How To Respond to Tragedy

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How To Respond to Tragedy

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 disaster. 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 tragedy.

Tragedy – an event causing great suffering, destruction, and distress, such as a serious accident, crime, or natural catastrophe.

1. I Need to Release My Grief

When you go through a tragedy, the first thing you need to do is release your grief. Why? Because tragedy 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 in a tragedy.

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 tragedies, those disasters, “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 tragedies 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

Disasters 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.

Believers Guide to the Election

Believer-TitleBy Daniel Lewis

Presidential Election

  • Here we are 93 days before the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election
  • To elect the 45th President of the United States of America
  • It’s everywhere you turn!

We live in an amazing time and have the privilege of voting for the next leader of this great country. So how then should we, as believer approach this election?

Let’s see what the bible says about Government, Leaders and Authorities…

We’re going to look at 5 Major questions…

  1. Who really chooses the President?
  2. Does your vote matter?
  3. Can it be Gods will for an unbeliever to lead?
  4. Can it be Gods will for a woman to lead?
  5. How do we know we are voting for Gods person?

But first, let’s look at some of the Governments and Authorities that existed in the bible.

Governments in the Bible

Theocracy: God as King

  • Patriarchs: Adam, Abraham
  • Prime Ministers: Joseph
  • Tribes/Clans: 12 tribes of Israel
  • Prophets: Moses
  • Judges: Gideon, Samson, Samuel and Others…

Monarchy: Man as King

United Kingdom

 

Divided Kingdom

 

  • Kings:
    • Saul
    • David
    • Solomon

 

  • Israel (19 Kings)
    • All Bad Kings
    • Destroyed by the Assyrians
  • Judah (20 Kings)
    • 8 Good Kings
    • 12 Bad Kings
    • Exiled into Babylon
    • Return to their land
    • Became occupied by the Romans

 

Monarchy didn’t work out so well for the people of God. But, as usual God had a plan of redemption for his people.

Isaiah 9:6-7

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

A New Government

The Invisible Kingdom

God chose to send his son into the earth in a time when Gods people were under occupation from the Romans.

Mark 1:15  (NIV)

15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

 

Luke 17:20 (NIV)

20 Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation;21 nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.

Many people were expecting God to bring them a King who would save them from the Romans.

God had something way bigger in mind.

  • To save them their sins
  • To restore relationship with their Creator (the Father)
  • To give them eternal life

Col 1:13-14

13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

There is also a Kingdom of Darkness which we will discuss later.


Philippians 2:8-11

8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

 

Who then are we subject to?

We are subject first and foremost to God but notice that God did not abolish earthly authorities.

We are still subject to the earthly authorities

Colossians 1:15-18

15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.

Romans 13:1-2

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

Who then do we obey?

Both. If any earthly authority tries to cause you to sin, then you should obey God.

See: Daniel 3 – Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego refused to bow.


The United States of America

We’ve talked about Theocracy and Monarchy. But what form of government do we live in?

Democracy

Definition: a form of government in which people choose leaders by voting (Merriam-Webster)

Democracy is a form of Government by which leaders are elected (generally by popular majority). Democracy is not perfect. The fact that the majority believes something does not necessarily mean it is good or right.

Sometimes the majority is not necessarily right…

A lone man refusing to do the Nazi salute, 1936

Winston Churchill once commented…

“Many forms of Government have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

 

The First Amendment

In the United States we have some amazing freedoms, many of which are found in the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

These are amazing freedoms which protect us!

  • The freedom of speech – without this we could not share the good news without fear
  • The freedom of religion – many nations prohibit or limit particular faiths
  • The freedom of the press – we are free to print the good news
  • The right for peaceful assembly – we are free to be here today without interference
  • To petition the Government – free to obtain justice over these rights

Somebody, say “God bless America!”

We must remember that the same laws that protect us, also protect others who participate in a different religion or who have a different world view.

What have we established so far?

  • We are now subjects of an eternal Kingdom
  • The King of Kings has left earthly authorities in place
  • There is no authority except which God has established
  • In our democracy, we the people elect our leader
  • ….So, if it is God who establishes the authorities then…


5 Major Questions

1. Who really chooses the President?

God Is Sovereign over all Creation

King Nebuchadnezzar

Daniel 4:28-32

28 All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. 29 Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, 30 he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?”

31 Even as the words were on his lips, a voice came from heaven, “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. 32 You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes.”

God also respects the will of the people

Let’s look at how Gods nation switched from a Theocracy to a Monarchy.

1 Samuel 8:6-7

6 But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.

God warns the people of what this will mean…

  • Taxes
  • Conscription
  • Giving up land

1 Samuel 8:19-22

19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. 20 Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.”

21 When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the Lord. 22 The Lord answered, “Listen to them and give them a king.”

God allowed the people to go their own way. He respects free will.

2. Does your vote matter?

Absolutely! The systems we are in allow us the freedom to vote according to our beliefs.

Coming from a nation (Australia) that has as high as over 90% voter turn-out. In my humble opinion, I believe that believers should exercise the right to vote.

