Longing Pt.3 – For More Peace in My Life

Longing Pt.3 – For More Peace in My Life

Looking for Peace? Most of us are more familiar with tension, stress, and anxiety, rather than peace. Lack of peace is a result of our complex, accelerated and stressed out world. People say…

•I’m ready to throw in the towel

•I am at the end of my rope

•I am just a bundle of nerves

•I am at my wits end

•I feel like resigning from the human race

•I am in over my head

Peace in today’s society is a commodity much desired and rarely found

Isaiah 9:6-7 ESV – For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon[a] his shoulder, and his name shall be called[b] Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7  Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

Peace – shalom – fulness. Having everything you need to be whole and happy (Jesus – The Prince of Peace)

(Luke 2:6-14 NIV) “While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”[d]

Can there actually be Peace on Earth?

Fredrick Buechner said, “Peace is not the absence of struggle but the presence of love.”

A not so silent night. There was no peace in Israel at this time. Gloom, anguish, and contempt were just some of the adjectives used to describe this darkness.

•The word of God had not been heard for four centuries.  Malachi is the last book in the Old Testament, written in the fifth century BC.

•The people of God were under the oppressive rule of Rome. Political darkness reigned!

•The nation of Israel was fracturing. The Pharisees, Sadducees, The Essenes, The Zealots – which resulted in the oppressive rule of Rome

•The census was a considerable imposition.  Living in Nazareth, Mary and Joseph lived more than 100 miles North of Bethlehem.  Yet, there was no way around it.  They were forced by legal constraint to make the arduous trip.

•The poverty of Mary and Joseph did not fit the royal son they had. Joseph had no bargaining power. Without family or hospitality, darkness surrounded them.

•Through the hostile forces of Herod, Satan tried to kill Jesus. Herod, so paranoid for his own position and power that he had multiple family members executed, attempts to use the wisemen to lead him to the Christ child—not to worship, but to exterminate. He orders the execution of all the children in and around Bethlehem.

(John 16:33 NIV) “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Internet search for peace of mind – home security, hypnosis, funeral services, perfume, plumbing to insure your toilet

4 Sources Of Tension in Life

1. Unavoidable Circumstances.

Much of life is out of our control

•When things are out of our control – We get frustrated and lose our peace of mind

(Jeremiah 4:20 NIV) “Disaster follows disaster; the whole land lies in ruins. In an instant my tents are destroyed, my shelter in a moment.”

Sometimes the pain and problems in your life is nobody’s fault

John 9:1-3 Message Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?” 3-5 Jesus said, “You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, working while the sun shines. When night falls, the workday is over. For as long as I am in the world, there is plenty of light. I am the world’s Light.”

2. Unbearable People.

Have you ever thought…? Life would be great if it weren’t for all these people – You make all of these great plans – people will not cooperate

(Psalms 109:3 NIV) “With words of hatred they surround me; they attack me without cause.”

Never forget 3 Types of People in Your Life. Those:

1. Who helped you in your difficult time

2. Who left you in your difficult time

3. Who put you in your difficult time

3. Unexplainable Problems.

Then there is the whole “unexplainable” part of life – Things don’t turn out right – don’t understand why

(Matthew 27:46 NIV) “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

3 Reasons for life’s problems

1. Sin – Imperfect world

2. Satan – Common Enemy

3. Self – we make mistakes

Problems are God given opportunities to grow – challenges drive us to deeper understanding and maturity. Problems come from the greek word which means “To Throw” or “To Drive forward”

Robert Schuller said, “Impossibilities vanish when a man and His God confront a mountain”

4. Uncontrollable Worry.

(Jeremiah 6:24 NIV) “We have heard reports about them, and our hands hang limp. Anguish has gripped us, pain like that of a woman in labor.”

God doesn’t want you to worry!

The truth is – Christmas season is anything but peaceful for people. We all love this time of year – but produces so much worry, stress, anxiety, and depression.

I find that men and women worry about different things at Christmas Women worry about, Did I buy enough?  Do we have enough?  Have I done enough?  Are the kids going to be happy? Did I forget anybody?

Guys worry about at different things at Christmas – really two How am I going to pay for all of this? And, How long are the relatives going to be in town?

Worrying never solves tomorrow’s problems – Worry only robs today of its peace

I know there’s a lot of stuff here that we’re worried about Some real legitimate, pretty serous things

Health issues, financial problems, family crises, Are my kids going to be all right? Am I going to have a job next year? What’s the doctor going to say?

I Peter 5:7 NIV Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Focus on God, not the problem! 

Myth – I can control and fix things by worrying about them / Truth – Worry only makes me miserable

2 Options – Panic or Pray / worry or worship

How you really find peace during Christmas

(John 14:27 LB) “I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart! And the peace I give isn’t fragile like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

1.Receive God’s Extravagant Grace. 

You were made to live in harmony with God – When you are not – it causes stress

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

Psychologists will tell you that a main source of stress – guilt – There is nothing more peaceful than a clean slate

Justified – just as if I’d never done it – But you need to accept it – even some Christians don’t

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.

God is eager – it’s the best part of His day – Think about it – total forgiveness – completely clean – That would give peace of mind

2. Run to God’s Presence.

This one is hard to explain – you have to experience it – There is a tangible presence of God

(Isaiah 26:3 NKJV) “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You.”

Peace is a mindset – but can’t get it through secular meditation – Comes through focusing on what God says about you – Prayer – the Word of God

(Psalm 46:1, 10 NIV) “God is our refuge and strength, and ever-present help in trouble…Be still and know that I am God.”

Back story – 180,000 enemy troops were about to attack Israel

God says – “chill out” – sit still – hurry aggravates worry – Be still “And know” – intimacy not knowledge

3. Obey God’s principles.

(Psalm 119:165 NIV) “Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble.”

If we’re honest – most of our stress comes from ignoring His principles – What has God told you that you haven’t done yet?

Peace Comes through obedience to God’s word

Romans 8:6 NIV – The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 

Luke 2:13-14 CEV “Suddenly many other angels came down from heaven and joined in praising God. They said: ‘Praise God in heaven! Peace on earth to everyone who pleases God.’ 

4. Rely on God’s provision.

(Philippians 4:6-7 LB) “Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything; tell God your needs and don’t forget to thank Him for His answers. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand.”

•Trust God to take care of things beyond your control

•Quit dwelling on the “What if’s” of life

•Live one day at a time:

•Matthew 6:34 says, Don’t worry about tomorrow, Matthew 6:11, Give us today our daily bread

Peace in today’s society is a commodity much desired and rarely found. Most people are familiar with tension, stress and anxiety than peace. The lack of peace is the result of our complex, accelerated and stressed out world.

