Summer Concert Series Pt.4 – Take it Easy

Summer Concert Series Pt.4 – Take it Easy

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

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

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

Take it Easy Chorus 

Take It easy, take it easy 

Don’t let the sound of your own wheels 

drive you crazy – Lighten up while you still can 

don’t even try to understand 

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

Movie – Michael Douglas stars in Falling Down

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

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

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

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

Where are you going to live? Tribulation? Or Christ

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are living in Overload

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

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

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

Weariness is a trap. 

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

Rest is a choice. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

How To Take it Easy

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

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

1. Relax and Be still. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Take the Time to Pray. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How you can practice Relaxing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Evening Prayer Liturgy

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My Evening Prayer Liturgy

The Call To Prayer 

May the Lord Almighty grant and those I love a peaceful night and a perfect end.

†OPENING From the rising of the sun to its setting, Let the name of the Lord be praised. YOU, O LORD, ARE MY LAMP. MY GOD, YOU MAKE MY DARKNESS BRIGHT. Light and peace in Jesus Christ our Lord. THANKS BE TO GOD.

Psalm 63:7-8 When I think of you upon my bed, through the night watches I will recall that you indeed are my help, and in the shadow of your wings I shout for joy. 

O God make speed to save me, O Lord make haste to help me. I need you.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me.

Confession of Sin

Almighty God, My heavenly Father, I have sinned against you, through my own fault in thought, and in word, and deed, in what I have done and what I have left undone. For the sake of your Son our Lord Jesus Christ, forgive me all my offenses; and grant that I may serve you in newness of life, to the glory of your name.  In Jesus Name. Amen.

Psalm 51 NIV Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. 5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. 6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place. 7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. 8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. 9 Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. 10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. 13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you. 14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. 15 Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise. 16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. 17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. 18 May it please you to prosper Zion, to build up the walls of Jerusalem. 19 Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous, in burnt offerings offered whole; then bulls will be offered on your altar.

I adore You, my God, and I love You with all my heart. I thank you for having created me, for having made me a Christian, and for having preserved me this day. Pardon me for the evil I have done today. If I have done anything good, be pleased to accept it. Protect me while I take my rest and deliver me from all dangers. May your grace be always with me. Amen.

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

Oh Lord, I pray you to visit our home and drive from it all snares of the enemy. Let Your holy angels dwell in it to preserve us in peace; and let Your blessing be always upon us. Protect us, Lord, as we stay awake; watch over us as we sleep, that awake, we may keep watch with Christ, and asleep, rest in his peace. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Psalm 4:8 I will lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, O Lord make me dwell in safety.

PSALM 131 O Lord, my heart is not lifted up, my eyes are not raised too high; I DO NOT OCCUPY MYSELF WITH THINGS TOO GREAT AND TOO MARVELOUS FOR ME. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother;  MY SOUL IS LIKE THE WEANED CHILD THAT IS WITH ME. O Israel, hope in the Lord FROM THIS TIME ON AND FOREVERMORE. 

Expressions of faith

Lord, You have always given bread for the coming day;

and though I am poor, today I believe.

Lord, You have always given strength for the coming day;

and though I am weak, today I believe.

Lord, You have always given peace for the coming day;

and though of anxious heart, today I believe.

Lord, You have always kept me safe in trials;

and now, tried as I am, today I believe.

Lord, You have always marked the road for the coming day;

and though it may be hidden, today I believe.

Lord, You have always lightened this darkness of mine;

and though the night is here, today I believe.

Lord, You have always spoken when time was ripe;

and though you be silent now, today I believe.

Psalm 141:2 Let my prayer be incense before you; my uplifted hands an evening sacrifice. My uplifted hands: the gesture of supplication.

Be present, O merciful God and protect me and my family through the silent hours of this night, so that we who are fatigued by the changes and chances of this fleeting world, may repose upon your eternal changelessness. Let no sickness, disease, harm, or injury come to any of us.

Amos 5:8 NIVHe who made the Pleiades and Orion, who turns midnight into dawn and darkens day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out over the face of the land – the Lord is his name.

The Lord’s Prayer 

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Concluding Prayer

O Lord, all treasures of wisdom and truth and holiness are stored up in your boundless being. Grant that through our constant fellowship with you, those graces of Christian character may more and more take shape within me:

The grace of a thankful and uncomplaining heart;

The grace to await your timing patiently and to answer your call promptly;

The grace of courage whether in suffering or in danger;

The grace to endure any hardship in the fight against evil;

The grace of boldness to stand up for what is right;

The grace of being adequately prepared for any temptation;

The grace of physical discipline;

The grace of truthfulness;

The grace to treat others as I would like them to treat me;

The grace of sensitivity, that I may refrain from hasty judgement;

The grace of silence, that I may refrain from thoughtless speech;

The grace of forgiveness toward all who have wronged me;

The grace of tenderness toward all who are weaker than myself;

The grace of faithfulness in continuing to desire that you will answer these prayers.

And now, O God, give me a quiet mind as I lie down to rest. Dwell in my thoughts until sleep overtakes me. Do not let me be worried by the small anxieties of this life. Do not let any troubled dreams disturb me, so that I may wake refreshed an ready for all that tomorrow brings. In Jesus Name, Amen!

