FaceTime with God

FaceTime with God 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-You make time for things that are important

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Happens When I Spend Time With God?

1.God changes our heart.

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

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

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

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

2. God gives us direction for living.

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

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

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

How do we listen to that “other voice”? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. We Can be friends with God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beautiful Things Pt.3 – A Beautiful God

Beautiful Things Pt.3 – A Beautiful God 

Colossians 2:13 – Discover the depths of our brokenness – and the heights of God’s Love for us. Even out of the dust of our lives, God can make beautiful things. 

Lucy and Linus are gazing out the window at a staggering downpour of rain.

“Boy, look at it rain, ” Lucy says, fear etched on her face. “What if it floods the whole world?”   “It will never do that, Linus responds confidently. “In the 9th Chapter of Genesis, God promised Noah that would never happen again, and the sign of the promise is the rainbow.”   “You’ve taken a great load of my mind, ” Lucy says with a sigh of relief. Linus replies, “Sound theology has a way of doing that.”

That is my aim in this message today! To articulate the good theology (study of God) that God is a good God contrary to what someone may have said about Him, or our past perceptions.

I googled God. turns out there are 564 million results. My conclusion after the first few pages….Everyone has an opinion about God. 

To Know what God is like, look at Jesus

John 1:1-5, 14 ESV – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life,[a] and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son[a] from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Incarnation – enfleshment of God. God revealing Himself in the nature and character of Jesus (Not just an event, but the whole life of Jesus) – I believe Jesus alone is perfect theology.

He was not a man who became God, He is God who became a man

John 5:39 ESV-  You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me,

Matthew 26:59-64 NIV The chief priests…were looking for false evidence against Jesus so they could put Him to death. But they did not find any… Then they said, “Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God.” “Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied.

John 14:9 NIV Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

God is Exactly like Jesus 

God is like Jesus – Jesus is what God has to say to the world. Jesus is the full and faithful witness to how God is to be understood. Jesus did not come to save us from God – Jesus came to reveal God as savior. He came to reveal God’s love. (John 3:16) – absorbing, forgiving and taking away the sins of the world. (Jesus the icon of the invisible God)

Hebrews 1:3 NIV – The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

Colossians 1:15-19 NLT 15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, 16 for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. 17 He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together. 18 Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything. 19 For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ…

Colossians 2:9 NKJV  – For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily

A person’s perception of understanding of the nature of God will determine their level of faith in His ability or desire to help them.

I Corinthians 15:34 MSG – Ignorance of God is a luxury you can’t afford in times like these”

J.I. Packer said: “What were we made for? To know God. What aim should we set ourselves in life? To know God. What is the best thing in life, bringing more joy, delight, and contentment, than anything else? Knowledge of God.”

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

I. What You Must Know about God

“Truth is true even if no one believes it, and falsehood is false even if everyone believes it.” Ravi Zacharias

1. God is Powerful

Isaiah 40:28-31 ESV – Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

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.

God is more powerful than your sickness, disease, problem, etc…(Easter series – Miracles “God’s Power to Change your Life”)

•The Proof of God’s Power is not in an explanation but in a changed life – The world doesn’t need an explanation but a demonstration of the power of God.

Buechner said, “God cannot be expressed but only experienced”

Jesus is Powerful – Lazarus Come Forth, Blind Bartimaeus, Casted out 3000 plus demons out of the man and put them in pigs, woman with the issue of blood (who touched me?)

2. God is Good

Psalm 31:19 NIV – How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you

The Bible connects the name of the Lord or God or Jesus or the Holy  Spirit with “good” or “goodness” 370 Times.

Psalm 34:8 ESV – Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

God cannot cease from doing good, because HE is GOOD!

Psalm 103:1-5 ESV – Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s

Jesus went everywhere doing good to people

    1. Acts 10:38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
    1. Jesus healed the sick, cleansed the lepers, opened the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf. He had compassion on the needy and proclaimed good news to the poor. Jesus said in John (10:11) referred to himself as the “Good Shepherd”

3. God is Gracious and Merciful

Psalm 145:8-16 NIV 8 The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. 10 All your works praise you, Lord; your faithful people extol you. 11 They tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might, 12 so that all people may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. 13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.[a]14 The Lord upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.15 The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. 16 You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

Ephesians 2:8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.”

•Grace is God giving people credit for something they didn’t do! 

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

Psalm 103:9-10 NIV “He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.”

Do not freeze frame a certain time in your life and condemn your future based on that moment. God is gracious and merciful

Jesus is Gracious and merciful 

John the Baptist – Jesus the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Luke 15:1-2 ESV – Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

Woman caught in Adultery – I don’t condemn you, Go and sin no more

Paralyzed man – Your sins are forgiven

II. What God Wants You to Know about HIM

1. To know that God loves me.

Lamentations 3:21-23 NIV – “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORDʼs great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

2. To know that God has a plan for me.

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.

2 Corinthians 4:16-17 NIV – “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”

3. To know that God will bring me through.

2 Timothy 4:18 NIV “The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

Philippians 1:6 NAS  “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

III. My Prayer for you

Ephesians 1:17 NIV “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.”

Jeremiah 29:13 NIV “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

Everybody surrenders to something or someone in life. If not to God, you’ll surrender to popular opinion, money, resentment, or fear, to your own pride, lust, and ego.

Surrender is not the best way to live; it is the only way to live. Nothing else works. All other approaches lead to frustration, disappointment, and self-destruction.

So give it all to God: your past regrets, your present problems, your future ambitions, your fears, dreams, weaknesses, habits, hurts, and hang-ups. Put Christ in the driver’s seat of your life, and take your hands off the steering wheel. Don’t be afraid; nothing under his control can ever be out of control.

Prayer of Commitment

I’d like you to stand this morning and we’re going to pray a prayer together. This prayer originally appeared in A.W. Tozer’s book called, “The Knowledge of the Holy.”

“O majesty unspeakable, my soul desires to behold Thee. I cry to Thee from the dust. Yet when I inquire after Thy name it is secret. Thou art hidden in the light which no man can approach unto. What Thou art cannot be thought or uttered, for Thy glory is beyond comprehension.

Still, prophet and psalmist, apostle and saint have encouraged me to believe that I may in some measure know Thee. Therefore, I pray, whatever of Thyself Thou hast been pleased to disclose, help me to search out as treasure more precious than fine gold: for with Thee shall I live when the stars of the twilight are no more and the heavens have vanished away and only Thou remainest. Amen.”

