eventually became associated with New Year’s Eve and is used the same way today in Scotland.  There are five other stanzas in the poem, all of them extremely reflective in nature.  This is not a happy poem. It is touch with sorrow, sadness, and even grief.  Listen to the opening question – should auld, that is old acquaintances be forgot and never brought to mind?  Should we forget the people we’ve met?  Should anything or anyone be forgotten?  How much should be forgotten and how much should be remembered?  “Should auld acquaintance be forgot,/ And auld lang syne?”  That is, should we forget about old times, old friends, memories of the past?  That’s what auld lang syne means – old times, old friends, memories of the past, “for (the sake of) old times”.  Should we say good-bye to the past on New Year’s and never bring it to mind?

These are deep, philosophical questions that most of us don’t take the time to consider throughout the year as much as we should, let alone at twelve o’clock on New Year’s Eve.  And yet, that’s what we sing.

The reason why I’ve gone on about this famous poem is to highlight the all-embracing character of it.  Burns is not calling us to remember only the good times, but all the times, “the good and the bad.” But to also look towards the future with faith & excitement.

CS Lewis said, “There are better things ahead than what we leave behind.”

In Matt 10 Jesus was sending his disciples out on a mission to take good news to households, communities, cities…There was a lot of excitement….might have been a bit giddy. But Jesus knew that within the context of all interaction….is the possibility for a negative experience….and he wants to make sure that when this happens it doesn’t hinder them from continuing forward into all that he has for them. So….he prepares them and then he says something I find really interesting….and with great significance to us in our own lives today….

Matt 10:14 NIV,  “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.”

•Jesus was gathering his disciples and preparing them to weather the storm of disappointment, possible plans & ideas that may not work, people that wouldn’t buy in, high effort, lots of work, and little fruit. He was letting them know that they may not see the results that they wanted to see. Somethings don’t turn out as planned, plenty of prayers that goes unanswered, and efforts that don’t yield the harvest that we hoped for.

Dusting off what was behind them was merely a part of getting ready for the greater things ahead of them.

Jesus was basically saying to them it may not go well in one city, but don’t let that city discourage you. The last city is not the next city!

There is only one way to get ready for what’s ahead of you…DUST OFF what’s on you that came from behind you! 

1) IN THE CONTEXT OF ALL HUMAN INTERACTION IS THE POSSIBILITY OF A NEGATIVE EXPERIENCE

It’s easy to put unrealistic expectations on other people.

EX: Some people have the attitude of “I’ll be a friend to you as long as you don’t hurt me or as long as you don’t make a mistake….I’ll be a friend as long as you treat me just right.

But that’s unfair and places too much pressure on the other person.

EX: this is the approach some people take towards church….and other people at church.

The reality is that anywhere people mingle long enough…there’s a 100% chance that someone is going to say something they shouldn’t say….or did not mean the way it sounded….humans do that…we say and do stupid things! Scripture teaches that love makes allowances for peoples weaknesses….love remains committed to people when they make mistakes…In other words you have to overlook some things…not expect people to be perfect. (your wife, husband, kids)

Show mercy and grace to the people you’re in relationship with!!

Prov. 12:16-Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult.

Prov. 19:11- A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.

C’mon….men/women/students you can’t let what someone else says or does create impulsive reactions that take you away from what God has for you!! Don’t let anything that people do or say cause you to change your course….or take you away from God’s house…where he has planted you.

2) NOT EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO YOU IS SUPPOSE TO GO FORWARD WITH YOU

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

Some stuff is supposed to stay behind….In Matt 10 I think Jesus was probably giving them a literal instruction…”Dust off” ”shake it off” It’s reasonable to believe that Jesus wanted them to literally stop outside the city where they experienced rejection and “dust off”…NOT just for the purpose of removing the sand and dirt…BUT FOR THE PURPOSE OF GETTING THE RESIDUE OF REJECTION and THE DUST OF DISAPPOINTMENT OFF OF THEM!

**This holiday season represents the end of one year and the beginning of a new year. As we celebrate the passing of one year and the beginning of a new year I want you to consider what might God be telling you to shake off the end of this year? Dust off!!

Shake it off!!

Think about it…..

Q=What kind of expectation of others do you need to release?

Q=What kind of offense has held you back that it’s time to let go of?

Q= Did something happen to you at church? Did someone do something that has been your go to story for why you are not full on serving God like he’s called you to serve him?

EX: Hopefully you have some great photo’s… Photo albums/photos on computer….

