“How to Become an Effective, Life Giving Team Leader”

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“How to Become an Effective, Life Giving Team Leader”

2 Timothy 1:13-14 What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. 

Pastors, we must be keepers of the culture. If we are weak on our culture, others will come in and define it for us. Therefore we have the God given responsibility to set the culture.

Culture – Predominating attitudes and behaviors that characterizes the function of the organization.

GOAL – Life Giving Culture

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

Some of Our Culture Attitudes at GraceTown….

  1. Leadership
  2. Serving – Everyone should be serving somewhere, if not they are not on the map
  3. Excellence
  4. Passion
  5. Fun
  6. Authenticity

Churches have barriers to growth – 100, 200, 500, 800, 1000. Although each barrier is unique, there are 3 key factors that apply to every barrier we will face as a church.

1. Inspiring and consistently excellent worship services

•Our services are WELL PLANNED, but feel FLEXIBLE and UNRUSHED. They are upbeat but relaxed.

•We only have 52 Sunday’s a year and every single one needs to count!

2. Clear pathways to Connection and involvement

3. Effective and life giving Structure and administration

Don’t be afraid to lead – rid yourself of the thinking that you are inadequate or unqualified.

Leadership is Influence – John Maxwell

Our day today is an emotionally charged, overweight burden down society that needs LIFE, from life giving leadership!

What Life Giving Leadership Is:

A. Leadership is not a project, leadership is a spirit. People don’t need a position to be a leader.

B. Leadership must give encouragement and confidence

C. Joshua’s Leadership Training –

Joshua 1:9 – “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid, do not be dismayed.”

•God was focusing on Joshua’s spirit before the task.

D. For God to get us to where he would like us to be, He needs us to realize our leadership is more about a spirit than a task. Be strong, inspired, and full of courage, life and purpose. Life Giving Leadership

•Leadership is more than information, communication, and projects. Leadership is spirit

•Remember this – “Your Leadership can be something that people have to overcome, or something that helps people overcome.” – Kevin Gerald

F. It should cause people to lighten up

  • When the life of God is flowing, there should be lots of smiling and laughing. (Seattle fish market – a fun place to work)

G. Life Giving leadership is positive and inspiring –

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

H. We will not resort to a negative, forceful, or whiney approach to motivate. This leads to immaturity.

I. To be an effective leader – STAY POSITIVE.

J. Leaders are like an elevator – you are either taking people up or taking them down. Make a decision to take people up!’

Life Giving Leaders are…

1. Life Giving leaders are always growing and reaching to improve their leadership. Take responsibility for your own failures as well as successes. If you keep learning, you will improve, and your leadership will get better.

2. Life Giving leaders are pushing the boundary lines to move beyond what is normal or usual. Leaders are pioneers. They venture into unexplored territory and guide to new and often unfamiliar destinations.

3. Life Giving leaders are risk-takers. They reject the maintenance mentality and take risks from strength, preparing thoroughly, understanding what is at stake, and marching forward with confidence. It is never too late to be what you might have become!

4. Life Giving leaders are resource finders and releasers. They have built a leadership pipeline that finds potential leaders, trains them, and releases them to greater levels of ministry.

5. Life Giving leaders are future-focused and dedicated to do whatever it takes to get there. Their faith capacity has increased to believe that God will provide all that is necessary as the need arises. Their people capacity is increased so that getting along with and caring for people is at the leader’s heart.

Our Commitment each Sunday

Remember Team – It’s a Privilege and opportunity to serve. It’s never asking too much of people to serve.

1. Each person I encounter today is loved by God & needs to feel special.

2. I need to make a personal impact through a smile, a word of kindness or an act of love.

3. I will remember what it feels like to be new.

4. My responsibility is not simply to carry out a task but to engage each person individually.

5. I am vitally important to impacting lives today.

6. I will be in a great mood on Sundays & will not let anyone or anything Hijack my great mood

7. I will be ready to meet any need that arises

8. I will have a sense of responsibility for everything that happens on Sunday

9. I will focus on People and processes

10. During service I will be alert, take notes & be an example in Worship

RESET Our Relationships

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RESET Our Relationships

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

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

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

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

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

Relational Preconditions

Our relationships determine the direction and quality of our lives.

1. Am I willing to change? 

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

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

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

2. Am I willing to put others first? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Am I willing to Love as Jesus did? 

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

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

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

How to RESET Relationships

1. Strengthen my Important Relationships

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

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

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

2. Heal my Strained Relationships

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

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

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

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

3. Disconnect from Harmful Relationships

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

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

People who are more critical than complimentary

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

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

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

4. Initiate new Meaningful Relationships

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

Your spiritual family, the Church, will last for eternity

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

Questions to Ask Myself About meaningful relationships In My Life

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

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

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

How to Have a Happy “Holy-Day”

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How to Have a Happy “Holy-Day”

 

“FOR UNTO US A CHILD IS BORN, UNTO US A SON IS GIVEN: AND THE GOVERNMENT SHALL BE UPON HIS SHOULDER: AND HIS NAME SHALL BE CALLED WONDERFUL, COUNSELLOR, THE MIGHTY GOD, THE EVERLASTING FATHER, THE PRINCE OF PEACE.” (IS. 9:6)

 

Do you find it hard to enjoy Christmas because of the “traditions” that seem to have nothing to do with Christ? Learning the history behind certain Christmas traditions may surprise you. You may even get inspired to think creatively about holiday activities that occur, and reform them into “Holy-Day” activities. Here are some little-known facts about some of our Christmas traditions:

 

  1. Xmas. We don’t need to get offended when “Xmas” is used instead of “Christmas.” “X” is the Greek Letter for the first letter in the name CHRIST. Each letter in the Christian fish symbol, IXOYE, represents the following: I –  Jesus; X – Christ; O – Son of; Y – God; E – Savior. (Ro. 14:22)

 

  1. Holly. Holly is used to make Christmas decorations. The needlelike points of the leaves were thought to resemble the crown of thorns that Jesus wore when He was crucified, and the red berries symbolized the blood He shed. (Jn. 19:5)

 

  1. Advent Wreaths. Advent wreaths are hung on doors to signify the return of Jesus Christ. (1 Thess. 4:16)

 

  1. Christmas Trees. In the 7th century, Boniface, a monk from Devonshire used the triangular shape of the Fir Tree as an evangelistic tool, to describe the Holy Trinity of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. By the 12th century it was hung, upside-down, from ceilings at Christmastime in Europe, as a symbol of Christianity. (Is. 55:13)

