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.

Miracles Pt.1 – The Miracle of Heaven

Miracles Pt.1 – The Miracle of Heaven 

Very excited about this series – Inspire your faith – Believe God for miracles – We believe that God still does miracles today

Jesus did some incredible things during His life on earth

Turned water to wine – blind man sees – raised the dead – healed the sick

We believe that God is still in the miracle business – We are a Church that believes in it

Of all the miracles the resurrection of Jesus is the greatest – We don’t serve a God who is dead but alive

(Romans 8:11 NLT)  The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. (Same power lives in you & works in you – wherever there is death or a place you need a miracle) And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.

  • We can not only celebrate the resurrection, we can also experience it.

You are candidate for God to do something powerful in your life

Jesus at this point in ministry needed others to help, crowds were so big

Not just 12 but commissioned 72

(Luke 10:17-20) The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Resurrection can happen in your marriages, families, finances, jobs, dreams But that is not the greatest

The greatest resurrection isn’t the resurrection of things

It’s the resurrection that we leave this pain on earth & eternally with God

Jesus died & rose again – One out of one person is going to die

Be more positive – I’m positive and I am positive that will happen

The hope we have & why earth doesn’t sting as much – We know there is more to life than this

Examples: Jesus said don’t be afraid of the one who can kill your body

All of us are – We’re careful, lock our doors, wear seatbelts, get insurance, eat right, exercise, – Trying to make this body last

God is saying do all that but don’t be afraid of the one who can kill your body – Be afraid of the one who can destroy body & soul

If you would put some of the energy you put into your temporal body

Into your eternal existence you would be doing a lot better

Real way to look at life is you are a blip on the screen compared to eternity

Life is a mist it’s here then gone (David said teach me to # my days) – Those miracles are great but God is wanting us to focus on eternity

Second example: Disciples of Jesus struggling – about Jesus leaving

(John 14:1-2 NIV) “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. (They brought an earth problem & Jesus talks about Heaven) My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?

Don’t be discouraged you’re getting out of here

  • Jesus offers more than a better now. He offers a better place.

When you have that hope it changes everything about how you live on earth

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

Pope Francis said, Hope helps believers to be open to the surprises God has in store for us.

(John 11:25-26 NIV) “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

•Death does not conquer you, Death does not defeat you 

Scripture says where oh death is your victory & where oh death is your sting

•It never stings those who have the hope of Heaven – Even though you die you will live – We’ve passed from Death unto life.

•I am reminding you – a lot of us are feeling the sting of earth – Seems like things are getting worse

•In the middle of what we are facing – God can intervene. There is a resurrection available to us through Christ

Story: The generations before us had this hope / reminding my church I grew up in Jewett Oh.  I remember the songs being about Heaven

Favorite songs: When we all get to Heaven, “I’ll Fly Away….” What a Day that will be, Oh I want to see him, In the Sweet by and by,  Soon and Very Soon….

•That hope is what held them on – Jesus is saying this Easter, I died & rose again so you can have that experience

1 Peter 1:3-4 (Mes) “What a God we have! … Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven, and the future starts now!”

It’s the ultimate resurrection – We want miracles on earth but the greatest miracle is Heaven

(1st Thessalonians 4:13-18 NIV) Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again, (We don’t feel the sting of death because Jesus conquered death) and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him…Therefore encourage each other with these words.

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

•Live your life for others – People need hope – Hope changes everything

Everyone is going through something – that’s earth/life – We can join in prayer on earth & see the miraculous happen

If it doesn’t work out here on earth & you have the hope of eternal life

You have the ultimate resurrection & nothing can ever defeat you

My message for you church…Summarized in this statement

  • Believe on Jesus…

Earth is as close to hell as you’ll ever get.

It only gets better.

The opposite is true – If you haven’t believed on Jesus yet…

Earth is as close to Heaven as you’ll ever get – It only gets worse

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

C.S. Lewis said, “ If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world”

•He also said – “Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave with regret?  There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.”

I would say to you – This is an opportunity to change your heart – It’s getting hope. How?

(1st John 5:13 ASV) These things have I written unto you, that you may know that you have eternal life, believe on the name of the Son of God.

God wants way more than just believing in Him but believe on Him

What’s the difference?