God respects the will of the people so we should make sure we are heard. Every vote counts.

3. Can it be Gods will for an unbeliever to lead?

King Cyrus

150 years before he would free Gods people from Exile.

Isaiah 44:24

Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer…

26b Who says to Jerusalem, ‘You shall be inhabited,’ To the cities of Judah, ‘You shall be built,’ And I will raise up her waste places; 27 Who says to the deep, ‘Be dry! And I will dry up your rivers’; 28 Who says of Cyrus, ‘He is My shepherd, And he shall perform all My pleasure, Saying to Jerusalem, “You shall be built,” And to the temple, “Your foundation shall be laid.”’

Isaiah is prophesying the return of His people from exile and rebuilding of Jerusalem.

Isaiah 45

“Thus says the Lord to His anointed, To Cyrus, whose right hand I have held—To subdue nations before him and loose the armor of kings, To open before him the double doors, So that the gates will not be shut: 2 ‘I will go before you And make the crooked places straight; I will break in pieces the gates of bronze And cut the bars of iron. 3 I will give you the treasures of darkness And hidden riches of secret places, That you may know that I, the Lord, Who call you by your name, Am the God of Israel. For Jacob My servant’s sake, And Israel My elect, I have even called you by your name; I have named you, though you have not known Me.

Therefore, it can be Gods will for an unbeliever to lead on behalf of His people.

4. Can it be Gods will for a Woman to lead?

Deborah

Judges 4:4

Now Deborah, a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth, was leading Israel at that time. 5 She held court under the Palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went up to her to have their disputes decided.

5. How do we know we are voting for Gods person?

Politicians and Journalists rank as some of the least trusted professions in this county.

Are we to take people at their word alone?

Jesus spoke of the parable of two Sons:

Matthew 21:28-30

28 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ 29 “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. 30 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. 31 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?”

Some candidates will promise things they won’t do. Others may do things that they have not promised to do.

Tips for Surviving the Election

1 Thessalonians 5

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good, 22 reject every kind of evil.

Let’s unpack this verse…

1. Rejoice always

Don’t let the news get you down.

Have faith and praise God. He is still on the throne!

2. Pray continually

God is sovereign but he still needs us to Pray!

Remember the Kingdom of Darkness…

Daniel 10:12

12 Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. 13 But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. 14 Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come.”

Be persistent in prayer. Your prayers will shift the heavens! Why else would God have said…

Matthew 6:9-13

9 “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’

 

2 Chronicles 7:14

14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

 

3. Give thanks in all circumstances

No matter who wins this election, give thanks to God and pray for your leaders! (1 Tim 2)

4. Do not quench the Spirit

The Holy Spirit will give you Gods perspective.

1 Cor 2:15-16

15 The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, 16 for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

  1. Take your directions from the Holy Spirit
  2. Not Facebook, Twitter, Fox News or CNN

You may be surprised at what God might reveal to you!

Example

Could it be possible that God wants Muslim refugees to come to this nation to hear the gospel and be saved?

Here are some issues that I believe should matter to all believers:

  • Continued Freedom (Speech, Religion, Press, Assembly)
  • Justice
  • Against racism
  • Protecting the innocent
  • Compassion for the poor and needy
  • Equality
  • National security
  • Peace and Prosperity of the Nation

Jeremiah 29:7

7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

 

5. Do not treat prophesies with contempt, but test them all…

There are still prophets and yes, God does still speak to them!

Amos 3:7

Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.

Test them. Do they align with the word of God?


Other Tips

1. Avoid Arguments

Do we really achieve anything by arguing with people on Facebook?

  • Find common ground!
  • If you feel your brother or sister is in error then pray for them rather than arguing.

2. Be “Unoffendable”

Love your enemy, pray for those who mistreat you

3. Compromise

You may not agree with all of the policies of your candidate or party.

4. Vote!

Be A Life Giver

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Be A Life Giver

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1) LIFE GIVERS ARE BUSY PEOPLE

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

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

•YOUR SPOUSE/MARRIAGE/CHILDREN ARE IMPORTANT TO YOU

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

•FRIENDSHIPS ARE IMPORTANT TO YOU

•HEALTH IS IMPORTANT TO YOU

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

2) KNOW THAT BUSY ISN’T BAD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3) ASSOCIATE WITH ENERGETIC, MOTIVATED PEOPLE

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

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

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

4) CONSISTENTLY DEFRAGMENT YOUR LIFE

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

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

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

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

5) PUSH FOR LIFE

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

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

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

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

Are you Life Giving or Life Grabbing?

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

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

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

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

3 Things To Remember and 3 Things To Do in 2016

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3 Things To Remember and 3 Things To Do in 2016

3 Things To Remember

(Colossians 1:28-29 NLT) “So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ. That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me.”

1. Help People find Jesus. 

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

(1 Corinthians 9:22 LB) “…yes, whatever a person is like, I try to find common ground with him so he will let me tell him about Christ and let Christ save him.”

•The church is the primary place where people come to faith in Christ and begin to live as Christians. Lost people matter to God & therefore ought to matter to the church.

