Uncommon Families

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Uncommon Families

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but “Leave it to Beaver” has left, Mayberry is a distant memory, and the Waltons have said, “goodnight!”,  The Brady Bunch has left the building. The little house we live in no longer resembles the one on the prairie! We have moved from “Father Knows Best” to we aren’t sure daddy knows anything! and The Partridge Family ain’t singing no more.The day we live is different. The climate has changed. This modern age has impacted and shaped our families. And as we are seeing now the goal of this modern age is not really to shape but to redefine family. Unfortunately, we will never be able to go back to yesterday. Therefore, we must learn to deal with today and tomorrow. However, even though we are in the modern age I believe there are still some old truths that modern family’s need today.

What has gone wrong with America’s Family?

· Did you know that in the US, every 8 seconds of every school day a child drops out of school?

· Every 26 seconds a child runs away from home.

· Every 47 seconds a child is either abused or neglected.

· Every 7 minutes a child is arrested for a drug offense.

· Every 36 minutes a child is either hurt or killed by a gun.

(Jeremiah 6:16 ESV) Thus says the Lord: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’

“The family has always been the cornerstone of American society. Our families nurture, preserve, and pass on to each succeeding generation the values we share and cherish, values that are the foundation for our freedoms. In the family we learn our first lessons of God and man, love and discipline, rights and responsibilities, human dignity and human frailty.” Ronald Reagan

Condition of Today’s Family

• Distracted.

 (Isaiah 53:6 NIV) “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way.”

STAT: Average father spends 7 minutes a day with his kids. That’s 49 minutes for the week

• Divided.

 (Mark 3:25 ESV)  And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand“ (NLT) A family splintered by feuding will fall apart.”

• Disrespectful.

(Titus 3:3 ESV) For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.

• Dysfunctional.

(James 3:14-16 NLT) “But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.”

Dysfunction is Dangerous – dys means dangerous, impaired in function. A dysfunctional family is one functioning dangerously

Family is not an important thing , it’s everything!

Nehemiah 4:14 NIV After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”

  1. Nehemiah faced the awesome task in the restoration of Jerusalem. But he was surrounded with: 1. Unbelief  2. Opposition
    1. He lacked resources and he was operating in hostile territory with a meager number of supporters.
    2. He had to have a plan that had enough power and energy to overcome obstacles.
    3. Nehemiah put the people on two Unshakable Foundations:
      1. The Sovereign power of God
      2. The nearly unlimited protective power that comes from men and women when they fight for their families
      3. Nehemiah’s Strategy was that he was to station the rebuilders in front of their own house (Nehemiah 3:4)

How to be an Uncommon Family

If you don’t have kids these are amazing principles for your life – If you do have kids these are principles that will help grow your child

  1. Love and Serve God

Deuteronomy 6:4-5 NIV – Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

Kids Who Become Active Christ-followers as Adults

If mom and dad went to church:     72% of kids will as adults.

If mom only went to church:            15% of kids will as adults.

If dad only went to church:              55% of kids will as adults.

If neither mom nor dad:                   06% of kids will as adults.

(Joshua 24:15 NIV) But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Joshua made a choice for his home. His choice was for his household to serve one God only. A choice against idolatry and for faithfulness. Regardless of the choices of others Joshua’s wife and children knew which way he would lead them.

•The challenges of Joshua’s day are no less than those we live among today. We have to choose to live according to God’s design for us IN OUR HOMES and FAMILIES.

•Is Christ is the head of this house, The unseen guest at every meal, The silent listener to every conversation.

The Most Important thing in Life

Matthew 22:37-38 NIV  Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.

Do you love God with all of your heart or some of your heart?

2.  Make God’s Word the standard.

•With so many “experts” running around with all of their ideas and inventions, It can sometimes be confusing to know who to listen to. The Bible specifically outlines God’s original design for the family. As long as we live according to His will, we can avoid the world’s less than perfect lifestyle and live in His perfect peace.

(1 Corinthians 3:19 NIV)  For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness

•Arguments and division need to be squelched with a higher authority than opinions or out of control emotions. To be a functional family in the plan of God, we must live according to Biblical principles. What is right for this situation according to the scriptures? How can this problem be solved with a Biblical mindset?

(Psalm 119:24 NIV) Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors.

Obeying God’s Word brings blessings to the family – Obedience is our Success

Deuteronomy 5:29 NIV – Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!

Deuteronomy 12:28 NIV – Be careful to obey all these regulations I am giving you, so that it may always go well with you and your children after you, because you will be doing what is good and right in the eyes of the Lord your God.

Remember: Our instruction to our kids is never better than God’s

Proverbs 1:7 NIV – The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

3. Lead Your Family

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 NIV – These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.

“The thing that impresses me most about America is the way the parents obey their children.” Edward, Duke of Windsor

Girl from (COYFC) comment – “I looked at my parents and family of an example of what not to be and do”.

Proverbs 22:6 ESVTrain up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Train: to initiate, dedicate, or train.

  1. Train them to manage God’s money. (Prov. 3:9-10) 2) Train them to carefully select friends. (Prov. 13:20) 3) Train them to watch their words. (Prov. 4:24) 4) Train them to be responsible. (Prov. 6:6-8) 5) Train them to guard their minds. (Prov. 23:7) 6) Train them to be generous. (Prov. 11: 25) 7) Train them to fear God. (Prov. 1:7)

Are you leading your children or are your children leading you?

4. Pray for and with your Family

Prayer is the way we write the future. It’s the difference between letting things happen and making things happen!

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

We have 2 options – We can Panic or Pray -You decide – Martin Luther said, “Pray and let God worry”

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

Remember this  – You’ll never be a perfect parent, but you can be a praying parent.