Story: Charles Blondin French Tightrope walker walked 1,100 feet suspended on a tiny rope 160 feet above the raging waters of Niagra Falls several times back and forth between Canada and the United States as huge crowds on both sides looked on with shock and awe.  Once he crossed in a sack, once on stilts, another time on a bicycle,  one blind folded, and once he even carried a stove and cooked an omelet!  Then he pushed a wheelbarrow.It was then that Blondin posed the question – “Who will get in the wheelbarrow?’ Of course…none did. The crowd had watched his daring feats. They said they believed, but their actions proved they truly didn’t.

It’s one thing for us to say we believe in God. It’s true faith though when we believe God and put our faith and trust in His Son, Jesus Christ.

Faith in God is the same way – Just can’t believe he did it

God is looking for us to take another step

Not Belief in is not enough but Belief on

That’s faith / it’s taking a risk

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

The Invitation

Brennan Manning said, “For me the most radical demand of Christian faith lies in summoning the courage to say yes to the present risenness of Jesus Christ.”

•The good news is not that Jesus Christ lived and died, but that he lived, died, and he lives.

Ask that for the next 3 minutes (music begins playing) No one move or distract others – Very important moment

Take the “Connection Card” out – I want everyone to take this spiritual survey with me

On the card – I’ll want you to mark an A, B, C, or D – Spiritual Survey

Let me explain these and then I’d like you to check one – You are one of these four

If you’d say, “Rob, I am certain that I am a Christian.  I have made Jesus the Lord of my life and I’m in a personal relationship. Jesus has already brought me out.”  You check A – I’m already in a relationship with Jesus.

If you’d say, “Rob, I need God to rescue me.  I need a real relationship with God.”  You check B – I’m believing today – I need a fresh start Check B – I’m beginning a real relationship with God today.

If you’d say, “Rob, it sounds good but I’d like to consider it a little bit more first. I’d like to check it out.” I’d appreciate you checking C – I’d like to consider what God wants to do in my life.

If you’d say, “Rob, I don’t ever intend to give my life to God.

I don’t think I need God in my life.  In fact I intend to live my life my way.”  Check “D”.

Why? Have the guts to be honest & come to terms where you are at

I want to ask you to respect those around you – Please stay seated, quiet and fill out this card  – We’ll take a minute – Bow your head when your done

I want to pray with you right now

First, I’m going to pray for you then you can follow me in a prayer

“Father, there are people here today who, in one way or another, are dying. And only You can give them life again. I thank you today that You bring us out from the bondage of slavery – that you save us. So today, I pray that You will move in their life in a powerful way so they can know you personally and experience real life.”

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

(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.”

If you checked “B” say this prayer with me …

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

If you made a decision to follow Christ this is your next step…Fill out Connection card – We want to send you some information this week in your emailIf you need prayer our team will be here at the end of service – Party in the Front and Prayer in the Back

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

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.”

Shift Part 1

Shift-Series

Shift Part 1

What is the size of your faith? You might have a pint of faith, a gallon of faith, or a truck size faith, but chances are whatever level faith you have: God has something for you that is waiting just beyond the level of your faith right now.

Numbers 11:31 NIV Now a wind went out from the LORD and drove quail in from the sea. It scattered them up to two cubits deep all around the camp, as far as a day’s walk in any direction.

“God shifted the wind and brought quail in from the sea and caused it to fall in their camp.”

Explain Israel’s situation coming out of Egypt – manna everyday, people were complaining – they wanted meat –

Is there anybody here can use a Shift in your life?

You can go from the back to the front, weakness to strength, poverty to plenty – we call it Holy Shift.  Say Holy Shift!

•A Holy Shift is for those who want to break out of a place of sufficiency and into a new level of God’s favor and blessings.

• A Holy Shift comes when we believe bigger than the current conditions of our lives.

• A Holy Shift causes favor to come from unlikely places, and can end a season of waiting.

•A Holy Shift goes beyond sustaining us, to blessing us.

Why settle for less than all God wants to give us?

When a Holy Shift happens, I like to think about it like a car shifting gears. When you shift from second gear up to fourth, the engine is still functioning at the same level. It’s not working harder, but you’re going faster. You’re covering more ground.

The higher gears have greater capacity. They are designed to go faster. In the same way, when a Holy Shift comes in your life, you will go further, faster — not because you’re working harder but because you have experienced a divine shift in your everyday. All of a sudden, your momentum picks up and you’re in the fast lane, surging forward.

1. Believe Bigger than the current conditions in your life

Romans 10:17 NKJVSo then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Base your faith on God’s Word, power, and ability  rather than your conditions.

•God’s word is powerful no matter how you feel.