• So that Years from now some of you will look at happy

moments that happened this holiday season…and it will

bring a smile to your face

• But not every photo deserves to be saved….some were bad

shots…bad angles…taken at the wrong moments…should not be saved or hung on the wall…should not stay in your phone or on your computer=need to be deleted!

  • The same is true with some of your experiences. Some incidents, some comments, some conversations….don’t belong in your memory!!….

We get in trouble when we linger too long in places we should leave mentally and emotionally

You are not going to Move Forward with that dust on you! With that look on your face, with that heaviness on your shoulders, with that offense in your heart! Dust off!

• Dust off!! Shake it off!!

3)”DUSTING OFF” WHAT’S BEHIND YOU IS PART OF GETTING READY FOR WHATS AHEAD OF YOU.

Jesus was saying “It may not go well in one City…But don’t let what happens in that city discourage you…..the last City is not the next City!”

  • There’s people in this room….who have been too focused on what hasn’t happened.….God is wanting you to know yesterday is not tomorrow! Your future is not determined by your past!
  • Nothing good is going to come out of more analysis or naval gazing.
  • What God has for you begins the minute you shake off the dust of disappointment….the dust of discouragement….the dust of despair…AND MAKE A DECISION TO MOVE ON!!

The Dust of 2016 isn’t compatible with your Destiny in 2017

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

It’s about facing forward. It’s about being ready for what God has ready for you!

Genesis 26:12-13 KJV Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the Lord blessed him.13 And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great:

The apostle Paul understood the principle of Moving Forward & moving on when he said…

Phil 3:12-14 NLT “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it,[a] but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”

Paul had no other choice because his past wasn’t the best…

God spoke to Moses to tell the people to move forward…

Exodus 14:15 “And the LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward:”

In this passage, God had already given Israel deliverance from the Egyptians. And now they are headed toward the promise land after leaving Egypt.

Suddenly, they come to the Red Sea. The enemy is behind. They can’t go left or right. They can’t go back.THERE WAS ONLY ONE DIRECTION FOR THEM TO GO…FORWARD!

And when they did, God did something He had never done before, and Israel escaped on dry land. The unexpected happened when they MOVED ON and shook the DUST OFF! 

The New Year is not about changing the dates but direction; it’s not about changing the calendar but commitment; it’s not about changing the actions but attitude. May each and every day of yours be renewed with lots of happiness, peace, prosperity, wisdom, and joy!

 

Unstuck

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Unstuck

Athletes go through slumps. Artists get creative block. All of us wade through seasons where our spiritual life is stuck in a rut. Do you feel like you are stuck? Does it seem like every time you try to move forward, someone or something always seems to get in your way and holds you back from reaching the greatness you know you have inside of you?

It’s easy to lose our place, lose our focus, and get distracted from the mission at hand. Distractions and detours happen, and before we know it, we find ourselves stuck. It’s one thing to know how you got there; it’s something else entirely to know how to get out.

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

Walt Disney said, “Around here…we don’t look backwards very long. We keep moving forward; opening up new doors and doing new things.” 

We all have areas of our lives where we’re stuck that keep us from fulfilling God’s purpose

Mark 10:46-52 NIV – Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” 50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. 51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” 52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road

Movie (Ground Hog Day)  – Phil Conners is stuck in the same time and place. Forced to relive the same day over and over.

•Is that you? Everything is the same? Some are happy in a rut, Content.

God is meant to be experienced and life is meant to be lived! 

“Don’t be afraid of dying, be afraid of the unlived life” Tucker Everlasting

Rut – (Figurative) A habit or pattern of behavior that has become dull and unproductive, but is hard to change.

How to Get off Your Rut

1. We Must Take Responsibility for your own lives

Mark 10:47 NIV When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

•He was blind. It was a life problem. He admitted he was Stuck

•Excuses and blame are the crutch of the uncommitted

•Some Things you can’t control, but you can control your response to what happens

“Ninety-nine percent of failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.”- George Washington Carver

•Adam & Eve

•When you live your life with excuses you will pay for it.

•Excuses will justify you staying in your rut

Luke 14:18-20 NIV – “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ 19 “Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’ 20 “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’

•Give up blaming, complaining, and excuse making!

•Excuses validate mediocrity – 1/2 way, not willing to go beyond average. Mediocrity begins but never finishes.

“A man who wants to be something will find a way; a man who doesn’t will find an excuse.”

•Excuses are the language of Victims

•If you can convince yourself thru an excuse then you don’t have to take responsibility for your life.