 

  1. Gift Giving. The wise men brought gifts of great significance to Jesus: Gold – because He is King of Kings; Frankincense – to honor His deity; Myrrh – to anoint Him as the sacrifice for our sins. At Christmas, we honor the sacrifice God made for us by using the opportunity to give gifts from a heart of thanksgiving, reflecting our willingness to sacrifice for those we love. (Rom. 6:23)

 

  1. Candy Canes. An Indiana candymaker developed the treat as a witnessing tool. The candy is hard to represent the rock that Christ’s church is founded upon, white for the purity of Jesus, peppermint flavored as a reference to cleansing hyssop, and curved to represent a shepherd’s staff or the letter “J” for Jesus. The red stripes represent the blood that was shed for our sins. (Rev. 1:5)

 

  1. Christmas Day. The Romans celebrated a series of pagan festivals throughout December in honor of their gods Zeus and Mithra. The church saw an opportunity to stand for truth, contrasting the pagan festivals by celebrating the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. The first historical account of Christmas being celebrated on December 25, was in Rome in 360 AD. It was introduced in Antioch around 380 AD, and the early church Father Chrysostom considered it a fundamental feast and celebration by December 25, 386 AD. (Is. 52:7)

 

Let’s get in the habit of looking for opportunities to bring Glory to God in the commonplace occurrences of life and restore to God the honor due Him as Creator and Lord of all.

The Power of Team Partnerships

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The Power of Team Partnership

Exodus 17:8-13 NIV The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. 9 Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.”10 So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. 11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 12 When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. 13 So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.

Everybody needs Somebody. Ministry is never meant to be done alone.

All Good Things Flow From Relationship
•When God found you…he found you alone
* When He saved you…he saved you alone
* But He called you into the family of God
* 2 are better than 1

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

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

As an organization and leader we should encourage Flexibility, Change, and Innovation

One of the things that separates winning and losing teams is how the team’s good players are placed. Take a look at what I mean:

The wrong person in the wrong place = regression
The wrong person in the right place = frustration
The right person in the wrong place = confusion
The right person in the right place = progression
The right PEOPLE in the Right Place = MULTIPLICATION

The Power of Partnership

“God is look for people through whom He can do the impossible – what a pity that we plan only the things we can do by ourselves.” AW Tozer

Partnerships at GraceTown will not be a preference but a Requirement!

1. Partnership UNIFIES for Strength

•Partnership works together to support God’s leadership and win the battle – Aaron & Hur

2. Partnership IDENTIFIES opportunities

•Partnership ignores the nay sayers and claim God’s promises – Joshua & Caleb

3. Partnership INTENSIFIES commitment to one another

•Partnership commit to journey together and be spiritually linked – Ruth & Naomi

4. Partnership PURIFIES motives

•Partners trust unconditionally and take risks unreservedly – David & Jonathan

5. Partnership SOLIDIFIES new alliances

•Partnerships take on daunting tasks and refuse to stop until the work is done – Nehemiah and the wall builders

“The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team” John Wooden

One person can be a crucial ingredient on a team, but one person cannot make a team. The team player is the one who makes things go – the one who is willing to do and sacrifice whatever it takes to make the team successful.

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

Romans 12:4-5 NIV –  For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others

“You can do what I cannot do. I can do what you cannot do. Together, we can do great things.” Mother Teresa

The Blessed Life Pt.4

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The Blessed Life – Part 4
1 Chron. 4: 9-10 NIV – Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother
had named him Jabez, [a] saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” 10 Jabez cried out
to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let
your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.”
And God granted his request.

What a great proclamation!…

We’re finishing a series called The blessed life, and we’ve been seeking to answer
the question: What is a blessed life? What does a life of blessing look like? Is there
anything that God has done to bless me? What can I do to receive the blessings of
God? Does God expect me to be a blessing to others?

Regardless of your background, most of you have the heard the word “bless” for
years. When somebody sneezes, we hear, ”God bless you”, but how many people
saying that even know what it really means? Most believers have heard Psalm 1:
“Blessed is the man who does not walk….” They’ve heard one of the beatitudes of
Jesus, “Blessed are the poor in spirit…”

The word bless, or blessing, appears over 700 times in the scriptures and its’
meaning carries profound importance in our lives today.

Blessed – Happy, Fortunate, to be envied. To endue with power for success,
prosperity, abundant, (profuse, excessive, super, overflowing, extraordinary)
supply, long life, as to live in health, To invoke divine favor and good upon. peace.
To be blessed means to have supernatural power working for you.

MISTAKEN IDEAS OF A BLESSED LIFE

Mistake – to think that your life is not blessed because you’re still in debt, or that
your life is a blessed success because you have lots of stuff and bling-bling to go
w/it. (What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?)

Mistake– to think that you have to give away everything you have, and have
nothing, be nothing, and do nothing. Jesus did not tell all of His followers to give it
all away. He told all of us to live a life of giving, but only told a few to give it all
away.(It’s not what we possess that’s important, but what possesses us)
The best thing you can do for the poor, is to not be one. We need to give people a
hand up, not just a handout.

Margaret Thatcher said, “Nobody would have remembered the good Samaritan if
he only had good intentions, he had money as well.”

Mistake – to think that we all have to think, drink, live, look and dress like
everyone else in order to have a blessed life. Not everyone is going to make the
same amount of money, drive the same kind of car, and live in the same kind of
house. Some are not interested, others are not qualified, some are not ready.

FIRST THINGS FIRST

1) IT IS GOD’S NATURE TO BLESS HIS PEOPLE.

To simply hear this is not important… but to think it and believe it will change what
you experience in your life.

If the blessing of God becomes part of your psyche… your belief system… it will
influence how you live life and what you experience in your life.

Most people live unaware of God’s nature as a God of blessing… they may know
him as a God of judgment or consider him a God of 10 commandments… But few
recognize his extravagant over the top eagerness to bless his people.