Beautiful Things Pt.1 – What To Do on the Most Difficult Day of Your Life

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Beautiful Things Pt.1 – What to Do on the Most Difficult Day of Your Life

Colossians 2:13 – Discover the depths of our brokenness – and the heights of God’s Love for us. Even out of the dust of our lives, God can make beautiful things.

There comes a time in everyone’s life when you have to confront the unexplainable absences of God, a season in life when God gives no explanations.

Questions such as…

Why do bad things happen to good people?

Where is God when I hurt?

Why did my family member or friend have to die too soon?

Everyone is going to have their Dark Night of the soul. Facing Difficult times

•economic uncertainty, stress, pain, grief, loss, divorce, brokeness, sin, tragedy

The fact is We grope in the darkness of our grief, pain, hurt, and questions for answers – If we knew the answers, our hearts would not hurt any less – Because Broken hearts are not healed by explanations but by God’s presence, grace and love.

The Bible doesn’t flinch from telling the stories of hardship and tragedy visited on God’s people.

•The overarching storyline of the Bible is not, “Once upon a time, they lived happily ever after.” Instead, the divine story of God’s people has plenty of moments where the narrative, in effect, says, “Then all hell broke loose.”

The glorious things about the chronicles of Scripture is that disappointments, grief, hurt, and pains are never the end of the story – not for those who believe God.

I Samuel 30:1-8 NIV – David and his men reached Ziklag on the third day. Now the Amalekites had raided the Negev and Ziklag. They had attacked Ziklag and burned it, and had taken captive the women and everyone else in it, both young and old. They killed none of them, but carried them off as they went on their way.When David and his men reached Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep. David’s two wives had been captured—Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel. David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God.Then David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelek, “Bring me the ephod.” Abiathar brought it to him, and David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I pursue this raiding party? Will I overtake them?”“Pursue them,” he answered. “You will certainly overtake them and succeed in the rescue.”

The most difficult day of David’s life. The year 1012 B.C. He was 29 yrs old. Forced to leave the royal household and roam the hillsides of Judea with a mercenary band of 600 men because Saul was trying to kill him. David and his men were fighting the Phillistines while expanding and securing the borders of Israel.

The city of Ziklag was their temporary home in the southern border of Judea (1 year and 4 months)

•Ziklag was not Bethlehem, the place of his beginning, nor was it Jerusalem, the place of his destiny. It was somewhere in between. (We all spend time there – it’s not where we come from, it’s not where we are going. It’s somewhere in between our prophecy and destiny.

In one day – David lost it all – His possessions were stolen, his home burned down, and family kidnapped.

God Allows Difficult days in our Lives

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

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

Remember – God weaves everything together for our good – even though it may be good at the time. We have a limited view of God

I John 4:4 NIV – You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

It is in facing and triumphing over the great trials of life that you learn what it means to overcome the world and to live more than a conqueror.

I Corinthians 15:57 NIV But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Victory is never the absence of trouble, hurt, pain, or grief. Victory is defined as success in a struggle against difficulties and overcoming an enemy.

I John 5:4 NIVfor everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.

Faith is the victory that overcomes – even on the most difficult day of your life.

I realize every situation is different and every individual is unique. But God has a pattern and principles that will assist you on the most difficult day of your life. Don’t abandon hope. All is not lost.

What To Do on the Most Difficult Day of Your Life

1. It’s Okay to Weep

I Samuel 30:4 NIV – So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep.

The only outlet David and his valiant men (champions) could find for the fear, the anger, grief, and the pain that seized their soul was weeping. So much, that it Drained them of there power.

What do you do when trouble hits you so hard that it knocks the wind out of you and makes you feel that it must be the most difficult day of your life? Go ahead and cry.

We tend to believe that weeping shows that we are weak

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

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

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

•Living by Faith is not living without Feelings.You may be extroverted or introverted, it doesn’t matter – God made you to feel things deeply. Joy, peace, excitement, anger, sadness – why? we are humans. To deny emotions is to deny our humanity.

•You can’t even worship God without involving your emotions – David would Sing, Shout, and Dance in his praise of God.

Weeping is Not Inconsistent with Faith – Some of the greatest giants of faith in the Bible wept: 

•Abraham, the father of faith wept at the death of his wife Sarah

•When Jacob met his future bride Rachel, he was so overwhelmed that he wept

•When Joseph was reunited with his estranged brothers, he wept.

•Hezekiah wept when he received the bad report that he would die from his illness.

•Job wept in the midst of his trial, after losing his home, health, and family

•Peter wept over his failure and betrayal of Jesus.

•Paul wept in the middle of his trials

•Even Jesus wept at the death of his friend Lazarus.

– He cried as a baby, as a child, and as a man. A man of sorrows acquainted with grief. He shed the tears of God

Hebrews 5:7 ESV – In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.

-“Loud cries and tears” is a description of the “agony” of Jesus.

Luke 22;41-44 ESV – He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

Tears Cannot be Denied – It would be an added cruelty to deny yourself or others tears in times of tragedy or deep personal pain.

Psalm 34:17-18 (MSG) Is anyone crying for help? God is listening, ready to rescue you. If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath.

Ecclesiastes 3:4 NIV – a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,

In the course of my own life and ministry – I’ve had many days and nights of weeping

Examples – Hurtful Words and actions of people, in the hospital room with parents who just lost a child, family member, etc… overwhelming stress due to money, problems, and people.

Then there’s been times of tears still too personal to talk about.

Our tears lead to our liberation of the dominion of sorrow

Psalm 30:5 NIV – For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning

There is a night of weeping  – but there is a dawn of faith. David did it and you will too.

God wants to comfort you When You Weep.

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

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

2. It’s Okay to Worship

I Samuel 30:7-8 NIVThen David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelek, “Bring me the ephod.” Abiathar brought it to him, and David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I pursue this raiding party? Will I overtake them?”“Pursue them,” he answered. “You will certainly overtake them and succeed in the rescue.”

Ephod – Official garment of the high priest for his duties of worship. David wore it to worship God at different times.

This is where we begin to focus on the securities of God, not our insecurities. Its expressing my affection to God and focusing my attention on God

Psalm 43:4-5 ESV – Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God. 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 depression and difficulty. He will deliver you. You have to hope in Him, and decide that God can help you.

•When you are feeling no joy, go to God, who will release to you His joy through worship. (Example: Tricia in hospital, Worship at Dave’s funeral)

•I have found that many times, when I can’t go on, worship lifts me up.