 

Ill.—little boys staying overnight in backyard in a tent. Dad listened to them talk… “my daddy knows the mayor!”/ “governor!”/then he heard the voice of his own little boy say, “that’s nothin’, my daddy knows God!” (top that!) They said, he does not! “does too!” How do you know? “I heard him talkin’ to him just this morning!” 

When you face unexpected problems and pressures, when you have a crisis, who do you turn to? God says,”Turn to Me first when you’ve got a problem.” Many people, when they’re in a tight situation, prayer is the last resort, not the first option. They do everything they can physically to try to correct the problem then they say, “I guess now all we can do is pray.” Like it must really be hopeless! Prayer should not be your last resort, it should be your first option.

Make God your first resort in difficulty. He says He is an ever present help a refuge in time of need. God is waiting. He commands us to turn to Him first.

Psalm. 50:15 “Call upon Me in your day of trouble and I will deliver you and you will honor Me.”

Some people get embarrassed and think, I don’t talk to God much when times are good and I don’t want to bother him with my problems. God says, “Bother Me. It’s no bother. I can handle your and every other person’s problems at the same time. Bring it to me. Don’t carry it all yourself.”

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

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

When we pray we give God legal invitation to bring His will to pass. His will is always accomplished through obedience in prayer.

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

I Thessalonians 5:7 NLT – Never stop praying

Prayer is always the will of God – Don’t Give Up, Get Frustrated, disappointed, or lose hope – Praying is what we do in our time, and the answer happens in God’s time

One prayer can change ANYTHING. one prayer can change EVERYTHING

A Prayer for Family

Heavenly Father, Please shine your light upon my family. Give us strength to overcome all of the difficulties that we are dealing with now and protect us against any and all problems we may encounter in the future. O Lord, please bring us together as we are meant to be. May the love that binds us only grow stronger as we fulfill the destiny you have laid out for us.

Grant my family forgiveness for any sins we have committed. May we also forgive one another Lord, as it is sometimes difficult to do. Father, let no sickness, disease, harm, division, distruction, or injury come upon us, protect us, have your angels encamped around us and protect us. Stop the assignment of the enemy. We will prosper, be in health, and our souls with prosper. Bless us Lord, In your name I pray, Amen

ENDING

If we’ve failed or messed up in these areas (and most likely we all have) – we can make a fresh start today! 

Acts 3:19-20 NIV – Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20 and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus.

Lamentations 5:21 MSG Bring us back to you, GOD—we’re ready to come back. Give us a fresh start.

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

The Best Year of Your Life Pt.4

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The Best Year of Your Life Pt.4 – Habits

We are designed by God to be creatures of habit, and many of us are stuck in a pattern of negative ones.

Most people are plagued with the “Someday Syndrome” Your SOMEDAY must be TODAY.

Someday, things will get better in my life.

Someday, I will start to tithe and serve

Someday, I will start to pray and read my Bible

Someday, I will earn more money

Someday, I will get healthier

Someday, I will spend more time with my family

Unfortunately, “SOMEDAY” never comes – Today is the day we have.

Example – The Domino Effect

•One habit triggers other habits causing an accumulative effect on your life – good or bad.

•Habits and human behavior are tied to one another – Habits are seeds that produce a harvest.

(Hebrews 12:11 NIV) “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

I am your constant companion.

I am your greatest helper or heaviest burden.

I will push you onward or drag you down to failure.

I am completely at your command.

Half the things you do you might just as well turn over to me, and I will be able to do them quickly, correctly.

I am easily managed – you must merely be firm with me. Show me exactly how you want something done, and after a few lessons I will do it automatically.

I am the servant of all great people; and alas, of all failures as well. Those who are failures, I have made failures.

I am not a machine, though I work with all the precision of a machine plus the intelligence of a human being.

You may run me for a profit or turn me for ruin – it makes no difference to me.

Take me, train me, be firm with me, and I will place the world at your feet.

Be easy with me and I will destroy you.

Who am I?

I AM HABIT.

You will never change your life until you change something you do daily.

H-A-B-I-T…When 95% of people hear this word, a negative thought pops up in their minds. Typically, most people think of a habit being negative. If there are negative habits that can destroy people’s lives then there are also positive habits that can build our lives.

The secret to your future lies in your daily habits so ask yourself right now, “Are my habits today going to help me achieve my success and shift in life?”

“Successful people are simply those with successful habits”

Habits – a usual way of behaving : something that a person does often in a regular and repeated way; a pattern of behavior. Habit comes from a Latin word which means to “hold” or “live in”.

The Roman poet Ovid said, “Nothing is stronger than habit.” Dr. Samuel Johnson, said, “Habits are chains that are too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.” Habits can become stronger than life itself. An old Spanish proverb says, “Habits begin like threads in a spider’s web, but end like the chains in a prison.”

Some people are always late, while others are never late

Some people always see the problems, while others always see the possibilities

Some people are predictable frowners, while others are predictable smilers

•the habit of making yourself look good

•the habit of not giving and serving

•the habit of giving up too early

•the habit of not telling the whole truth

•the habit of taking the easy way

•the habit of getting angry all the time

•the habit of blaming others for everything

•the habit of feeling sorry for yourself

•the habit of ducking your responsibilities

Do I need to go on? Have I named your bad habit yet?

In 1989 Steven Covey wrote a bestselling book entitled “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” which outlined 7 habits which he promises guarantee success in life.

Success often depends on the habits you develop. The Greek philosopher Aristotle once said, We are what we repeatedly do. 

A doctor was counseling his patient about a problem with his weight. “I don’t know what the problem is doctor. I just can’t seem to get rid of this flab. Maybe I have an overactive thyroid.” To which the doctor replied, “Listen, I’ve run tests and your thyroid is fine. If anything’s overactive it’s your fork.” LOL

•Ouch! That’s not what we like to hear! It’s not always easy to get rid of unhealthy habits, is it? It’s not always easy to develop new healthy habits you’ve never practiced before. But the truth is your habits really can make you or break you. One of the keys to living life to the fullest is to develop healthy habits not only of body, but of mind and spirit.