•65 Fresh Starts/salvations and 24 water baptisms in 2015

(Luke 14:23 LB) “Go out into the country…and urge anyone you find to come in, so that My house will be full.”

•Be a Bringer! Who can you bring with you in 2016

2. Help People find relationships.
(James 5:16 NIV) “
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” 

(Romans 12:5 NLT) “…Since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others.”

•GraceTown Life Groups Starting 3 week in January

3. Help People Grow Spiritually. 

(Ephesians 4:11-13 NLT) “Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.” 

(2 Timothy 3:16-17 NLT) “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.”

•God’s Word is the the primary catalyst for transformation and spiritual growth. You will never grow up as fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ on a diet of spiritual twinkies.

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

Knowing God’s Word is the Pathway to Knowing God. You will never be more spiritual than you are scriptural!

•Upcoming spiritual growth class – The Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster starting next Sunday with Teacher Steve Light 8am & 9am in Kidstown Classroom.

3 Things To Do

1. Pray.

(Matthew 9:37-38 NIV) “Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’”

(Ephesians 1:17-18 NIV) I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also 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 the saints.

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

“When we work, we work; but when we pray, God works.”- Max Lucado

•If you and I are too busy to Pray, we give our spiritual life a funeral! Prayer is a necessity, not an option!

•Make a commitment of 10-15 minutes to start your day each morning with prayer and devotion to God. 

•Churchwide Call To Prayer and Fasting for 7 Days starting January 11-18 – we will spend 7 days focused and seeking after God

One prayer can change ANYTHING. one prayer can change EVERYTHING

2. Serve.

(Ephesians 2:10 NIV) “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

The Big Idea: In the world, greatness is determined by how many people SERVE YOU; but, in God’s kingdom, greatness is determined by how many people YOU SERVE.

(Galatians 6:4 MSG) “Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that.”

“This is a story about 4 people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did. Somebody got angry with that because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought that Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody would not do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.”

“Hillsong Church is not built on the gifts and talents of a few, but on the sacrifice of many.” Brian Houston

•Use your gifts, talents, and abilities to serve and be a part of the Dream Team at GraceTown

3. Give.

(Luke 18:29-30 GW) “I guarantee this. Anyone who gives up anything for the kingdom of God will certainly receive many times more in this life and will receive eternal life in the next world to come.”

(Mark 8:35 LB) “If you insist on saving your life, you will lose it. Only those who throw away their lives for My sake and for the sake of the Good News will ever know what it means to really live.”

THE KEY TO A Godward LIFE IS A HEART OF GENEROSITY.

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.

•Challenge you to do 3 things:

  1. Be a Tither – 10% of your income to be returned back to God, 
  2. Give offerings (whatever you decide) 
  3. Give to our future (building fund) 

God calls you and I to a service far beyond anything you could ever imagine. You were put on Earth to make a contribution.

Go togracetownchurch.com/give

Joy To The World

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Joy To the World

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

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

God’s Antidote for a weary Religion

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

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

There are things that steal our joy:

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

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

The Twin Joy Robbers 

• Bad Things That Shouldn’t Happen, But Do

• Good Things That Should Happen, But Don’t

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s one of the healthiest things you can do

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

  1. Joy will Change my approach to Life

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

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

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

2. Joy will turn my problems into blessings.

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

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

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

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

  • Take three tablespoons three times a day. 

a. Take it when you feel like it!

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

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

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

3. Joy will affect those around you.

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

Don’t take yourself too seriously

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

The Secret of Joy

  1. Take responsibility for your own emotions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

You cannot determine what happens to you

But you can determine what happens in you

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

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

Dear Lord,

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

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

2. Develop a high appreciation for life.

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

Life can change in a moment! (Tricia’s coworker husband 51 yrs old)

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

Story of senior being admitted into a nursing home

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

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

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

We cannot choose how many years we will live

But we can choose how much life those years will have

We cannot control the beauty of our face

But we can control the expression on it

We cannot control life’s difficult moments

But we can choose to make life less difficult

We cannot control the negative atmosphere of the world

But we can control the atmosphere of our minds

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

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

How?  People who have a high appreciation of life…

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

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

3. Find something positive in everything

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

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

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

This is spiritual warfare – pull down negative thoughts

Attitude and faith are very similar – way you view something

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

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

4. Say something positive in every conversation.

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

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

Best way is to pray daily…

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

People can frustrate you – must train our eyes

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

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

5. Express gratitude to God and others daily.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE WELLS OF JOY (Genesis 26) 

A. THE PHILISTINES STOPPED UP ALL THE WELLS 

1. They thought this would drive Isaac away.

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

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

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

 B. GOD COMMANDED ISAAC TO REDIG THE WELLS 

1. Some of you need to redig the wells.

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

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

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

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

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

How To Survive the End of the World Part 1

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“How To Survive the End of the World Pt.1”

Everybody wants to know about the end of the world. Some people love to make predictions about when it will happen, some people love to interpret current news and speculate how it will happen, and everyone loves to make money selling their terrifying visions to anyone willing to buy them..