Eph. 1:3 NIV “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has
blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”

1. God is good
a. The Bible connects the name of the Lord or God or Jesus or the Spirit
with “good” or “goodness” 370 Times.
b. Psalm 31:19 – How abundant are the good things that you have stored
up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those
who take refuge in you

c. Psalm 34:8 – Taste and See that the Lord is GOOD…(food exp)
d. God is like 100% Florida Orange Juice – He is 100% Good
God’s very nature is goodness

2. God does good things for His people

a. God’s very nature is goodness.
b. Psalm 72:18 – Praise be to the Lord God, the God of Israel,
who alone does marvelous deeds.

c. Jeremiah (31:14) prophesied that God ‘s people will be “satisfied”
with His goodness. He kept on saying that God will not turn away
from doing them good. (Jer. 32:40-42)
d. Psalm 103:4-5 – 4 who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires
with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

e. When God gives He always exceeds our expectations
f. God loves us; not because we are lovable but because He is love, not
because He needs to receive but because He delights to give.”- C.S.
Lewis

3. His Nature has never changed
g. HE has no need for improvement. He can’t get any better, stronger,
more loving, and kind than He already is.
h. Hebrews 13:8 – “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and
forever.”

i. Malachi 3:6 tells us that the Lord does not change and that is why we
are not consumed!
j. When He created the world, He saw that everything He made was
“very good” (Genesis 1)
k. God cannot cease from doing good, because HE is GOOD!

> IN THE PLACE OF BLESSING, A PERSON WILL EXPERIENCE
PROTECTION, PEACE, FAVOR, PROMOTIONS, PROSPERITY… A
FRUITFUL AND FLOURISHING LIFE!

> God has something better for us… a life that is rich in every way… focused on
serving him, loving him, walking in his purpose…

Prov. 10:22-The blessing of the Lord brings wealth and he adds no trouble to it!

Ps.1:3 -Blessed is the man… he is like a tree planted by streams of water, which
yields fruit in its season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers

2) BLESSINGS FOLLOW BLESSED PEOPLE.

When the blessing of the Lord is on a person’s life… the blessing on them extends
into what they do… wherever they go… their house, business, their communities,
their churches… EVEN WHEN THEY ARE IN DIFFICULT
SITUATIONS…..BLESSINGS FOLLOW THEM.

EX: JACOB WHO WORKED FOR A MAN WHO WAS UNFAIR AND SOUGHT
TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF HIM.

Genesis 30:27 But Laban said to him, “If I have found favor in your eyes, please
stay. I have learned by divination that the LORD has blessed me because of you.”

Genesis 30:30 (Jacob to Laban)The little you had before I came has increased
greatly, and the LORD has blessed you wherever I have been. But now, when may I
do something for my own household?”

EX: JOSEPH WHO WAS BETRAYED BY HS BROTHERS AND ENDED UP IN
A FOREIGN LAND AS A SLAVE

Genesis 39:5 From the time he (Potiphor) put him (Joseph) in charge of his
household and of all that he owned, the LORD blessed the household of the
Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the LORD was on everything
Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field.

THE BLESSING OF GOD FLOWS IN OUR LIFE THROUGH OUR
“POSITIONING”. IT’S THE POSITIONING OF OUR HEARTS, MINDS,
ATTITUDES AND ACTION THAT PUTS US IN A PLACE OF CONTINUED
BLESSING.

POSITIONING YOURSELF FOR GOD BLESSINGS
1) THE POSITION OF DOMINION.

Gen. 1:28- And God blessed them, and God said unto them, be fruitful, and
multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of
the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon
the earth.

THE POSITION OF BLESSING IS NOT THE SIT BACK AND DO NOTHING
POSITION!! GOD’S BLESSING IS NOT TO REPLACE MAN’S INITIATIVE
TO WORK BUT TO EMPOWER HIM TO WORK.

A) God’s blessing is not a heavenly handout program. This is why when the work
ethic is replaced by charity… individuals experience poverty… nations
experience poverty…

Ex: the welfare programs in America have not worked. The welfare programs
which began in 1964 actually increased social need and the amount of people who
are poor and dependent has increased rather than decreased. After billions has been
spent, poverty has grown in America. God never intended welfare to be a way of
life…..when we feed and clothe the poor without requiring and empowering them
to work we enable them to remain poor… and miss out on God’s blessings. God’s
blessing is not found where people are visionless, idle…indifferent to
work…lazy….God’s blessing is not a heavenly handout—-God’s blessing is on
the place of vision, usefullness, ambition, initiative… God’s blessings is not
intended to replace mans initiative to work and take dominion in the earth

B) The earth is and always has been a place of abundance. There is no shortage on
natural resources. There is no good reason for poverty, homelessness and
deprivation to exist on a planet that has an abundance of everything we need.
When you see poverty it’s because of man’s ideology… corrupt government… A
violation of God’s principles…

•Random House Dictionary defines “WORK” as – “Exertion or effort
directed to produce or accomplish something.” It can be Physical,
mental, or both. The purpose of work is to produce an item or
accomplish a goal.

The world is full of willing people; some willing to work, the rest willing to let them.”-
Robert Frost

C. Work is God’s Gift (Blessing), not punishment (Curse) –

Eccl. 5:19 NIV – Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and
possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in
his toil—this is the gift of God.

1. Our work is to give us a sense of purpose to create the
wealth that God intended us to have.
2. Many people see WORK as an inconvenience, drudgery,
or unimportant. Some say it is a part of the fall therefore it is a curse.
3. Folks the Marketplace (your place of employment) is
more than a job, it is a place to serve and glorify God.

Deuteronomy 28:8 NIV – The Lord will send a blessing on your barns and on
everything you put your hand to. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is
giving you.

“The highest reward for man’s toil is not what he gets for it but what he becomes
by it.”- John Ruskin

Ephesians 2:10 NIV – For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do
good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
God’s growing grace(in me), gives purpose/meaning to my present life. (we build
on our foundation of Christ w/good works/actions that will be rewarded.) !
Our salvation is a product of God’s love and the work of Christ on our behalf,
but God’s blessings are a product of our growth and obedience.

Nobody will argue the fact that the greatest blessing is our salvation, but God’s
design for His people includes growth and becoming fully obedient, to experience
all the blessings He has for them.

2. The Position of Obedience

God offers rewards and blessings as incentives for obedience

Deuteronomy 28:1-2, 13 ESV – And if you faithfully obey the voice of the
Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command
you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the
earth. 2 And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you
obey the voice of the Lord your God.