•”The more I accept responsibility for my choices, actions, and happiness, the more I grow. Blaming keeps me stuck in immaturity.” Rick Warren

•You are not the victim of your situation! You can change the outcome!

-:Bartimaus “Cried out”  – He didn’t blame! He prayed! He took initiative

“I can do all things…” – Our responsibility / “though Christ…” – God’s response

2. In order to get to where God wants us to be, we need to completely leave the things that keep us stuck

Mark 10:50 NIV Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.

•All Things are Possible! He believed he wouldn’t walk away the same. He believed he would be different! But he had to leave the thing that held him back and kept him stuck.

Victims coat issued by the Govt

We can’t do the same old thing expecting to get a different result

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

weights – heavy, holding you down

Turn WHEN into NOW – Now is your word! Quit saying “WHEN”

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

3. Be Specific with What you Need

Mark 10:51 NIV “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”

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

•Specific prayers get specific results! •Don’t just say “pray for me”

•Bart was specific!  He cried for mercy!

Matthew 7:7 ESV “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

Ask – to want or desire something for which you are willing to sacrifice. Asking helps us bring clarity to our direction and desire.

God Makes Outrageous Promises About What He Does WHEN WE PRAY

John 14:13-14 ESV 13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me[a] anything in my name, I will do it.

•If you want to see Great Results in prayer, then be specific when you ask God for what you want, need, or desire.

One prayer can change ANYTHING. one prayer can change EVERYTHING

What do you need? You life can change forever! 

4. Make a Decision to Follow after Jesus

Mark 10:52  NIV “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road

Matthew 16:24 NIV Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.

Deny Yourself – It’s a developed behavior. What do you say yes too? What do you say No too?

•Put aside selfish ambition

Galatians 5:16-17 NIV- So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[a] you want.

What is your cross? It’s usually the place of your greatest pain

Matthew 22:34-40 NIV – Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

1. Love your enemies (Luke 6:27)

2. Don’t Condemn others (Luke 6:37)

3. Love your neighbor (Luke 10:27-28)

Explain Salvation and how to begin to follow after Christ

God just doesn’t throw a life-preserver to a drowning person. He goes to the bottom of the sea, and pulls a corpse from the bottom of the sea, takes him up on the bank, breathes into him the breath of life and makes him alive. That’s what the Bible says happens in your salvation.” – R.C. Sproul

Running the Race

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Running the Race of Life

It’s that time that rolls around every four years, when Olympians remind us all of just how out of shape we all are!

•Someone posted on instagram the other day: There are 16 year olds competing at the Olympics and I still push on pull doors and struggle getting through the whole day without a nap LOL

Paul taught these lessons in his time, drawn from the experience of the Corinthian Games.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NIV Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

Paul talks about the Corinthian games which in ancient Greece was second in importance only to the Olympics.  They were held every three years.  I did a little research this week to study what those games were all about.  I thought I’d share a little of this with you.  I discovered that the games including running, leaping, spear throwing, boxing, wrestling, chariot racing and racing in armor (my favorite).  Everyone that competed were required to take an oath that “I trained for at least ten months and I will not resort to unfair tricks.”

There were many benefits to being a winner in the Olympic games first, your name and hometown were shouted out as you were awarded a wreath.  Then you would be given a triumphal parade in your town.  You would be given five hundred drachmas of money.  You would be given the right to sit at a place of honor for all succeeding games for the rest of your life.  Then if you won in the Corinthian games your children would receive a free education for life, you would be exempt from military duty for the rest of your life, and you were released from paying taxes the rest of your life.  Is there any wonder that everybody competed in the Corinthian games?

Paul uses these games as an illustration for life.  He pulls out of them four principles for successful living.  Four things you have to do if you’re going to win at what matters most.  We’re going to look at them today.  But the number one analogy for the Christian in the Bible is that of an athlete.

The Bible says in these verses in 1 Corinthians 9 that there are four things it takes to win in life.

1.  It takes desire.  I must want to win.

2.  It takes direction.  I must focus on a goal.

3.  It takes discipline.  I must be willing to work.

4.  It takes determination.  I must never give up.

What It Takes To Win In Life

1. IT TAKES DESIRE.      “I must want to win!”

1 Corinthians 9:24 NIV Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

“Go for the gold! Aim for victory!  Run to win in life! Have a passion to make your life count!

Reality: Most- live mediocre lives.

Goal: make enough money to retire!  God didnt put you on this earth just to retire! Don’t take your gifts, abilities, passions to heaven with you. Heaven doesn’t need it. The world needs it. When you die, die empty! .  He put you here for a purpose, for a reason.  He wants you to make your life count.