I want to look to a better book than Covey’s—I want us to look at God’s book, the Bible, where we can discover habits which can guarantee success in your life-not success in the stock market, or success as the world measures success, or lasting success in the eyes of God.

Isaiah 55:7-9 NIV – Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.8  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,”declares the Lord.9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

1. Bad Habits Are Difficult to Break 

Destructive, bad habits form unseen chains that make a slave out of you – and finally destroy you.

Repeat anything long enough and it will start to become you

Bad habits are easy to develop, and often hard to deal with and remove. The best time to deal with a bad habit is NOW! To delay only allows the habit to get entrenched deeper in our lives.

JC Penney said, The best way to stop a bad habit is never to begin it

A bad habit is something you find yourself doing even though it is destructive either physical, mentally, emotionally, relationally or spiritually. Or you consistently do something you wish you wouldn’t do, but you find yourself doing it any way.

(Romans 7:15, 18-19, 20-21, 25 NLT) “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. 18 I want to do what is right, but I can’t. 19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. 21 I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.”

•Confused. •Conflicted. •Discouraged.

ILL. I heard the story of how elephants are brought into captivity. Have you ever been to a circus and seen a giant elephant with a small rope around its ankle? Did you ever stop to think, hey, wait a minute? Physically speaking, there is no way that small little rope can hold back that giant elephant! And did you ever wonder how it happened that a giant elephant could be held in place by something that does not have the power to contain him.

Here’s how it works. When trainers begin taming a baby elephant, they place a heavy chain around its ankle and stake the chain into the ground. Day after day, hour after hour, the baby elephant struggles to escape. But his efforts are in vain. He simply cannot break free from the grips of that powerful chain. Eventually he surrenders. He resolves in his mind that there is no possible way he can escape that chain. So he relinquishes forever the struggle to be free.

Then when he has given up trying, his masters replace that giant chain with the small little rope. If the elephant ever opened his eyes to the truth, he could break free at any moment. All it would take is one try, but since the elephant doesn’t know that, he doesn’t take a step in the right direction of freedom.

And so it happens that ten, twenty, thirty years later, the giant elephant remains held in bondage by something that really has no power to control him, except the power he chooses to give it.

The Promise is: 

Galatians 5:1 NLT – So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.

True freedom is not the right to do what I want but the power to do what I ought!

Romans 12:2 NLT – “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

Harness the Power of a Good Habit – Bad habits must be replaced by good ones

It’s not so much that we break bad habits; we must replace them.

example– Worry needs replaced with trust in God, negative thoughts with faith filled positive thoughts

Ex: An old Cherokee tale tells of a grandfather teaching life principles to his grandson. The wise old Cherokee said Son on the inside of every person a battle is raging between 2 wolves. One wolf is evil… It’s angry, jealous, unforgiving, proud and lazy. The other wolf is good. It’s filled with love, kindness, generosity and self control… the 2 wolves are constantly fighting. The little boy thought about it and said Grandfather, which wolf is going to win? The grandfather smiled and said whichever one you feed.

Ephesians 4:17-24 NIV – So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

2. To Have a Great Year You Must Have Great Habits

•Luke 4:16 – Jesus had a habit of going to church every Sabbath

•Daniel 6:10 – Daniel had a habit of giving thanks to God in prayer three times a day

•Psalms 34:1 – David had a habit of praising God continually

When you change habits, by improving them, you literally change and improve your life. 

•A change of habit can change your financial position… you can be in a completely different position 3 months from now…

•A change of habit can put you in better relationships… (attend life group)

•A change of habit can change the atmosphere of your Home

•A change of habit can add incredible insight to your life… (reading books)

•A change of habit can add years to your life and increase the quality of your life…

OUR LIFE GETS BETTER WHEN WE GET BETTER. 

When you practice good habits you produce good fruit. (results) Good habits will make your life easier, more successful, and more productive.

Matt. 12:33 “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.

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

Habits are like gravity; they will always pull you towards them.

First We make a Habit, then a Habit makes us

Nobody is going to compete in the Olympics without first embracing a lifestyle of Habit. Champions have champion habits.

If you want to rise above mediocrity…If you want to create a positive force that will move you towards massive success….then you must develop good habits.

(1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NLT) “Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should.”

(Hebrews 12:1 NLT) “…Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us.”

“We sow our thoughts, and we reap our actions. We sow our actions and we reap our habits. We sow our habits, and we reap our character, and we reap our destiny.”

When You Change your Habits, by replacing them, You literally change and improve your Life 

Bad habits are not one time experiences. When what you do repeatedly changes, your life changes

Life Style habits that change our lives when we change (Shift) them:

Spending habits, driving habits, social habits, talking habits, dressing habits, eating and drinking habits, giving habits, reading habits, sexual habits, church attendance habits, and exercise habits.

Those Change of Habit: 

Can qualify you for a promotion,

Can open the door for new and better relationships to enter your life

Can increase and position you in a place of prosperity

Can change the atmosphere in your home

Can add years to your life and increase the quality of your life

If We are not making positive habits in our lives, then negative habits (changes) are making us.

When it comes to God’s plan for your life and year, your habits will hold you back or move you forward.

•If you could change one habit, what would you change? Whatever the answer is, make every effort to add to who you already are as a person

2 Peter 1:5-8 NIV – For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Never Stop Changing Never stop replacing Habit for Habit. Whenever negative habits are allowed to linger in our lives, they steal the possibilities of a new and better life!

It’s not what you HEAR that makes you Change, It’s what you DO

Your life does not get better by chance. It gets better by CHANGE. Don’t be a victim of your habits.