Mark 9:23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

Believing is called Faith

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

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

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

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

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

Mark 11:22-24 NIV22 Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23 “Truly[a] I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

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

2. A holy shift can cause favor to come from unlikely, even distant places

Favor – The guarantee of His presence and the provision of His power to accomplish His special purpose in and through my life.

Psalm 84:11 NIV –For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.

Leviticus 26:9 NIV – I will look on you with favor and make you fruitful and increase your numbers, and I will keep my covenant with you.

Make a habit to Tithe

MAL. 3:10 NIV Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.

Tithing opens the windows of heaven, Offerings determines what comes out!

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

Favor produces supernatural increase and promotion. 

Genesis 39:21 But the Lord was with Joseph, and showed him mercy, and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. 

Favor produces restoration of everything that the enemy has stolen from you.

Exodus 3:21 And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians: and it shall come to pass, that, when ye go, ye shall not go empty.

3. A holy shift can end a season of waiting and make things happen faster than normal

Rom. 8:22-25 The Message – All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.

Some of us are impatient 

•waiting – 1. The act of remaining inactive or stationary. 2. A period of time spent waiting.

We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.

Waiting Renews Our Strength 

Isa. 40:31 ESV 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.

“The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg—not smashing it.” – Arnold Glasow

Col. 1:11 ESV May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy,

Waiting Refines Our Character 

Rom. 5:3-4 KJV And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope

Patience is not simply the ability to wait – it’s how we behave while we’re waiting. Joyce Meyer

Isa. 64:4 ESVFrom of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him.

Faith for immediate results

Psalm 102:2 NIV Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress. Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly.

Matthew 20:34 NIV Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.

When God moves He can do things quickly – Acceleration happens because of a shift

2 Peter 3:9 NIV  The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you…

4. The Goodness of God goes beyond sustaining us to Blessing us

Blessed – Happy, Fortunate, to be envied. To endue with power for success, prosperity, abundant, (profuse, excessive, super, overflowing, extraordinary) supply, longevity, as to live in health, To invoke divine favor and good upon. Peace

God is associated with blessing about 700 times in scripture. 

Augustine said: “God is more anxious to bestow his blessings on us than we are to receive them.”

God is a God of more than enough – Jehovah Jireh

Psalm 72:18 – Praise be to the Lord God, the God of Israel,
who alone does marvelous deeds.

“However many blessings we expect from God, His infinite liberality will always exceed all our wishes and our thoughts.”
– John Calvin

You don’t have to be in a desperate situation but if you just want to break out of a place of mediocrity. New levels are possible

Think about What God said to Abraham

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

God wanted Abraham to look beyond the place, conditions, circumstances he was in right then

Genesis 12:2 NIV – “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.

Why settle for less than all of what God wants to give us?;

Money, marriage, relationships, career…

You are moving into a season of Greater Favor and Blessings

God instructed his leaders to declare blessings and peace upon His People

Numbers 6:22‐27The Lord said to Moses, Tell Aaron and his sons, this is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. So they will put My name on the Israelites and I will bless them.”

In 40 of the 68 NT uses of the word blessing, the word used is “e_u_l_o_g_i_a_”, a word which means: To speak well of, and to praise 

This is where we get our English word eulogy, which is looking to speak well of another person who has passed away; like at a funeral.

Is.55:11 My word will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

Baggage: The Great Guilt Exchange

baggage

The Great Guilt Exchange

Last week we celebrated Palm Sunday. Jesus’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem. The people were shouting, “Jesus King of Israel, Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”.

•In I Kings 12:1-11, Rehoboam (Solomon’s son) split the kingdom because he would not lighten the yoke or burden on God’s people.

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.”

•Jesus is declaring I am the king you were looking for when the kingdom was divided. I am the king that will lighten your load. Jesus came to lighten our burdens, our oppressions, our guilt, our shame, our grief, our sorrow, our worry. Religion makes everything heavy, Jesus makes everything light! God’s grace reigns.

Psalm 38:4 NIV – My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden to heavy to bear. 

(The resurrection of Jesus Christ is about New beginnings, It’s about living free and traveling light, It’s about messes & mistakes turning into miracles & messages)

So I’m not preaching to the perfect today! But to those of us who don’t have it all together. The hurting, hopeless, and helpless. The messed up, misfits, frustrated , those of us with flaws, the imperfect, people who have had moments of indiscretion, weakness’s & failures. I’m talking about Noah who got drunk, David who murdered & commit adultery, Abraham who lied, Thomas who doubted, & Simon Peter, who denied & cursed Christ.