Today on this 3rd Sunday of Advent, identify areas in your life in which turmoil is reigning rather than peace.

I admonish everyone of us today to Trust in God’s Provision and Care

Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and don’t lean on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.” 

When we put our care in God’s hands, He puts his Peace in our Hearts

Don’t fall to pieces – Follow Peace – April Osteen Simons

FaceTime with God Pt.2 – It Must Become a Priority

FaceTime with God Pt.2 – It Must Become a Priority

Exodus 33:11 NIV The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. 

2 Corinthians 3:16-18 Message Whenever, though, they turn to face God as Moses did, God removes the veil and there they are—face-to- face! They suddenly recognize that God is a living, personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone. And when God is personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation is recognized as obsolete. We’re free of it! All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him. 

Priorities – A priority is anything to which we give first place, in order of importance. It is that which is most productive and beneficial to us. The things that matter most.

If you are too busy for FaceTime with God, then you’re too busy.

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

-You make time for things that are important

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

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

“We don’t drift in good directions. We discipline and prioritize ourselves there.”  Andy Stanley

Matthew 22:37-38 ESV And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment.

Phillip Yancey said, “Only in prayer can we learn to love God with all our heart, mind and soul.”

Psalm 5:1-3 NIV “Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my sighing. Listen to my cry for help, my king and my God, for to you I pray. In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.”

Why People don’t make FaceTime with God a Priority

  1. Not sure you know how to pray
  2. Get bored or distracted while trying to pray
  3. Think your requests are too small for God
  4. Not sure your prayers will make a difference

Do you struggle with Prayer? Don’t pray enough? Someone once said, You will when you need too

Prayer should be our first language not a foreign language. It should be our first response, not our last resort. 

(In Matthew 6, Jesus give us 3 “When’s” (habits)- When You Pray, When You Fast, When You Give)

Luke 18:1 NIV  Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.

“Ought” – means we are under obligation, we are bound, and it is necessary for us to pray always.

NOT bc its the religious thing to do, NOT to please God, NOT to be saved and go to Heaven – It’s bc we have no other choice

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

What is Prayer?

  1. Communication (dialogue)
  2. Communion (relationship)
  3. Channel for divine power (supernatural)

What it accomplishes:

  1. Draws you closer to God
  2. It brings answers, it creates (John 14:14, Hebrews 11:1-3)
  3. Brings blessings to others (I Tim. 2:1)
  4. Reveals (Jeremiah 33:3)

Our most sincere prayer should be: “Lord Teach us to Pray…” Luke 11:1 NIV

Prayer is learned – We learn to PRAY by:

•Praying The Prayers (ACTS 2:42)  •Meditating on Scripture  •Praying with others  •Reading about Prayer

• We need a Liturgy –  It means worship or minister. It means work of the people. Worship and devotion is not a kind of spiritual entertainment, worship is a work of spiritual formation. Liturgy is simply your pattern of worship and prayer. Some people say Liturgy is dead and dry? Brian Zhand in his book “Water to Wine” said, “Liturgy is neither alive nor dead. Liturgy is either true or false. What is alive or dead is the worshiper. So what we need is a true liturgy and a living worshiper.”

Phillip Yancey said – “If prayer stands as the place where God and human beings meet, then I must learn about prayer.”

Why FaceTime with God Must Be a Priority

1. I Can Depend Upon God

Deuteronomy 4:7 NIVWhat other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him?

John 15:5-7 NIV “If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit, but apart from me, you can do nothing. If anyone doesn’t remain in me, he’s like a branch that’s thrown away and withers. Such branches are picked up and thrown into the fire and burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you can ASK whatever you wish and it will be given to you. “

“Heaven is full of answers to prayer for which no one ever bothered to ask.” – Billy Graham

The tragedy of our day is not unanswered prayer but is unoffered prayer

God will either give you what you ask, or something far better. 

Prayer expresses our trust in God (Matthew 6:9- Our Father…) 

“We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties.” Oswald Chambers 

Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV – Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

 “Quit questioning God and start trusting Him!” Joel Osteen

Disappointments are just God’s way of saying “I have Got Something better” Be Patient….Have Faith….Trust God….

It’s not an option, it’s like breathing is to our bodies- LIFE.

Martin Luther said, “To be a christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.”

“I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had absolutely no other place to go.” Abraham Lincoln

2. I Discover Friendship with God

John 15:15-16 NIV “I no longer call you servants because a servant doesn’t know his master’s business. Instead I have called you friends for everything I’ve learned from my Father, I’ve made known to you. You didn’t choose me, but I chose you to go and bear fruit — fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.”

One of life’s greatest privilege is the right to use the name of Jesus in Prayer

Because we have Friendship with God, God promises:

1. To hear us (Jer. 33:3 / Isa. 65:24)

2. To Help us (Mt.7:7-8 / Mark 11:24)

3. If there is a need, God will meet it (Phil. 4:19)

4. If there is a burden, God will lift it (I Peter 5:7)

5. If there is a sin, God will forgive it (I John 1:9)

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

3. I Can Deliver My Anxieties to God

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

Remember: God has free unlimited anytime minutes

We have 2 options – We can Panic or Pray -You decide

“Oh what peace we often forfeit, oh what needless pain we bare; All because we do not carry, everything to God in prayer” Joseph Scriven

I Peter 5:7 NIV “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

Anxiety – state of uneasiness, apprehension about future uncertainties

Worry – Strangle or choke, suffocating, feeling we experience in time of fear.

-dog with a bone; “worries” on it, gnaws, bury it, dig it up, growl at you

-Some people’s calling in life – they want to always examine what can go wrong

-Martin Luther said, “Pray and let God worry”

We are not designed to carry stress, anxiety, or worryRemember this  – The shadow of a dog never bit anyone

When Should Have FaceTime with God? 

I Thessalonians 5:17 NIV – pray continually, (Never stop praying)

Daniel 6:10 ESV – When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Luke 6:12 ESV In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.

FaceTime with God is simple, not mysterious. But the impact it can make on your life as you do it consistently is greater and deeper than any other way you can spend your time.

Will you Commit everyday to spend Face to Face Time with God? 

Next week I am going to show you how and what to do and have FaceTime with God.

FaceTime with God

FaceTime with God 

FaceTime – time spent in face-to-face contact with someone; a video chat application developed by Apple

Luke 10:38-42 NIV – 38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” 41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[a] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.

”Christianity is not a legal relationship, it is a love relationship. Ten thousand “don’ts” will never make you one iota more like the Lord Jesus Christ. The key is spending time with him. Remember Time spent alone with God is never wasted.

