Getting Unstuck: Part 2- Focus

Getting Unstuck: Part 2- Focus

In December I was asking God for direction or theme or scripture for the New year. Nothing seem to come to mind. I asked for one word and one word came to my mind. It was the word

FOCUS – to direct your attention to someone or something. To adjust something to see more clearly.

Ever feel stuck in your life? Your job, your situation, a problem that is unresolved, an addiction you can’t break?

We can get stuck for all kinds of reasons, but rarely is there a way out when we put logic and reason above God’s wisdom. 

We have to unlearn our dependence upon our own logic and reason because God’s thoughts and wisdom are not always logical or reasonable. Instead of logic and reason we are to grow in faith and trust in Him.

Ill. If your devotional time consists of reading some Bible verses, or little devotional book and say a little prayer and then rush off into your day. You are missing the point! This is not what God wants from you.

          Your way of learning is the world’s way. Academic, reading, systematic, something you can check off on your to do list.

          God’s way of learning is through relationship with Him: trust, vision, imagination, creativity, faith, meditation, waiting, prayer conversation.

Your devotional life is all about bettering your relationship with God.

The reason you make time to spend with God reading His Bible and prayer is to turn your heart and align your life with His. Enjoy being with Him and learning to think like Him. Everything God is doing in our lives is intentionally relational.

Feeling stuck is a symptom of an un-renewed mind. Your mind is stuck focusing on yourself or your overwhelming problems. You can’t see any solution. You can’t see how things can get any better. You are earth bound in your thinking, you can’t see what God wants you to see from His POV. Your focused on the wrong thing or not focusing on the right thing. Life is a blur, out of focus.

Not everything that is true is truth. You may know something is true but if it does not set you free then it is not truth.

Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32

Ill. Pilot had Jesus standing before him. Jesus said “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were of this world then my servants would fight that I would not be handed over to the Jews. But My kingdom is not form here.” Pilot said, “Then You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this reason, was I born and came into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilot responds, “What is truth?”

          Pilot is standing in front of truth and does not recognize it. Truth is a person – Jesus is the way, truth, the Life. Truth is staring him in the face.

Ill. Last year when I was stuck in a time of depression and wondering why God was not helping – the HS spoke to my heart and said to me

“You don’t know me very well.”

This did not bring me shame or condemnation, rather it fueled a desire to seek His face. “Lord, I know I don’t know you very well even after 40 years of following You. But I want to know You more than any other thing in my life I want in my life. More than success in life and ministry, more than money, more than anything! You are the main thing and I want to keep the main thing the main thing.   

I thought about what the Lord spoke to me a lot. I began to see that I am not recognizing the Lord or His workings in my life.

This is not uncommon: Many times the Lord appeared in a form that people did not recognize.

-         Moses did not recognize God in the burning bush at first. There was no voice of God at first but just that the bush was burning but not being consumed.

So when Moses said, “I will now turn aside and see why this bush is not burnt.” When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called him from out of the midst of the bush.   Ex. 3:3-4

God revealed Himself in an unrecognizable form to Moses. You are going to have to focus on Me to walk with ME. Don’t assume you know Me and My ways.

Joshua had history with God. He was with Moses when the glory of God was manifested. He saw the glory of God on Moses face. He knew the presence of God. Yet the night before entering the promise land God Himself shows up in a form Joshua does not recognize. A man in armor with sword drawn. Joshua asks “Are you for us or for our enemies?” Neither, I am the captain of the Lord’s host and I am here to take over.

We know this is God in a different form because of Joshua’s response.

“Then Joshua fell to his face to the ground and worshipped. What do You wish to say?”

Remove your sandals for the place you are standing is holy ground. = surrender your walk under My command. I am taking over and You will get your orders from Me from now on. “Don’t assume you know Me. Focus on Me and stay with Me and I will show you My ways of doing things.

Next day they face Jericho – walled city. God says to Joshua, “See I have given Jericho into your hands.” God sees different from us. But He shares His view so we can change our view of the circumstance to see it from His POV.

          Then God gave Joshua a strategy totally unconventional. This is totally against all the war manuals on how to take a city. This is against logic and reason! What is God doing?

          He is building trust and confidence in Joshua. He is intentionally arranging all this drama to build a greater relationship with Joshua.

-         The Jews were looking for the Messiah and did not recognize Jesus when He was standing in front of them. They did not know Him very well!

-         The disciples spent 3 years with Jesus and after He was crucified were so discouraged they went fishing all night. Next morning hear a voice on beach “Have you caught anything children?” No. It was Jesus but they did not recognize Him!

-         “Cast your nets on the other side and you will.” They did and had abundance and finally John said, “It’s the Lord!”

Why is it we do not recognize God initially?

Maybe He comes in a form we are not expecting.

He works in a way we are not seeing or expecting.

The truth is we still do not know Him very well!

If you will come to Bible study on Wednesday nights you will learn what God’s number one goal for us is. It is to make us like Him.

“We know when He (Jesus) appears, we will be like Him for we shall see Him as He is.” I John 3:2

The more we become like Him, the faster we recognize Him when He manifests Himself in a way we have never known before, or when He works in a way that seems strange to us.

Could it be why you are feeling stuck in life is because you don’t know Him very well and cannot recognize the ways He is working in your life at the moment?

It is possible the Lord is right in front of you and you don’t recognize Him. It is possible that God is doing a great work in your life but you can’t see it because Satan has blinded you and focused on the storm rather than the Lord?

If you feel stuck in life or are depressed and can’t seem to move forward it could be a stronghold of the enemy in your mind. Satan is out to get you to think the wrong thoughts, especially about God. “Has God really said? Doesn’t He care? All these thoughts are satanic attacks against your mind.