Psalm 42:11 NIV – Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

•And worship is more than just an emotional cleansing. 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. I visualize the hope that I have in Christ when I listen or sing praises to Him.

“Worship isn’t crawling though a small hole to some theological wonderland. It is falling back upon God and finding that He is everywhere and anywhere you can fall.”

Psalm 100:1-5 NIV Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. 2 Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. 3 Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his ; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. 5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

We take coffee breaks, rest breaks, and lunch breaks. Why not take a Praise Break! God’s answer for difficult days is Worship and PRAISE! It’s one antidepressant we all need.

Acts 16:25-26 NIV – About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.

•Rather than sulking in despair, Paul and Silas got themselves moving in the direction of their faith through Praise and Worship. We can sing our way out of despair, we can smile our way of that funk, We can worship our way out of our heaviness!

Isaiah 61:3 NKJV –  To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

Prayer: 

Father, we are here before you, just ordinary people who walk through ordinary days. There are some good moments and there are some hard moments. There are some moments that we think could never ever get any better. And there are moments that we think that we’ll never recover from. God, to know that no matter what that darkness might look like for us, to know that you are there, you are close, you are personal, you are intimate, you call us by name, that you are the God who can intervene in those dark places. And that you are the God who has lovingly hidden in our darkness treasure, riches that will make us spiritually healthy and wealthy enough to be able to fulfill the calling that you have on our lives. That’s the kind of God we trust. That’s the kind of God we love. That’s the God we worship. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

My Evening Prayer Liturgy

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My Evening Prayer Liturgy

The Call To Prayer 

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

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

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

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

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

Confession of Sin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Expressions of faith

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

and though I am poor, today I believe.

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

and though I am weak, today I believe.

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

and though of anxious heart, today I believe.

Lord, You have always kept me safe in trials;

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

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

and though it may be hidden, today I believe.

Lord, You have always lightened this darkness of mine;

and though the night is here, today I believe.

Lord, You have always spoken when time was ripe;

and though you be silent now, today I believe.

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

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

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

The Lord’s Prayer 

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

Concluding Prayer

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

The grace of a thankful and uncomplaining heart;

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

The grace of courage whether in suffering or in danger;

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

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

The grace of being adequately prepared for any temptation;

The grace of physical discipline;

The grace of truthfulness;

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

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

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

The grace of forgiveness toward all who have wronged me;

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

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

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

All I Want for Christmas Pt.4

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All I Want for Christmas Pt.4 – Joy

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

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

God’s Antidote for a weary Religion

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

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

There are things that steal our joy:

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

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

The Twin Joy Robbers 

• Bad Things That Shouldn’t Happen, But Do

• Good Things That Should Happen, But Don’t

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s one of the healthiest things you can do is laugh

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

1. Joy will Change my approach to Life

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

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

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

2. Joy will turn my problems into blessings.

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

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

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

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

  • Take three tablespoons three times a day. 

a. Take it when you feel like it!

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

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

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

3. Joy will affect those around you.

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

Don’t take yourself too seriously

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

The Secret To Joy

1. Take responsibility for your own emotions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

You cannot determine what happens to you

But you can determine what happens in you

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

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

Dear Lord,

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

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

2. Develop a high appreciation for life.

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

When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love. Marcus Aurelius

Life can change in a moment!

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

Story of senior being admitted into a nursing home

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

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

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

We cannot choose how many years we will live

But we can choose how much life those years will have

We cannot control the beauty of our face

But we can control the expression on it

We cannot control life’s difficult moments

But we can choose to make life less difficult

We cannot control the negative atmosphere of the world

But we can control the atmosphere of our minds

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

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

How?  People who have a high appreciation of life…

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

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

3. Find something positive in everything

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

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

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

This is spiritual warfare – pull down negative thoughts

Attitude and faith are very similar – way you view something

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

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

4. Say something positive in every conversation.

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

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

Best way is to pray daily…

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

People can frustrate you – must train our eyes

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

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

5. Express gratitude to God and others daily.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE WELLS OF JOY (Genesis 26) 

A. THE PHILISTINES STOPPED UP ALL THE WELLS 

1. They thought this would drive Isaac away.

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

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

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

 B. GOD COMMANDED ISAAC TO REDIG THE WELLS 

1. Some of you need to redig the wells.

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

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

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

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

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

ThanksLiving: Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude

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ThanksLiving

John F Kennedy once said, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”

Psalm 107:1 ESV – Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!

“To be grateful is to recognize the love of God in everything He has given us — and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him.”- Thomas Merton

Ecclesiastes 5:19-20 NIV – Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Thanksgiving – a celebration born in hardship, a reconciliation between cultures, a proclamation by Presidents, The tradition of our nation. 

In 1620, 102 Pilgrims had come to this continent to build a new world where they would be free to worship God. Soon fifty-six died due to starvation, disease and the cold winter. However, they did not give up. In 1621, 46 Pilgrims and 91 Indians met to give thanks for a bountiful harvest and for the preservation of their lives

This Thursday is Thanksgiving. One day in which we like those early Pilgrims set aside time in our busy schedules to give thanks to God. Now, there is nothing wrong with that but the word of God tells us that this should be a continual, daily, attitude.

INTRODUCTION

1. Rudyard Kipling was a great British poet whose writings have blessed many people, including a generation gone by. Kipling was a very famous writer, and before he died, made a great deal of money at his trade.

2. A newspaper reporter came up to him once and said, ”Mr. Kipling, I just read that somebody calculated that the money you make from your writings amounts to over $100 a word.” Mr. Kipling raised his eyebrows and said, ”Really, I certainly wasn’t aware of that.” The reporter cynically reached into his pocket and pulled out a $100 bill and gave it to Kipling and said, ”Here’s a $100 bill Mr. Kipling. Now you give me one of your $100 words.” 

3. Rudyard Kipling looked at that $100 bill for a moment, took it and folded it up and put it in his pocket and said, ”Thanks.”

4. Well the word ”thanks” is certainly a $100 word. In fact, I would say it is more like a million dollar word. That is one word that is too seldom heard, too rarely spoken, and too often forgotten.

5. If any nation ought to be thankful to God and grateful for His goodness, it ought to be America. If any people in America ought to be thankful to God and grateful for His goodness, it ought to be Christians. If any group of Christians ought to be thankful to God and grateful for His goodness, it ought to be the Christians in this fellowship. We ought to have an attitude of gratitude.