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

We are so busy with a million pursuits that we don’t even notice the most important things slipping away. We are overwhelmed by the pace of life – 24/7 nonstop – it’s the mantra of our culture.

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

The busyness of things obscures our concentration on God … Never let a hurried lifestyle disturb the relationship of abiding in Him. This is an easy thing to allow, but we must guard against it.—Oswald Chambers

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

-You make time for things that are important

-To often we give God only the tired remnants of our time

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

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

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

E.M. Bounds once said, “The men who have most fully illustrated Christ in their characters, and have most powerfully affected the world for Him, have been men who spent so much time with God as to make it a notable feature in their lives. TO BE LITTLE WITH GOD IS TO BE LITTLE FOR GOD.”

It is an appointment with God, a block of time chiseled out of your day and set apart for God, a time of private worship. Think of it as a date with God; a time for just the two of you. Sometimes we call it “having a devotion,” “an appointment with God,” “meeting with God.” This simply means we are making time for God in our day.

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.

The Gospel of Mark tells us that Jesus made time with God a priority. If Jesus needed to spend meaningful time with God, don’t you think that we need it even more?

•John Ortberg says consistent spiritual discipline becomes, “a rhythm for living in which we can grow more intimately connected to God.”

If you don’t break the tensions of daily living, they will break you! 

What Happens When I Spend Time With God?

1.God changes our heart.

Psalms 51:10 ESV says, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right[a] spirit within me.” 

Create – describes the work of God, not something you do but God does.

Ezekiel 26:26 NLT – And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.

Through Christ’s sacrifice for you and for me, we can be forgiven of our sins, standing before God as clean as if we had never sinned. When we spend time with God, He shows us those areas we must confess as sin, prompting us to ask forgiveness, and then He is able to cleanse us. He changes our hearts.

2. God gives us direction for living.

Romans 8:14 ESV “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons[a] of God.” 

If we are His children, we can expect to be led by the Spirit of God. How are we going to get direction? By spending time talking to Him (through prayer), and through listening to Him (through His Word). This is the essence of a quiet time. When we spend time with Him, we get a different perspective on life.

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.”

How do we listen to that “other voice”? 

Psalm 119:105 ESV Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

God will enlighten our path and show us which way to go as we spend time in His Word.

3. God’s presence is present during difficult times.

Spending Time with God repairs the damage done by the fret and noise and clamour of the world and give us assurance of His presence and peace

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ESV  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

How is God going to be able to comfort us, if we don’t spend time with Him?

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

4. We Can be friends with God

James 2:23 NLT – And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God.

“It is better to be alone with God. His friendship will not fail me, nor His counsel, nor His love. In His strength, I will dare and dare and dare until I die.” Joan of Arc

John 15:13-15 ESV – Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants,[a] for the servant[b] does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you

We are no longer in the dark as to what our Master is doing, but we have been graciously invited into the inner circle—the divine circle in this case—and privileged with the knowledge of what our Master is feeling, thinking, and doing.

Everything that Jesus has heard from his Father he has willingly made known to us. To open up your heart to someone, as God has done with us, is a gesture of friendship.

I Corinthians 1:9 ESV – God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord

In Charles Dickens’s Tale of Two Cities there is a wonderful illustration of the extent to which Christ went to secure a friendship with us. In the story, Charles Darnay and Sydney Carton are two people who become close friends. Darnay happens to be thrown into a dungeon and faces the guillotine the next morning. Carton, on the other hand, a lawyer by profession, has piddled away his life through loose living in England. Carton hears of Darnay’s predicament and through a series of circumstances gets himself into the prison and the cell where Darnay is being held. He changes garments with Darnay and the next morning faces the guillotine while his friend Carton escapes to freedom. “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends!” Dickens even quotes this passage. So is Christ’s love for his friends!

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

The Unshakables Pt.3

The Unshakables Part 3 – How To Respond

Ecclesiastes 8:14-16 NLT – And this is not all that is meaningless in our world. In this life, good people are often treated as though they were wicked, and wicked people are often treated as though they were good. This is so meaningless!15 So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people in this world than to eat, drink, and enjoy life. That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them under the sun.16 In my search for wisdom and in my observation of people’s burdens here on earth, I discovered that there is ceaseless activity, day and night. 

(NCV) “Sometimes something useless happens on earth. Bad things happen to good people, and good things happen to  Bad people.” 

There are two mistakes that you can make regarding disasters and tragedies. One is to think all the good things that happen to me prove I’m good, and that all the bad things that happen to me prove I’m bad. That’s wrong. In Luke 13, Jesus is talking about two tragedies that happened in His day. He said you know there were a bunch of innocent people up there worshipping at the temple and they came in and were brutally slaughtered. And he said there was a tower that fell on eighteen people and killed them. And He posed the question, “Who sinned, that caused this tragedy?” Was it a result of their sin? And then He answered His own question. He said, absolutely not, absolutely not!

Not everything that happens is God’s will. When I hear people hearing about a disaster or tragedy and they say, “Well, it must have been God’s will”, I have a spiritual term for that. “Baloney!”. It makes me want to puke. Because it’s just not true! Don’t blame God. God’s grieving too. God’s will is not always done.

Does that make sense? God’s will is not always done in this world folks. God will never force His will on your will.  That’s why we’re to pray in the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. Why? Because God’s will isn’t always done on earth.  How’s it done in heaven? It’s done perfectly. And so we’re to pray, “God, just like your will is done perfectly in heaven, we want that to be done on earth”. If it was being done, we wouldn’t have to pray for it. 

John 16:33 AMP I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.]

It would be impossible, in just one message, to go into all the reasons for suffering and for why God allows tragedy. Instead I want to focus on five ways that we should respond to life’s shakings.

1.I Need to Release My Grief

When you go through a tragedy, disaster, or shaking, the first thing you need to do is release your grief. Why? Because these things always creates strong emotions.

When people have emotions, they don’t know how to handle so they deny them, they ignore them, and they push them down. In fact many people use God as an excuse for this, believing that God wants everybody to have a happy face all the time. But real life isn’t always happy.  God doesn’t expect you to be smiling all the time.

Matthew 5:4 NIV -“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

In other words, it’s OK to grieve. Face your feelings. Don’t repress them by pushing them down You release your emotions to God. If you don’t talk it out, you’ll take it out on yourself or somebody else.

Dr. Gary R. Collins: “Grief is a normal response to the loss of any significant person, object, or opportunity.”

The Grief Recovery® Institute: “Grief is the NORMAL and NATURAL reaction to loss. Grief is EMOTIONAL, not intellectual.”