Today is about a great exchange, it’s about second chances. I wanna talk to you about a man named Simon Peter. Who had carried the baggage of Guilt because of a decision he made.

The Resurrection gives 2nd Chances

Mark 16:1-7 (NIV) 1 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. 2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3 and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

 6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’

Verse 7 – What a line!  It’s as if all of heaven had watched Peter fall – and it’s as if all of heaven wanted to help him back up again!  Peter your not left out! One failure doesn’t make a flop!

Micah 7:8 NIV – Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.

•The fact that you failed is proof that you are not finished!

•Failures & Mistakes can be a bridge not a barricade!

•The difference between average people & successful people is their perception and response to failure.

•Just ask Peter: You can have a second chance! 

•One minute Peter felt lower than a snakes belly and the next he was the high hog at the trough.

•Even the Angels wanted this distraught netcaster to know it wasn’t over!

Heaven said, “Be sure to tell Peter ( the one who Sinned, failed, denied Christ, blew it, lost it, messed up BIG TIME!) that he gets to bat again.

The resurrection sets us up for second chances, not failures. Even though we fail, sin, and make plenty of mistakes:

The Painful Regret of Simon Peter

John 13:36-38 (NIV) 36 Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” 37 Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38 Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!

John 14:1-3 (NIV) 1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[a]; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

Many of us read the Shakespearean play MacBeth. Lady Macbeth is an ambitious woman who wants to be queen, so she tricks and traps her husband into killing the king. As he stumbles away from the murder, he stupidly brings back the bloody knives instead of planting them in the servants quarters per her instructions. So she takes care of business herself, hiding the knives on the unsuspecting fall guys.

All progress is planned. Her husband becomes king and she the first lady. But their scheme unravels as she increasingly is consumed by the weight of guilt for the sin that she chose. By Act 5, Scene One, Lady MacBeth sleepwalks around the castle, reliving the murder scene and wringing her hands as if washing them. The bloody stains, physically washed away long ago, are spiritually still obvious. She pitifully moans, “Out, damned spot! She cannot get her conscience clean.

Lady MacBeth is just like you and me. She cannot clean her sinful self, and neither can we!  No amount of goodness can wash away sin. No amount of human kindness can resolve the debt of our own violation of God’s law. We Need GOD’s Forgiveness!

Like Lady Macbeth, Peter felt GUILT, SHAME, and CONDEMNATION for what he did. He failed. He sinned. He messed up!  He was GUILTY.

What to Do with Guilt

1. We Can Bury it

Proverbs 28:13 NIV – Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.

I John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

2. We Can Beat ourselves Up

•The good you do won’t finally save you and the bad you do won’t finally condemn you.” – Martin Luther

Psalms 38:4-8 –  4 My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear. 5 My wounds fester and are loathsome because of my sinful folly. 6 I am bowed down and brought very low; all day long I go about mourning. 7 My back is filled with searing pain;  there is no health in my body. 8 I am feeble and utterly crushed;   I groan in anguish of heart.

I John 3:18-21  – Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.19 This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: 20 If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God

c. Your heart registers right and wrong

•You do good, your heart says nice

•You do bad, your heart says Yuk, u suck, sinner, liar, hypocrite, fake, bad, dirty, Quit

•Don’t run from God when we fall, but rather run to Him

Hebrews 4:16 – 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

d. Your accuser says, GUILTY GUILTY GUILTY but JESUS says FORGIVEN FORGIVEN FORGIVEN (If we confess our sin…)

3. We can begin again a Fresh Start

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

Romans 8:1-2 –  1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a] free from the law of sin and death.

Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending!

The resurrection gives my life meaning and direction and the opportunity to start over no matter what my circumstances.

We Have Hope

I Corinthians 15:20-22 NIV – But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive

Acts 2:36-37  (NIV) 36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah. 37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 

Peter knew the answer to their shame, guilt, & condemnation: God is greater than your heart

I John 3:20 If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.

Psalm 61:1-2 (NIV) 1 Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. 2 From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

Only One Thing You Can Do: Give all your Guilt to God

Psalms 32:5 NIV – Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.

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

Christ became sin for us. The power of the Gospel is to live each waking moment having all the confidence that all our sins have been forgiven. There is no more condemnation.

Salvation: Deliverance from the power or penalty of sin; redemption. Preservation or deliverance from destruction, difficulty, or evil. Harm, ruin, or loss.