Why would anyone NOT want to win?

o Maybe guilt – “I dont deserve..”

o Background- “You’ll never amt to anything!”

o Fatalistic attitude: “Whatever happens…

o Think its unspiritual

4 years ago Eight badminton players were swatted from the Olympics this week for not trying to win. They were trying to fix the bracket where they would not face tough opponents until the finals. The crowds booed at the embarrassment and finally the officials put an end to it.

Truth: God wants you to Succeed in Life (and your kids)

Then there’s some people who think that they don’t want to win in life because they think success is being selfish.  It’s being unspiritual.  If I try to make my life a success I’m being unspiritual.  Did you know that God wants you to succeed in life?

Psalm 35:27 NIV – May those who delight in my vindication shout for joy and gladness; may they always say, “The Lord be exalted, who delights in the well-being of his servant.” “(The Lord is pleased with the success of his servants.”)

Tragedy: We settle for less than God has planned. The tragedy of life is that most people settle for second best.

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

Ask yourself this question – What do I want most in life?

Don’t be flippant about that.  Maybe take a few days, a week or so to think about it.  What do I really want most in life?  Everything starts with desire.  Nothing happens until you start getting God’s dream for your life.

Desire is the starting point but it’s not enough.  I know a lot of people who’d like to be successful.  They had the desire.  But it takes far more than desire.

2. IT TAKES DIRECTION.         “I must focus on a goal!”

I Corinthians 9:26 NIV – Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.

(Living Bible)“I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step.  I fight to win.  I’m not just shadow boxing or playing around.”

I read a sign one time: If most people drove their cars the way they plan their lives they’d never get out of the driveway.  Most people have never really clarified where they’re headed in life.  People say, Where you going?  To lunch.  What do you want to do with your life?  I don’t know.  They’re just kind of drifting aimlessly all around.  They just try to coast through life.

When you’re coasting, you’ve heard me say this before, you’re always going down hill.  You never coast up a mountain.  Your life is going downhill if you’re coasting

Proverbs 17:24 NIV A discerning person keeps wisdom in view, but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth 

•Good news Bible- “An intelligent man aims at wise action but a fool starts off in many directions.”

If -want your life to count- must settle your direction:

Must know exactly what you want…If you don’t decide what’s really important in your life other people will be glad to do it for you.

Philippians 3:12-14 The Message I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.

God says forget the past and press on

Ask: What is the FOCUS OF MY LIFE?

3. IT TAKES DISCIPLINE!          I must be willing to work!

I Corinthians 9:25 NIV – Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

•Living Bible – To win the contest you must deny yourselves many things that would keep you from doing your best. An athlete goes to all this trouble just to win a blue ribbon or a silver cup,[a] but we do it for a heavenly reward that never disappears.

These two words – discipline and self-denial – are not exactly popular words in the American culture.  

Discipline is what we need most and want the least in our lives.  Yet it is the thing that turns ability into achievement.  The difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is simply this: successful people are willing to do things and develop habits that unsuccessful people aren’t willing to do.  They’re not willing to pay the price.  That’s the difference.  It’s your choice.

•We want beautiful bodies without exercise. We want wealth without work. We want success without sacrifice.  We want spiritual maturity without service and study.  It is absolutely impossible.

Proverbs 13:4 LB – Lazy people want much but get little, while the diligent are prospering.

•The mark of a great achiever is personal discipline. The habits you establish today – determine tomorrow

The third question you have to ask yourself if you really want to succeed in life is Am I willing to pay the price?

4. IT TAKES DETERMINATION.      I must never give up! 

I Corinthians 9:27 NIV – No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

Paul: “I do whatever it takes to keep on going!! Nothing could keep him down. Whatever it takes I do that to keep going.  I am not going to stop in the middle of the race.  I’m not going halfway through and quit.  I’m going to make it to the finish line.  That’s determination.

I believe Success is achieved by ordinary people with extraordinary determination

Philippians 3:14 NIV – I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus

Persistence is the fourth key to winning.  Determination, diligence, endurance.  Great people are just ordinary people with an extraordinary amount of determination.  They don’t know how to quit.  Most people give up too soon.

Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV – Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Notice he says that in order to finish the race in life there are some things you have to let go of and there are some things you have to hold on to.  You’ve got to do them both and don’t get them confused.

ASK What is holding me back?  What is it that’s keeping me from becoming all that God wants me to be? past? addiction? relationship? habit? hurt?

The key: Keep your eyes on Jesus! Reason we give up too soon: We get distracted.