13 – And the Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you shall only
go up and not down, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God,
which I command you today, being careful to do them,

A) When you live your life submitted to God… careful to know and obey his plan,
you can expect him to be with you and bless you in what you do…

**Once you experience God’s blessing on your life you don’t want to settle for a
life without it… Its there for you in city, field, house, work… visions, oppositions,
challenges, adversity

The strength of a man consists in finding out the way in which God is going, and
going in that way too.” – Henry Ward Beecher

“The golden rule for understanding in spiritual matters is not intellect, but
obedience.” – Oswald Chambers

God wants us to Obey Him in order to produce good seasons of blessings
and reward in our lives

•Isa. 1:19 NIV – If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good
things of the land;

When the seeds of disobedience are planted, The blessings of God begin to
shut down.

Obedience is the only thing God will ever require of you. When you ask God
for blessings He will always give you an instruction. Your obedience is the
only proof that you truly believed His instructions to you.

3. The Position of Right Words – GOD INSTRUCTED HIS PRIEST/PASTORS
TO DECLARE BLESSINGS OVER HIS PEOPL
E

Proverbs 11:11 NIV – Through the blessing of the upright a city is exalted,
but by the mouth of the wicked it is destroy
ed.

Words are what carry and extend blessings… or hinder and stop blessings…
This is why God told Moses what he wanted the priest to say over the people… Its
not just for the priest… Its for everyone… the congregation, parents… !
Numbers 6:22-27 “The Lord said to Moses, Tell Aaron and his sons, this is
how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: The Lord bless you and keep
you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord
turn his face toward you and give you peace. So they will put My name on
the Israelites and I will bless them.”

In 40 of the 68 NT uses of the word blessing, the word used is “eulogia”, a word
which means: To speak well of, and to praise. This is where we get our English
word eulogy, which is looking to speak well of another person who has passed
away; like at a funeral.

A) Our words serve as conduits of life’s struggles or Gods goodness &
Blessings…

Proverbs 18:21 NIV – The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who
love it will eat its fruit.

You wont experience victory talking defeat… you’ve got to talk victory.
You won’t experience joy talking sadness… singing sadness… you’ve got to talk
joy.

You wont experience peace talking about the chaos… confusion… you’ve got to
talk about peace.

If you want to experience more blessing talk about your blessings, elaborate and
celebrate your blessings… magnify your blessings and minimize your
disappointments…

To live a life of blessing means to not only realize that God has spoken well of us,
but to realize that we should speak well of others also.

I Peter 3:9 NIV “Do not repay evil with evil, or insult with insult, but with
blessing, because to this you were called, so that you may inherit a blessing.”

WRAP UP
I want to encourage you to position yourself for God’s blessings to flow
unhindered in your life… Don’t leave openings for the enemy to enter your life.
Live in the protection and favor of God.

The Blessed Life Pt. 2

bible-readerT
In America, Bibles are everywhere. You can find them in grocery stores,
bookstores, motel rooms, everywhere. They’re available in all sizes, shapes,
translations, versions, leather bound, paperback. Every year the Bible out sells
every other major bestseller. Last year there were 500 million Bibles published in
the world in 18,000 different languages. In America we are glutted with the word
of God on the airways, radio, TV, books, magazines. It’s everywhere. Yet millions
of people still miss the blessing of the Bible.

Why? Because it’s not automatic. The Bible is a book of blessing. It promises
comfort, strength, hope, wisdom, joy, power, and purpose. But just because you
have a Bible doesn’t mean you’re going to get the benefit from it. James, being his
practical self, gives us three steps on how the Bible Blesses us:

James 1:19-25 NIV – My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone
should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because
human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore,
get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the
word planted in you, which can save you. 22 Do not merely listen to the word, and
so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does
not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after
looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But
whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—
not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they
do

The Bible is called the perfect law because it’s exactly what I need. It promises
freedom and it promises blessing. James gives us three steps:

1.I MUST RECEIVE GOD’S WORD IF I’M GOING TO BE BLESSED BY IT

vs. 21, “Accept the word planted in you.” Circle the word “accept”. This word in
Greek is a hospitality term which literally means “to welcome” — come on in. If
we’re going to be blessed by the word of God, first we must welcome the word into
our lives. We must be receptive.

James gives an illustration. He says it’s planted in you. He gives the illustration of a
garden and seed. The Bible, all through Scripture, compares itself to seed. Jesus
told the parable of the sower and said, “The word of God is a seed and it’s planted
in our hearts.” How is it you can take two seeds that are exactly the same and plant
them in two different locations and get two different crops in fruitfulness?
One soil is prepared and the other is not. How is it that you can take two people
and put them in the same service, with the same message, and one person gets
blessed by it and the other person says he didn’t get anything out of it. One heart
was prepared and one wasn’t. James says we must receive the word of God with
the right attitude. He gives us four attitudes you need to be blessed by God’s word.

Attitudes for a Good Reception

1.Be careful. I must have a careful attitude. v. 19 “Be quick to listen…” Give it
your full attention. Be alert. Don’t miss it. “… slow to speak …” When I’m
talking, I’m not listening. God gave us two ears and one mouth so we ought to
listen twice as much as we talk. Many of our problems are caused because we’re
quick to speak rather than being quick to listen. Be careful in your attitude. Be
ready. Be intent. Be ready to receive God’s word. Be careful.

2. Be calm. Be calm if you’re going to receive God’s word and be blessed by it. v.
19b “… and slow to become angry …” A relaxed attitude increases receptivity. If
you’re relaxed, people can communicate with you more. We work on relaxing
people in our services for that reason. We don’t hear much when we’re angry, upset,
bitter, resentful. Bitterness is a barrier, an emotional block that keeps us from
hearing God’s word. Some may ask, “How come God never speaks to me.” Maybe
you’ve got some resentment in your life you need to get rid of. An article I read
from Reader’s Digest said when you listen it actually lowers your blood pressure.
When you speak it raises your blood pressure. James says be calm, be slow to
anger.

What is your emotional state, normally, when you come to church on Sunday
morning? Do you come with a calm attitude? In many homes on Sunday morning
it’s kind of hectic. Then we come at the last minute and expect God to speak to us.
What preparation? You need to be calm. Maybe you need to get up a little bit
earlier.

3. Be clean. v. 21 “Get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent…”
Before you can plant the seed you need to do a little weeding. The word “filth” that
he says you’ve got to get rid of is actually the Greek word that means “earwax”.
When you have a sin in your life it blocks your hearing. It prevents God’s word
from getting into your heart. He says get rid of the evil, anything that we know that
isn’t right in our lives. God says, “Lay aside all of the emotional garbage, the old
habits, the junk in your life so that God’s word can get through to you.”