God won’t just take your sin away from you; He’ll put it so far away from you that you can’t find it anymore. That’s how forgiven you’ll be!

Psalm 103:12 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

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

Will You Make the Exchange Today?

A – I’m already a Christian
B – I’m believing today
C – I’d like to consider it a bit more
D – I don’t ever intend to make that decision

Prayer: 

If you’ve never accepted the grace of God in your life, if you’ve never turned you life over to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, you’re not going to get out of guilt and condemnation – because you can’t resurrect yourself. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life.” So I’m going to pray a simple prayer now and I invite you to follow me in that prayer. You don’t have to say it aloud. You can just kind of mumble it to yourself. As I say the words you say, God, me too. What Rob’s praying, that’s the desire of my heart. I’m going to pray and you can follow.

Dear God, [Just say that in your mind] you know every pain I’ve had in my life. And you know the confusion and the doubts I’ve had in my life. And God, you know I’ve spent a lot of my life in guilt, shame, & condemnation. I want to live in joy, freedom, and victory. I want to Live free and travel light. Thank you, God. Thank you for sending Jesus to pay for all the things I’ve done wrong by dying on the cross for me. I don’t understand it all. I don’t know how it all works. But I know I need you in my life. As much as I know how I humbly ask you, Jesus, to put your love into my life. To come into my life and make me the person you want me to be. I want to learn to love you and trust you. I want to know your presence. I want to live by your promises and I want to rely on your power instead of my own to get me through my most difficult days. I pray this humbly in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

RESET Our Relationships

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RESET Our Relationships

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

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

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

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

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

Relational Preconditions

Our relationships determine the direction and quality of our lives.

1. Am I willing to change? 

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

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

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

2. Am I willing to put others first? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Am I willing to Love as Jesus did? 

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

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

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

How to RESET Relationships

1. Strengthen my Important Relationships

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

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

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

2. Heal my Strained Relationships

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

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

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

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

3. Disconnect from Harmful Relationships

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

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

People who are more critical than complimentary

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

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

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

4. Initiate new Meaningful Relationships

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

Your spiritual family, the Church, will last for eternity

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

Questions to Ask Myself About meaningful relationships In My Life

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

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

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

Christmas at the Movies: How the Grinch Stole Christmas

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How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Luke 2:8-10 NIV –  “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”

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

Every Who down in Who-ville liked a Christmas a lot…

But the Grinch, who lived just north of Who-ville did NOT!

The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season!

Now, please don’t ask why. No one quite knows the reason.

It could be his head wasn’t screwed on just right.

It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were tight.

But I think that the most likely reason of all

May have been that his heart was two sizes too small.

But, whatever the reason, his heart or his shoes

He stood there on Christmas Eve, hating the Whos,

Staring down from his cave with a sour, Grinchy frown

At the warm lighted windows below in their town.

For he knew every Who down in Who-ville beneath

Was busy now, hanging a mistletoe wreath.

“And they’re hanging their stockings!” he snarled with a sneer

“Tomorrow is Christmas! It’s practically here!”

Then he growled, with his Grinch fingers nervously drumming

“I MUST find some way to stop Christmas coming!”

Hmmm… it seems like a Christmas has always had that kind of effect on some people

The Joy Robbers 

• Bad Things That Shouldn’t Happen, But Do, Good Things That Should Happen, But Don’t

  • Past Experiences
  • Present burdens that are heavy
  • Future hope is distant

Which causes…

1. Confusion.  distraction. turmoil, jumble, mess, disarray. perplexity; bewilderment:

•A university student was seen with a large “K” printed on his T- shirt. When someone asked him what the “K” stood for, he said, “Confused.” “But,” the questioner replied, “you don’t spell “confused” with a “K.” The student answered, “You don’t know how confused I am.

Romans 7:15, 18 LB “I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I can’t. I do what I don’t want to—what I hate. No matter which way I turn I can’t make myself do right. I want to but I can’t.”

 2. Frustration. a feeling of dissatisfaction, often accompanied by anxiety or depression, resulting from unfulfilled needs or unresolved problems.

Romans 7:21 LB “It seems to be a fact of life that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.”

3. Discouragement. depression, dejection, hopelessness. despair.  deterrent, damper, impediment, obstacle, obstruction.

Romans 7:24 The Message –   I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?