The end is coming. Are we ready for the day when it all comes crashing down and nothing is left but the countdown to the end of the world? In this series we will talk about ways that we can get ready for the end and start living for the beginning of the rest of our lives.

“The Book of Eli,” “The Darkest Hour,” “Contagion,” “The Day After Tomorrow, “San Andreas”. The list of doomsday movies that Hollywood produces is incredible. Yet, they keep coming. There’s something about these end of the world stories that fascinates us, frightens us and keeps us coming back for more. The theme that inspires is survival. Against all odds, when all hope is lost, humanity grabs hold of courage, defies the enemy and turns the tide.How will you survive the end of the world?

(Matthew 24:1-6 NIV) “Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.”

1. Don’t Be Alarmed, Don’t Be Troubled

Jesus wants us to be calm, quiet spirited, not worried, and not to be deceived.

(2 Peter 3:3-10 NIV) First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ʻcomingʼ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.”

Writing this letter near the end of his life, Peter wanted to remind Christians that the final day is real. He calls it “the day of the Lord” and reminds his Christian readers that it is unquestionably coming.

To scoff means to speak in a scornful or mocking way. What do scoffers think about the end? In verse 4, Peter says that the false teachers mock the promise of Christ’s return and a final judgment. “Where is it?” they ask. “Ever since the days of the ancient patriarchs the world has gone on without interruption.” The scoffers claim that God has not and will not intervene in world history.

How do we know?

√ People will do their own thing. 

(Me focused, materialistic, Selfie Centered)

(Matthew 24:37-39 NIV) “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away.”

√ People will forget God.

(Matthew 24:12 NIV) “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.”

Many will turn away from the Faith, against the Faith, Twist the Faith, & Tune out the Faith. Have Misplaced Priorities.

√ People will think Heʼs not coming.

(1 Thessalonians 5:2 NIV) “For you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.”

√ People will not be ready.

(Matthew 24:40-42 NIV) “Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.”

If the end is near…

1.I should pray.

(1 Peter 4:7 NIV) “The end of all things is near, therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.”

Anytime God wanted something done on the earth he calls someone to pray!

Luke 21:36 NIV –  Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”

Real prayer is driven by relationship not need or crisis.

U can dump your junk. God gets bigger, your junk gets smaller.

Causes u to b more focused minded

a. Make it personal not formal.

(Matthew 6:7-8 NIV) And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

b. Pray with confidence.

(Hebrews 4:15-16 NIV) For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are —yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

“The less I pray, the harder it gets; the more I pray, the better it goes.” – Martin Luther

(James 5:16 NLT) “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”

2.I should focus on my relationships.

(1 Peter 4:8-9 NIV) “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.”

Relationships are far more important than issues or disagreements. Get over those quickly.

most important – on 9/11 ppl were making last calls to loved ones

a. What relationship needs to be initiated

(Luke 6:13 NIV) “When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them…” 

  b.  What relationship needs to be nurtured

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

c. What relationship needs to be restored

(Ephesians 4:3 NIV) “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” 

Colossians 3:13 NIV – Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

3. I should get my life right with God.

(2 Peter 3:11 NIV) “Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly

lives.”

(Matthew 24:42 NIV) Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 

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

4.Share Christ with urgency

(Luke 12:16-21 NCV) “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”

Conclusion

Just as there was a beginning, there will be an end. We will not be reincarnated. We live once, we will die once and then we will stand before God. For unbelievers, today is the day to believe in him and turn from sin. For believers, today is the day to live lives of godliness and holiness so that we are ready for that final day.

When the End looks Troubling – Look Up! Look to Christ! 

Luke 21:28 NIV – When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

Ghost Stories Pt.3

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Welcome today to Part 3 of “Ghost Stories” 

(1st Corinthians 14:1 MSG) Go after a life of love as if your life depended on it—because it does. Give yourselves to the gifts God gives you. 

Want to get you comfortable with the Holy Spirit

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

First relationship that you need is Jesus

Jesus is the one who gives us grace to rescue us from sin

Many uncomfortable with the Holy Spirit – Seen things heard things

Many people don’t know Him as a Him but as a IT – Give me blank pages

Strange mystical force – Seen strange things

A lot of Christians have distanced themselves from Him

1st Week – He is a Him/Person – Para-Kaletos Greek work in John 14

He’s Comforter, Counselor He will always be by your side

Last week looked at the part that is difficult for some – Literal translations – Ruwach – Pneuma – Blast of breath or wind

Spiritual gifts has presented controversy – 3 types of gifts are given

Three Gifts 

1.Eternal life / Salvation. 

We receive freely the gift of eternal life because…

You & I were supposed to pay the bill for the sins we committed

Hell is not a place that God sends people that he’s mad at. Religion loves to focus on hell – Jesus focused on heaven.