God wants to comfort you.

Psalm: 62:8 NIV – “Pour out your heart to God, for he is our refuge.”

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

2. I need to Receive from Others

It is a big mistake to isolate yourselves from others when you’re going through a crisis.  Now usually that’s what we want to do, we want to get all by ourselves; But you need other people. You need their perspective, you need their support, you need their encouragement, you need their prayer, and you just need their presence.  

Galatians 6:2 NIV – Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

“By helping each other with your troubles, you obey the law of Christ.” (NCV)

To make it through a crisis, we need not only the promises of God; we need the people of God.

Hebrews 12:15 NLT Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many

3. I Need to Refuse to be Bitter

One of the things I’ve learned from being in the ministry for many years is that there’s absolutely no correlation in life between your experiences and your happiness. I’ve seen people who had absolutely the worst experiences in life—things that would shock everyone of us, and yet they maintain this happy, cheerful, positive attitude, because happiness is a choice. You’re about as happy as you choose to be.

Job 21:25 NIV – Another dies in bitterness of soul, never having enjoyed anything good. 

• GNV- “Some people have no happiness at all: they live and die with bitter hearts.

Now you’re going to have to decide when you go through those shakings, “Am I going to allow this to make me a bitter person, or better person?” And he says here, you can have a choice, “you can either choose happiness in life or you can choose bitterness.” It’s your choice, but you can’t have both.  And if you choose bitterness in your life, realize you’re not hurting anybody else with it, you’re hurting yourself.

In the ministry I’ve seen people who had every right in the world to whine and who chose not to do so. Happiness is a choice. You refuse to be bitter, because bitterness always hurts you. It never changes anything. Blaming others (or God) never changes anything.  It only makes you feel worse.

How do you keep from being bitter when the inevitable shakings of life are going to come?

The antidote:

•Accept what cannot be changed.

Job 11:13,16 NIV – “Yet if you devote your heart to him and stretch out your hands to him, 16 You will surely forget your trouble, recalling it only as waters gone by.

Faith is facing the facts and not getting discouraged.  Can you write that down?  That’s what real faith is.  It’s not pretending everything’s great.  Everything’s not great.  There are bad things in the world. And bad things do happen to good people, but faith is facing the facts without getting discouraged.  You see there’s very little in life that you can control.  In fact, I’ve discovered that the most important things in life you can’t control.

Focus on what’s left, not what’s lost..

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

What’s God’s will for me in a crisis?  It’s that I be thankful, no matter what.  For the problem?  Of course not; God doesn’t expect you to be thankful for a tragedy.  But you should be thankful for what’s left, not what’s lost.  And you choose to focus on God’s goodness, because gratitude and depression cannot exist in the same body.

You want to get over depression, start making a list of all the good things in your life.  You cannot be grateful and depressed at the same time.  And the fact is, there are people in this world who would love to have your problems.  They’re worried about, am I going to get a meal in the next month, not how am I going to make it.  Like that old expression  I complained I had no shoes until I met a man who had no legs.  You focus on what’s left, not what’s lost.

4. I Remember What is Important

Tough times have a way of clarifying values.  They have a way of pointing out what matters and what really doesn’t matter.  They define your values

Luke 12:15 NIV – Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” 

“Jesus said… Life is not measured by how much one owns.” 

What is he saying here?  Don’t confuse your net worth with your self worth.  Don’t confuse your possessions with your purpose in life.  Don’t confuse what you’re living on with what you’re living for.  A man’s life does not consist of what he possesses.

I Timothy 6:7 NIV – For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.

You’re never going to see a hearse with a U-Haul behind it.  Here is the point, if you want real security, you must build your life on something that can never be taken from you.  

Can you lose a home? Yes.  Can you lose a career?  Yes.  Can you lose a marriage? Yes. Can you lose your health?  Yes.  Can you lose your youthful beauty? Yes.  Can you lose your relationship with God? No. God says, “ I will never leave you or forsake you.”

5. I Rely on Christ

Christians get to approach tragedy differently than the rest of the world. We get to rely completely on Christ. We get to have hope. But how? By intentionally leaning on Christ for stability, listening to Christ for direction, and looking to Christ for salvation. He is our Rock, our Shelter, our Great Shepherd, our Hiding Place.

Philippians 4:12-13 NLT  I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ,[a] who gives me strength.

Suffering and tragedy are inevitable in a sinful world, but Jesus Christ makes all the difference. Decide that you will rely on Him even in the darkest of hours of your life.

Psalm 46:1-2 NLT – God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. 2 So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea.

2 Corinthians 1:9-10 NLT – In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. 10 And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us.

Psalm 125:1 NLT – Those who trust in the Lord are as secure as Mount Zion; they will not be defeated but will endure forever.

The Unshakables Pt.1

The Unshakables Pt.1

What happens when my world is shaken up – Do I run to God or run from God? That really is determined by your foundation in Christ – You can build a life that is anchored, immovable, and indestructible.

All of us will experience a giant shake-up at some point. We will be striving towards accomplishing plan A when plan Q gets thrown into our path. Life changes all around us and some of these changes shatter our world. This can be a death, a sudden illness, an accident, a job loss, bankruptcy, a natural disaster, or any number of things that we never dreamed of preparing for.

•Earthquake this past week in Mexico City 7.5

•3rd game of the 1989 World Series in San Francisco 2.9

•in 1995, Kobe Japan, 33,000 people injured, 5,470 killed, 300,000 homeless, destroyed 144,000 buildings. What was the cause? The ground shook for only 20 seconds.

•Scientist and engineers are working on techniques for building earthquake resistant buildings. Their Goal – structures must have strength, flexibility, and proper foundation to withstand the shaking.

(Luke 6:46-49 MSG) “Why are you so polite with me, always saying ‘Yes, sir,’ and ‘That’s right, sir,’ but never doing a thing I tell you? These words I speak to you are not mere additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundation words, words to build a life on. “If you work the words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who dug deep and laid the foundation of his house on bedrock. When the river burst its banks and crashed against the house, nothing could shake it; it was built to last. But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a dumb carpenter who built a house but skipped the foundation. When the swollen river came crashing in, it collapsed like a house of cards. It was a total loss.”

The determining factor of a right foundation – Determines the stability of the building during shifting; Determines the strength of the building when under storms; Determines the structure of the building (How high determines how deep)

It is to your advantage to become settled and fixed on the Word of God so that the shaking comes it will not shake you.