James 1:22-25 ESV – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

Be careful of your thoughts, for your thoughts become words

Be careful of your words, for your words become actions

Be careful of your actions, for your actions become habits

Be careful of your habits, for your habits become your character

Be careful of your character, for your character becomes your destiny

3. The Next step towards having the best year of your life is to DECIDE you’re not going to stay where you are.

Your Future is Determined by Your Decisions

Deuteronomy 30:19 NIV – This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live

Choose – pick out or select (someone or something) as being the best or most appropriate of two or more alternatives.

Your Best year of your life starts by the Habits your make TODAY.  NOW is the TIME to fix the Next 10 years!

Your future is not a matter of chance, but a matter of choice! Today’s decisions will have a big impact on your life and future.

•You are one good habit away from a domino effect of having a great year!

You make decisions and decisions will make you.” – Lester Sumrall

“Success and failure are not overnight experiences. It’s the small decisions along the way that cause people to fail or succeed.” –Anthony Robbins

Is there anything you are not happy about in your life, career, health and money? Make a decision Right Now about how you are going to change it.

Don’t waste your life/year! Don’t settle for second best! Don’t go through life just existing, coping, or getting by!

Believers Guide to the Election

Believer-TitleBy Daniel Lewis

Presidential Election

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

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

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

We’re going to look at 5 Major questions…

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

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

Governments in the Bible

Theocracy: God as King

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

Monarchy: Man as King

United Kingdom

 

Divided Kingdom

 

  • Kings:
    • Saul
    • David
    • Solomon

 

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

 

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

Isaiah 9:6-7

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

A New Government

The Invisible Kingdom

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

Mark 1:15  (NIV)

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

 

Luke 17:20 (NIV)

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

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

God had something way bigger in mind.

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

Col 1:13-14

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

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


Philippians 2:8-11

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

 

Who then are we subject to?

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

We are still subject to the earthly authorities

Colossians 1:15-18

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

Romans 13:1-2

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

Who then do we obey?

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

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


The United States of America

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

Democracy

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

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

Sometimes the majority is not necessarily right…

A lone man refusing to do the Nazi salute, 1936

Winston Churchill once commented…

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

 

The First Amendment

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

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

These are amazing freedoms which protect us!

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

Somebody, say “God bless America!”

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

What have we established so far?

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


5 Major Questions

1. Who really chooses the President?

God Is Sovereign over all Creation

King Nebuchadnezzar

Daniel 4:28-32

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

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

God also respects the will of the people

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

1 Samuel 8:6-7

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

God warns the people of what this will mean…

  • Taxes
  • Conscription
  • Giving up land

1 Samuel 8:19-22

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

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

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

2. Does your vote matter?

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

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

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

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

King Cyrus

150 years before he would free Gods people from Exile.

Isaiah 44:24

Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer…

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

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

Isaiah 45

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

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

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

Deborah

Judges 4:4

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

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

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

Are we to take people at their word alone?

Jesus spoke of the parable of two Sons:

Matthew 21:28-30

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

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

Tips for Surviving the Election

1 Thessalonians 5

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

Let’s unpack this verse…

1. Rejoice always

Don’t let the news get you down.

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

2. Pray continually

God is sovereign but he still needs us to Pray!

Remember the Kingdom of Darkness…

Daniel 10:12

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

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

Matthew 6:9-13

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

 

2 Chronicles 7:14

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

 

3. Give thanks in all circumstances

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

4. Do not quench the Spirit

The Holy Spirit will give you Gods perspective.

1 Cor 2:15-16

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

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

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

Example

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

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

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

Jeremiah 29:7

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

 

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

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

Amos 3:7

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

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


Other Tips

1. Avoid Arguments

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

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

2. Be “Unoffendable”

Love your enemy, pray for those who mistreat you

3. Compromise

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

4. Vote!

The Power of Inclusiveness

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The Power of Inclusiveness

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

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

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

Jesus was an includer of all kinds of people

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

Two issues in this story

1. Sin – Right and Wrong (The Law)

Where was the man?

Bias – Demeaning towards women

Jesus said – DO NOT JUDGE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

•Jesus pursues the imperfect

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

Luke 15 – lost coin, lost sheep, prodigal son

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to be Radically Inclusive

1. We validate people by including people

Ephesians 2:19-21 MSG  – That’s plain enough, isn’t it? You’re no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home.

Paul was saying, You belong here

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

Separate the behavior from the individual 

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

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

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

2. We should include people immediately

Jesus included her immediately. no hoops, no proving time

•She Allowed Jesus to Accept Her

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

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

•She Allowed Jesus to Change Her

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

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

Dream Big Pt.3 – Dreaming is Praying

DreamBig_SM

Dream Big Pt.3 – Dreaming is Praying

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

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

•God gives us the ability to dream and imagine in order to move us into the purpose He has for our lives.

•A dream is a “faith picture”; seeing something with your mind’s eye that you hope to one day see with natural eye.

A few years I read a little book by Catherine Marshall titled  Adventures in Prayer and I’ll never forget one thing she wrote. She said, “Dreaming is praying.” I think she’s right. In my experience, the more I pray the more dream. Start with prayer!

Dreaming is a form of praying and praying is a form of dreaming. And as Catherine Marshall says, “There is no limit to what this combination of dreams and prayer can achieve.”

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

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

1. All Dreams need to be designed in the context of prayer

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

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

Ephesians 1:17-23 NIV I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit[a] of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

You need a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention because it will force you to get on your knees and seek God. Big dreams are the best thing for us spiritually. They make us pray. They make us seek God. They force us to live the way we ought to live—in complete dependence on God.

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

Ephesians 3:20 NIV – Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,

I was challenged and convicted a few years ago by something David Yonggi Cho said: “God doesn’t answer vague prayers.” Let me explain why. I think vague prayers are cop-outs. God doesn’t answer vague prayers because they don’t require any faith and God doesn’t get the glory. Sometimes we pray in such vague terms that there is no way God can or cannot answer our prayers. I think we’re vague because we don’t want to hold ourselves accountable. Or we’re afraid.