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

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

1. Joy will change my approach to life.                                                                                                               

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

Nehemiah 8:10 NIV – Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

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

2. Joy will turn my problems into blessings.

It has the ability to turn bad things into good things

Psalm 126:5 NIV  “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. “ 

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

3. Joy will affect those around You

It is contagious and can totally change the dynamic of your Christmas

Psalms 126:1-2 NIV – When the Lord restored the fortunes of[a] Zion, we were like those who dreamed.[b]2 Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”

How to Get Your Christmas JOY back

1. Take responsibility for your own emotions.

So easy to blame others – but it’s up to you. Choosing the way you’re going to view life – people

For most of us – our attitude will not take care of itself. Remember – it’s not a feeling – it’s a choice. If you don’t like the situation that faces you – change it

Hebrews 12:1 NIV  “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.”

You cannot determine what happens to you. But you can determine what happens in you

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

Dear Lord,

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

Psalm 19:14 NIV–  “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.”

Remember: The walls we build around us to keep our the hurt and sadness, also keeps out the joy

2. Develop a high appreciation for life.

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

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

We cannot choose how many years we will live

But we can choose how much life those years will have

We cannot control the beauty of our face

But we can control the expression on it

We cannot control life’s difficult moments

But we can choose to make life less difficult

We cannot control the negative atmosphere of the world

But we can control the atmosphere of our minds

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

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

3. Say something positive in every conversation.

This is hard – but can change the dynamic of every situation

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

You ever notice some people have no filter?

Best way is to pray daily…

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

People can frustrate you – must train our eyes. Look for the best in them – bring out their positive qualities

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

How?  People who have a high appreciation of life…Know that God is going to work it out for the good

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

How do we change the size of their hearts?

(CLIP FROM MOVIE from the top of Mt. Crumpit to the end which reads as follows):

Three thousand feet up! Up the side of Mt. Crumpit,

He rode with his load to the tiptop to dump it!

“Pooh-Pooh to the Whos!” he was ginch-ish-ly humming.

“They’re finding out now that no Christmas is coming!

“They’re just waking up! I know just what they’ll do!

“Their mouths will hang open a minute or two

“Then the Whos down in Who-ville will all cry BOO-HOO!

“That’s a noise,” grinned the Grinch, “That I simply MUST hear!”

So he paused. And the Grinch put his hand to his ear.

And he did hear a sound rising over the snow.

It stared in low. Then it started to grow…

But the sound wasn’t sad~ Why, this sound sounded merry!

It couldn’t be so! But it WAS merry! VERY!

He stared down at Who-ville! The Grinch popped his eyes!

Then he shook! What he saw was a shocking surprise!

Every Who down in Who-ville, the tall and the small,

Was singing! Without any presents at all!

He HADN’T stopped Christmas from coming! IT CAME

Somehow or other, it came just the same!

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,

Stood puzzling and puzzling: “How could it be so?

“It came without ribbons! It came without tags!

“It came without packages, boxes or bags!”

And he puzzled 3 hours, till his puzzler was sore.

Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!

“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “Doesn’t come from a store.

“Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more!”

And what happened then…?

Well… in Who-ville they say that the Grinch’s small heart grew 3 sizes that day!

And the minute his heart didn’t feel quite so tight,

He whizzed with his load through the bright morning light

And he brought back the toys! And the food for the feast!

And he… HE HIMSELF…!

The Grinch carved the roast beast!

———————————————-

Did you realize what a beautifully theological story this is?

What changed the heart of the Grinch?

It wasn’t the ribbons, it wasn’t the tags

It wasn’t the packages, boxes or bags

It was the witness of the people down in Who-ville…the witness of people that the Grinch had always hated because of the Christmas they celebrated.

It was their singing and their joy that changed the Grinch

God wants you to have your JOY back! 

THE WELLS OF JOY (Genesis 26) 

A. THE PHILISTINES STOPPED UP ALL THE WELLS

1. They thought this would drive Isaac away.

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

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

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

B. GOD COMMANDED ISAAC TO REDIG THE WELLS

1. Some of you need to redig the wells.

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

hide from you.

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

        of  salvation.” 

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

unstop those wells.

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

Christmas at The Movies: A Christmas Carol

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A Christmas Carol

What’s your favorite thing about Christmas? The gifts? Decorations? Candy Canes? holiday parties? Christmas music? How about the movies? No other time of year has had as many movies dedicated to it as Christmas. We are exploring behind the scenes from Christmas Classic Movies to discover a story that connects with something deeper within all of us!