Remember the movie Chariots of Fire.  One of the dramatic scenes in that movie about the Olympics was where the coach of Abraham was scolding Abraham because in the race he was running and he was winning and then he could not stop the urge to look sideways to see if Little was coming up to catch him.  When he looked sideways Little passed him up and he lost the race.  The coach said, “Never take your eye off the goal!”  Don’t do it!  The moment you start looking at the competition you start looking sideways you’re dead in the water.  Don’t do it.

Paul refused to be sidetracked.

2 Tim 4:7 NIV – I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

What matters in life is not all the awards and the acclaims and the salaries and the perks and the onuses and getting your picture on the cover of some newspaper.  What matters is the eternal rewards which you will celebrate for eternity.

1 Corinthians 9:25 NIV – Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

Focus on running the race that God intends for you

One of the most dramatic ex. of determination: Derrick Redmon- 1992 Barcelona Olympics 400 m runner from Eng.- pulled hamstring  WATCH THIS: VIDEO

Catch what he said?

Derrick: “I felt an arm around me & I shrugged it off. But then my Father said my name!”

Father: “We started this together. We’ll finish it together.”

Derrick:”I’m glad he was there. Because he was the only 

person who could understand what I’ve been through.”

Sometimes the race of life is tough. You get hurt.

You feel like you cant go another step.  Worn out & discouraged.

o But your Heavenly Father is waiting to help.

o He calls your name & puts his arm around you.

o You lean on him… & he helps you finish the race!

Psalm 60:12 NIV – With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies. (“We can win with God’s help.” )

– We have no guarantee of tomorrow. – Whatever you’re going to do with your life- get on with it! Get on track with God today. The race starts with knowing Jesus.

“Dear God. I realize you made me for a purpose. You have a race for me to run. It is my desire to be what you meant me to be. Today, I’m asking you for direction. Jesus Christ, be my guide & lead me where you want me to go.  Please help me to be more disciplined.  Help me to let go of the things that hold me back. And help me to not get discouraged and give up when things get tough. Help me to keep my eyes on you Jesus. Father, I thank you that we  dont have to run the race of life alone.

Jesus is…Your Friend

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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.”

The Power of the Cross

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The Power of the Cross

There is a difference between knowing about something and encountering it.

You can see places in movies, pictures, magazines or read about things in books – but to actually encounter, see, and experience  those things is amazing. (example – Eifle Tower in Paris, Big Ben or Buckingham Palace in London, Great Wall in China, sunset on the west coast, sunrise on the east coast, a Krispy Kreme Donut,)

It is possible to know God without actually encountering Him. If you want to encounter the power of God, you go to the cross where all powerful encounters start.

I Corinthians 1:17-18 NIV –  For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. 18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Power is a word much loved by us. Who doesn’t love power? We know that those with power have influence. We seek power in our lives over circumstances and relationships. The world teaches us that power is good and weakness is bad, power is proof that you have arrived as a success in life, weakness is proof that you are a loser. The one with the power calls the shots and often determines the outcome of things. Gaining power or being affiliated with those who have it too often becomes the goal of our life.

The Cross – a symbol of power! A fashion statement around someone’s neck or as a tattoo maybe – but definitely not power! Perhaps a wonderful emblem upon the highest place in the church for us to gaze upon but who can call that power? When was the last time that you saw someone flaunting an electric chair or a hangman’s noose as a symbol of power? Well they are the equivalent today of what the cross was for many people in ages past. Death on the Cross was a most demeaning death in the past. It was reserved for the basest and worst of slaves and criminals and also for those who opposed Roman rule. To picture a dying man on the cross so torn and tattered that one could hardly recognize Him and to call that power being demonstrated seems to be a ridiculous idea. Yet Paul calls the Cross the Power of God! 

What cross is this? Many have been crucified upon a cross – some good, most bad, yet none with the power to help you or to change and transform your life as the cross of Christ. You see it wasn’t any cross but the Cross of Christ that makes all the difference.

“The death of Jesus on the cross is the centre of all Christian theology. All Christian statements about God, about creation, about sin and death have their focal point in the crucified Christ.” –Jürgen Moltmann, The Crucified God

The Old Rugged Cross by George Bennard

On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross, The emblem of suff’ring and shame; And I love that old cross where the dearest and best, For a world of lost sinners was slain.

So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, Till my trophies at last I lay down; I will cling to the old rugged cross, And exchange it some day for a crown.

Oh, that old rugged cross, so despised by the world, Has a wondrous attraction for me; For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above To bear it to dark Calvary. 