I. Conquer Complaining 

Complain – to express dissatisfaction, pain, uneasiness, censure, resentment, or grief; find fault:

Complaining is a kill-joy. It makes you unhappy, everybody else around you unhappy. The problem is that it is a hard habit to break. We are naturally negative. We tend to look at the bad things in life. We are conditioned by society. Bad news makes the headlines. We are bombarded continuously with what’s wrong with everything. By our own nature and by our conditioning we tend to develop the habit of complaining. The Bible says God wants Christians to be different.

PHILIPPIANS 2:14-15 “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.”

•Spending today complaining about yesterday won’t make tomorrow better

ILL.– Dr. Dale Robbins writes, “I used to think people complained because they had a lot of problems. But I have come to realize that they have problems because they complain. Complaining doesn’t change anything or make situations better. It amplifies frustration, spreads discontent and discord, and can invoke an invitation for the devil to cause havoc with our lives.” Complaining makes us miserable.

Complaining is like vomiting. You might feel better after you get it out, but you make everybody else around you sick.

Psalm 77:3 says, “I complained and my spirit was overwhelmed.”

“A complaining tongue reveals an ungrateful heart.”- William Arthur Ward

Complaining is the archenemy of thanksgiving. The two cannot co-exist in the same heart. And so I challenge you to try to quit complaining for a whole month. Just try it.

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

“He who forgets the language of gratitude can never be on speaking terms with happiness”

Charles Dickens said, “Reflect upon your present blessings…not your past misfortunes”

II. 3 Reasons to Be Thankful

“If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled” – Charles Spurgeon

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; & that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.  ~G.K. Chesterton

1. God Is Good To You

Psalm 100:4–5 (ESV) — 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! 5 For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

Remember some of the powerful statements in the Scriptures about God and His goodness:

  1. There is none good but God (Matthew 19:17)
  2. His goodness leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4)
  3. His Spirit is good (Psalm 143:10, Nehemiah 9:20)
  4. Taste and see that the Lord is Good (Psalm 34:8)
  5. Jesus went about doing good (Acts 10:38)
  6. All things work together for good (Romans 8:28)
  7. He only does wonderful things (Psalm 72:18)

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

Psalm 118:1 NIV says, “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love endures forever.”

The Bible connects the name of the Lord or God or Jesus or the Spirit with “good” or “goodness” 370 Times.

Probably one of the most important reasons for us to be thankful as Christians is simply because of who God is. He is a good God, worthy of our praise and thanksgiving. David recognized this and setup some Levites to minister. Their task was simply to stand before the the Lord to thank and praise him.

1 Chron 16:34 – Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
Ps 30:4 – Give thanks to his holy name.

When you look at the whole of the Bible, you’ll discover that it’s not people-centric. It’s God-centric. Everything points back to who God is. And our reasons for being thankful begin, and could end, with God.

2. For the People in Your Life 

It is so easy to take people for granted, or even to complain and become angry because they do not meet our every wish. But we need to give thanks for those around us—our spouses, our children, our relatives, our friends and others who help us in some way.

Do you let others know that you appreciate them and are thankful for them? The Christians in Corinth were far from perfect, but Paul began his first letter to them by saying,

I Corinthians 1:4 NIV – I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus

How many marriages and other relationships grow cold and eventually are shattered because of the sin of ingratitude?

When a group of believers (whom Paul had never met) came out to greet him as he approached Rome

Acts 28:15 NIV The brothers and sisters there had heard that we were coming, and they traveled as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet us. At the sight of these people Paul thanked God and was encouraged.

You can’t force people to stay in your life. Staying is a choice, so be thankful for people who choose you. Thank God for those who touch your life.

•••Even be thankful for the difficult people in your life. Why? They show you exactly who you don’t want to be.

3. All Circumstances in Life

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

•Circle “all”. God says “I want you to be thankful in all circumstances.”It does not say “for all circumstances”. You cannot always be thankful for the circumstances, but you can be thankful in the situation. I know that God is working all things for good. He has a pattern and He fits even the bad things in our lives into that pattern for good. God’s purpose for my life is greater than my problems, so in everything I can give thanks. Not “for”,  but “in”.

• Sometimes the circumstances of our lives are not always the best. In fact, they may be downright bad, but still, we are to look for something to be thankful for! And there is ALWAYS something positive for which we can be thankful!

Ephesians 5:19-20 NIV – “Speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

•Paul’s main subject here is PRAISE, THANKSGIVING. Notice the other important words in these passages; ALWAYS, CONTINUALLY, and IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES. It sounds as if Paul is talking about a church service here, especially in Eph. “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart…” But he isn’t. He is talking about a continual attitude for Christians – an attitude of the heart. How we are to be to each other. But how, you may wonder, can we have this attitude continually, especially “in all circumstances?” I believe the answer lies in our perspective of thanksgiving.

When Gratitude becomes your default setting, life changes.

•Pilgrims faced disease, starvation (14 out of 18 women died 1st winter), and severe weather. 102 passengers led by William Bradford sailed on the Mayflower. By the end of winter only 53 passengers survived

Billy Graham comments: “Nowhere does the Bible teach that Christians are exempt from the tribulations and natural disasters that come upon the world. Scripture does teach that the Christian can face tribulation, crisis, calamity, and personal suffering with a supernatural power that is not available to the person outside of Christ.”

Some of the most pathetic people in the world are those who, in the midst of adversity, indulge themselves by wallowing in self-pity and bitterness, all the while taking a sort of delight in blaming God for their problems.

CS Lewis said, “hardships prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny”

Matt Chandler, the pastor of the Village Church in Dallas, TX had faced severe troubles. 7 yrs ago Thanksgiving he was rushed to the ER when his wife discovered him having a seizure on the living room floor. He was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor that needed to be removed. He’s battled the cancer aggressively and in a recent MRI the cancer is gone.

But what people have seen in him, more than a potential healing, is his attitude through it all. He was quoted in a Dallas Morning News article: “At the end of the day, I don’t believe God gave me this cancer, but I do believe he could have stopped it and didn’t. … God is not punishing me, but somehow, for my joy and his glory, he’s let me endure this and walked me through.”

By giving thanks to God in both good times and bad, Christians can show the world an attitude that is foreign to them. It’s normal to be thankful in good times, but it’s unheard of to be Thankful to God during troubles.