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

Can be a lot of confusion on this – Be very clear

Gift of Jesus Christ is the only thing you need for Heaven

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

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

Everything we have talked about – Relationship with the Holy Spirit/Gifts

Has nothing to do with Heaven or Hell

To have a home in Heaven is receive the gift of eternal life

That only comes through Jesus & the payment made on the cross

2.The Holy Spirit. Second gift

This is a separate gift from the salvation gift – Jesus already paid for sins John 20

He ministered forgiveness of sins to His disciples – He breathed on them to receive the Holy Spirit – Forgiven you

Makes this statement…

(Acts 1:4-5) “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift (Not a Heaven or Hell gift) my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” 

Acts 2:38-29 NIV –  Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

(Acts 8:14-17) When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

I believe God gave this intentionally as separate gifts

He didn’t want us to confuse the two

He wanted you to know salvation is all important settles your eternity

Tons of Christians that have received the first gift

But haven’t opened up the second gift – Gift is available to every believer. We will discuss this next week.

Another gift needed for our lives here on earth

3. Spiritual gifts. Topic today

(Romans 12:6) “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.” 

Gift in the greek is the word Charis – Get the word charisma or charismatic

“Charis” Literally means – Grace Gift

He has given you a unique divine ability

Some have asked are we a charismatic church?

We don’t use that term – Don’t use any terms like that

Reason why is people have definitions for those terms  – People have re-defined it

It’s hard to use those terms any longer because – Many different attitudes, opinions on what those terms mean

Word Charis just means gift – has nothing to do with other associations

Because of cultural & traditional terms

Biblically the answer would be “yes”

God has given his church gifts – spiritual gifts

Seems to be a lot of confusion around spiritual gifts

It also happened in the early church – Paul planted a church in a city called Corinth – Received the Holy Spirit & got out of control, weird and wrong

Paul starts an entire chapter go read 12,13,14 of 1st Corinthians

(1 Corinthians 12:1) “Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant.” 

Appreciate your attempts – People are out of control on both sides

Two Extremes: Some say I want nothing to do with it

Another extreme where things are done that are not mentioned in scripture

People ask the question; Are spiritual gifts for today?

Some have a doctrine or belief they call it (cessationism)  (cessationists)

They believe the gifts in scripture stopped when the apostles died

Problem with that belief is scripture doesn’t say that at all

Jesus said the opposite

Gift I will give you is for you, children & all who are far off

(John 14:12 NKJV) He who believes in me, the works I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to my Father.

I want our church to do greater things then even what you read in the gospels

Others believe like us that spiritual gifts are for today

I never hear people argue about the gift of mercy, faith, giving

Argument centers around one gift & that is the gift of tongues

Some believe it’s of the devil

Some believe you have to speak it to go to Heaven

Some believe if you don’t speak in tongues you don’t have the Holy Spirit

It’s not what the bible says – In scripture you see tongues come in two different forms

In a personal prayer language that people pray in – You see it in the form of a spiritual gift

Topic today is on spiritual gifts – 25-27 gifts in the NT

Tongues is one of them – Focus shouldn’t be on that one

I think the enemy has tried to hi-jack the Holy Spirit – To get people focused on that one spiritual gift – At the same time I don’t think it ought to be avoided either

(1 Corinthians 12:11) “All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.” 

I believe it shouldn’t be avoided or abused – I am introducing you to the Holy Spirit our friend

I would be careful about anything the Holy Spirit wants to give you

And talking about it like it’s some repulsive experience

If the Holy Spirit has anything for me – it is good

Some have asked if tongues are apart of our services?

It has never been apart of our services – The bible tells us it shouldn’t

(1 Corinthians 14:23) “So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and some who do not understand or some unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind?”

When we come together we don’t come together for us

We are a church on mission & a church trying to make a difference in our city and in our world – Reaching lost people

The bible says, we are to be sensitive to those who don’t understand

And for those who don’t believe

I love it! – Holy Spirit gives guidelines for the church

He is teaching us how to behaveThe Holy Spirit is a gentleman

Paul said I speak in tongues more than anyone

He said to us – God is more concerned about people coming to Christ

Then us doing our own thing

Gifts from a Friend – Want you to come to a comfort level with Him

 (1 Corinthians 14:1) “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts…” 

1. His gifts are unique.

(1 Corinthians 12:4-6) “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.”

Three times uses the word different – Means they are unique

Customized for you – Can see it – See it in families

2. His gifts are needed. 

We need the gifts in operation in the church

(1 Corinthians 12:27 NLT) “Now all of you together are Christ’s body, and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it.”

We cannot fulfill the mission unless we get this & welcome the gifts

87% of Christians don’t know their gifts or purpose

In 2016 we will offer a Spiritual Growth Class – Spiritual Gifts profile to help you understand you

Our dream is everyone of you know your gifts/purpose

His gifts aren’t spooky you can see it

3. His gifts are fulfilling. 

When you operate in those gifts – You will say this is why I was made

Happiest people I know are those serving in their gifts/purpose

(John 15:8, 11) “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” 

You’re never going to be happy until you’re doing something that makes a difference for eternity

Most happy when you connect with the Holy Spirit, receive gifts, operate in it

4. His gifts touch other people’s lives. 

People have connected with the gifts for the way it makes them feel

That is not the point – Holy Spirit did not come for our personal entertainment

End of the day spiritual gifts are to be used to impact another persons life 

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

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

Two question test coming up; What did you do with my son? What did you do with the gifts I gave you?