How can we be clean? By confession. “If we confess our sins, He’s faithful and just
to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The Living Bible says “Get
rid of all that’s wrong in your life, both inside and out.”

“Dusty Bibles always lead to dirty lives. In fact, you are either in the Word and the
Word is conforming you to the image of Jesus Christ, or you are in the world and
the world is squeezing you into its mold.” Howard Hendricks

4. Be compliant. Teachable, yielded, humble, willing to be changed. He says
“humbly accept the word of God planted in you…” Don’t act like you know it all. If
you know it all, God’s word can’t get through to you. Pray, “God, do what You need
to do in my life.” God says if you want to be blessed, first you have to receive it,
be receptive with these four hearing aids. Reception is not enough. James says we
not only need to receive the word of God, but…

2.REFLECT ON THE WORD OF GOD
v. 23 “Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man
who looks at his face in a mirror and after looking at himself immediately goes
away and immediately forgets what he looks like.” James uses an illustration here.
God’s word is like a mirror. The purpose of a mirror is to evaluate us. We use them
to evaluate ourselves. We look in a mirror to assess the damage from the night
before. Then we do something about it. What good is a mirror if we don’t do
anything about what we see? God says a mirror reflects what we’re like on the
outside. God’s word reflects what we’re like on the inside.
Have you ever seen yourself in the Bible? Hebrews says, “God’s word detects the
thoughts, intents, motives and desires of the heart.” Many years ago, Queen
Elizabeth, who was beautiful in her youth, ordered that all of the mirrors be
removed from Buckingham Palace because she couldn’t stand to face that she was
growing old.

A lot of people don’t read the Bible because they’re afraid. They’re unwilling to
face themselves and see themselves as they really are. They don’t want to look in
the mirror of God’s word.

James gives us three practical ways to reflect on the word of God,

1. Read it. v. 25 “the man who looks intently into the perfect law”. He’s actually
talking more about research that he is reading. Investigating. The word “look”
in Greek means “to stoop down and gaze in”. It’s the word used when Peter
went to the tomb on resurrection Sunday when he stooped down and peeked in.
He investigated. Focus your attention on the word of God.

There are two ways you can look at a mirror. You can gaze at it or you can glance
at it. All of us have done both. It’s human nature that you can’t walk by a mirror
and not look at it. When you glance at it, you immediately walk away and forget
what you’ve seen. It didn’t do you any good. Many people try to have a quiet time
that way. They don’t want to gaze at it, but glance at it. Give God five minutes.
God says that He wants us to gaze at the word. Look at it intently in detail.

Nine things to look for — S.P.A.C.E.P.E.T.S
S – Is there a Sin to confess?
P – Is there a Promise to claim? Look for promises, there are over 7000 promises in
the word of God.
A – Is there an Attitude to change?
C – Is there a Command to obey?
E – Is there an Example to follow?
P – Is there a Prayer to pray? There are lots of prayers in the Bible. You can take
those prayers and pray them for yourself and for others. You can know they’ll be answered
because they’re in the Word of God.
E – Is there an Error to avoid?
T – Is there a Truth to believe? Is there something I just need to believe God for?
S – Is there Something to thank God for?

That’s how you look intently at the word of God. Look at the details. James says
we need to receive the word of God and then reflect on it, first by reading it and
second by reviewing it.

2. Review it. v. 25 “…and continues to do so…” That means over and over and
over. The Bible calls this meditation. When you think about something over and
over, it’s meditation. Meditation is not, put your mind in neutral and contemplate
lint in your navel. Meditation means to think seriously about something over and
over. If you know how to worry, you can meditate. Take a negative idea and think
about it over and over, and it’s called worry. Take God’s word and think about it
over and over, and it’s called meditation. The Bible says, “Meditate on God’s
word”. Jesus said, “…if you continue in My word, then you’re truly My disciples.”
Read it and review it. The outlines I give you each week on robyanok.com are not
so that you can keep up with me, it’s so that you can review it during the week.
God says, “You want to be blessed by the word? Review it.”

Psalm 119:97 “I meditate on your word all day long.” Every person ought to
memorize Joshua 1:8 NIV – Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips;
meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in
it. Then you will be prosperous and successful

If you’ll do one thing God promises to bless you with success. And that promise
is IF you meditate on His Word. Read it and review it continually. Stay in it and
be faithful to the book. I know some people that are more faithful to Ann Landers
or the sports page than they are to God’s word. How many of you believe
everything you read in the newspaper or watch on TV? Then why do we spend
more time reading or watching something we don’t believe than something we
do?

We need to fill our minds with the word of God. James says, “You want to be
blessed? Reflect on the word. Think about it by reading it and reviewing it.”

3. Remembering it. v. 25 “… not forgetting what he has heard.” Nothing will do
more for your spiritual life than developing the habit of memorizing Scripture.
Nothing will benefit your personal spiritual life more than developing the habit of
memorizing Scripture. “Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin
against Thee.” Memorize God’s word if you want to be blessed by it. We
remember what’s important to us.

Take notes, write things down. If you value God’s word you’re going to take notes
on it. Hebrews 2:1 “Write things down so we don’t let slip what we’ve heard.”
The United States Air Force did a study and found that we forget 95% of what we
hear within 72 hours. This statistic depresses a pastor. I spend all week preparing a
message to give on Sunday. By Wednesday you’ve forgotten 95% of what I’ve said
unless you’ve written it down. James says, “Receive God’s word with the right
attitude, reflect on God’s word by reading it, reviewing it, remembering it.” But
even that’s not enough

3.I MUST RESPOND TO THE WORD OF GOD
I must do something about it, act on it, live it, practice it. vs. 22 “Do not merely
listen to what the word says and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” Practice.
What good is a mirror if you look at it and don’t do anything about it? The word
“listen” in Greek is the word for “auditor”. If you audited a class in college you
didn’t take it for credit, no tests, no responsibility, no research. You were totally
relaxed. You just listened, you didn’t have any intention of applying it. We have a
lot of auditors in the church. They come to church, walk in, hear the word of God,
walk out with no intention of ever being changed. I was one for years. I took notes,
wrote things down, but it never changed me. We must respond to God’s word, let
it change us if we’re going to be blessed by it.