My Morning Prayer Liturgy

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My Morning Prayer Liturgy

O Lord, let my soul rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun.

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

Psalm 119:47 – Early in the morning I cry out to you, for in your word is my trust.

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

Father God, creator of heaven and earth, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, God of Israel, God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, True and living God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Who is One God and all your fullness is in Christ, Have mercy and hear my prayer

O Lord, open my Lips and my mouth shall proclaim your praise

All Glory be given to Jesus, as it was in the beginning is now, and will be forever. Amen

O God make speed to save me, O Lord make haste to help me. I need you.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me.

Confession of Sin

Most merciful God, I confess that I have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed

By what I have done, and by what I have left undone.

I have not loved you with my whole heart; I have not loved my neighbor as myself. I have not thought right thoughts, I have not said right things.

I am truly sorry and I humbly repent.

For the sake of your son Jesus Christ, have mercy on me and forgive me;

That I may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your name. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Read a Psalm

Read a passage from the Gospels

Confession of Faith in the Apostles Creed

I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only son, our Lord.

He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.

He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.

He descended to the dead.

On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of the saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have mercy on me

Psalm 23

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. 3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Psalm 91:1-2 ESV 

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

Prayers for My Family

Psalm 103:1-6 

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! 2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, 3 who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, 5 who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. 6 The LORD works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.

The Lord’s Prayer 

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Petition, Intercession and Praying in the Spirit

Making needs known and praying for others

Prayer of Contemplation

Sitting in Silence and mediation

The Beatitudes

Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to Him, 2 and He began to teach them, saying: 3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Prayer for Peace

O God, you have made of one blood all the peoples of the earth, and sent your blessed son to preach peace to those who are far off and to those who are near; Grant that people everywhere may see after you and find you; bring the nations into your fold; pour out your Spirit upon all flesh; and hasten the coming of your kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prayer of St. Francis 

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is injury, pardon;

where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;

where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;

to be understood as to understand;

to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Prayer for the Week

(From the Common Book of Prayer)

Prayer of Thanksgiving

Almighty God, Father of all Mercies,

I am your unworthy servant and I give you humble thanks

for all your goodness and lovingkindness

to me and to all whom you have made.

I bless you for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all for your immeasurable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory.

And, we pray, give me such an awareness of your mercies, that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth your praise, not only with my lips, but in my life,

by giving up myself to your service, and by walking before you

in holiness and righteousness all our days;

through Jesus Christ our Lord,

to whom, with you and the Holy spirit,

be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen

Prayer for Mercy

Lord, Have mercy

Christ, Have mercy

Lord, Have mercy

Confession of the Mystery

Christ has died

Christ is risen

Christ will come again

Jesus Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have mercy on me

Prayer for Grace

Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought me in safety to this new day; preserve me with your mighty power, that I may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all I do, direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

All I Want for Christmas Pt.2

All_I_want_for_Christmas

All I Want for Christmas Pt 2 – Peace

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

•I’m ready to throw in the towel •I am at the end of my rope •I am just a bundle of nerves •I am at my wits end •I feel like resigning from the human race •I am in over my head

Peace in today’s society is a commodity much desired and rarely found. Peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise or trouble. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.

Isaiah was describing a time of darkness, oppression, war, and death. War was looming between Israel and Judah

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

Peace – (def) – freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility; freedom from war or violence. (Hebrew) shalom (greeting of Hello or Goodbye) – means fulness. Having everything you need to be whole and happy. prosperity, harmony, peace, completeness.

A time of violent roman occupation

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

Peace on Earth?

There is always some kind of darkness or danger of some kind overshadowing our world: warfare, cancer, poverty, broken relationships, murders, cruelty, suffering, etc…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

•Unavoidable circumstances.

Much of life is out of our control, On an airplane – baby crying, Stuck in traffic. Couples trying to have a baby, Singles who want to get married

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

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

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

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

•Unbearable people.

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

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

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

1. Who helped you in your difficult time

2. Who left you in your difficult time

3. Who put you in your difficult time

•Unexplainable problems.

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

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

3 Reasons for life’s problems

1. Sin – Imperfect world

2. Satan – Common Enemy

3. Self – we make mistakes

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

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

•Uncontrollable worry.

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

God doesn’t want you to worry!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Focus on God, not the problem! 

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

2 Options – Panic or Pray / worry or worship

The question is – How do you really find peace of mind?

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

1.Receive God’s Grace. 

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

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

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

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

Micah 7:18 NIV – Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.

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

2. Run to God’s Presence.

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

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

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

– Prayer – the Word of God

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

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

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

3. Obey God’s principles.

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

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

Peace Comes through obedience to God’s word

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

4. Rely on God’s provision.

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

•Trust God to take care of things beyond your control

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

•Live one day at a time:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Developing a Meaningful Quiet Time with God Part 2

praying-in-church

Developing a Meaningful Quiet Time with God Part 2

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

I. Why Should we have a Quiet Time?

1. Because we need fellowship with God

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

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

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

-You make time for things that are important

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

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

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

2. Because we give devotion to God

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

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

    worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.