SALVATION CALL

The Power of Inclusiveness

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The Power of Inclusiveness

When we draw a circle in the sand, we become the welcoming Church God called us to be. We must move from cliques to a community

Sacred text asserts that human beings were created to live in community, not as fragmented tribes, nations and separated peoples. Jesus opened the door for us to be inclusive of everyone. On some level, all are to be welcomed into our lives—saint or sinner. But what does this inclusiveness look like, what are its boundaries, and what does it result in?

Inclusiveincluding or encompassing the stated limit or extremes in consideration or account; enclosing; embracing:

Jesus was an includer of all kinds of people

John  8:2-11 NIV  At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”11 “No one, sir,” she said.“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Two issues in this story

1. Sin – Right and Wrong (The Law)

Where was the man?

Bias – Demeaning towards women

Jesus said – DO NOT JUDGE

A bias is a factor in human judgement  – some judge women and give a pass to the man. Judge other kids and not our own.

Luke 6:41-42 NLT – And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye[a] when you have a log in your own? 42 How can you think of saying, ‘Friend,[b] let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.

•God did not call us to be the judge, jury, or prosecuting or defense attorney, we are called to be a Witness! That simple. Let your light shine!

2. How we treat other people that we think are different than us

•Her Issues and sin are no different than any of ours

Romans 3:23 NCV – “Everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s glorious standard.” 

No adultery? Jesus said, if you lust after someone, you’ve done it in your heart. ??????

•Jesus pursues the imperfect

Luke 5:31-32 NLT – Jesus answered them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. 32 I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.”

Luke 15 – lost coin, lost sheep, prodigal son

This is what Jesus made the story about  – he did other stories

Zacchaeus, Samaritan woman, lawmakers, law breakers, rich and poor

•Jesus was drawing a circle while others were drawing lines – Circle drawing is so much better than line drawing. Jesus put them all in the circle and then got in there with them.

Church at large loves to react to things around us in the world. We are adversarial

NewsReport – The world will never think like the church – the church will always see things different. We are Christ followers.

Talking about what we are for, makes us more effective in reaching people more than what we are against! 

How to be Radically Inclusive

1. We validate people by including people

Ephesians 2:19-21 MSG  – 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.

Paul was saying, You belong here

•You can approve of people even if you don’t approve what they do

Separate the behavior from the individual 

•When it comes to God’s family who included you? who are you including?

•••Let’s go look for people who are not included and let’s include them at GraceTown!

Let’s show the world that The Family of God is not a bunch of arrogant self righteous people! They are loving, kind, and gracious

2. We should include people immediately

Jesus included her immediately. no hoops, no proving time

•She Allowed Jesus to Accept Her

Matthew 11:28-30 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.

John 10:10 NIV – “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full”

•She Allowed Jesus to Change Her

II Corinthians 5:17 NIV – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here!

Philippians 2:12-13 NIV Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

Dream Big Pt.1

DreamBig_SM

Dream Big Pt. 1

Everybody has a dream deep down inside of them. If you could do anything, what would it be?

Theologian Frederick Henry Hedge said, “Dreaming is an act of pure imagination, attesting in all men a creative power, which if it were available in waking, would make every man a Dante or a Shakespeare.”

Get a DREAM for your life that makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning!

The very meaning of our lives is linked to our dreams. I believe each of us have a dream placed in the heart. I’m not talking about wanting to win the lottery. or that kind of idea comes from a desire to escape our present circumstances. I’m talking about a vision deep inside that speaks to the very soul. It’s the thing we were born to do. Something you can do, something you can become, or something you can have.

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

Don’t allow small thinking and dreaming hold you in a life of mediocrity

Have you dared to dream? I mean really dream?

What’s Your Dream? What has God put on your Heart? 

For most people that is a tough question. Most people can tell you what they don’t want. But it’s often difficult for them to describe exactly what they do want.

The tragedy is that too many people have no destination in mind for their lives. Before you can live your own future, you are going to have to become a dreamer.

It’s Like Alice in Wonderland where Alice comes to the junction in the road that leads in different directions. She doesn’t know where she really wants to go, so she asks the Cheshire Cat for advice:

“Cheshire Cat….would you tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?” “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” the Cat said. “I don’t care much where…” Alice said. “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” the Cat said.

Don’t be like Alice! Begin right now to decide exactly where you want to go! Start focusing on the Dream that is in your heart!

NO man will ever get anywhere untill he first knows where is going!

Yogi Berra said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’re never going to get there.”

Thoreau once said, “If one advances confidently in the direction of his or her dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he or she  will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

Life is a journey and every journey has a destination. Everybody ends up somewhere in life.

What is a Dream? 

A series of thoughts, images, or emotions occurring during sleep. a visionary creation of the imagination. Something notable for its beauty, excellence, or enjoyable quality. A goal or purpose ardently desired. A condition or achievement that is longed for; an aspiration.

Divinely Revealed Events Awaiting Manifestation

•Dreams contain nearly limitless power to lift us up in a world that sometimes seems determined to hold us down!