Isaiah 9:6 “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

We are exploring Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Published in 1843, it’s one of the best-loved stories to be set at this time of year. Its frankly one of my favorites. We probably think we know the story back to front. After all, it’s been adapted into over 200 films, and is such a powerful tale that it’s credited with helping to define our contemporary understanding of Christmas. But a fresh look at this all-time classic, reminds us that it’s far more than just a feel-good festive tale featuring a miserly old humbug with one of the oldest catchphrases in the world. The book’s main character, of course, is the mean and intimidating Ebenezer Scrooge, who lives to make money and very little else. He certainly has no use for religion or sentimentality.

Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge had NO PEACE, He was a troubled man:

You may remember from the story how one Christmas Eve, Scrooge receives a terrifying wake-up call. The spirit of his business partner, Jacob Marley, who died seven Christmas Eves previous and was a miser like Scrooge, comes to visit, bound and wrapped in terrible chains. Marley has been condemned to roam the face of the earth, tormented in death by the things he neglected to value in life.

Marley is desperate to give his old colleague a final chance to avoid the same fate. ‘My spirit never walked beyond our counting house,’ he warns Scrooge. A great length of chain traps Jacob Marley’s spirit and weighs it down. Marley tells Scrooge that he alone forged it in life: ‘I made it, link by link and yard by yard.’ Chains that were forged with regrets and sins of his own making which he could not release, and hurts he would not forgive. And as he stands before Scrooge, he can see the even greater chains that bind his old colleague: ‘Would you know the weight and length of the coil you bear yourself?’ asks Marley. ‘It was full as heavy and as long as this, seven Christmas Eves ago. You have laboured on it since. It is a ponderous chain.’

This, he makes clear, is Scrooge’s last opportunity to turn from selfish ways.

Listen to the way Dickens describes Ebenezer Scrooge:

“No warmth could warm him, no wintry weather could chill him. No wind that blew was more bitter than he. The heaviest rain, and snow, and hail, and sleet, could boast of the advantage over him in only one respect. They often came down handsomely, and Scrooge never did.”

ILL> At one point in the story, his nephew Fred stops by to wish him a merry Christmas. That’s where those famous words were spoken, “Bah, humbug.”

ILL> In another scene two gentlemen stop by to ask for a donation to help the poor during the holidays. They even offer to keep Scrooge’s gift anonymous if he wishes. “What I wish is to be left alone. I don’t make merry myself at Christmas and I can’t afford to make idle people merry.” They reply, “Then many will die.”

“If they would rather die, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

  • Not many in the world cared for Ebenezer Scrooge, but worse yet, he cared for no one but himself. He was a man who had NO Peace.

• On Christmas Eve he is visited by 3 spirits

1. The spirit of Christmas past showed a happier time when Ebenezer fell in love, but chose to invest himself in making riches instead of relationships

2. The spirit of Christmas present showed him the down and out in the world and how Bob Crachit’s family struggled to make ends meet–and there were others who were unable to do so altogether

3. The spirit of Christmas yet to come. Tiny Tim had passed because there were no funds to cure his ailing body •Ebenezer died, but no one seemed to care •Finally, he is faced with his own grave.

•Even though The Christmas Carol is a fictional story set in London in 1843. It remains amazingly relevant today.

Not Much Peace today

 John 16:33I 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.”

•Unavoidable circumstances.

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

•Unbearable people.
Psalms 109:3
“With words of hatred they surround me; they attack me without cause.”

Never Forget the 3 Types of People in Your Life: 1. Those who helped in your difficult time, 2. Those who left you in your difficult time, 3. Those who put you in your difficult time

•Unexplainable problems.

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

3 Reasons for Life’s Problems: 1. Sin – We are in an imperfect world, 2. Satan – common enemy, 3. Self – We make mistakes

(Sometimes it’s nobody’s fault)

John 9:1-3 MSG1-2 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- 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

How to Receive Peace this Christmas

Luke 2:10-14 “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

Peace- Shalom, fullness, freedom of the mind from annoyance, distraction, anxiety, an obsession, etc.; tranquillity; serenity.

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

John 14:27 LB “I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart! And the peace I give isnʼt fragile like the peace the world gives. So donʼt be troubled or afraid.”

1. Receive Godʼs pardon.

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

Micah 7:18 “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives…You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.”

2. Run to Godʼs presence.

Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.”