“We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is good, because it is good; if bad, because it works in us patience, humility, contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country.” ~ C. S. Lewis

So, where are you this morning on the gratitude scale? Do you have a deep sense of gratitude to God for all he’s done and will do in and through you, or do you tend to find the reasons to be skeptical or negative in life?

“Happiness comes when we stop wailing about the troubles we have and offer thanks for all the troubles we don’t have”

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

•In 1982, the actor Kirk Douglas flew to Pakistan after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. He was there to do a documentary about the three million Afghan refugees who had fled to that country. He went out one day to meet with some refugees, up near the Kyber Pass. Gunfire could be heard in the background, just across the Afghan border. Douglas sat on the ground with the elders of a displaced Afghan tribe. They were eating with their fingers out of a common bowl. Through an interpreter Douglas told them, “In my country, today is Thanksgiving Day, one day every year that we set aside to give thanks for all that we have in life.” The leader of the elders, a man with a long white beard, nodded his head. Through the interpreter he said, “In my country, we give thanks every day.” Will we join them?

Psalm 106:1-2 ESV – Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Who can utter the mighty deeds of the Lord, or declare all his praise?

Colossians 2:6-7 “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”

Defeating Discouragement

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Defeating Discouragement

There is a plague sweeping the country today. It’s not the Beijing flu, or cancer, or even the common cold. This outbreak, however, can be just as deadly as the most dreaded disease known to man ­it’s called the epidemic of discouragement.

It’s universal. None of us are immune to discouragement. Everyone you have ever known has been discouraged at one time or another.

It’s recurring. Being discouraged once does not give you an immunity to the disease. You can be discouraged over and over again. In fact, you can even be discouraged by the fact that you are discouraged a lot.

It’s highly contagious. Discouragement spreads by even casual contact. People can become disheartened because you are discouraged. You can be bummed out because other people are discouraged.

Discouragement is to lose courage or hope; it is to become overwhelmed or lose heart. When we are discouraged it’s easy to want to quit–to stop doing the very things God told us to do.

Discouragement says, “What’s the use of trying anymore? Isn’t it time to just give up and make the best of it?” The nation of Israel faced that kind of discouragement.

Text: I Kings 19:1-5 NIV – Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.” 3 Elijah was afraid[a] and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4 while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”

•Elijah had a close relationship with God and was used powerfully by Him. Many people witnessed the greatness of God through the prophet.

•Elijah encouraged many people. He helped a widow and her son who were down-and-out and had only enough food for one more meal. Elijah told the widow that God would provide, and He did. Later, when her son died, Elijah asked God to bring him back to life, and God did. This widow’s hope was restored through Elijah.

•Elijah did many other amazing works by the power of God, but the Bible shows that even great people of God can get tripped up by the trials and challenges of living God’s way in a world under the sway of Satan. The story of Elijah’s descent into depression is a classic.

•Not only was Elijah hated and threatened with death by the evil Queen Jezebel, he also felt his work had been in vain and that no one else was supporting God. He felt totally alone, vulnerable and hopeless. Being human like you and me, all this started to get to him.

•Elijah got discouraged and wanted to quit.

We all want to know how to get through what we are going through. Difficult circumstances affect our moods on a daily basis and can get us discouraged if we let them.

Let’s consider the effect that it had on him.

  1. Caused him to exaggerate the negative and underestimate the positive
  2. Drove him into isolation
  3. Caused him to sulk in self pity
  4. Caused him to be irrational
  5. Took him off course with God’s plan for his life

Elijah’s discouragement got so bad it turned into depression.

What is depression? 

Depression is a serious medical condition. Everyone experiences “ups” and “downs” in their life. But for some people the “downs” can outweigh the “ups.” This can cause problems with everyday activities such as eating, sleeping, working, and getting along with friends. If this happens for more than a few weeks, depression may be the reason.

Depression affects a person’s physical health, as well as how he or she feels, thinks, and acts toward others. It brings about a mixture of feelings and thoughts that can cause someone to depart from his or her usual behavior.

Depression is very common — it affects an estimated 19 million American adults every year. Nearly twice as many women (6.5%) as men (3.3%) suffer from depression each year. The good news is that you can be free from it!

You Must QUIT Focusing…

(Discouragement) Can be temporary–or it can destroy our life. The choice is ours. If we refuse to deal with discouragement head-on, we are opening the door for it to completely dominate our life. – Dr. Charles Stanley

What was it that caused Elijah to become discouraged? What made him want to quit? What causes us to do the same thing? WRONG PERSPECTIVE; in other words, we focus on the wrong things.

When you face discouragement, you can do one of two things, and the one you choose will color your perspective. You can look at others to place the blame, or you can look at yourself to discover your opportunities. The choice is yours. – John Maxwell

  1. The Pain of Yesterday

Jeremiah 6:14 NIV – They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. Peace, Peace, they say, when there is no peace.”

Ecclesiastes 7:10 NIV Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?” For it is not wise to ask such questions.

We make the same mistake. Our perspective can sometimes be wrong; instead of looking forward, we look back at the good old days. Then rather than having faith to move forward, we too find ourselves becoming discouraged and stuck in the past.

God doesn’t want us to just “live in the past”. It’s not good to think how much better it used to be in days gone by because our perspective is wrong.

A WRONG PERSPECTIVE FOCUSES ON THE PAST WITH NO HOPE FOR THE FUTURE. A wrong perspective seeks to resurrect the good old days instead of looking ahead for even greater days. The church of Jesus Christ is not call to move backward or retreat; we’re to move forward with the power of the Holy Spirit!

2. The Pressures of Tomorrow

Matthew 6:34 NIV – “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

4 Principles that will Defeat your Discouragement

  1. Protect Your Mind

Dr. Hans Selye researched and popularized a tiny membrane in the back of our head known as the RAS: Reticular Activity System. Primary function – it moves in the direction of your dominant thought at that moment. When we become preoccupied with a thought, we want to act on it.

Ephesians 4:23 AMP – And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind (having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude)

The spirit of your mind is referring to a mood of mind or frame of mind. It is our responsibility to be constantly renewed and get ourselves out of the funk we are in.

What we think determines, to a large degree, how we feel

Proverbs 23:7 NKJV – For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.

Spiritual and Positive forces will always supersede negative forces. Quit negative thinking and self talk.

Philippians 4:8 NIV – 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.