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

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

God seeks our worship 

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

3. Because we gain tremendous benefits from it

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

Here are the results:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

II. How to Have a Meaningful Time with God 

•Start with the Proper Attitudes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

•Select a Specific Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

•Choose a Special Place

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

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

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

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

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

• where you can pray aloud without disturbing others.

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

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

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

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

•Follow a Simple Plan – a Liturgy

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

Liturgy is simply your pattern of worship and prayer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

A PRAYER OF COMMITMENT

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

Recommended Prayer Books

Celtic Daily Prayer Book

 Common Prayer

The Daily Hours Manual for Prayer – Phyllis Tickle

The Valley of Vision Puritan Prayer book 

 

Spiritual Priorities: Developing a Meaningful Quiet Time with God Part 1

Segalanya-terlihat-indah-dari-kejauhan.-Sesekali-perlulah-untuk-mengurangi-kedekatan.-Agar-rasa-terus-mengalami-kebaruan.-Ini-juga-sebuah-usaha-untuk-mereduksi-kebosanan.

Developing a Meaningful Quiet Time with God Part 1

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

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

Rob Bell said, “Busy is a drug that a lot of people are addicted to”

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

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

Our need – Meaningful Quiet time with God 

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

I’ve never met a spiritually strong Christian who does not have a consistent meaningful time with the Lord. I’ve met excited Christians who soar with the eagles for a couple of weeks, only to come crashing down because they did not establish the routine of getting into God’s word and praying. It may not seem as exciting to create a routine (almost as exciting as eating right or exercising), but if you want to be a growing Christian, it is essential.

Here’s the fact – Thomas Merton said, “We do not want to be beginners. But let us be convinced of the fact that we will never be anything else but beginners, all our life!”

•YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD IS MEANT to grow. 

•SPIRITUAL GROWTH IS A LIFE-LONG journey. 

•DEVELOPING TIME WITH GOD WILL HELP YOU GROW on your own.

I Timothy 4:7 ESV – Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness;

The word for “train” is the word “discipline” here in the original language. It’s the word we get “gymnasium” from. The Lord is telling us, “If you want to be godly, if you want to be a strong Christian, then you’ve got to attack it the same way you attack physical exercise.” The walk of faith, It is a discipline, it is a training, plain and simple.

What is a Quiet Time?

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

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

Solitary – being alone

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

1. A Time of Silence and Solitude

Psalm 131:2 NIV – But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother;  like a weaned child I am content.

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

Solitude – the state or situation of being alone or uninhabited place. privacy, peace.

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

Teresa of Avila said, “Settle yourself in solitude and you will come upon Him in yourself.”

It causes us to look within first

“The great reason why life is troubled & restless lies not from without, but within.” Look at yourself. Look at your lifestyle. Ponder these things. Our chaotic world and complex lives are crying out for a little order and simplicity.

(Matthew 7:3-4 NIV) “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, `Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?”

We are very quick to pick out everyone else’s issues that Jesus is saying you and I better deal with ourselves!

Psalm 139:23-24 NIV  “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Pythagoras, the greek philosopher and mathematician wrote Learn to be silent. Let your quiet mind listen and absorb.” 

Sometimes silence involves the absence of speech but it always involves the act of listening. A heart that listens to God.

Mother Teresa expressed it this way,“We need to find God, and He cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature—trees, flowers, grass—grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… .We need silence to be able to touch souls.”

When God seems silent it could mean that he wants u to be silent so he can speak to you. (Like Elijah)

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

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

Ecclesiastes 5:1-2 ESV – Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. [b] Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.

You can learn more in one hour of silence than you can in a year from books

Richard Foster said, “Without silence there is no solitude”

Noise is the mouthpiece of the world. Silence is the mouthpiece of God. It’s where God gives us wisdom.

People actually fear Silence. Why? It introduces us to ourselves. It convicts, it silences, and challenges. But it also heals, consoles, comforts, clears the mind, and gives courage to a weary heart.

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

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

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

What Happens When I Spend Time With God?

1. The first thing that happens is that God changes my heart.

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

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

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

2. The second thing that happens is that God gives us direction for living.

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

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

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

How do we listen to that “other voice”? 

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

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

3. The third thing that happens is there is a growing awareness of His presence during those difficult times.

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

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

Ending: You Can be friends with God

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

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

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

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

Romans 5:8 NIV – But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us

Jesus has left his palace, moved across town, lived in the slums, and has rescued us for himself, so that we might enjoy his presence in friendship. Surely we can set aside time to be alone with him!

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

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

Say YES to Jesus

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.”

Dream Big Pt.4 – God’s Dream for Your Life

DreamBig_SM

Dream Big Pt.4 – God’s Dream for Your Life

Jeremiah. 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not hard you, plans to give you a hope and a future!” 

God’s Dream for you is PERSONAL and God’s Dream for you is POSITIVE

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.

Example: 2 young men at Stanford U named Larry Page and Sergey Brin had a dream tp build a search engine bigger than Yahoo. The Dream came true. Google has become the most popular and comprehensive search engine on the internet.