•Dreams have the power to pull us forward in the face of adversity

•Dreams have the power to sharpen our focus and fill our lives with energy and passion

1. God Wants us to Dream Big Dreams

God wants you to connect with His dream and His dream is the force that invents your future!

God paints your future success, significance, peace, and joys on the canvas of you mind

(Isaiah 55:9)  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Amos 4:13 NIV – He who forms the mountains, who creates the wind, and who reveals his thoughts to mankind, who turns dawn to darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth—the Lord God Almighty is his name.

•The same God who set the mountains in place placed desires in your heart! The size of your dream matters to God.

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

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

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

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

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

Abraham and Sarah

God wants your dream so big that when you talk about it, you’ll want to laugh about it

Genesis 17:17 NLT – Then Abraham bowed down to the ground, but he laughed to himself in disbelief. “How could I become a father at the age of 100?” he thought. “And how can Sarah have a baby when she is ninety years old?”

Genesis 18:12 NLT – So she laughed silently to herself and said, “How could a worn-out woman like me enjoy such pleasure, especially when my master—my husband—is also so old?”

•The dream that God gave Abraham was so crazy, so outlandish, that if it came true God would get all the Glory!

God wants to take you from laughing at your dream to actually believing it’s possible!

Genesis 18:13-14 NLT – Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, ‘Can an old woman like me have a baby?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams”

2. God Communicates Through Uncommon Dreams and Visions

God will give you a vision, a mental picture of something big. He will give you a film, a movie in your mind’s eye. Satan’s plan is always to cloud your picture.

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

God will birth within you an invisible picture of you future. The Dream will be something you can do, something you can become, or something you can have. God uses dreams to provide focus, progression, and enthusiasm. The Ability to dream moves you in the path of God’s purpose for your life.

Joel 2:28 NIV – “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions

Abraham

Genesis 22:17 NIV – I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies,

Joseph

Genesis 37:9 NIV – Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”

3. Use your God given Imagination

If you can SEE the invisible you can do the impossible! All dreams start with inspired imagination – it’s the blueprint for your ultimate destiny.

“A DREAM is your creative vision for your life in the future. You must break out of your current comfort zone and become comfortable with the unfamiliar and the unknown.” Dennis Waitley

Your imagination is an invisible machine inside your mind. God gave it to us to create pictures. Pictures of what we desire and dream about.

One  of the most beautiful gifts God has given us is our minds.

There are two major Functions of our mind:

  1. Memory – your memory will photograph, file and replay pictures of your past
  2. Imagination – It creates and replays pictures of things you want to happen in your future.

Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is everything. It’s the preview of life’s coming attractions.”

Imagination – the act of power of forming mental image of something not present to the senses of never before wholly seen in reality.

QUIT saying “I Can’t IMAGINE that”

Unlock the power of possibility Dreaming.

Stop focusing on the impossibilities

Take the word out of your vocabulary. Don’t reduce God down to the size of your brain

We need to think with a mind of faith – possibilities. Otherwise you will limit yourself and God

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

Great achievers have learned to replay the memories of their past triumphs and preplay the pictures of there desired successes.

Example: When David faced the giant Goliath, he mentally replayed his previous victories in killing the bear and the lion. Then he used his imagination to picture and preplay his impending victory over Goliath. Look at his vision/picture for killing Goliath that would be given to him.

I Samuel 17:25-27 NIV –  Now the Israelites had been saying, “Do you see how this man keeps coming out? He comes out to defy Israel. The king will give great wealth to the man who kills him. He will also give him his daughter in marriage and will exempt his family from taxes in Israel.”26 David asked the men standing near him, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” 27 They repeated to him what they had been saying and told him, “This is what will be done for the man who kills him.”

•David SAW the Money, and He SAW the Honey! IF you see what you want, You’ll get what you want.

You are going to have to live in the future anyway, so it might as well be the future you are picturing for yourself, rather than a future that somebody else is designing for you.

What can you Imagine or Dream? It will be powered by your imagination

God brought clarity to Abraham’s dream through the use of a Picture – This relieves the tension between his faith in the promise and the present realities 

Genesis 15:5 NIV – He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring[a] be.”

God used the IMAGERY of stars and sand to help strengthen the dream in his heart that was growing weak due to the negative impact of temporary circumstances.

Walt Disney said, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them!”

The Power of Imagination

There’s a remarkable observation in Genesis 11:6 that illustrates the power of the imagination. The babylonians wanted to build a city and a tower that would reach into heaven. But this was an exaltation against God so he was displeased.

Genesis 11:6 KJV – And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.

God acknowledged the gift and power of imagination  – but they misused it – God has given everyone us this incredible gift – The ability to picture within our minds something we want to happen.

Your imagination is the workshop of your mind. You can DREAM, DISIGN, and DETERMINE what you want to happen in your life. Whatever dominates your imagination today will very likely be experienced in your life tomorrow.

Proverbs 23:7 NKJV “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he…”

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

Why? Because you mind is the drawing room for your tomorrow. What happens in your mind will happen in time.