When we understand who we are & what we are living for nothing can shake us

Asaph a song writer he wrote 12 psalms…David, Moses, Solomon wrote other psalms

Asaph is complaining on God’s behalf – leaders & judges are corrupt

(Psalm 82:1-5 NLT) God presides over heaven’s court; he pronounces judgment on the heavenly beings: 2 “How long will you hand down unjust decisions by favoring the wicked? Interlude 3 “Give justice to the poor and the orphan; uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute.4 Rescue the poor and helpless; deliver them from the grasp of evil people.5 But these oppressors know nothing; they are so ignorant! They wander about in darkness, while the whole world is shaken to the core. 

All of the foundations are shaken to the core sounds like what we see today

Moral & ethical values, economy, beliefs – A lot of shakiness going on

No matter what is taking place we don’t have to be shaken but unshakeable

When Your World Is Shaken Up

CS Lewis said, “Life with God is not immunity from difficulties, but peace in difficulties.”

  1. Don’t be surprised by adversity.

There tend to be four major sources of adversity: sin, our world, Satan, and God. Don’t let adversity surprise you. Develop habits such as prayer, scripture reading, surrounding yourself with Christian supporters and mentors, and trust God in all things. Adversity WILL happen, so prepare for it.

(1ST Peter 4:12 NLT) “Dear friends, don’t be shocked or surprised when you suffer through painful tests and trials as if something strange is happening to you.” 

Shake-ups are apart of life – This isn’t Heaven we live in a broken world because of sin – We cannot expect things to be perfect here on earth – Heaven comes later

(John 16:31-33 MSG) “Jesus answered them, “Do you finally believe? In fact, you’re about to make a run for it—saving your own skins and abandoning me. But I’m not abandoned. The Father is with me. I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.”

Jesus warned that adversity will be apart of life

Typical human response when going through crisis is who to blame

That is the last thing to be focused on – To blame is lame

So many love to blame each other – politicians do this

Instead of whose fault ask what should I do? How do I learn?

  1. Look for ways God might use it for good in my life.

God’s miraculous saving of Daniel in the Lion’s Den, and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace, has given inspiration for thousands of years. When life is shaken up keep your eyes open, because God may act in a major way.

God wants to use everything for good to help us grow – Even the bad

(Jeremiah 29:11 NLT) “The plans I have for you are plans for good and not to harm you. They are plans to give you hope and a future.”   

Satan’s plans are always for destruction in your life

God’s plans are always to give you a hope and a future

  • God shakes things up to inspect me.

Sometimes God will use a problem in my life to reveal wrong motive, character flaw…

People are like tea bags you don’t know what is in them until you drop them in hot water

In other words God will use problems to show you what is out of whack or not in order.  A fear, wrong motivation, character flaw, a lie you may be believing

When your whole world is shaking God wants us to see what is happening in us. Garden: After Adam & Eve sinned, God went looking for them, Adam where are you?

Anytime God asks you a question he already knows the answer

God knew exactly where Adam was but he wanted Adam to know where he was – He said, “I afraid & so I hid” – We’ve been afraid & guilty & hiding ever since

When God asks a question it’s not for his benefit but for us to know

He’ll shake things up to inspect us

Jeremiah 17:10 NLT But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives.I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.”

“Why” is always more important then “what”

“What” you do is not as nearly as important as “Why” you are doing it

God is way more interested in your character/integrity then your image

Character is often revealed under pressure, when you don’t agree & in the dark

Deuteronomy 8:2 NIV “Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.”

•This was a few weeks journey that turned into 40 years People were not ready for the promise – God gave them 7 tests When they failed God said ok another lap around the desert. If God takes you through a desert or wilderness season it’s for the same purpose

•A desert time or wilderness time is when you don’t feel God

•It’s a time I believe where God is saying do you trust your emotions or me?

•You’re not living by faith until you don’t have feelings…God is testing you. What matters in your maturity spiritually is not how loud you sing in a worship service

•The test is how straight you walk when you don’t feel God the rest of the week

What God is saying, the problems that come in our lives is a measuring tool

Your reaction is key: Is God still first in your life when things don’t go your way?

Ask: What does this problem reveal about me?

  • God shakes things up to correct me.

Hebrews 12:8-11 NLT If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all. Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever?[a] 10 For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. 11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.

Story: Correction when I was a kid – I learned – I don’t like it for my kids

Hebrews 12:26-27 NLT  26 When God spoke from Mount Sinai his voice shook the earth, but now he makes another promise: “Once again I will shake not only the earth but the heavens also.”[a] 27 This means that all of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain.

Job 5:17 NIV “Blessed is the one whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.

•(It’s an honor when correct because he loves those he corrects)

We only change when the fear of change is exceeded by pain. When the pain gets bad enough then we change

Ask: What should I be learning?

  • God shakes things up to direct me.

Proverbs 16:9 NLT  We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.

God is re-directing you – Inspects you, Corrects you, directs you

We don’t change when we see the light we change when we feel the heat

Proverbs 20:30 NLT – Physical punishment cleanses away evil;[a] Such discipline purifies the heart.

•“Sometimes it takes a painful experience to make us change our  ways.” 

Aristotle – “You cannot learn without pain”

Psalm 119:59 MSG – “When I took a long, careful look at your ways, I got my feet back on the trail you blazed.I was up at once, didn’t drag my feet, was quick to follow your orders.

What problem am I facing that I need to be honest about & get before God

Ask: Where is this problem leading me?

  • God shakes things up to protect me.

God may use your current pain to protect your from something bigger

Story: Business guy I know who was tested with something unethical

What we see as detours are often God’s destinations – Stand for God he stands for you

(Job 36:16 NLT) “God has led you away from danger, giving you freedom.”

Problems are preparation for success – All comes down to will you trust God

Genesis 50:20 NIV  “ You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

Just like a surgeon will cut you to heal you – God will break you to save you

Sometimes our disappointments are God’s appointments for us

Ask: How can this problem protect me? 

  • God shakes things up to perfect me.

Too make you more like Jesus

Growth grows often in your darkest times – Pain is the high cost of growing up  – We want the product without the process – Not happening that way

The very thing that may be discouraging you God may be using to develop you So that you can be unshakeable

1 Peter 5:10 NLT  “In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.”

Romans 5:3-4 NLT  We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.”

Ask: How can I grow from this problem?

  1. Trust God for what I don’t understand.

While there are many things we won’t understand there is one thing we should always understand perfectly: God overcomes death for us!

Proverbs 20:24 LB – Since the Lord is directing our steps, why try to understand everything that happens along the way?” 

(Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT)  “Trust the Lord with all your heart. Don’t depend on your own understanding. Honor the Lord in everything you do and he will give you success.” 