•If a human dream can be so powerful, how much more a God given dream? The difference between a human dream and a God given dream is that the human dream has a time span. But a God given dream takes you into eternity because it has eternal value and significance.

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.

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.

Divinely Revealed Events Awaiting Manifestation

Nothing happens in this world until someone starts dreaming!

God’s Dream for your life will always REQUIRE FAITH

If a dream comes from God you cannot do it on your own. You can only do it by faith!

Ephesians 3:20 Living Bible – Now glory be to God, who by his mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of—infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes.

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

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

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

Mark 9:23 ESV – And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.”

God’s Dream will never CONTRADICT GOD’S WORD

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

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

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

1. Dedicate All My Life to God

You’ve got to be willing to do whatever God wants you to do, even before he tells you.

Romans 12:1-2 NIV – Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

•God doesn’t want just a part of our life, He wants ALL of US, every part of who we are and what we do.

Hebrews 12:1 NIV – Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,

Acts 20:24 NLT – But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.

2. Reserve Time Alone with God 

You cannot get God’s dream unless you spend time with God.

Prayer is the activating force that puts authority and the power of God to work in your life and make your dreams come true

Job 37:14 NLT – “Pay attention to this, Job. Stop and consider the wonderful miracles of God! (pause a moment…and listen)

Catherine Marshall says, “There is no limit to what this combination of dreams and prayer can achieve.”

God speaks to people who take time to listen

I Kings 19:11-12 NIV – The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.

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

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

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

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

3. Evaluate My Abilities

Ephesians 2;10 NIV – For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

We are saved to serve. Use your talents and gifts to help other people!

I Peter 4:10 Living Bible – God has given each of you some special abilities; be sure to use them to help each other, passing on to others God’s many kinds of blessings.

•“In my view, people are never closer to living out the teachings of Christ than when they are adding value to someone else’s life. And people who are far from God are rarely more impacted than when they see 21st-Century Christ-followers behaving as Christ behaved.” ~Bill Hybels

Tertullian said, “He who lives only to benefit himself confers on the world a benefit when he dies.”

4. Associate with Godly Dreamers

Hang out with people who are trying to discover God’s dream for their life. There’s no such thing as a neutral friend. They’re either pulling you toward God’s dream or pulling you away from it.

Proverbs 27:17 NIVAs iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

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

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

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.

I Corinthians 15:33 NIV Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”

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

Disconnect from 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

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

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

5. Make my Dream Public

Visualize the dream, then verbalize the dream! Because it will get you started, it will attract other people’s support, and it will release God’s Power.

Habakkuk 2:2-3 NKJV – Then the Lord answered me and said: “Write the vision And make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry.

The Mouth is the expression of your thoughts, dreams, and vision. What you are dreaming is expressed in what you say and do.

2 Corinthians 4:13 NIV  It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.”[a] Since we have that same spirit of[b] faith, we also believe and therefore speak,

Your future and dreams does not respond to anyone’s voice but your own

Mark 11:23 ESV – Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.

Start saying things you dream about that you want to happen in your life, not what you don’t want to happen! Jesus said to speak to the mountain, not about the mountain.  Jesus said you can have what you say, but you have been saying what you have

I Thessalonians 5:24 NIV – The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.

Prayer: More than Just a Spiritual ATM – Steve Light

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Prayer: More than Just a Spiritual ATM

As the storm raged, the captain realized his ship was sinking fast. He called out, “Anyone here know how to pray?” One man stepped forward. “Aye, Captain, I know how to pray.” “Good,” said the captain, “you pray while the rest of us put on our life jackets – we’re one short.

Is your prayer life like the captain’s? Do you turn to Jesus when the storms of life are sinking you? Certainly Our Father is there to protect us in times of trouble. But what if our prayer life was intended to be so much more? What would it look like? How would we know how to live it? Today we will explore together how to build a powerful, spirit filled prayer life for you and your family based on three focus points.

1 Learning God’s will for you (clarity)
2 Asking help of God for others (intercession)
3 Asking God for help for yourself (blessing)

As we explore these three types of prayer we will also explore five very important elements that fuel your prayers and are guidance given to us in the Bible.

We will discuss the importance of asking in the name of Jesus, we will discuss the role of the Holy Spirit, we will examine the impact of our own faith, consider the power of community prayer and touch on fasting’s role in prayer.

Prayer is not a spiritual ATM that we make small deposits and big withdrawals from. Instead it is an ongoing, vibrant conversation with our Father. He wants a real, trusting, intimate relationship with Him. He wants us to know Him, rely on Him and trust Him with everything in our lives. But in order to have these conversations be effective, we must listen and learn who He is and who He wants us to be. God is wired in. He had a Facebook page long before it was the rage. He has used the Bible for 5,000 years to reach out to each of us to join his family as sons and daughters of heaven.

So it’s fitting that we will use a great story in the Old Testament to illustrate the prayer conversations with are to have with Jehovah Jireh – the great provider.

Turn with me to I Samuel chapter 1 and join me in the reading of God’s word. Read chapter 1, verses 1-18.