That is what James is attacking. He’s saying, “If you want to be blessed, you’ve
got to live the word of God, not just hear it. Not just know it.”
I really work at making the Bible simple. There is a lot in the Bible that is difficult
to understand, complex, deep. Yet I try to present it in such a way that’s very clear
and very easy to understand and easy to put into practice. When you go out of here
I want you to be able to do the word not just hear the word of God. I work at
making it practical. I try to make it simple so we can put it into practice.
I heard about the guy who came to church late. He walked in just as the service
was completing. He said to an usher, “Is the sermon done, yet?” The usher was
wise and said, “The sermon has been preached, but it is yet to be done.” Be ye
doers of the word, don’t merely listen. Put it into practice.

My honest prayer on Sunday afternoon is that you will remember what I said and
put it into practice. I pray that GraceTown Church will develop the reputation that
people say, “They’re doers of the word. They practice what everybody else talks
about. They live it.” People have a Living Bible. You ought to be a Living Bible.
The best translation of Scripture is when you translate it into your life and let
it change you.

What pleases me even more than a comment or compliment is when somebody
says they will put it into practice and use it. They say they will do the sermon this
week. “Let’s not deceive ourselves,” James says.v. 25 (Phillips) “The man who puts the law into practice wins true happiness.”

Jesus, in Matthew 7, tells the story of the wise and the foolish builder. He says the
foolish builder builds on sand. He is like the guy who hears the word of God but
doesn’t do what it says. The wise man is the one who hears it and then goes out and
makes an honest attempt to put it into his life. Practice it.
Jesus said John 13:17, “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you
do them.” I think the simplest definition of maturity is to be a doer of the word.

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

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.

Prayer:
Father, You have not beat around the bush this morning. We can’t ignore what Your word says.
You’ve told us to be doers of the word, to practice what we already know. Lord, I know You
have put some ideas in the minds of people and they know they’ve got to do something maybe
even before today ends. I pray that You would give them the courage to act on what they know.
Help them to do the right thing. Help them to act on what they already know is right. Lord,
maybe it’s to pay off some debt, or to ask forgiveness, or to return an object, or to be baptized, or
to join the church, or to make a phone call, or to witness to some neighbor and invite them to
church, get involved, or to receive Christ for the very first time. Lord, Help us to do what we
need to do, to not deceive ourselves, to not glance at the mirror of the word and walk away
unchanged. Help us not to miss the point, that we need to receive Your word with the right
attitude and we need to reflect on it through reading and studying and memorizing. But Lord, that
we most of all need to respond to it and allow it to live in our lives.
If you’ve never opened up your life to Jesus Christ, do it this morning. Ask Him to come into
your heart. That’s the first step. Say, “Jesus Christ, I don’t understand it all but I want You to
come into my life. I want to be a believer.” He died for you on the cross. He will forgive your
sins if you ask Him to. He will give you a new start. Just say, “Christ, come into my life. I want
to be a Christian, a real Christian.” Others of you know the Lord. The issue for you is not to
make that first step but to practice what you already know. Say, “God help me to do what I know
is right.” That takes faith and courage. He will give you that faith and courage. Say, “Help me to
live Your word this week and apply even what I’ve heard today in the next few days.” Lord, Your
word is true. It is accurate and it pierces even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit and the
joints and marrow and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Lord, we’ve seen
areas of our lives we need to work on today. Give us the strength and courage to do what we
know we need to do. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

I Am the Church Part 1

iamthechurch3
Ephesians 2:17-22 NIV He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. 19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” Matthew 16:18

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2: 42-47

What does a fully devoted follower of Christ look like?

“So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” Acts 11:26

Disciple: a student (pupil)
Christian: a follower of Christ or an imitation of Christ

Our goal is to move from being a student or pupil of Christ to a fully devoted follower of Christ. From Going to Church to Being the Church!

We seek to achieve our goal by focusing on six key priorities in our lives:

A priority is something that is given our attention before competing alternatives.
1. Worshipping God weekly

Definition of Worship: Expressing love to God

“Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.” Mat. 4:10

“…the Father seeks worshippers…and His worshippers must worship Him in spirit and in truth.”John 4:23-24

Worship Checkup

(Mark 12:30) “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your
soul, all your mind, and all your strength.”

1. Expressing my affection to God. •What do I love most?
2. Focus my attention on God •What do I think about most?
3. Use my abilities for God. •What do I do most?

2. Connecting with the church regularly

not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:25 NIV

God has given us the privilege of being born again so that we are now members of God’s own family…1 Pet 1:3 TLB

“By this shall all men know that you are my disciples – that you have love for one another. John 13:35

“As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures” Acts 17:2

3. Growing in maturity daily

“Let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity…” Heb 6:1

“Grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Pet 3:18

3 things needed for spiritual growth:
a. The Word of God (Bible study, devotion, etc.)
b. The Holy Spirit (intimate relationship in prayer)
c. Time (Spiritual growth is a process)

4. Serving other people unselfishly

“Now God gives us many kinds of special abilities…and there are different kinds of service to God (ministry)…All of you together form the one Body of Christ and each of you is a separate and necessary part of it.” 1 Cor 12:4-5, 27 (LB)

At GraceTown Church…
…every member is a minister
…every ministry is important
…every member is a “10” in some area

Definition of ministry: Using your gifts and talents without thought of reward

God has given each of you some special abilities; be sure to use them to help each other, passing on to others God’s many kinds of blessings. 1 Pet 4:10 TLB

5. Sharing our faith effectively

Definition of Evangelism: Sharing the Good News

“His intent was that through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known…” Eph 3:10

“Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. But who can ask them to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells him?” Rom 10:13-14 (LB)

Evangelism Can Be as Natural as Conversation

The Living Bible translates 1 Corinthians 9:22, “… whatever a person is like, I try to find common ground with him so that he will let me tell him about Christ and let Christ save him.”

• Be natural. Normal conversation is fluid and respectful, allows for humor and invites response.
• Be open and willing to admit your struggles and failures.
• Be respectful, look at people for what they are as well as what they can become.
• Be simple. Communication increases as simplicity does. Don’t let Christian jargon get in the way.
• Don’t forget what it was like to be a non-Christian.
• Look forward to hindsight. Unbelievers will understand some things only after looking back on them.

6. Giving our resources consistently

Giving tests the sincerity of my love for God.