I want the course of my life to be guided by His hand – Trust him

You can get hammered by a situation mentally, emotionally, spiritually, domestically, relationally, financially, until you feel like you cannot stand. You can be under attack and discouraged. You have have lost your way and the spirit of faith has been beat our of you because of the storm…..You can make it! You can stand and not be moved!

Psalm 55:22 ESV – Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.

 

Summer Concert Series Pt.4 – Take it Easy

Summer Concert Series Pt.4 – Take it Easy

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

“Busy” is the hallmark of our times. I’ve lost count of how many times I ask people, “How are you doing?” and the answer comes back – ‘Oh, I’m just soooooo Busy”. ‘I haven’t got a moment to myself’. It’s almost like our busyness has become a ‘badge of honour’ – a medal for us to wear.

We live in a very tense, uptight and fast paced world filled with hurry.  We are frazzled, overwhelmed, & bewildered. Truth is we are addicted to noise

Take it Easy Chorus 

Take It easy, take it easy 

Don’t let the sound of your own wheels 

drive you crazy – Lighten up while you still can 

don’t even try to understand 

Just find a place to make your stand and take it easy 

Movie – Michael Douglas stars in Falling Down

It was a story  about a day in the life of a man who had experienced all he could take of the pressures, disappointments, & and inconveniences of life. He experiences mounting anxiety as he endures a traffic jam (caused by construction), suffers the oppression of inflated prices at a local store (owned by a foreigner), and is put through indignities of poor service (with a smile) at a fast food restaurant.

These everyday frustrations, combined with a sense of being disconnected from his family (the result of a recent divorce), & the loss of his job, all culminate on this fateful day to push him over the edge!

As a result of all these pressures, his normal, healthy logic & rationale are suspended, & he resorts to violence, murder, & blowing things up!

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

Where are you going to live? Tribulation? Or Christ

How many of us feel like that? Let’s take a group quiz to see how many of us are being dragged through life. Fill in the blanks:

I’m ready to throw in the… I’m at the end of my…

I’m just a bundle of… My life is falling…

I’m at my wit’s… I feel like resigning from the human…

Apparently we’re all experiencing the rat race. Just when you thought you were getting ahead, along come faster rats. But remember, he who wins the rat race is still a rat.

Philippians 4:7 NIV – And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

We are living in Overload

IF there is one term that describes the state of affairs in the lives of people today, it is OVERLOAD. We are Overwhelmed, Overworked, Overcommitted, Overanxious, Overmatched, and Overextended. Our tanks are on empty and we’re running on fumes.

Our world has become the world of the Red Queen of Alice in Wonderland: “Now here, you see, it takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that.”

We need to learn how to Take it easy, chill, relax, and rest! “A life lived reflectively is a life lived effectively.” 

Weariness is a trap. 

(Luke 21:34 NIV) “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.” 

Rest is a choice. 

(Hebrews 4:9-11 NLT) So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. 10 For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. 11 So let us do our best to enter that rest. 

Rest is not a physical position but a spiritual condition and It is Commanded by God

Leviticus 23:3 “There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to the Lord.”

(Exodus 33:13-16 NIV) “The LORD replied, ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” 

God’s message is plain: “If creation didn’t crash when I rested, it won’t crash when you do.”

(Matthew 11:28- NIV) “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” 

How To Take it Easy

Hebrews 4:11 (GWT) So we must make every effort to enter that place of rest. Then no one will be lost by following the example of those who refused to obey.

Mark 6:30-31 NIV The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” 

1. Relax and Be still. 

Psalm 46:10 NIV “Be still, and know that I am God.” 

Still – to abate, to cease, to let go, or to stop. The state or an instance of being quiet or calm. The Hebrew word translated “Be still” literally means ‘shut up’. It means coming before God, away from the noise, away from the commotion, away from the busyness. Not with a shopping list, not with a list of demands, but actually with no words at all – just with a heart that is open to listen.

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

Proverbs 4:23 NIV – Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Norman Vincent Peale said, “Learn to relax. Your body is precious, as it houses your mind and spirit. Inner peace begins with a relaxed body.”

Isaiah 26:3 NIV – You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.

Sometimes life shakes us up a little. We become disoriented, overwhelmed, consumed by the day to day happenings of our lives.  The British Navy has a practice known as an “ALL STILL”. When something goes wrong on a ship, particularly a submarine, the captain announces “All Still”. For 3 minutes no one is allowed to move or speak.

All Still – is an God opportunity to catch your breath and out things into perspective

Abba Poeman, one of the ancient desert fathers, taught his disciples, “If you are silent, you will have peace wherever you live.”

2 Chronicles 20:17 NKJV – “You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you…”

IF you don’t break the tensions of daily living, they will break you! If you don’t like where you are going in life – STOP. Let go of the challenges, worries, and anxieties that encumber us.

Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is Take it easy. 

2. Take the Time to Pray. 

Philippians 4:6-7 NLT – Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

When You Pray You are Trusting God to Take Care of Things Beyond your Control 

Jeremiah 6:16 NIV This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. 

Luke 18:1 NIV  Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.

•Henri Nouwen writes about prayer in his book The Way of the Heart. And he says that the early church fathers wrote that we should “pray always.” And he says that the literal translation of these words is “come to rest.” 

What a wonderful picture – that as we come to pray, we’re actually coming to rest. And he goes on to say, “that the rest we find in prayer has nothing to do with the absence of conflict or pain. It is a rest in God in the midst of a very intense daily struggle.

•The problems are still there, the challenges are still there, the busyness is still there, there’s meeting to attend, there’s people to see, there’s work to do – but in the eye of your storm – amongst all the activity and chaos – there is perfect peace and tranquility and rest.

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

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

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

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

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

Prayer is the most difficult thing in the world to do. In prayer we find ourselves standing on the edge of a deep, dark, abyss – the world of the divine, infinite, and eternal.  We come face to face with ourselves and face to face with God.

Take it easy….. Slow down, breathe deeply, reflect deeply, pray deeply, live deeply!

Relax and refuse to let worry and stress rule your life. There is always a solution to every problem. Things will work out for you when you take time to relax, refresh, restore and recharge your soul.

How you can practice Relaxing

1. Schedule a time. For me, I schedule stillness first thing in the morning. It has become so precious to me, that I won’t want to start the day without it. I practice this first—before prayer, before Bible reading, before journaling, and before exercise.

2. Find a place. When I was on vacation, I sat outside by the pool. This was ideal. But it is not my real world. Now I simply go into my study or my back patio. The main thing is to find a place where you won’t be interrupted.