Here we have the story of Samuel and his mother Hannah. Hannah was the 2nd wife of Elkanah. His first wife Penninnah, who had lots of sons and daughters but Hannah was barren. She was sad that she was childless but it was made even worse as Penninnah tormented her about it. Elkanah told Hannah how much he loved her even without children, but her heart was broken. Each year the family went to Shiloh to worship at the temple.

As we learn about how Hannah engaged in her prayer life, we can draw out several important lessons on how to approach God in conversation. Hannah wanted a child so much she was willing to even give the child back to God after giving birth. She was willing to tithe her firstborn if she was blessed with a child.

I Samuel 1:10 tells us that “deeply hurt, Hannah prayed to the Lord and wept with many tears”. This state of mind showed she was genuine in her pain and came to the Lord for the solution she could not produce on her own.

She then immediately makes a vow to God to give Samuel back to serve God. This is a sign of gratitude for the blessing. And WHERE was she praying? In the house of God.

She was so wrecked in her prayer that Eli the chief priest thought she was drunk and he scolded her for it. As she explains to Eli her situation, she tells him in verse 16 that “I’ve been praying from the depths of my anguish and resentment”. Notice how she is confessing her anger towards Penninnah, which opens the channel to heaven through her repentence. Finally we see in verse 17 that Eli intercedes on her behalf and prays a blessing for her.

So what happens? Ordinary life goes on.

And then after a while – in the Lord’s time, He shows up. A baby is born. She gives birth to Samuel, which means “I requested him from the Lord” in Hebrew. We learn here a couple of other key elements about prayer life. First we have to be patient. Wait on God. He always answers. Second, give praise to God for answered prayers no matter what the outcome because it reminds us God is at the helm. She returns to the temple with Samuel to give him to Eli to serve there. Important to note that Elkanah was from the Levite tribe so Samuel was eligible to serve in the temple. In verse 28 she says “I bowed and worshipped the Lord there.”

But that is not the end. Seems a harsh deal for a new mom. Get the child you always wanted and then you have to give him back? Seems an unkind blessing from God. Yet, I know she had faith. Since her first blessing went right back to God, he blessed her 5 times over. She had three more sons and two daughters. Faith in prayer matters.

Let’s turn to the here and now. Let’s think about for each of us our walk with Jesus and how our conversations are going. In fact, let’s spend some time actually working on prayer in a real way that is based on the guidance God gave us in scripture. On you seat is a sheet of paper. On one side are four questions. On the other side are key authoritative scriptures that we will use today for our prayer journey.

I want you to take a few minutes to think about and answer four questions.

1. Where in your life do you need Jesus to forgive you? This helps sanctify us before God.

2. Where do you need and want clarity from God in your life?

3. Who needs you to intercede for them? What help from the Lord do they need?

4. How would you like God to bless you?

Now before we move to the three types of prayers today we will experience, let’s lay an important foundation around five key elements that strengthen our conversations with God.

We start by confessing. We tap into the grace of salvation through Jesus Christ. James 5:16 tells us “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The intense prayers of the righteous is very powerful”.

Confessing sanctifies us and makes us righteous, which powers are prayers. We also learn in this scripture the importance of praying as a community – in service, in small groups, in fellowship.

Faith is critical. Proverbs 3:5 tells us to trust in the Lord with all your heart and Jesus taught us in Matthew 21:21-22:

“I assure you if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done for the fig tree, but even if you tell this mountain ‘be lifted and thrown onto the sea’, it will be done. And if you believe, you will receive what ever you ask for in prayer”.

Now this is not a magic formula to hit the lotto. Our faith must be centered and anchored around God’s will and focused on living a life like Christ’s. Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit to help guide us in that journey. The Holy Spirit does three things for us in prayer. He brings truth, He prays on our behalf in heaven before God and He gives us strength.

Shows us the Truth

John 16:3 “ when the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth”.

Intercedes for us

Romans 8: 26-27 “In the same way the Spirit also joins to help in our weakness because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes with unspoken groanings. And He who searches the hearts knows the Spirit’s mindset, because He intercedes for the saints according to His will.”

Now turn to your neighbor and give them your best prayerful groan.

Provides strength

Ephesians 6:18 “With every prayer and request, pray at all the times in the Spirit and stay alert in this, with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints”.

I Thessalonians 5:17 “pray constantly”.

I don’t know about you but usually about this time in the sermon I start day-dreaming about lunch. I am hungry. Being hungry can be a powerful motivator to action, particularly when used with prayer.

It can also be a powerful element in your conversations with God. We call this fasting. The simple idea is that when we have worries, need guidance or want a focus on The Lord, we can abstain for a time from eating. This tells God we are relying on Him for spiritual nourishment. We are giving honor to God and showing Him he gives us life, not the food and water of this world.. Jesus was clear about how to fast.

Matthew 6:17 tells us “ but when you fast, put oil on you head and wash you face so that you don’t show your fasting to people but to your Father who is in secret”.

Fasting sharpens us, focuses are prayers and helps us get closer to the Lord. Remember that Jesus fasted for forty days in preparation for His tussle with Satan. He was sharp, focused and centered on the Father and His word.