Since you excel in so many ways–you have so much faith, such gifted speakers, such knowledge, such enthusiasm, and such love for us–now I want you to excel also in this gracious ministry of giving…This is one way to prove your love is real. 2 Cor. 8:7-8 NLT

Acts 20:35 – There is more happiness in giving than receiving

Committed believers tithe of their income to God

“A tithe of everything you produce belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord.” Lev 26:30

Heaven Isn’t To Far Away

heaven_wellbeingcomau1

Heaven Isn’t To Far Away

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

A GLIMPSE OF HEAVEN

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:1-4 NIV

Heaven According to Huck Finn
In Mark Twain’s famous story, Miss Watson, a rather stodgy old fuddy-duddy, is telling Huck about heaven. “She said … she was going to live so as to go to the good place. I made up my mind I shouldn’t try for it. But I never said so, because it would only make trouble and wouldn’t do no good. Now she had got a start, and she went on and told me all about the good place. She said all a body would have to do there was to go around all day long with a harp and sing, forever and ever. So I didn’t think much of it. But I never said so. I asked her if she reckoned Tom Sawyer would go there, and, she said, not by a considerable sight. I was glad about that, because I wanted him and me to be together.” Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Time Magazine Article (3/24/97) people were asked questions about heaven, here are their responses:

Do you believe in the existence of heaven, where people live forever with God after they die? 81% said Yes, 13% said No
Where do you believe you will go when you die? 68% Heaven, 3% Hell
Which of the following do you believe are in heaven? 93% Angels, 79% St. Peter, 43% Harps, 36% Halos

The word heaven occurs over 500 times in the Bible: describes 3 different types of heavens:
First heaven – the atmospheric heaven (the sky)
Second heaven – stellar or celestial heaven (outer space)
Third Heaven – the divine heaven (the abode of God)

Why we should spend time thinking and talking about Heaven
•It has been said some Christians are so heavenly minded they’re no earthly good. But perhaps more believers are so earthly minded they’re no heavenly good.

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

•Apostle John recognized this and exhorted believers to be mindful that this world is fatally flawed and incapable of providing ultimate satisfaction to the believer

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

•C.S. LEWIS said, “Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.”
•C.S. Lewis also said, “ If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world”

What About Heaven?

•Heaven is a real place.

(John 14:2-3) “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were
not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place
for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back
and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

(Revelation 21:14) “The city was laid out like a square, as long as it
was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be
12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long.”

What will Heaven Be Like?

The Splendor of Heaven – Heaven will be a glorious place both because of what is there and what is not there. There are 11 things that won’t be there: sea, sin, death, mourning, crying, pain, night, temple, curse, sun, or moon. The main thing that will be there will be the glory of God. (Rev. 21:11, 23)

The Sights of Heaven: A city called the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:9-22:5) No shag carpet, no cinder blocks
The Walls – is 216 ft thick and 1,500 miles high (seven million ft) Security. 12 foundation stones on which are written the names of the 12 apostles of the lamb (21:14) The walls are made of jasper (21:18), and the foundation stones of the wall are inlaid with 12 different types of precious gems (21:19,20)
The gates – 12 gates, 3 on each side, and an angel guards each gate. The names of the 12 tribes of Israel are written on the gates (21:12-13). Each of the 12 gates is made from a single pearl (21:21). The gates never close at the end of the day, because there is no night (21:21) and nothing evil will be allowed to enter (21:27)
21:18,21, “says the city was pure gold, as clear as glass….the main street was pure gold as clear as glass.”
21:23, “the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the lamb is the light.”
The Size of Heaven – 1500 miles on each side. To give you an understanding: the moon is 2160 miles in diameter. It is a perfect cube it contains 2.25 million square miles or 3,375,000,000 cubic miles of space – it has enough room to accommodate 100,000 billion people.

•Heaven is a right place.

(Revelation 21:4) “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There
will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old
order of things has passed away.”

•Heaven is a relational place.

(1 Thessalonians 4:17-18) “After that, we who are still alive and
are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet
the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
Therefore encourage each other with these words.”

(Revelation 21:3) “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
“Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them.
They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be
their God.”

(Revelation 22:2) “On each side of the river stood the tree of life,
bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the
leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.”

Perfect Reunion – We will be reunited with loved ones, friends, and other believers who have gone before us. I Thess. 4:13-17

•Heaven is a rewarding place.

(Revelation 22:12) “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with
me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.”

Matthew 16:27 … Son of Man…will reward each person according to what he has done.

What will we experience in Heaven?

Perfect Transformation – I John 3:2
Perfect Comfort – “Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal” Thomas More. Revelation 7:15-17
Perfect rejoicing, Gladness, and Joy – It won’t be quiet. Rev, 19:6,7
Perfect fellowship and feasting – Matthew 8:11/Rev. 19:9
Perfect Rest – Rev. 14:13
Perfect Satisfaction – Rev. 21:6, 22:17
Perfect Victory – Rev. 3:21, 22:5
The absence of All things Undesirable – nothing of evil or nothing of sorrow in heaven. Revelation 7:16, 21:4, 25, 27

No evil, no wickedness, no ungodliness, no sin. A place without crime, without corruption, without pain, sorrows and tears. No sirens, no deadbolts, no alarm systems, no barbed wire, no adversity, no trials, and no tribulations. No ambulances, hospitals cemeteries or prisons. No plagues, no funerals. No one will be hungry or homeless, and earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and raging fires will no longer exist to ravage mankind.

No hateful words, misunderstandings, slander or gossip. No envy, jealousy grudges, suspicions will be there. There will be NO abuse, exploitation, or violence in heaven. No strife, no broken hearts. No one will suffer from physical maladies, emotional disturbances, chemical imbalances, addictions, or handicaps of anykind.

No weariness, worry, fear, and anxiety will be there in heaven. No more cancers, aids, tumors, diseases, etc…

Until then…
(Titus 2:13) “…while we wait for the blessed hope–the glorious
appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”

1.Refocus your energies.

(Matthew 6:19-20) “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on
earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and
steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven…”

2. Reach people.

(Revelation 22:17) The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let
him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and
whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.

(Jude 1:22-23) “Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from
the fire and save them; to others show mercy…”

3. Renew your relationship with God.

(2 Peter 3:13-14) “But in keeping with his promise we are looking
forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of
righteousness. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward
to this, make every effort

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

God wants everyone to be saved.

(1 Timothy 2:4) “(God)…wants all men to be saved and to come to
a knowledge of the truth.”

God provided a way of escape.