Guard You Emotions: Your mind is a computer – it spits out the data you feed it

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

2. Pray to God

I Kings 19:9-10 NIV – 9 There he went into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

Billy Graham said, “The Christian life is not a constant high. I have my moments of deep discouragement. I have to go to God in prayer with tears in my eyes, and say, ‘O God, forgive me,’ or ‘Help me.’ 

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

In the jungles of Africa, a man was being pursued by a roaring, hungry lion. Feeling the beast’s hot breath on his neck, and knowing his time was short, he broke out into prayer as he ran like crazy, “O, Lord, please make this lion a Christian. Please make him a Christian!” Within seconds, the frightened man noticed that the lion had stopped chasing him. When he looked behind him, he found the lion kneeling and moving his lips in obvious prayer. Greatly relieved at this turn of events, he got close enough to the lion to hear him pray, “And bless, Oh Lord, this food which I am about to receive.”

John 16:23-24 NIV – In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

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 depression and difficulty. He will deliver you. You have to hope in Him, and decide that God can help you.

Philippians 4:6 NIV –  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 

Prayer can change ANYTHING. Prayer can change EVERYTHING

Psalm 5:3 NIV – In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;  in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.

3. Understand the Power of your Praise

I don’t know about you, but it’s easy for me to forget God when things are tough. I need to be reminded that He is always there for me. How do you remember the Lord?

This is where we begin to focus on the securities of God, not our insecurities. Its expressing my affection to God and focusing my attention on God

Psalm 43:4 ESV – Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God.

•When you are feeling no joy, go to God, who will release to you His joy through worship. Music has an amazing power on people who are sick and especially on people who are depressed. The Bible has examples of Saul going to David and asking him to play the harp. It soothed Saul’s soul. Worship will soothe your soul as well. (Example: Tricia in hospital)

•I have found that many times, when I feel discouraged, when I can’t go on, worship lifts me up. Turn on your iPod  and just start to sing and worship. I visualize the hope that I have in Christ when I listen or sing praises to Him.

Isaiah 61:3 NKJV –  To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

“Worship isn’t crawling though a small hole to some theological wonderland. It is falling back upon God and finding that He is everywhere and anywhere you can fall.”

We take coffee breaks, rest breaks, and lunch breaks. Why not take a Praise Break! God answer for depression is PRAISE! It’s one antidepressant we all need. 

Praise takes our minds off our situation and focuses them on God. It accepts that God can take all the bad stuff of life and make something beautiful out of it.

Acts 16:25-26 NIV – About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.

•Rather than sulking in despair, Paul and Silas got themselves moving in the direction of their faith through Praise and Worship. We can sing our way out of despair, we can smile our way of that funk, We can worship our way out of our heaviness!

Prayer opens the door for God’s power to move into our lives. But the prayer of praise releases more of God’s power than any other form of petition. The Psalmist wrote, “But thou art holy, O thou that inhabits the praises of Israel” (Psalm 22:3 KJV). God actually dwells, inhabits, and resides in our praise. God’s power and presence is near when we praise him. When we praise God for the present situation, God’s power is unleashed.

What’s Next

4. Get Busy with God’s Plan for your Life

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.

In spite of everything I shall rise again: I will take up my pencil, which I have forsaken in my great discouragement, and I will go on with my drawing. Van Gogh

John 6:27 NIV – Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”

God gave Elijah something to do

I Kings 19:15-16 NIV – 15 The Lord said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. 16 Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet.

•He had to shed tears of self pity. Was time to get back to work for God.

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

Many people succumb to this infamous tool of Satan. Maybe you feel its effect now. You can rise above discouragement. Believe that the best is yet to come. Hold on to your dream with a bull-dog tenacity and perseverance that refuses to let go.

Developing a Meaningful Quiet Time with God Part 2

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Developing a Meaningful Quiet Time with God Part 2

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

I. Why Should we have a Quiet Time?

1. Because we need fellowship with God

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

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

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

-You make time for things that are important

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

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

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

2. Because we give devotion to God

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

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

    worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.

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

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

God seeks our worship 

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

3. Because we gain tremendous benefits from it

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

Here are the results:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

II. How to Have a Meaningful Time with God 

•Start with the Proper Attitudes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

•Select a Specific Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

•Choose a Special Place

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

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

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

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

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

• where you can pray aloud without disturbing others.

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

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

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

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

•Follow a Simple Plan – a Liturgy

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

Liturgy is simply your pattern of worship and prayer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

A PRAYER OF COMMITMENT

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

Recommended Prayer Books

Celtic Daily Prayer Book

 Common Prayer

The Daily Hours Manual for Prayer – Phyllis Tickle

The Valley of Vision Puritan Prayer book 

 

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

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

Developing a Meaningful Quiet Time with God Part 1

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

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

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

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

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

Our need – Meaningful Quiet time with God 

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

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

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

•YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD IS MEANT to grow. 

•SPIRITUAL GROWTH IS A LIFE-LONG journey. 

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

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

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

What is a Quiet Time?

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

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

Solitary – being alone

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

1. A Time of Silence and Solitude

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

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

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

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

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

It causes us to look within first

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Happens When I Spend Time With God?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do we listen to that “other voice”? 

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

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

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

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

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

Ending: You Can be friends with God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Say YES to Jesus

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

Less Than 2%

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Less than 2% (Gideon’s Guide to Church Building) By Steve Light

Today we are going to take a look at an Old Testament story that has powerful and important lessons for us as church. We are going to examine the story of Gideon in the book of Judges and dive into how the Lord was able to use very few people, very few resources and very little faith to accomplish an amazing feat.

And why study this story? Because we live in a world where Christians define success by worldly measures – the size of church membership, the size of church programs, the size of the building and the size of the budget. In doing so, churches are at a high risk to not leave room for God’s blessings and provisions, His direction and most importantly room for the Holy Spirit.

This story also gives us a roadmap as a church on how to be faithful to the Lord and keep everything we do at the center of His will and His guidance.

 It requires us to be full of faith, active in prayer, driven to obedience and embracing humility.

 And if we listen and we learn from Gideon’s story, there is no doubt God will bless Gracetown. With less than 2% of what we think is needed to grow, I believe God will show us he can give us 500x more than we can imagine.

Let us pray….

Father, as we read your word, let us remember Proverbs 2:10-11…”For wisdom will enter your mind, and knowledge will delight your heart. Discretion will watch over you, and understanding will guard you”. I ask that the Holy Spirit be present, to fill our hearts and mind that we would hear, learn and act as Your perfect will would guide us. Amen.