Our last key foundation for prayer is leveraging the power of Jesus’ name. Jesus is really clear about this in scripture. Jesus guides us to come to Him with all our needs. A study of John chapters 14 to 17 provide the complete picture of this guidance but a few verses here help lead the way.

John 14:14 – “if you ask Me, anything in My name, I will do it”.

The gist is we must be in a relationship with God and seeking His will and be righteous. He doesn’t mean all things, but the right things.

John 15:16 – “ whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.” Asking in Jesus’ name means asking in a righteous way that is consistent with the Gospel and the Word of God.

Let’s now turn to seeking and understanding God’s will for our lives. I want to provide you five scriptures you can use as authority when asking God for clarity and confirmation of His will.

God wants to be the priority in your daily life

Matthew 6:33 –“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be provided to you”. God will bless you when you are first focused on Him.

God listens

Jeremiah 29:12- “You will call to Me and come and pray to Me and I will listen to you”.

God wants our faith

James 1:5 – “Now if any of you lack wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without fault, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, without doubting.

God wants us to trust Him

Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own understanding. Think about Him in all your ways and He will guide you on the right paths”.

The Lord wants to show you His plan for your life

Psalm 143:10“Teach me to do Your will, for your are my God. May Your gracious Spirit lead me on level ground”.

Turn to the prayer of clarity you wrote down. Let’s take a few minutes and using one of these scriptures, make a prayer to Jesus asking for clarity and direction in your life.

Let’s now focus on intercession – a type of prayer that you make on behalf of others to the Father. Remember Samuel? Let’s return to Him as a grown man and a great prophet of Israel. The Israelites were in trouble. They had lost the ark twenty years earlier and wanted to recover it. They wanted to set out to recover it. Samuel prayed for them, asking God that their venture be successful.

I Samuel 7:5 – “I will pray to the Lord on your behalf”. It worked.

But to support his prayers, the Bible tells us in verse 6 that Samuel fasted and confessed that day. Sound familiar? He had to get his mind and his heart right to come before the Lord.

God gives us guidance to pray for our leaders

II Chronicles 7:14 – “And My people who are called by My name humble themselves, pray, and seek My face and turn away from their evil ways, then I will hear them from heaven, forgive their sins and heal the land”. Are we in a time when we need to pray daily for our nation and this world?

No matter what your political leaning, we are instructed in our intercessory prayers to pray for our leaders.

I Timothy 2:1-2 – “I urge that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgivings be made to heaven for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity”. Jesus cared for everyone and we are called to do the same in prayer and in our works.

One of the greatest lessons of national prayer in the Bible is the story of Nehemiah. He cared for His nation. He was in Babylon during captivity. Word got back to him that Jerusalem was in ruins and the people were lost. Take a look at his approach to intercession.

He wept and mourned for days
THEN he fasted and prayed
THEN he confessed his and the nation’s sins
THEN he reminded God of His promise to Israel
THEN he asked for God to bless Him with wisdom on how to proceed in helping

He closes the first chapter with this “I was the cupbearer to the King”. He put God first and his personal power last. He came to God with the full power of the conversation in His relationship with God in play. God did not disappoint. He provided Nehemiah even more than he asked for to help him with his calling to rebuild the city and the nation. I often wonder what the prayers of Martin Luther King were like? He helped rebuild a nation and do it through the power of prayer.

Let’s turn now to your prayer of intercession. Using the authority of scripture we have learned, ask God’s help and blessing for someone in your life.

The last prayer type we will discuss today will be a blessing prayer. While God already knows what we need, He likes for us to ask. It shows are faith in Him and our dependency on Him as our Lord and Father.

There are three authoritative scriptures I want to share with you this morning to use in your prayer life.

If you are worried and need peace

Philippians 4:6 – “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God.”

You can’t get if you don’t ask

James 4:2-3 – “You don’t have because you do not ask. You ask and don’t receive because you ask wrongly, so that you may spend it on your desires for pleasure”.

Finally, Psalm 106:4-5 gives us a complete picture of our rights as Christians to be sealed, sanctified and adopted into sonship in heaven and as such to be blessed in this life by the Lord.

“Remember me, Lord, when You show favor to Your people (sonship). Come to me with Your salvation (sealed), so that I may enjoy the prosperity of Your chosen ones, rejoice in the joy of Your nation (holy priesthood of Israel – we are sanctified by the sacrifice of Jesus – the chief priest) and boast about Your heritage (spread the Gospel)”.

Let’s now turn to your prayer of blessing for yourself. What would you like from God? Healing of body? Healing of relationships? New job? Blessings in your career? With authority, come to the Lord now with your prayer.

Amen? Amen. Our journey today has been with a singular focus – to strengthen our daily prayer life by transforming our thinking on prayer from a spiritual ATM we use when we are in trouble to one that is a daily, on going conversation with a Father that loves us, cares for us and wants to bless us. Like any great parent, he has sound, helpful direction for us if we will listen.