3. Set a timer.  set aside fifteen minutes a day. In my limited experience this seems about right. It is amazing how my perception of this time changes from day to day. Sometimes it seems like forever. Other times, it goes by very quickly. I use the timer on my iPhone.

4. Relax your body. I simply sit in a soft chair with my eyes closed. I then systematically relax my body and get quiet. If you can’t sit still, then engage in any mindless physical activity, like rocking in a chair or watching some natural motion like fire or running water.

5. Quiet your mind. This is the biggest challenge for me. Just when I get still, I have some random thought or a whole flurry of thoughts. But I am getting better. a discipline that keeps your allotted time from being hijacked by an overly-active mind.

6. Be present. Don’t be regretting or celebrating the past. Don’t be worrying or dreaming about the future. Instead, collect your thoughts and be present—in this moment. It is the most important time you have. In fact, it is the only time you have.

7. Learn to return. This has been the most helpful component. In involves recalling a “place of peace,” where you had a particularly vivid experience of peace and stillness.

Summer Concert Series Pt.3 – I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Lookin’ For

I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For 

Bono sings about searching for meaning in life, and not finding it in nature, city life, relationships or religious experiences. “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.”

Nature: I have climbed highest mountain, I have run through the fields

City Life: I have run, I have crawled, I have scaled these city walls

Relationships: I have kissed honey lips, Felt the healing in her fingertips

Religious Experience: I have spoke with the tongue of angels, I have held the hand of a devil

I believe in the kingdom come, Then all the colors will bleed into one

You broke the bonds and you, Loosed the chains; Carried the cross, Of my shame, Of my shame, You know I believed it But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for

THE BIG IDEA: What are you Looking for? Are you thirsty? Do you feel cracked and dry, broken, lost and empty? Come to Jesus and let Him satisfy your soul hunger and thirst!

Text: John 4:4-35 NIV Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.[a]) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”17 “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” 21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” 25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.” 27 Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him. 31 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” 33 Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?” 34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 35 Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.

Background of the Story – 

  • Why did Jesus have to go through Samaria?
  • He knew that there was a woman there who still hadn’t found what she was looking for.
  • This woman had tried to find satisfaction in relationships with men – she has been married five times, and was living with a sixth guy – but she was still empty inside.• Was Jesus talking about well water? No! He was talking about something much deeper!
  • He said: There is water you can drink that will never quench your thirst.

• In other words, there are things in life you can go to for fulfillment, but they will never satisfy: drugs, alcohol, relationships, sexuality, money, power, fame.

  • But the water Jesus offers will quench your thirst: it is a fountain of living water!

ILLUSTRATION:

A small boy is sent to bed by his father. Five minutes later he calls out, “Da-ad!”

“What?”

“I’m thirsty. Can you bring drink of water?”

“No. You had your chance. It’s lights out.”

Five minutes later the boy calls out again: “Da-aaaad!”

“WHAT?”

“I’m THIRSTY. Can I have a drink of water?”

“I told you NO! If you ask again, I’ll have to spank you!”

Five minutes later he calls out again, “Daaaa-aaaad!”

“WHAT!”

“When you come in to spank me, can you bring a drink of water?”

1.There is More To God and More To Life than what you’ve already Experienced

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,

QUOTE: “The weakness of our hunger for God is not because He (doesn’t taste good), but because we keep ourselves stuffed with other things… If you don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great.” (John Piper, Hunger for God). 

Spain – during the days of Christopher Columbus was very proud of the fact that they were the last point of solid land for sailors going westward. When travelers arrived  was a large sign that said their motto in latin, “Ne Plus Ultra”  which means “ No more beyond”. It was on their flag and coins as well.

There outlook on life was “No more beyond”. It was the world as they knew it. Result – They settled. People settled there because they were told there is nothing beyond Spain.

After Columbus discovered the New World – the national motto for Spain changed to “Plus Ultra”  which means “MORE BEYOND” they dropped “Ne”

Sadly, Many people people have settled for their own version of Spain. Have you stopped dreaming, hoping, believing, and praying. Some people accept something far less than God’s bigger, greater plans for their lives.

•There is more to God than what we’ve already experienced

3 Reasons People Settle and Stop Searching

  1. People settle when they get sentimentally attached to a past season of their life. 

People may have to stay where they have been, but nothing is supposed to stay like it has been  – When people don’t emerge and embrace change, they settle for a lifetime in what was meant to be a season.

Don’t let temporary conditions of your life dictate a permanent perspective.

      2. People settle in a place of relational wounds

Genesis 11, Abraham’s father, Terah, was on his way with his family to Canaan, which is where God planned for him to go and live. Terah had another son named Haran who had died a premature death. Rather than passing through, Terah settled in a city with the same name as the son he had lost.  That wasn’t God’s plan. Grief caused him to stay.

Don’t let yourself linger in the place of relational wounds and miss out on the future God has for you.

3. People settle because where they are is “good enough” and they want to stay comfortable

Good enough is the enemy of “better than ever” – Good enough is not your destiny

Ignore the signs that say No More Beyond!

Refuse to just Drift!

Hebrews 2:1 NIV – We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.

Phil. 1:6 NIV – being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

2. Whatever you need more of – God is the source of an endless and generous supply

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

God has an endless supply of whatever you need! He never runs out!

Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV – 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.

The Message version – God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left.

“God cannot give us happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.” CS Lewis

GOD never gives up on us! Quit being down on yourself and look up to God!

3. Before we will hunger and thirst after God, we must come to a place where we realize that the other things in our lives haven’t really satisfied!

Jeremiah. 2:13 NIV “For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And hewn themselves cisterns–broken cisterns that can hold no water.”

The real reason that people are unhappy, unsatisfied, and unfulfilled is because Jesus Christ is not the center of their lives. They are looking for fulfillment in all the wrong places. They run from this to that… looking for something that is going to satisfy them. From relationship to relationship, from job to job, from hobby to sports to recreation … fads, therapy, books, seminar — looking for the key. But God has laid it out very clearly. You were made with a God shaped vacuum in your life and nothing will fill that void except God.

John 7:37-39 NIV – “On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”

Are you thirsty? Do you feel cracked and dry, broken, lost and empty? Come to Jesus and let Him satisfy your soul hunger and thirst!

Matthew 5:6 AMP – “Blessed [joyful, nourished by God’s goodness] are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness [those who actively seek right standing with God], for they will be [completely] satisfied. (full, content)

Miracles Pt.4 – How To Receive a Financial Miracle

Miracles Pt. 4 – How to Receive a Financial Miracle

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

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

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

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

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

The second reference began by saying:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Expectation Believes What God says will come to pass

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, Don’t Worry

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

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

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

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

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

2. Activate Your Faith to Receive a Financial Miracles 

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

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

You Must Believe who God is

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

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

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

Believing is called Faith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FAITH MOVES GOD TO ACT ON MY BEHALF

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

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

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

3. Ask God Specifically for your Financial Miracle 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Practice Generosity through Tithes and Offerings 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Beauty of the Cross

Beautiful Things Pt. 4 – The Beauty 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.