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

John 14:6 – Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

(Acts 4:12) “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other
name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

God invites you to receive salvation. (God’s RSVP)

(Revelation 3:20) “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If
anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat
with him, and he with me.”

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

Choosing Heaven means choosing to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Such a relationship brings a foretaste of Heaven in this life, and an eternity of happiness. You can make your decision today!

Renegade Pt 4 – God is a Good God

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Renegade Part 4 – God is a Good God

Psalm 145:8-16 (NIV) 8 The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love.9 The Lord is good to all;
he has compassion on all he has made. 10 All your works praise you, Lord;
your faithful people extol you. 11 They tell of the glory of your kingdom
 and speak of your might, 12 so that all people may know of your mighty acts
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. 13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures through all generations. The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.[a]14 The Lord upholds all who fall
and lifts up all who are bowed down.15 The eyes of all look to you,
 and you give them their food at the proper time. 16 You open your hand
 and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

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

Psalm 18:25-26 (NIV)
25 To the faithful you show yourself faithful,
to the blameless you show yourself blameless, 26 to the pure you show yourself pure,
but to the devious you show yourself shrewd.

But if, for example, you believe God to be austere, stern, and harsh, you will hold back from asking for anything from Him as the man who hid his talents because he feared his master (Luke 19:21)

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

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

Remember some of the powerful statements in the Scriptures about God and His goodness:

1. There is none good but God (Matthew 19:17)
2. His goodness leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4)
3. His Spirit is good (Psalm 143:10, Nehemiah 9:20)
4. Taste and see that the Lord is Good (Psalm 34:8)
5. Jesus went about doing good (Acts 10:38)
6. All things work together for good (Romans 8:28)
7. He only does wonderful things (Psalm 72:18)

•We need to become “Believers” who BELIEVE! Our hearts need to engage. If not our desperate condition of not believing God is good will rob us of the foundation of an extraordinary life.

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

Evidence of God’s Goodness

1. God is good
a. The Bible connects the name of the Lord or God or Jesus or the Spirit with “good” or “goodness” 370 Times.
b. Psalm 31:19 – How abundant are the good things
that you have stored up for those who fear you,
that you bestow in the sight of all,
 on those who take refuge in you
c. Psalm 34:8 – Taste and See that the Lord is GOOD…

d. God is like 100% Florida Orange Juice – He is 100% Good

2. His Nature has never changed
a. HE has no need for improvement. He can’t get any better, stronger, more loving, and kind than He already is.
b. Hebrews 13:8 – “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
c. Malachi 3:6 tells us that the Lord does not change and that is why we are not consumed!
d. When He created the world, He saw that everything He made was “very good” (Genesis 1)
e. God cannot cease from doing good, because HE is GOOD!

3. God does good things for His people
a. God’s very nature is goodness.
b. Psalm 72:18 – Praise be to the Lord God, the God of Israel,
who alone does marvelous deeds.

c. Jeremiah (31:14) prophesied that God ‘s people will be “satisfied” with His goodness. He kept on saying that God will not turn away from doing them good. (Jer. 32:40-42)
d. Psalm 103:4-5 – 4 who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

4. Jesus went everywhere doing good to people
a. Acts 10:38 – how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
b. John 7:12 Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, “He is a good man.” Others replied, “No, he deceives the people.”

c. Jesus healed the sick, cleansed the lepers, opened the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf. He had compassion on the needy and proclaimed good news to the poor.
d. Jesus said in John (10:11) referred to himself as the “Good Shepherd”

5. God is a Giver and a Rewarder
a. James 1:7 – Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
b. Hebrews 11:6 – And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him
c. I Timothy 6:17 – Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.

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

When God gives He always exceeds our expectations

Buechner said, “God cannot be expressed but only experienced”

Who wants to experience God’s goodness today?

1. REPENT – Change your mind, thinking, turn around

Romans 2:4 – Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

2. DO GOOD

“The temptation of the age is to look good without being good.”
- Brennan Manning

“Do all the good you can, in all the ways you can, to all the souls you can, in every place you can, with all the zeal you can, as long as you ever can.”
- John Wesley

III John 1:11 – Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.

Romans 12:21 – Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

•”When evil men plot, good men must plan. When evil men shout ugly words of hatred, good men must commit themselves to the glory of love.”
- Martin Luther King Jr.

I Peter 2:15 – For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people

What Good can you do to help someone else? We are at our best when we are adding value to other people. God help us Help people!

“With the goodness of God to desire our highest welfare, the wisdom of God to plan it, and the power of God to achieve it, what do we lack.”
- A.W. Tozer

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS FOR A CHURCH WHEN LOSING IT’S PASTOR By Dr. Jim Garlow

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS FOR A CHURCH WHEN LOSING
IT’S PASTOR By Dr. Jim Garlow

Transition – (tran-zish’un), n.1. Passage from one place, state, stage of development, type, etc., to another; change; also, the period, place, passage, etc., in which such a change is effected.

1. Remember, in life, change is a given. Everything (except God) changes. It is inevitable. So don’t waste energy in denial or “fighting it.”
2. This is not the end of the world; it only feels like it. God really does love you and He will soon prove it by bringing you another wonderful pastor.
3. The pastor didn’t leave because he doesn’t like you…or because he likes some other church better. He is simply trying to obey God.
4. If, by chance, you were one of those critics of the pastor, repent. Otherwise there will be curse on the church, and you won’t like the consequences. God is not interested in protecting the outgoing pastor as a person, but he is jealous about the office. So, in the event you participated in “pastor bashing” (even if it was in the form of a “prayer request:” “let’s pray for our pastor…”), then repent.
5. Encourage those around you that God’s hand is still on the church.
6. If you are not on the governing body which selects the new pastor, then pray for them and encourage them.
7. If you are on the governing board, then pray and fast. When you finish that, do it again.
8. Never ever, ever, ever “campaign” for your favorite “candidate.” Stop being God. Let Him install who He would. Let the church board have full liberty. This is not the Republican or Democratic Convention. If you “campaign,” a factious spirit will enter the congregation andyou will be the one who let it in.
9. Above all, stand by your church. She stood by you lots of times. This is one of those time your church needs you. Don’t leave. If you leave, it reveals things about you that you don’t want to hear. Don’t be divisive. Don’t go down the street and start another church. It will be for wrong reasons and built on a wrong foundation.
10. Stay positive! Keep a smile on your face and a song in your heart. Assure others “it will be all right”…because it will.