If you want to build even a deeper understanding and practice on prayer, these two books are excellent resources. The first is Prayer by Richard Foster. The second is Prayer: The Ultimate Conversation by Charles Stanley.

As we close, many of you may not be aware but I’ve been blessed today by being able to spend a few minutes with you all talking about prayer and our walk with Jesus. This is my first sermon, and God willing, hopefully not my last. I praise God for His word, for this life and this church. Will you allow me to say a blessing for you all?

For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you. From Deuteronomy 30:16

All scripture references have been taken from the Holman Apologetics Bible.

Shift Pt 4

Shift-Series

Shift Pt 4

Shift Your Thinking -You will never change your life until you change the way you think

Ask your neighbor: “Do you have a Mind to Change?” Then tell them, “You need to make a Shift!” 

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

The truth is – some people have some stinking thinking, so nothing is working!

The difficulty with thinking for a change…Lies not so much in developing a new mindset, But in escaping the old mindset

There is nothing more powerful than a changed mind! You can change your hair color. Your address. Your residence. Your Spouse. But if you don’t change your mind, the same experiences in your life will perpetually happen over and over! If you want things to SHIFT and Change on the outside, you HAVE to change and shift things on the inside!

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

Thoughts are like trains they take you somewhere. Therefore, Life will always move in the direction of your strongest thoughts.

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

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

You’re not what you think you are, but what you think…you are.

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

Henry Ford said, “If you think you can, you’re right. If you think you can’t, you’re right.”

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

Benjamin Disraeli said, “nurture your mind with great thoughts, for you will never go any higher than you think.”

Our thoughts determine our destiny.

(Romans 8:5-6 NLT) “Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. If your sinful nature controls your mind, there is death. But if the Holy Spirit controls your mind, there is life and peace.”

2 Functions of our mind

  1. Memory – Replay the Past
  2. Imagination – PrePlay the Future

•You can use (Jesus) or misuse (Tower of Babel) your imagination

•Your thoughts/words trigger images. Your imagination is not evil, it is a gift from God. Why? We think in pictures. Where is your mind taking you?

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.

The Battlefield of the Mind

Turmoil, anger, bitterness, aggrevation, worry, lack, anguish, fear, stress, hurt, etc…The fight is in your mind!

It’s with our mind we serve the Lord, that’s the enemy battles us in our minds! 

(2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NIV) “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 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.”

(2 Corinthians 2:11) in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.”

Thoughts = Schemes

Negative thoughts never lead to a positive life.

(Psalm 42:5 NIV) “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God…”

Romans 12:1-3 NIV Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

•Renewing your mind will Transform your life!

•“How you think determines what you become” Zig Ziglar

Ephesians 4:22-24 NLT 22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.

Unlock the power of possibility thinking.

Stop focusing on the impossibilities – stay away from “experts”

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

Discover the joy of possibility thinking – getting out of the box. God is able!

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

Changed thinking will change my life.

“Whatever we think about and thank about we bring about.”

Philippians 4:8-9 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… and the God of peace will be with you.

1. Think true thoughts.

(John 8:32 NIV) “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

2. Think powerful thoughts.

(1 John 4:4 NIV) “…greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”

Don’t see yourself as average or a victim – see yourself as a victor. God wants you believe Him for big things – powerful thoughts

(Romans 8:37 NIV) “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

3. Think pure thoughts.

(Psalm 19:14 NLT) “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”

4. Think positive thoughts.

(Philippians 4:13 NIV) “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”

Positive minds produce positive lives – Negative minds produce negative lives negative.

Take charge of the way you look at every day – every situation. There is a lot in life you cannot change. But you can change your attitude

(Ephesians 4:19 NIV) “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

The positive thinker sees the opportunity in every difficulty!

5. Think God thoughts.

(Joshua 1:8)  “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”

(Isaiah 26:3 Amplified) “You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.”

What to do with What you Think

1. If you think of something hurtful – swallow it.

(Ephesians 4:29 GWT) “Don’t say anything that would hurt another person. Instead, speak only what is good so that you can give help wherever it is needed. That way, what you say will help those who hear you.”

(Proverbs 13:3 NLT) “Those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything.”

2. If you think of something helpful – say it.

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

(Proverbs 15:4 NIV) “The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.”

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. 

Isn’t that awesome? The God who set the mountains in place puts the thoughts in your mind. How you think matters to God!

God not only wants to help you control your thoughts. But He wants to take your thoughts to higher heights

There are only 2 options: Shift Your Thinking or make execuses.

“The best time to start improving the next 10 years of your life is always – now. Why wait?” What you do today determines what happens tomorrow! So Shift your thinking today!

The Love of God

the-love-of-god

The Love of God 

I John 3:1 NIV – See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

3 Facts that Drive me to Communicate the Love of God

1. Everyone is Looking for Love

“Bart, with $10,000 dollars, we’d be millionaires! We could buy all kinds of useful things like…love.” Homer J Simpson

The quest is around us everyday in the music we hear and the movies we watch, and the books we read. The desire is woven into the fiber of our being. From the moment we came out of the womb, we have been looking for someone to feed us, hug us, care for us, affirm us, forgive us when we mess up, support us, and tell us that we matter.