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.

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

Salvation Call 

Jesus, forgive me for all of my sins, I give my life to you, make me brand new. I believe you died for me so that I can live. Fill me with your spirit that I would know you, & serve you with my life. My life is not my own, I give it to you. Thank you for loving me, in Jesus name, Amen!

Unshakeable Peace

Unshakeable Peace – Guest Speaker, Pastor Kyle Mills – Elevate City Church, Fort Wayne, IN.

(Luke 6:46-49 MSG) “Why are you so polite with me, always saying ‘Yes, sir,’ and ‘That’s right, sir,’ but never doing a thing I tell you? These words I speak to you are not mere additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundation words, words to build a life on. “If you work the words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who dug deep and laid the foundation of his house on bedrock. When the river burst its banks and crashed against the house, nothing could shake it; it was built to last. But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a dumb carpenter who built a house but skipped the foundation. When the swollen river came crashing in, it collapsed like a house of cards. It was a total loss.”

When we understand who we are & whose we are we will not be shaken

Story: Show picture of only house surviving Hurricane Ike in Texas

(John 16:33 MSG) “In this world you will experience difficulties! But take heart! I have conquered the world! I’ve told you this so that in trusting me, you will be unshakable and deeply at peace.” 

(Isaiah 53:5 NIV) “But 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.”

We don’t follow a frail Jesus he was a stud – strong

Jesus went through 4 types of torture before giving up his life

The Thorns

Then to the Praetorium – Military headquarters for Roman guards

The guards mocked & messed with Jesus for hours

Jesus already – skin off from his ribs, back and spine

Cut off a huge piece of a branch – fashioned it together

Big branch more like a helmet covered his head – crown of thorns

Thorns about 1 inch that were forced into his head

Beat the thorns into his head- gave him a stick like a scepter

Knelt before him in mockery – Spit on Him, pulled out His beard (Is 50:6)

Beat His head with a stick – migraine of all migraine headaches

Through the thorns he brought us peace 

  • He was punished; We have peace. 

Why?  He took the punishment that brought us peace

That punishment gave power to restore our mind

Many people misunderstand this peace

Jesus did not come to earth to bring peace

(Luke 12:51 NIV) “Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.”

He came so that we could have peace in the middle of a troubled world

(Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT)  “Trust the Lord with all your heart. Don’t depend on your own understanding. Honor the Lord in everything you do and he will give you success.” 

Trouble

What does trouble look like how does it come into our lives?

  • Confusion.

There are times & seasons when you do not understand life

(Psalm 10:1, 17 NIV) “Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? …You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry.”

It feels like God hears you and ignores you – unnecessary pain in your life

Even Jesus felt that way…

(Matthew 27:46 NIV) “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Why am I going through all this pain?

There was a moment that Jesus felt far from his Father

(Hebrews 4:15 NLT) This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.

Jesus went through this pain to put your heart at peace

Not to give you all the answers

Even on the other side of trouble we don’t get all the answers

  • Depression.

On the rise in this nation like never before

All over TV – If you take this drug it might help you take it 75x

It might help you – Then the next hour tells you that you might poop on yourself, right eye goes blind, can’t eat pancakes

Things don’t go our way – we don’t understand

Minds run wild – Hearts sink – My life is a wreck

Maybe God won’t come through – This pain is for nothing

If you are feeling this way then you are in good company

Most of the bible is written & lived by a bunch of messed up people  Who figured it out in the end

(Psalm 42:3-5 NLT) “Day and night I have only tears for food, while my enemies continually taunt me, saying, ‘Where is this God of yours?’ My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be: I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration! Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God.”

“I remember how it used to be”

Our minds are tormented by wishing it was different

Worship is always a part of the solution

Remind yourself of what God has done & who He is

  • Worry and fear.

Begin to spend emotional energy on things out of our control

Bethany – Fear with spiders story from home in Ohio – I tease her with it

90% of our energy is directed at things we have no control over

10% of our energy is focused on things that we can control

Jesus said it adds no value to your life

(Matthew 6:27 NIV) “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”

No benefit of worrying

What we are doing when we worry is saying God is not enough

I have to carry this burden for him

We have to trust that God has everything worked out

He gave us a gift in this part of his torture – peace

(John 14:27 NLT) “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” Billy Witt

At Peace

How do you find this peace?

1. Accept God’s grace.   

Have to understand what Jesus has done for you

Most NT letters open or close by wishing Grace & Peace

(1 Corinthians 1:3 NLT) “May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.”

You don’t have peace unless you have grace – interconnected

Grace keeps us where we feel like we have to work it out on our own

It’s hard to wrap our human minds around grace

Greek word for Grace is the word “charis”

Means a gift or blessings, favor brought to man by Jesus

Literally means, “God is treating you as his child as though you have never made any mistakes in your life”

God’s message to us is you cannot earn it

Nothing you can to do lose God’s love – or earn his love – Grace is a gift

Paul was wrestling with a situation like ours

Trying to make sense of things – Trying to do it on his own

(2 Corinthians 12:8-10 NLT) “Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Instead of getting stressed out – Flip the whole deal – Grace

How is it going to happen, I don’t know but God’s grace is sufficient

2. Surrender to the Holy Spirit.   

The enemy attacks you in your mind

Thoughts that tell you how worthless you are, things won’t work out, steal peace

(Romans 8:6 NLT) “So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. (sin brings death/separation) But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.” 

Ask the Holy Spirit to help guide your thoughts

You need the Holy Spirit’s activity in your life

He’ll bring counsel, direction, peace

Read God’s Word ask the Holy spirit to guide your thoughts

3. Pray about everything that bothers you.

God is not freaked out by your problems – Talk to Him

God is not saying hey Jesus did you see this going on, “Oh myself” what is going on.

(Philippians 4:6-7 NLT) “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

The time I find myself at great stress is when I drift from God

Remind yourself you are not in control nor is the devil in control – God is

Peace comes to guard your hearts and minds

Salvation Call – Jesus, forgive me for all of my sins, I give my life to you, make me brand new. I believe you died for me so that I can live. Fill me with your spirit that I would know you, & serve you with my life. My life is not my own, I give it to you. Thank you for loving me, in Jesus name, Amen!