In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine, A wondrous beauty I see, For ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died, To pardon and sanctify me.

To the old rugged cross I will ever be true; Its shame and reproach gladly bear; Then He’ll call me some day to my home far away, Where His glory forever I’ll share.

Matthew 27:27-33 ESV 27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters,[d] and they gathered the whole battalion[e] before him. 28 And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30 And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. 31 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.32 As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross. 33 And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), 

Golgotha (Calvary) was so named simply because it was a place of execution, where the skulls and bones of criminals lay scattered.

•Golgotha is also the place where the love of God achieves its greatest expression. As Jesus is lynched in the name of religious truth and imperial justice he expresses the heart of God as he pleads for the pardon of his executioners.

•The cross is both hideous and glorious, simultaneously ugly and beautiful. It’s as hideous as human sin and as glorious as divine love. It is a collision of sin and grace.

•Before the cross is anything else, it is a catastrophe. It is the unjust and violent lynching of an innocent man.

Jesus died for us…not for God.

2 Corinthians 5:19 ESV – that is, in Christ God was reconciling[a] the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

•The crucifixion is not the ultimate attempt to change God’s mind about us — the cross is the ultimate attempt to change our mind about God. God is not like Caiaphas seeking a sacrifice. God is not like Pilate requiring an execution. God is like Jesus, absorbing sin and forgiving sinners.

•The cross is not about payment, the cross is about forgiveness. Good Friday is not about divine wrath, Good Friday is about divine love

I look to the cross to see God. This is who God is, this is what God is like.

Isaiah 45:22 ESV – “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.

•On the Cross we sinned our sins into Jesus and he forgave us

•In his crucifixion Jesus achieves solidarity with all who suffer.

•At the cross Jesus doesn’t save us from God, he reveals God

•In his crucifixion Jesus joins humanity in death that we might join him in resurrection

•I come to the cross to see God – I come to the cross to find God

•The Power of the Cross is the demonstration of God’s Love for Us

What the Cross Provides

The medieval saints used to erect a simple cross in the center of the market square of every town so that it came to be known as the market cross. This still may be seen in older towns of Europe. The simple and the beautiful idea was that the cross should dominate all the business of earthly life and that all transactions, interests and concerns should be under the shadow of the cross.

E. Stanley Jones: “At the cross God wrapped his heart in flesh and blood and let it be nailed to the cross for our redemption.”

The Hymn At Calvary – Years I spent in vanity and pride, Caring not my Lord was crucified, Knowing not it was for me He died On Calvary. Mercy there was great, and grace was free; Pardon there was multiplied to me; There my burdened soul found liberty, At Calvary.

Titus 2:14 NIV who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

A. THE CROSS PROVIDES RECONCILIATION FOR ME 

  1. Reconciliation: to make friends and bring together those who are at odds with each other or are enemies (variance or enmity)

2.  At Christ’s cross, God and the sinner can meet while Christ stands between, reaching out one pierced hand to the Father pleading, “Father, forgive them, for they know not that they are doing” and the other to sinners beseeching, “Be reconciled to God.”

Romans 5:10 NIV – For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

B. THE CROSS PROVIDES ATONEMENT FOR ME 

  1. Atonement: to cover, expiate, to make at one, to pardon, to forgive and show mercy.

Jesus did not shed his blood to buy God’s forgiveness, Jesus shed his blood to embody God’s forgiveness!

Romans 3:25-26 NIV God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement,[a] through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

Billy Graham said, “Two thousand years ago God invited a morally corrupt world to the foot of the cross. There God held your sins and mine to the flames until every last vestige of our guilt was consumed.” 

Exodus 12:13 NIV – The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt. 

“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.

C. THE CROSS PROVIDES HEALING FOR ME 

1. Our very bodies have been redeemed that we may lay our sicknesses and infirmities upon Him who bore them and that we may take His resurrection life for every physical, spiritual, and emotional need of our mortal frame.

Isaiah 53:5 NKJV – But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,And by His stripes we are healed.

The Cross pronounced a complete cure for the ills of mankind.

I Peter 2:24 NIV  “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.

Psalm 103:2-3  – Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases.

“Our tendency in the midst of suffering is to turn on God. To get angry and bitter and shake our fist at the sky and say, “God, you don’t know what it’s like! You don’t understand! You have no idea what I’m going through. You don’t have a clue how much this hurts.”

•The cross is God’s way of taking away all of our accusations, excuses, and arguments.

•The cross is God taking on flesh and blood and saying, “Me too.”