Midian Oppresses Israel (Judges 6:1-10)

Judges 6:1-2 (HSCB)“The Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. So the Lord handed them over to Midian seven years, and they oppressed Israel. Because of Midian, the Israelites made hiding places for themselves in mountains and caves”.

  • Right away we learn that God’s people are being wicked and so there is accountability. God calls people to live a holy life. Salvation is the start but sanctification – a life long focus on living righteous – is required and when we don’t stay focused on this, God creates storms in our lives to get us back on track. He does this because he cares just like a parent correcting a child.
  • Who were the Midianites? Arabs from the northwestern part of the Arabian Peninsula.

Why is the number seven showing up frequently through this story?

  • Seven is the number of completeness and perfection both physical and spiritual within Bible
  • It is used 735 times
  • The Israelites had suffered under the Midian’s for 7 years – God was driving them to repentance

And we see this is in Judges 6:6 – “So Israel became poverty-stricken because of Midian and the Israelites cried out to the Lord”.

Lesson #1 – They repented. They turned away from the world and focused on God.

The Lord Calls Gideon (Judges 6:11-24)

As we read the passages between Judges 6:11-24 we are going to learn a lot about Gideon and his faith in God.

I call this Gideon seeing his relationship with God in 3-D.

  • Doubt, Disobedience and Distance

We will see that when God shows in his everyday, ordinary life Gideon does two things. First he questions why the world is so upside down. He does not seek to learn from God the lesson of the situation, but instead merely wants relief. Second, and most importantly, he blames God for the tumultuous situation of Israel.

Here I am reminded of Leo Tolstoy’s spot on quote that “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no thinks of changing himself”.

Gideon is called by the Angel of the Lord to lead the people against Midian and his first reaction is doubt in his ability to be successful. He goes on to argue with God, to be disobedient despite the command. He makes a veiled attempt at humility claiming he is from the weakest clan and he is the least of this clan. Finally, instead of taking a leap of faith towards God, he seeks to distance himself from God out of fear and doubt.

Scripture teaches us in these moments how to be faithful, courageous and strong to God’s call…

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

Ephesian 3:20 (HSCB)“Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us”. The power is the Holy Spirit.

Gideon then runs to pull together a “gift” for the Angel of the Lord – which is a test. Is this real? Will he be there when I return? Gideon goes and gets a young goat, unleavened bread and broth. He brings it back to make a meal. But the Angel of the Lord gives him a sign. He takes the simple and ordinary – meager provisions from Gideon and supernaturally completes the meal – pulling fire from a rock.

The lesson here…Gideon brings basic effort and resources and God elevates it and glorifies it. This shows Gideon that God is truly in his presence and He worships God.

Let’s read Judges 6:11-23 and look for blame, the doubt, the disobedience and the distance away from God’s will and His blessing.

So Gideon is full of the Spirit of God and is ready to take on the Midianites now, right? No. It’s the first steps of the journey. He has to do hard things, say hard things. Things that will put him at odds with his family, with his community and with the world. Things that runs counter to culture. And where do we find him. Timid, afraid…but…at least taking the first steps in faith and obedience.

Gideon Tears Down the Baal Alter (Judges 6:25-32)

 Later that night, Gideon hears from God with crystal clear instructions…

Judges 6:25-26“Take your father’s young bull and a second bull seven years old. Then tear down the alter of Baal that belongs to your father and cut down the Asherah pole beside it. Build a well constructed alter to the Lord your God on the top of this rock. Take the second bull and offer it as a burnt offering with the wood of the Asherah pole you cut down”.

Baal and Asherah – male and female fertility gods of Canaanites

Gideon follows God’s command, but let’s see how he does this…

Judges 6:27“But because he was too afraid of his father’s household and the men of the city to do it in the daytime, he did it all at night”.

Gideon lacked courage. He lacked integrity. He was more concerned with the opinions of the other people than God. He had a chance to be bold and he whimpered.

Galatians 1:10 teaches…“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ”.

We cannot allow our fears of the world’s reaction to our call to diminish our sharing of the Gospel and engaging the world. We have to be bold. How did the men of the village react to the torn down altar? Now remember these are Israelites that are violating God’s law in being idolatrous. They are breaking the very first law – there shall be no other gods than Jehovah. These guys are outraged and want blood. They want death for Gideon. They are completely blinded by his call to repentance. His father steps in and wisely calls to let Baal defend himself. He tells everyone to wait for Baal to punish Gideon, essentially questioning if he is real and has any real power.

Joash – his father, also gives Gideon a new name – Jerubbal, which means “contender against Baal”.

The Sign of the Fleece (Judges 6:33-39)

Now we see that the Sprit of the Lord has descended upon Gideon. He starts to rally his clan and other tribes in the region. Yet we find he still doubts. He continues to move forward but has not yet full released his trust completely to God. But there is a critical lesson here…Gideon goes to God for confirmation and clarity. This principle is asking God to reveal with clarity His will. It is seeking out signs for confirmation that the direction is right. This often comes through discussions with others, circumstances around us – doors opening and doors closing. We have to be mindful and spirit filled to see and discern these things.

How does Gideon do this? He asks God to do some supernatural signs using some simple tools. And he doesn’t just ask once, but TWICE!. God is truly patient. Let’s read Judges 6:36-39 and look for how Gideon sought to get confirmation and clarity from the Lord.

God Selects Gideon’s Army

Notice here that the message is NOT Gideon selected his army, but the Lord did. Gideon, now full of faith and spirit, goes on the move. He has 135,000 Midianites camped in a valley north of him. He rallies 32,000 people. Not good odds. He has 1 Israelite for every 4 Midianites. VERY tough to complete the task with such limited resources. He needs volunteers but there are not enough.

 

What does God say to this? Does he bring more people, more money, and more resources? No. He tells Gideon that he has too much for the task at hand. He simplifies it. He demands faith and obedience and in that the Lord brings the necessary provisions.

Let’s look at Judges 7:2…“The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many people for Me to hand the Midianites over to you, or else Israel might brag: “I did this myself”.

God instructs Gideon with a test of wisdom. He tells Gideon to have each man drink from the water. Anyone who kneels to drink put in one group. Anyone who laps water with his tongue like a dog put into another group. Why this test? The men that lapped water like a dog where wise for battle – they got nourishment while being able to keep their eyes up and alert. But those that kneeled put their eyes down and were at risk of being blindsided.