2. A Big God = Big Prayers and Big Dreams

God asks Moses a question. It’s more than a question. It’s the question. Your answer to this question, the question, will determine the size of your prayers and dreams.

Numbers 11:23 NLT –  Then the Lord said to Moses, “Has my arm lost its power? (Is there any limit to my power?) Now you will see whether or not my word (dream) comes true!”

The obvious answer to that question is no. God is omnipotent, which means by definition, there is nothing God cannot do. Yet many of us pray as if our problems are bigger than God. So let me remind you of this high-octane truth that should fuel your faith: God is infinitely bigger than your biggest problem or biggest dream. And while we’re on the topic, His grace is infinitely bigger than your biggest sin

The modern mystic, A. W. Tozer, believed that a low view of God is the cause of a hundred lesser evils, but a high view of God is the solution to ten thousand temporal problems. If that’s true, and I believe it is, then your biggest problem isn’t an impending divorce or failing business or doctor’s diagnosis. Please understand: I’m not making light of your relational or financial or health issues. I certainly don’t want to minimize the overwhelming challenges you might be facing. But in order to regain a godly perspective on your problems, you have to answer this question: are your problems bigger than God or is God bigger than your problems? Our biggest problem is our small view of God. That is the cause of all lesser evils. And it’s a high view of God that is the solution to all other problems.

Is there any limit to God’s power? 

Ephesians 3:20 NIV – Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,

•(amplified version-  “Now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams]”

Have you answered the question? There are only two options: yes or no. Until you come to the conviction that God’s grace and power knows no limits, you will pray small prayers and dream small dreams.

We serve a BIG God!

Isaiah 40:12 NIV – Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?

Once you embrace the omnipotence of God – you will pray big prayers and dream big dreams!

Isaiah 44:24 NIV – This is what the Lord says— your Redeemer, who formed 

you in the womb:I am the Lord, the Maker of all things,who stretches out the heavens, who spreads out the earth by myself,

Isaiah 45:12 NIV – It is I who made the earth and created mankind on it.
My own hands stretched out the heavens; I marshaled their starry hosts.

The size of prayers depends on the size of our God. And if God knows no limits, then neither should our prayers. God exists outside of the four space-time dimensions He created. We should pray that way! We should dream that way!

•••It reminds me of the man who was sizing up God by asking, “God, how long is a million years to you?” God said, “A million years is like a second.” Then the man asked, “How much is a million dollars to you?” God said, “A million dollars is like a penny.” The man smiled and said, “Could you spare a penny?” God smiled back and said, “Sure, just wait a second.”

3. The Secret to Big Prayers and Big Dreams

It’s not difficult. It’s quite elementary. It’s crucial to change the way that we pray in order to obtain positive results.

Jesus taught a fundamental formula of Praying that gets results. Answers to our Prayers can be a reality. 

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

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

A. Ask God

Matthew 7:7-8 ESV “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be open.

God Makes Outrageous Promises About What He Does WHEN WE PRAY

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

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

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

•If you want to see Great Results in prayer and our dreams then be specific when you ask God for what you want, need, or desire.

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

I John 5:14-15 ESV 14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.

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

We have some WHATEVER and ANYTHING Dreams and Prayers for God to do! 

B.  Believe That You Receive

Mark 11:24 ESV – Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received[a] it, and it will be yours.

•You must know what you want is yours the moment you ask!

•The Rule here is “Ask in Prayer” (When you pray) – not after you pray, not when you feel something, not when you see something. The moment you pray believe you receive! NOW! This is very difficult for many people. Why? Because they struggle with their belief.

“I can get more out of God by believing Him for one minute than I can by shouting at Him all night.”- Smith Wigglesworth

The Law of Belief states, “What  person believes in their heart with conviction becomes their reality.

•We manifest what we believe. You may or may not be aware of what you truly believe, but basically that is what “issues” are coming to pass in your life.

How do I create a belief system that causes me to receive the answers to my prayers?

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

Don’t Give Up, Don’t Get Frustrated, disappointed, or lose hope – Praying is what we do in our time, and the answer manifests in God’s time! 

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

-The desires placed within us can be an indication of God’s will for our lives

When We Pray and Dream our promise is the following 4 things:

  1. Nothing shall be impossible to you
  2. Ask what you will, and it will be done
  3. Ask anything in Jesus’ name, and He will do it!
  4. Whatsoever things you desire when you pray, You will have them!

One dream, one prayer can change ANYTHING. one dream, one prayer can change EVERYTHING

Shift Pt.7 – Relationships

Shift-Series

Shift Pt.7 – Relationships

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

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

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

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

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

The Purpose for People in your Life

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

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

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

The 3 Levels are:

  1. Relationship
  2. Friendship
  3. Companionship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

•Laying down my life (Time)

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

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

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

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

Relational Preconditions

Our relationships determine the direction and quality of our lives.

1. Am I willing to change? 

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

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

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

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

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

2. Am I willing to put others first? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Am I willing to Love as Jesus did? 

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

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

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

How to have a SHIFT in Relationships

1. Strengthen my Important Relationships

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

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

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

2. Heal my Strained Relationships

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

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

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

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

3. Disconnect from Harmful Relationships

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

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

People who are more critical than complimentary

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

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

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

4. Initiate new Meaningful Relationships

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

Your spiritual family, the Church, will last for eternity

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

Questions to Ask Myself About meaningful relationships In My Life

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

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

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

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

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

Shift Pt.5 – Vision

Shift-Series

Shift Pt 5 – Vision 

We’re in a series called “SHIFT” In The book of Exodus is the story of 2 million Israelite slaves who leave Egypt with a dream of freedom…..a promise…a hope. But the Egyptians did not want to let them go and chased them. There’s one point where it looks like they are trapped= the Egyptian army is behind them…..and there’s nothing but a sea in front of them….