Einstein said, Logic will take you from A to B, but imagination will take you everywhere!

In your mind, you can go to your past or to your future. You decide. Your mind is not restricted by location. God gave you a MIND so He can give you a picture of where He wants to take you.

4. Don’t let someone else’s disapproval or opposition hinder you from Dreaming Big

Genesis 37:6-11 NIV – He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.” His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said. Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”10 When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” 11 His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.

•Joseph was hated, taunted, and rebuked by his brothers and father. His brothers threw him into a pit sold him into slavery for $12.80. He was working for Potiphar, and falsely accused of raping his wife, and ended up in prison.

Dreamers who Overcame Opposition to realize their dreams

  1. Basketball superstar Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. However, he didn’t give up. His philosophy: “I play to win. The day I stop improving is the day I walk away from the game.” He didn’t just have a dream. He committed to shooting 300 baskets a day, and his dream became a reality.
  2. Winston Churchill failed the sixth grade. He did not become Prime Minister of England until he was 62, and then only after a lifetime of defeats and setbacks.
  3. When Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, he tried over 2,000 experiments before he got it to work. A young report asked him how it felt to fail so many times. He said, “I never failed once. I invented the light bulb. It just happened to be a 2,000 step process.”

James 1:2-4 NIV – Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Robert Schuller once said, “Are you disappointed, discouraged and discontented with your present level of success? Are you secretly dissatisfied with your present status? DO you want to become a better or more beautiful person than you are today? Would you like to be able to really learn how to be proud of yourself and still not lose genuine humility? Then start DREAMING! It’s possible!  You can become the person you have always wanted to be!”

Genesis 39:21-23 NIV  the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. 22 So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. 23 The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.

Step our of the dominant culture of resignation and mediocrity and endeavor to create the life of your dreams!

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

Proverbs 13:12 NKJV – Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.

Shift Pt.7 – Relationships

Shift-Series

Shift Pt.7 – Relationships

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

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

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

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

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

The Purpose for People in your Life

Mark 12:30-31 NIV – Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’[a] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] There is no commandment greater than these.”

Life is filled with givers and takers. A person in your life who does not increase you will inevitable decrease you.

You must discern the people in your life. You must decide how much time you’re going to invest in others. We meet and become acquainted with many people in the course of our lives, however there are 3 levels in which we must recognize.

The 3 Levels are:

  1. Relationship
  2. Friendship
  3. Companionship

Your past, present, and future is always connected to people.

Relationships are founded on the discovery that you need people to be a success in life. The help us define who we are and what we can become. We can trace all our successes to pivotal relationships.

•Relationships are painful. Relationships are wonderful. We all live in the drama that plays out between these 2 truths.

•NO Relationship is without Challenges. Here are 2 challenges you face in every relationship: 1. False Expectation 2. Unfulfilled Promises

First, You can’t expect others to read your mind. False expectations occur when we refuse to talk things out.  Do not harbor or hide your hurts and disappointments in a relationship. A seed of bad timing or misspoken word can take root – hurting you and hurting others.

Hebrews 12:14-15 NIV – Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many

Secondly, never promise what you cannot produce. Unfulfilled promises come from unrealistic schedules and pressures that WE self-impose. Simply learning to say NO now, can save you from “I’m Sorry” later.

James 5:12 NLT But most of all, my brothers and sisters, never take an oath, by heaven or earth or anything else. Just say a simple yes or no, so that you will not sin and be condemned

When you understand the purpose for people in your life you will discover that: 

  1. You will be appreciated
  2. You will be celebrated or
  3. You will be tolerated
  4. You will be terminated

•I’ve been all 4 at certain times in my life

2 Things must Increase for Relationships to move to the next level:

  1. Increase of Quality of Time
  2. Increase of Quality of Shared Information

Example: Jesus, who is the world’s foremost expert on relationships

John 15:13-15 NIV – Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

•Laying down my life (Time)

•Everything I’ve made known to you (Information)

Relationships teach us that we were not created to succeed alone. Friendships teach us that true success is a shared destiny.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NIV – Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.

You must discern the people God has placed in your life to complete you.

Relational Preconditions

Our relationships determine the direction and quality of our lives.

1. Am I willing to change? 

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

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

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

Its not what you can get from a relationship but what can you give. Value people.

Nabi Saleh Owner of Gloria Jeans Coffee – “We aren’t in the coffee business, serving people. We’re in the people business, serving coffee.”

2. Am I willing to put others first? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Am I willing to Love as Jesus did? 

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

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

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

How to have a SHIFT in Relationships

1. Strengthen my Important Relationships

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

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

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

2. Heal my Strained Relationships

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

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

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

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

3. Disconnect from Harmful Relationships

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

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

People who are more critical than complimentary

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

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

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

4. Initiate new Meaningful Relationships

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

Your spiritual family, the Church, will last for eternity

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

Questions to Ask Myself About meaningful relationships In My Life

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

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

“I am more than I am, but less that we are. I sought my God but my God I could not see. I sought my soul, but my soul eluded me. I sought my friend, and I found all three,”

Jesus said in Matthew 18:20, For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them.”

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