D. THE CROSS PROVIDES PEACE FOR ME

Through the work of the cross of Calvary we have peace with God and we can appear righteous in God’s eyes:

Colossians 1:19-22 ESV For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. 21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 

Galatians 6:14 MSG For my part, I am going to boast about nothing but the Cross of our Master, Jesus Christ. Because of that Cross, I have been crucified in relation to the world, set free from the stifling atmosphere of pleasing others and fitting into the little patterns that they dictate. Can’t you see the central issue in all this? It is not what you and I do—submit to circumcision, reject circumcision. It is what God is doing, and he is creating something totally new, a free life! All who walk by this standard are the true Israel of God—his chosen people. Peace and mercy on them!

Romans 5:1 NIV “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

E. THE CROSS PROVIDES ME TO DRAW NEAR TO GOD

Draw near to God’s presence with clean hearts and clean hands. Through the blood you have a right to dwell in God’s presence.

Ephesians 2:13 NIV But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

Hebrews 10:19 NIV  Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 

Draw Me Nearer – Fanny Crosby (1875) 

I am Thine, O Lord, I have heard Thy voice, And it told Thy love to me; But I long to rise in the arms of faith And be closer drawn to Thee. 

Draw me nearer, nearer blessèd Lord, To the cross where Thou hast died. Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer blessèd Lord, To Thy precious, bleeding side.

Consecrate me now to Thy service, Lord, By the power of grace divine; Let my soul look up with a steadfast hope, And my will be lost in Thine. 

There are depths of love that I cannot know Till I cross the narrow sea; There are heights of joy that I may not reach Till I rest in peace with Thee.

Psalm 73:28 ESV – But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.

“Once you have been to the cross, you will never be the same.” 

Isaac Watts penned the famous hymn At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light, And the burden of my heart rolled away, It was there by faith I received my sight, And now I am happy all the day!

Ephesians 2:16-22 MSG – Christ brought us together through his death on the cross. The Cross got us to embrace, and that was the end of the hostility. Christ came and preached peace to you outsiders and peace to us insiders. He treated us as equals, and so made us equals. Through him we both share the same Spirit and have equal access to the Father. 19-22 That’s plain enough, isn’t it? You’re no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home.

Fredrick Buechner said, “And now brothers, I will ask you a terrible question, and God knows I ask it also of myself. Is the truth beyond all truths, beyond the stars, just this: that to live without him is the real death, that to die with him the only life?” 

John 3:16-17 ESV – “For God so loved the world,[a] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Dust Off

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Dust Off

This past Thursday night, millions of party-goers ushered in 2016 singing that old traditional song, “Auld Lang Syne.”  I’m willing to wager that most people don’t know either what they’re singing or even why.  I was amazed to hear Katie Couric, confess that she didn’t know what the song was about and didn’t even know what language it was.  In fact, no one on the set of her show knew anything about the song!

 

The text is from the Scots Presbyterian poet, Robert Burns, who lived between 1759 and 1796.  In a time of heightened Scottish nationalism in the face of England’s attempt to squelch the Jacobite cause, that tried to put Bonnie Prince Charlie on the throne of the United Kingdom, Burns wrote most of his poetry in what is known as Broad Scots or simply Scots.

The poem was often used at the end of special social occasions and eventually became associated with New Year’s Eve and is used the same way today in Scotland.  There are five other stanzas in the poem, all of them extremely reflective in nature.  This is not a happy poem. It is touch with sorrow, sadness, and even grief.  Listen to the opening question – should auld, that is old acquaintances be forgot and never brought to mind?  Should we forget the people we’ve met?  Should anything or anyone be forgotten?  How much should be forgotten and how much should be remembered?  “Should auld acquaintance be forgot,/ And auld lang syne?”  That is, should we forget about old times, old friends, memories of the past?  That’s what auld lang syne means – old times, old friends, memories of the past, “for (the sake of) old times”.  Should we say good-bye to the past on New Year’s and never bring it to mind?

These are deep, philosophical questions that most of us don’t take the time to consider throughout the year as much as we should, let alone at twelve o’clock on New Year’s Eve.  And yet, that’s what we sing.

The reason why I’ve gone on about this famous poem is to highlight the all-embracing character of it.  Burns is not calling us to remember only the good times, but all the times, “the good and the bad.” But to also look towards the future with faith & excitement.

CS Lewis said, “There are better things ahead than what we leave behind.”