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

3. Respect Godʼs principles.

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

Peace comes through Obedience

4. Rely on Godʼs provision.

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

Trust God to take care of things beyond our control

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

There is no need to dwell on the “What if’s” of life – Our response is either panic or pray, worry or worship!

Be Transformed! When you put your care in His Hands, He puts His Peace in your Heart

Fortunately for Scrooge, this is the life-changing moment while he is at his own grave, when he understands that it’s now or never. He asks whether it’s possible to mend his ways and so alter his life and destiny. Surely the Spirits wouldn’t be visiting him if not? As Christmas morning dawns and he wakes, once more, to the world, Scrooge realizes that he has been given a reprieve- a second chance. Just as Dickens believed we have all been given another chance, only because of the birth of the hero of the greatest Christmas story, Jesus.

The good news is that if we will learn from the past, we can change now so that we can create a better future. Just as the spirits of Christmas wanted Scrooge to change for good. Christmas is the time and place where God draws back the curtain, so we can see his face. Because we are bound by chains that bound old Jacob Marley, Jesus has come to give us peace, But we must look to the Christ The good news is that we, like Scrooge, are still alive. It’s not too late: we can choose to change. Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards. Whatever our past has been, we can have a better future.

At the heart of ‘A Christmas Carol’ lies Scrooge’s transformation. Transformation means change. Change from a selfish, greedy, Troubled, and bitter old man, we see him become a grateful, generous, Peaceful, and compassionate figure. A man that was filled with deep regret sees his life transformed, to the point where Dickens concludes he became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew.’ We assume that Scrooge learns his lesson, and experiences what amounts to a ‘conversion’. He responds by changing his ways and living out the lessons that he learnt on that Christmas Eve.

 

SuperNatural – The Holy Spirit

Supernatural web

SuperNatural – The Holy Spirit

I’ve talked to many Christians about the Holy Spirit, many are uniformed; they’ve never been taught about the Holy Spirit. Others are misinformed, having been taught inaccurate, non-biblical things about the Holy Spirit. Some have been told the Holy Spirit isn’t for today or even that it is of the devil.

The Holy Spirit is for today and is at work in the church around the world.

I really believe God has an incredible plan for your life and apart of that great plan is understanding and receiving  the life, power, freedom, and strength that the Holy Spirit can bring.

I Corinthians 2:9-14 NIV – However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”[a]—the things God has prepared for those who love him—10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.[b] 14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.

•If we want to receive all God has for us, then we’re going to have to move beyond the natural realm into the supernatural realm.

John 14:16-17 NIV – And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.

John 16:7 NLT – But it is actually best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Counselor won’t come. If I do go away, he will come because I will send him to you.

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

Why The Holy Spirit is Necessary

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

•Our spirit is drawn to idolatry.

(Matthew 6:24 NIV) “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”

•Our soul is drawn to pride. 

(Galatians 5:22-23 NIV) “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and selfcontrol.”

•Our body is drawn to lust.

(1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV) “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”

THE HOLY SPIRIT GIVES YOU THE POWER

  1. OF SALVATION.

John 3:5-6 NIV – Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.

Romans 8:16 NIV – The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.

2) TO WALK IN GOD’S WILL.

John 14:26  NIV – But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

John 16:13 NIV – But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come

3) TO SHARE CHRIST BOLDLY.

1 Corinthians 2:4-5 NIV – My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.

Acts 1:8 NIV – “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

4) TO LIVE A HOLY LIFE.

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.

“Without the presence of the Holy Spirit there is no conviction, no regeneration, no sanctification, no cleansing, no acceptable works…Life is in the quickening Spirit” – WA Criswall

Galatians 5:16-17 NLT – So I advise you to live according to your new life in the Holy Spirit. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The old sinful nature loves to do evil, which is just opposite from what the Holy Spirit wants…These two forces are constantly fighting each other, and your choices are never free from this conflict.

5) TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE WITH SPIRITUAL GIFTS.

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

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

1 Corinthians 12:7 NLT – A spiritual gift is given to each of us as a means of helping the entire church.

SPIRIT-FILLED ADVICE

•YOU WILL NEVER BE MORE SPIRITUAL THAN YOU ARE SCRIPTURAL

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

The Holy Spirit will always reveal God’s Word to us. The Holy Spirit never contradicts God’s Word

  • DON’T RESIST THE SPIRIT.

Acts 7:51 NIV – “You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit!”

  • BE FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT.

Ephesians 5:18  NIV – Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.

GOD’S PROMISE TO YOU!

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