Exodus 14:19-20 Message – The angel of God that had been leading the camp of Israel now shifted and got behind them. And the Pillar of Cloud that had been in front also shifted to the rear. The Cloud was now between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel. The Cloud enshrouded one camp in darkness and flooded the other with light. The two camps didn’t come near each other all night.

This Shift created a separation between them and their past. A “visual” separation.

  1. THIS WAS GOD’S WAY OF SAYING I DON’T WANT YOU LOOKING BEHIND YOU… I WANT YOU TO SHIFT YOUR ATTENTION TO WHAT’S IN FRONT OF YOU.

Think about this. How many times have you seen people in your family….people at church…whose attention is constantly pulled into the past?

•Maybe they are living with regrets of what they did or did not do…I could have said this….Why did I do that?….What was he thinking? What was I thinking?

• Maybe they are constantly re-living a season in their life that is over…it

could be a past relationship that ended or it could be an offense that they still carry with them towards someone. It could just be that they have imagined the past as being the best days of their life….so they keep re-living it.

*Whether the past is good or bad…there’s no future in it!!

• When you’re re-living the past, you’re missing out on the present and sabotaging the future! God wants all of us to know the same thing he wanted the people of Israel to know….”I’ll take care of the past—-you

just need to put your attention on the future!

This story is symbolic of how God wants us to see baptism in water…..a place where we create separation of our old life from our new life. Gods saying “I don’t want you to be haunted by your past….hunted by your past….I want to create a separation and as long as we keep looking forward and keep our attention on our new life that’s exactly what happens!

2) THE WRONG PERSPECTIVE CAN KEEP YOU OUT OF YOUR PROMISE LAND BUT A SHIFT IN PERSPECTIVE OPENS UP THE DOORS OF GOD’S PROMISES

While the angel and the cloud got behind them….God started opening the

future out in front of them…..BUT WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IS…that the story of this divine shift started back several verses with Moses telling the people to make a shift in their perspective and the way they were looking at the situation they were in.

Exodus 14:10-14 MSG – As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up and saw them—Egyptians! Coming at them! They were totally afraid. They cried out in terror to God. They told Moses, “Weren’t the cemeteries large enough in Egypt so that you had to take us out here in the wilderness to die? What have you done to us, taking us out of Egypt? Back in Egypt didn’t we tell you this would happen? Didn’t we tell you, ‘Leave us alone here in Egypt—we’re better off as slaves in Egypt than as corpses in the wilderness.’”

•They were so stuck in their perspective of the circumstances. All of their attention was on how bad things were rather than on How Big God is”

13 Moses spoke to the people: “Don’t be afraid. Stand firm and watch God do his work of salvation for you today. Take a good look at the Egyptians today for you’re never going to see them again.14 God will fight the battle for you. And you? You keep your mouths shut!”

• Calm your fear • Stand your ground • Shut your mouth

The waters split in front of them…They walked through the sea and into

a new land of freedom…a land of promise. The Egyptians who gave chase were swallowed up when the sea walls came back together Only God can do things like that! Shift Clouds and Angels…..part the waters and close the waters on our enemies!!

The Past has a way of Paralyzing our Present (past mistakes, past problems, past relationships)

(Lamentations 3:19-20 NIV) “I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.” 

“Your past is always going to be the way it was. Stop trying to change it.”

The Remedy

•Release Your Past

Philippians 3:12-14 NIV – Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 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.

Take your eyes off your past, because your past is not your potential! Choose to liberate your future!

Isaiah 43:18 NIV – “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 

“Don’t freeze frame a certain time in your life and condemn your future based on that moment. God is not done with you”

You do not move ahead by constantly looking in a rear view mirror. The past is a rudder to guide you, not an anchor to drag you. We must learn from the past but not live in the past.

•Refocus Your Vision for Life

If you want to SHIFT where you’re going in life, then you have to SHIFT what you’re seeing for your future!

Yogi Berra said, “If you don’t know where you are going, your likely to end up someplace else.”

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

Helen Keller said, The only thing worse than being blind is the one who has sight but no vision.

Vision is a picture. Anytime there is no VISION, the quality and value of life deteriorates. A marriage, a business, a church, a city, a nation, or a school will fall apart when they lack VISION.

I went to the eye doctor last week for my yearly eye exam and my prescription changed a little. I got my new glasses this week – how do they look?

When it comes to vision – there are 2 common conditions : Farsighted – a focus on things that are distant and Nearsighted – a focus on things that are close

This Got me thinking about vision – parallels for our lives and we need make some SHIFTS. Some have good vision – others don’t. Some are farsighted – you’ve envisioned the future, But lack the day to day disciplines to get you there. Some are nearsighted – know what to do today, But not sure where you’re headed

Life is a journey and every journey has a destination. Everybody ends up somewhere in life. A few people end up somewhere on purpose.

•Read “Oh the places you’ll go” by Dr. Suess

What is vision?

A Vision is born in the soul of a man or woman who is consumed with the tension between what is and what could be. Anyone who is frustrated, or brokenhearted about the way things are, in light of the way they believe things could be, is a candidate for vision.

A vision is a compelling image of an achievable future – Vision brings your world into focus. Vision brings order to chaos. A clear vision enables you to see everything differently.

Webster’s definition – The ability to force or perceive something not actually visible, as though mental or spiritual acuteness.

Get a vision for your life that makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning! Why?  Because you will never go beyond where you see yourself going.

The World is just waiting for you to….

Get a VISION of your life that is so big the hair on the back of your neck will stand up!

Get a VISION so awesome that your toes curl!

Get a VISION so big that 100 years from now, future generations birthed from you  will look at your picture and say, “Thank you!”

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

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

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

How to manifest the Vision

Psalm 27:4 NIV – Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Ink it don’t just think it! A short pencil is better than a long memory

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

3) DON’T LET PROBLEMS OR PAIN DICTATE YOUR PERSPECTIVE. WHEN WE KEEP THE RIGHT PERSPECTIVE NOTHING CAN STOP A HOLY SHIFT FROM COMING IN OUR FUTURE.