No matter who we are, there is a universal need among human beings to be loved.

2. Just as there is a universal quest for love, there is a universal answer to that quest

If everyone has the same problem, there must be a universal solution. The answer is God.

3. There’s a tragic disconnection between the universal need and the universal answer.

There are 6 billion people in the world who are desperate for love and there is a God with limitless resources who wants to love them.

Defining the Love of God

God’s love is his holy disposition toward all that he has created that compels him to express unconditional affection and selective correction to provide the highest quality of existence, both now and forever, for the object of his love.

We can’t provoke, trick, convince, earn, or win God’s love. God doesn’t love us for who we are or what we do, but  because of who He is.

Agape – Unconditional, giving, sacrificial, and boundless love:

Matthew 5:44 NIV – But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

John 15:13 NIV – Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

God Loves us Unconditionally

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

The Love of God is a rhapsody in red, a swirling narrative of blood and forgiveness

•God doesn’t love us for what we do, but He loves us because of who he is.

•man bases love on performance….If you….I will

•God loves us for what He finds in Himself – LOVE.

•No matter what you do – God cannot stop loving you.

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

•When you know that God loves you unconditionally, you can love people unconditionally.

Christianity is a love affair. NOT a code of ethics, rules, or Philosophy of Life. The Cross of Christ was not to produce a nice moral people – but LOVERS OF GOD!

I John 4:7-8, 21 NIV Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

Dimensions of God’s Love 

Ephesians 3:17-19 NIV – so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

There is no instrument that can measure how much God, out of His infinite being, cares for you and wants your best!

CS Lewis said, “Though our feelings come and go, God’s Love for us does not.”

Psalm 36:5 NIV– Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. 

How God Thinks about YOU

1. God’s Thoughts, intentions, desires, and plans are always for your good and never for your harm. 

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.

When God thinks about you, he thinks about goodness and blessings. No matter how the immediate surroundings may look, God sees the big picture and has plans for your benefit.

James 1:17 NIV – Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

“God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.” Augustine

2. God is kind, open, approachable, frank, and eager to be your friend 

John 13:12-15 NIV – When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.

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

He is the most loyal and attentive friend you could possibly have

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

Joseph Scriven penned the words of that great hymn, What a friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry Everything to God in prayer! Oh, what peace we often forfeit, Oh, what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry Everything to God in prayer!

3. God emotionally identifies with your pain, joy, hopes, and dreams, and has chosen to allow your happiness to affect his own. 

John 11:33-36 NIV –  When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. 35 Jesus wept. 36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

Although he is an infinite God of the universe, our pain causes him pain, our joy gives him a life, our hopes bring excitement to his heart, and when there is tragedy he weeps with us.

This self existing God needs no one, yet he has chosen to be so emotionally identified with our ups and downs, and our dreams and hopes.

Hebrews 4:15 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.

4. He takes pleasure in you just for who you are completely apart from your performance and / or accomplishments

God is telling these rebellious people how he stands over them singing and rejoicing.

Zephaniah 3:17 NIV – The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

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

Psalm 145:8-16 (NIV)  8 The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. 

Psalm 103:4-5 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

How Do We Respond to God’s Love

1. We Must Receive

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

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

I John 2:2 NIV – He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

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

2. We Must Believe

I John 4:13-16 NIV – This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

3. Saturate Your Mind with the Truth of God’s Love for us

Romans 8:38-39 NIV – For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God wants us to know that nothing – not even our own junk – can separate us from his love

4. Then Give it All Away

Jesus Last instructions to his disciples

John 13:34-35 NIV – A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

“The significance of the law of love is precisely that it is not just another law, but a law which transcends all law.”- Reinhold Niebuhr

The more of God’s love we give away, the more he supplies. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

I John 3:16-18 NIV – This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

“The litmus test of our love for God is our love of our neighbor”  – Brennan Manning

I Corinthians 13:13 NIV –  And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Why is love greater than faith and hope? Faith involves the present. Hope involves the future. But love transcends time. Love existed before anything existed.

Love will never need a casket because it has no funeral! Salvation is a sticky story, a messy manuscript, but it’s also a lovely one. Love is the bond that glued God to humanity.  Nothing can pry apart what God has welded together!

In 1923 Fredrick Lehman penned the words to his classic Hymn “The Love of God”

The love of God is greater far , Than tongue or pen can ever tell.

It goes beyond the highest star, And reaches to the lowest hell.

The guilty pair, bowed down with care, God gave His Son to win;

His erring child He reconciled And pardoned from his sin.

O love of God, how rich and pure! How measureless and strong!

It shall forevermore endure— The saints’ and angels’ song.

When hoary time shall pass away, And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall;

When men who here refuse to pray, On rocks and hills and mountains call;

God’s love, so sure, shall still endure, All measureless and strong;

Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—The saints’ and angels’ song.

Could we with ink the ocean fill, And were the skies of parchment made;

Were every stalk on earth a quill, And every man a scribe by trade;

To write the love of God above, Would drain the ocean dry;

Nor could the scroll contain the whole, Though stretched from sky to sky.