What were the results? Judges 6:6 tells us “the number of those who lapped with their hands to their mouth was 300 men. In verse 7 “The Lord said to Gideon, “I will deliver you with the 300 men who lapped and turn the Midianites over to you”.

300 men? To wage war against 135,000 Midianites that had been terrorizing the nation of Israel for 7 long, difficult, horrible years. Was God crazy? He was sending Gideon to battle with only 1.4% (see the tie in now to the less than 2%?) of the men he started with. 300 Israelites against 135,000 Midianites. How could he succeed?

Here’s the greatest truth of this story – Gideon could not on his own. Not by his human strength or intelligence. Not without making room for God. Not without trusting God. Not without having faith completely, without reservation, that God would provide EVERYTHING they needed with 300 men. And not without the Holy Spirit.

Gideon Spies on the Midianites Camp (Judges 7:9-14)

 Gideon, as you can imagine, is unsettled. He has built up his faith in the Lord only to return to fear now that he has 300 men assigned by God. God rouses Gideon from sleep and tells him to go the Midianites camp and “listen to what they say; and then you will be strengthened to go to the camp”.

God knew Gideon’s heart. He was full of doubt and fear. So God tells him in verse 10 – “if you are afraid to go to the camp, go with Purah your servant”.

God reminded Gideon to surround himself with someone he trusted. Someone that would be encouraging and knew him well. Someone that could lift him up.

  • God had a better opinion of Gideon that he did at himself at this point. God always sees us differently from the way we see ourselves.
  • When Gideon answered the call of God his life changed and his family and friend’s opinion of him changed. I am sure he felt isolated and alone. But, like Gideon, we are not alone. God’s promises never fail and he never gives up on us.
  • His family was living in the wrong way – witchcraft, idolatry – things that blocked the blessings of God. He needed to be around faithful people.
  • Gideon needed fellowship – he had a small group with Purah. Someone he could talk to, lean on and be built up by.

Our growth as Christians and as a church requires God to take us to uncomfortable places so God has the room to show us our true selves and to help us grow into a life that is joyful, peaceful and blessed.

Gideon and Purah go to the camp at night and heard a man speak of a dream that a “loaf of barley bread came tumbling into Midinite camp, struck a tent, and it fell.” His friend replied, ”This is nothing less the sword of Gideon…God has handed the entire Midianite camp over to him”. (Judges 7:13-14).

It would be preposterous to think that a simple loaf of bread could roll over a tent. Yet with God nothing is impossible. If we listen for the small voice of God in the world around us, we get the confirmation and clarity of His guidance for us.

Isaiah 30:21 teaches…“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying “This is the way; walk in it”.

Direction from God should be clear and should give us peace.

Gideon finally, with the faith in the Lord, and the fellowship of Purah had his peace. It was time to do God’s work with less than 2% of what Gideon originally thought he needed.

Gideon Attack the Midianites (Judges 7:15-23)

 Following God’s instruction, Gideon and the 300 men took three things to battle. A sword, a shield and a helmet. Right? No. They took a bow, arrows and a spear. Right? No. They took a trumpet, an empty water pitcher and a torch. If they did it there way, they would have used weapons and attacked using their strength. And they would have lost. But letting God lead, they submitted to His wisdom. The split up into three groups and in the middle of the night surrounded the camp of Midianites. They began to blow the trumpets, smashed the pitchers and held up the torches shouting…”The sword of the Lord and of Gideon”. God’s Spirit created a confusion and madness that swept the camp. The Midianite warriors set their swords against each other. The result was the 120,000 warriors slaughtered one another. And the remaining 15,000 fled the camp. Gideon and his men pursued them with a larger force and routed the Midianites for good.

Gideon was living out Isaiah 12:2 – “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid” and Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength”.

Gideon’s Legacy (Judges 8:22-28)

There are two final critical lessons for us in this story that we need understand and apply to our lives and to our church.

  1. We need to give God complete control
  2. We need to work constantly on living right as Christians – when we are at peace we are at risk to fall back into bad ways

The battle is over and naturally the men said to Gideon in Judges 8:22 – “rule over us, you as well as your sons and your grandsons, for YOU delivered us from the power of Midian”.

Wow. All that work by God and these guys do not give God credit. Gideon is wise. He says ”I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you; the Lord will rule over you” (Judges 8:23) Gideon rightly gave glory to God.

Lesson one – our faith and our mission it is not about any human leadership.  It is only about Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Our hearts and minds need to focus on entirely making Him the King of our homes and our church.

Scripture tells us in Judges 8:28…”so Midian was subdued before the Israelites, and they were no longer a threat. The land was peaceful for 40 years during the days of Gideon”.

God answered their prayers. They repented and trusted in Him for guidance and provision using only 1.4% of what they thought they needed. He brought them salvation, peace and prosperity.

But….

Judges 8:33-34…”When Gideon died, the Israelites turned and prostituted themselves with the Baals and made Baal –berith their god. The Israelites did not remember the Lord their God who had delivered them from the power of the enemies around them”.

Lesson two – when life is good, things are working well and there are no issues, we forget about God and tend to focus on ourselves, our desires and our wants.

The Israelites knew this lesson well, but ignored it. They knew that life came from God. That all resources came from God. That all blessings (and curses) came from God. His command was simple. Seek Him first, live holy, love and care for others and worship Him alone.

Let’s read from Deuteronomy 8 that was the law that the Israelites had in the Torah…

Deuteronomy 8:11-13…“Be careful that you don’t forget the Lord your God by failing to keep His command – the ordinances and statues – I am giving you today. When you eat and are full, and build beautiful houses to live in, and your hers and flocks grow large, and your silver and gold multiply, and everything else you have increases, be careful that your heart doesn’t become proud and you forget the Lord your God…”

“You may say to yourself, my power and my own ability have gained this wealth for me, but remember that the Lord your God gives you the power to gain wealth…”

So I stand here today asking all of us to answer a simple question as a church… Why type of Gideons do we want to be? Afraid, lacking faith, trying to do it ourselves? Or bold, trusting God and ready to build God’s kingdom on less than 2% of what the world tells us we need when we have the Holy Spirit guiding us, teaching us and caring for us?

Let’s pray together….Father, we give thanks to You, Lord, for You are good. Your faithful love endures forever. Remember us, Lord, when You show favor on Your people. Come to us with Your salvation so that we may enjoy the prosperity of Your chosen ones, rejoice in being Your people and boast about Your heritage. Amen.