If you’ve had a setback recently….or suffered the loss of loved one….no one would fault you for having moments of grief or sorrow or discouragement in your life. But I want to encourage you to not let the temporary conditions of your life to dictate a permanent perspective… MOSES WAS SAYING….LET’S KEEP MOVING ON…

13 Moses spoke to the people: “Don’t be afraid. Stand firm…..and watch God do his work of salvation for you today……14 God will fight the battle for you.

Imagine the challenge in this….after years of slavery…Moses is saying “Don’t look back….look forward….keep expecting the answer to your prayers….Gods about to bring you into a new place…new season….greater day of joy and blessing in your life!!

The psalmist said it like this:

Ps 30:5-Weeping may endure for a night….but joy comes in the morning

Ps 30:11-He has turned my mourning into dancing.

Shift Pt 4

Shift-Series

Shift Pt 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our thoughts determine our destiny.

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

2 Functions of our mind

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

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

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

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

The Battlefield of the Mind

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

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

(2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NIV) “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

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

Thoughts = Schemes

Negative thoughts never lead to a positive life.

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

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

•Renewing your mind will Transform your life!

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

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

Unlock the power of possibility thinking.

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

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

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

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

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

Changed thinking will change my life.

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

Philippians 4:8-9 NIV “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things… and the God of peace will be with you.

1. Think true thoughts.

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

2. Think powerful thoughts.

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

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

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

3. Think pure thoughts.

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

4. Think positive thoughts.

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

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

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

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

The positive thinker sees the opportunity in every difficulty!

5. Think God thoughts.

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

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

What to do with What you Think

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Baggage of Busyness

baggage

The Baggage of Busyness

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”

If I Had My Life To Live Over by Erma Bombeck

If I had my life to live over, I would have talked less and listened more.

I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.

I would have eaten the popcorn in the ‘good’ living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.

I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.

I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.

I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television – and more while watching life.

I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.

I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren’t there for the day.

I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn’t show soil or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.

Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I’d have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, “Later. Now go get washed up for dinner.”

There would have been more “I love you’s”.. More “I’m sorrys” …

But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute… look at it and really see it … live it…and never give it back.

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.

Some of us are overwhelmed by the pace of life. 

•The term 24/7 – nonstop. It’s become a mantra for our American culture. Everything is MORE. (It’s not a scheduling issue but a life issue)

Eccl. 7:29 JB God made man simple; man’s complex problems are of his own devising

There was a recent survey, where they discovered, that many would rather work than play, . . . that, we enjoy employment, . . . over enjoyment. We’re going to look at, a prescription, for people, . . . under pressure.

Quiz to find out, . . . if you’re a workaholic:

  1. Are you always, . . . in a hurry?
  2. Is your “To do” list, . . . always, unrealistically long?
  3. Do you use days off, . . . to catch up, on unfinished work?
  4. Has more than one person, . . . ever told you, to slow down?
  5. Do you feel guilty, . . . when you relax?
  6. Do you have to get sick, . . . to take time off?

This is not the kind of life God wants you to live

Psalm 127:2 (The Message) “It’s useless to rise early and go to bed late, and work your worried fingers to the bone. Don’t you know he enjoys giving rest to those he loves?”

Psalm 23:2 “He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters.”

He’s referring to rest and refreshment. God is interested in your rest and recreation. He wants you to live a whole, balanced and complete life. He wants you to not be working all the time.

A CNN pole recently said that 59% of all Americans would like to slow down and relax more. A Harris pole said we have 8.5 hours less leisure time than we did a decade ago. We’re working more and enjoying it less.

A prescription for pressured people: God’s Way to RELAX and UNWIND

1. REALIZE MY WORTH

The reason, most people, overwork, is because they confuse, their work, . . . and, their worth.  We think that, if we work a whole lot, achieve a lot, . . . we’re worth a lot.  We confuse, what we do, with who we are.  In America, we get our primary identity, from what we do.  When we meet someone, after we find out their name, usually the second question is, “What do you do?”  We get our worth, we think, . . from our work.

The Bible doesn’t, teach that.  It says our worth, is regardless, . . of what our work is.  The real reason, you overwork is, you say, . . . “I’ll show them.  I will prove my worth, by my accomplishments, my achievements.”  You never accomplish, enough, . . . to feel satisfied.

The antidote is to realize what God says about you.

James 1:18 (NCV) “God decided to give us life through the word of truth so we might be the most important of all the things he made.”

God says you matter more than the rest of creation. You can relax; you don’t have to prove your worth. If you were made by God, you’re worth it. You don’t spend your whole life, . . . trying to win the approval, of other people.  You don’t need the approval, of other people, . . . to be happy.  But, you do need to realize, . . . how valuable you are, to God.

Matthew 6:26 NIV Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

1) You will never understand how much God loves you here on earth.

2) There is nothing you can ever do in life that will make God love you more than He already does.

3) There is nothing you can ever do that will make God love you any less. His love is not based on your performance. It’s unconditional love. It’s based on who He is.

You don’t have to prove your worth by overworking. God says you are OK.

Isaiah 49:16 NIV – See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.

2. ENJOY WHAT I ALREADY HAVE

Ecclesiastes 3:13 ESV – also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.

Can you be so preoccupied in getting more that you don’t enjoy what you’ve got? Sure. Can you so busy trying, with the desire to acquire more and more that you don’t enjoy what’s already in your garage?

We get into a syndrome: The desire to acquire. They’ve got that so we’ve got to get that. They’ve moved up so we’ve got to move up. We’re trying to keep up with the Jones’s not realizing they just refinanced or filed for bankruptcy. We buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t even like. We try to get more and more and we get overextended financially.