Text: Matthew 10:14 NIV – If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet

•Jesus was gathering his disciples and preparing them to weather the storm of disappointment, possible plans & ideas that may not work, people that wouldn’t buy in, high effort, lots of work, and little fruit. He was letting them know that they may not see the results that they wanted to see. Somethings don’t turn out as planned, plenty of prayers that goes unanswered, and efforts that don’t yield the harvest that we hoped for.

Dusting off what was behind them was merely a part of getting ready for the greater things ahead of them.

Jesus was basically saying to them it may not go well in one city, but don’t let that city discourage you. The last city is not the next city!

There is only one way to get ready for what’s ahead of you…DUST OFF what’s on you that came from behind you! 

The Residue of the Past

Often you can see the residue – All kinds of dust: disappointment, discouragement, offenses, strife, despair, rejection, etc..

(Lamentations 3:19-20 NIV) “I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.” 

 Past problems.

(Job 30:26 NIV) “Yet when I hoped for good, evil came; when I looked for light, then came darkness.” 

 Past mistakes. 

(Job 27:8 NIV) “For what hope has the godless when he is cut off, when God takes away his life?” 

 Past relationships.

(Job 19:19 NIV) “All my intimate friends detest me; those I love have turned against me.”

You can’t go where you’re meant to go, carrying the things of your past! Get ready for where God wants to take you! Take off the old mind set! The Horse is dead: DISMOUNT!

To many people are focused on what hasn’t happened. yesterday is not tomorrow!  Your future is not determined by your past! I’m here to help you get the DUST OFF of you!

You are not going to Move Forward with that dust on you! With that look on your face, with that heaviness on your shoulders, with that offense in your heart! Dust off!

Pig Pen – From the Peanuts Cartoons. Where ever he goes there is dust.

•”Pig-Pen” is known for his perpetually filthy overalls and the cloud of dirt and dust that follows him wherever he goes. When he takes a deep breath (to sing, for example), the dust rises briefly around him. He sometimes refers to the cloud that surrounds him with pride as the dust of ancient civilizations.[2] He cannot seem to rid himself of the dust for more than the briefest of periods—indeed, in spite of his best efforts, it appears that he cannot stay clean. He is referred to in an early strip as the only person who can get dirty while walking in a snowstorm. Once, after bathing and dressing in clean clothes, “Pig-Pen” stepped outside his house, and instantaneously became dirty and disheveled, whereupon he declared to Charlie Brown, “You know what I am? I’m a dust magnet!”

•Charlie Brown tries to be positive about him. “Don’t think of it as dust. Just think of it as the dirt and dust of far-off lands blowing over here and settling on “Pig-Pen!” It staggers the imagination! He may be carrying the soil that was trod upon by Solomon or Nebuchadnezzar or Genghis Khan!”

•The truth is that the residue of his past is still on him.

•We are all like Pig Pen – he wears and holds on to it instead of washing it.

•When someone opens up their mouth you can tell where they have been

(Matthew 12:34) “…Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks”

Dust isn’t compatible with your Destiny

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

Hope to Move Forward

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

  1. Refocus your mind. (Stop what isn’t working)

(Romans 12:2 NLT) “Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” 

(Ephesians 4:18 NLT) “Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him.

(Ephesians 3:18-19 NLT) “And may you have the power to understand, as all God‟s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully.”

2. Dust Off (Release your past)

We get in trouble when we linger too long in places we should leave mentally and emotionally

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

(Psalm 103:10-12 NIV) “He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities…as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from 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 NLT) We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

3. Move Forward

It’s about facing forward. It’s about being ready for what God has ready for you!

Genesis 26:12-13 KJV Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the Lord blessed him.13 And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great:

The apostle Paul understood the principle of Moving Forward & moving on when he said…

Phil 3:13 NLT  No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it,[a] but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,

Paul had no other choice because his past wasn’t the best…

God spoke to Moses to tell the people to move forward…

Exodus 14:15 “And the LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward:”

In this passage, God had already given Israel deliverance from the Egyptians. And now they are headed toward the promise land after leaving Egypt.

Suddenly, they come to the Red Sea. The enemy is behind. They can’t go left or right. They can’t go back.THERE WAS ONLY ONE DIRECTION FOR THEM TO GO…FORWARD!

And when they did, God did something He had never done before, and Israel escaped on dry land. The unexpected happened when they MOVED ON and shook the DUST OFF! 

The New Year is not about changing the dates but direction; it’s not about changing the calendar but commitment; it’s not about changing the actions but attitude. May each and every day of yours be renewed with lots of happiness, peace, prosperity, wisdom, and joy!