Ecclesiastes 4:6 Good News Translation – Maybe so, but it is better to have only a little, with peace of mind, than be busy all the time with both hands, trying to catch the wind.

As a pastor I’ve been at a lot of death beds. I have never had one person say at their final breath “I wish I had spent more time at the office.” Many have said “I wish I had spent more time with my kids (wife, husband, building relationships, with God)”

Enjoy what you have while you’ve got it and don’t be worrying about getting more all of the time.

3. LIMIT MY LABOR

We must make, a conscious decision, to make time, for other things, . . . besides work.  We have to decide, how many hours, I realistically want to spend working, each week, . . . and, then, we need to stick to it.  We need to schedule time, for ourselves, with God alone, with our family — those are important elements, in our life, . . . as well as work

Our best requires rest. You can get so many irons in the fire, you put out the fire.

Ecclesiastes 10:15 Good News Translation (GNT) 15 Only someone too stupid to find his way home would wear himself out with work.

Exodus 20:9-11 MSG – Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Work six days and do everything you need to do. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to God, your God. Don’t do any work—not you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your servant, nor your maid, nor your animals, not even the foreign guest visiting in your town. For in six days God made Heaven, Earth, and sea, and everything in them; he rested on the seventh day. Therefore God blessed the Sabbath day; he set it apart as a holy day

God says that one day off every week is the rule. This is the fourth commandment; it’s in the Big Ten. It’s so important that God put it up there with “Don’t commit adultery” and “Don’t murder”. That’s how serious God takes this.

Why? The Bible calls it the Sabbath. Sabbath means a day of rest.

Mark 2:27 NIV – Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.

Colossians says it doesn’t matter, what day you choose, . . . as long as, you choose one, . . . every week.  {Sunday is not, my Sabbath, . . . it’s a work day.}

What should you do on your day off, your Sabbath?

1) Rest my body. If you don’t take time to rest your body, your body will make time to rest itself — either in the hospital or with a cold or flu. Our best requires rest. During the French Revolution they outlawed Sunday as a day of rest. Within a few years they had to reinstate it. Not for religious reasons but because the health of the nation had collapsed. They were all burnt out.

Do you feel guilty when you relax? Jesus didn’t. He took time off. Are you busier than Jesus? Is what you’re doing more important than what Jesus did?

2) Recharge your emotions. What things recharge you emotionally? You need quietness. You need recreation —play, meditate, pray, Be still, be with your family.

3) You need to refocus your spirit. The Bible calls this worship. Worship brings things into perspective.

When you come into church with a big problem, worship puts things into perspective. You have more energy to deal with the problem and more understanding. You need time alone with God every day. If you’re too busy for God you’re too busy. You’re missing out on one of the very things you were made for.

Worship affects me deeply. God soothes me more in worship than in any other way. I can see God and His power, His joy, and His love.

Spiritual comfort comes through Prayer. Shut off from the world and have a time of Centered prayer.

Psalm 43:5 ESV – Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

Salvation in this verse does not mean eternal salvation. It means deliverance, or the sense of helping someone out of their difficulty.  This is what God does during times of heaviness. He will deliver you.

4. Adjust My Values

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

In order to reduce busyness in my life I must change my thinking about what is important.

Ecclesiastes 4:4 NIV – And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

(“I’ve learned why people work so hard to succeed; it is because they envy the things their neighbors have.”)

Mark 8:36 NIV – What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?

Is it worth it? Ask yourself this question about every area in your life. What’s, more important?  Things, . . . or, family?  More busyness, . . . or, your church family?

5.  EXCHANGE MY PRESSURE, . . . FOR GOD’S PEACE

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

This gets at the very root of your stress. There are three kinds of fatigue:

There is physical fatigue — tired muscles. That can be replenished pretty quickly.

There is emotional fatigue — tired emotions, feelings.

There is spiritual fatigue — a dry spirit. This is the deepest.

You may need a vacation. But a vacation will not help these last two. You need more than just time off to recharge your emotions and focus your spirit. You need a relationship to God. You can take a two week vacation in Tahiti but when you come back you’re still going to have the same problems. The pressures are still going to be there. It means more than just taking time off; it means readjusting my values and exchanging my pressure for God’s peace.

We need to learn how to Take it easy, chill, relax, and rest! 

Philippians 4:7-9 NIV – And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

A little child does not like to lie down, to rest. Resistance to rest is a mark of immaturity.

In Psalm 23:2 “He makes me lie down.” That’s a forcing. Has God ever had to make you lie down? If you don’t slow down, sometimes God will just make you lie down. He cares about you. You matter to Him.

You need a relationship to Christ who will help you set the pace of your life.

Paraphrase of Psalm 23:

The Lord is my pacesetter, I shall not rush. He makes me stop and rest at intervals. He provides me with images of stillness to restore my serenity. He leads me in the way of efficiency to calmness of mind and this guidance is peace. Even though I have a great many things to accomplish this day, I will not fret for His presence is here. His timeliness, His all importance will keep me in balance. He prepares refreshment and renewal in the midst of my activity, anointing my head with the oils of tranquility. My cup of joyous energy overflows. Surely harmony and effectiveness shall be the fruits of my hours, for I shall walk in the pace of my Lord and dwell in His heaven forever.

You need a pacesetter to set the pace of your life so you don’t go too slow or too fast. The only person wise enough to do that who knows you inside and out better than you even know yourself is Jesus Christ.

Psalm 46:10  “Be still, and know that I am God; (Msg – “Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.”

  1. Still – to abate, to cease, to let go, or to stop.
  2. Becoming still is an important key to knowing God. If we don’t fulfill the prerequisite of finding a place of stillness the implication is that we won’t know God.

You need a relationship to Him where you exchange His peace for your pressure. When you live for God, it’s not only the right way, it’s the healthy way, the whole way, the balanced way, and the most relaxing way.

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.”