Ill. In garden of Eden Satan talked Eve and then she talked Adam into questioning the integrity of God. The result was sin and a curse for violating God’s Word.

“By the sweat of your brow you will eat food.” Gen. 3:9

          In garden of Gethsemane the 2nd Adam – Jesus

“In great agony Jesus sweat great drops of blood.” Luke 22:44

He took on Himself all Emotional stress that causes mental illness.

The earth was cursed after the sin of man. As a result thorns and thistles grew from the ground.

Jesus wore a crown of thorns on His head – taking the curse and all the emotional pain of guilt, regret, shame, condemnation of past on Him.

Crown thorns PIC

HE was crucified on skull hill.

PIC

He knew Satan would try to conquer man through his mind even though Jesus conquered Satan. Satan still tries to access your mind even as a Christian and convince you there is no hope. He still tries to convince you that God is not with you, He does not care and is not going to help you. He distracts you from seeing Jesus. He wants you to think you are all alone.

He attempts to build strongholds into your mind if he can get you to start to hate yourself, believing lies about yourself = you’re a loser, you are hopeless, there is no help for you. Things will never get any better.

Someone is trying to take over your mind!

Ill. Maybe you do have issues like diagnosed bi-polar, depression, paranoia, is all very real. But it can be healed.

Don’t be ashamed if you need RX. You are not the only one.

-         William Cowper – writer “Rock of Ages”

-         Spurgeon, Elijah, Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, John Quincy Adams, Queen Victoria, Robin Williams, Jim Carey. 

Jesus became a “man of sorrows and is acquainted with the deepest grief” according to Isa. 53:3.

          He knows your grief. He knows they way you think.

“For since He Himself suffered while being tempted, He is able to HELP those who are being tempted.” Heb. 2:18

“The Lord is near to the broken hearted and those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

“He heals the broken heart and binds up the wounds.” Psalm 147:3-4

Isaiah 64:1-4 He gives beauty for ashes, AFTER you give Him your ashes.

He gives oil of joy  AFTER you give Him your mourning and grief,

He gives garment of praise AFTER you give Him spirit of heaviness, this depression in your mind.

You play a huge role in getting unstuck in your mind. You make the first move.

HE sees your struggle and comes to you.

Picture of Jesus walking in storm

Ill. Mark 6:48 – straining at oars in storm.

They saw Him in the storm! They saw Him in their trouble. They saw Him in their agony. You are not alone in this storm! Jesus walking sea and would have passed them by. Why is this in your Bible? Not just to read and say wow. See yourself in story.

          HE sees your struggle, your failures and all the bad that has happened to you. You have to see you are not alone in your present storm. You need to see He is with you. His Presence is enough. Note He does not tell them how He will solve this problem. All He says is, “BE of good cheer. It is I. Do not be afraid.”

-         First He spoke His word to them. “I am with you in this!”

What changed? Their focus was no longer on the storm but Him.  

-         Second He got into their boat and the wind ceased.

Once all their focus was on Jesus – the storm ceased.

          Ill. Are you saying if I just focus on Jesus all my troubles will go away? No. But this is where you start .

          I know it sounds weird. It is totally unconventional. It does not make any logical sense or reason. No doctor is going to tell you this.

The more you focus on yourself, your pain, your problems the deeper you sink in despair. You must get your focus back on the Lord.

You may feel worse like you have already sunk under the water. There is still help and hope.

Pic Jesus reaching down to you:

Peter walked on water as long as He focused on Jesus and not the storm.

If you feel like you are sinking back into depression, somewhere you have believed God is not helping you. You are listening to the enemy. God is coming to you even now while I am preaching this to you!

          You must focus! Stop allowing depression to cloud your thoughts. You have control over your thoughts.

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace (shalom, shalom), whose mind is stayed on Thee.” Isaiah 26:3

God’s ways of healing go contrary to our way of thinking.

You have got to become more aware of your invisible God than your visible problems.

Some will scoff at what I am preaching today. How is just thinking about Jesus and looking for Him going to change anything? It sounds foolish.

Ill. Numbers 21 children of Israel in wilderness bitten by fiery serpents. Many died. They prayed God take away the serpents! Maybe you prayed same thing – God take away this pain in my body, take away this debt crushing me. Look at God’s strange solution. He said,

“Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole; and it shall be everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.”  Numbers 21:8

It was made out of bronze. Bronze in the Bible speaks of judgment.

“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so the Son of Man must be lifted up.”  John 3:14

This is a picture of Jesus. He was judged and punished on the cross for our sins and taking the consequence of sin which is sickness, death, curses, poverty, all the curse.

God’s instructions were “look at the bronze serpent and be healed.”

Hebrew word for “look” means to “look intently of focus”.

God’s answer was to focus on the serpent on the pole. Stop focusing on the snakes around you, the wounds you suffered.

Ill. Maybe a good exercise for you today would be at altar call get in a spot alone and just stare at this cross behind me and pray Lord, open my eyes and help me to see like You see. Sit there and wait.

Whatever you are struggling with – ask for a fresh revelation of Jesus coming to you in your storms. HE is there waiting to help you now.

          You may not have recognized Him because you don’t know Him very well. Maybe all this mess in your life can be used for you to begin to know Him very well and then be able to help others?

“Lord, don’t You care what I am going through? Don’t you care my child is suffering?”

Like Jesus said to Martha the Lord says, “Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things,

But one thing is needful,

And Mary has chosen that good part.

What did Mary her sister choose? She sat at Jesus feet to hear His word to her. She was focused. One word form God is all you need.

Maybe God is telling you to today one word – focus.

Concl:

The enemy knows how powerful the Word of God is. He knows if you arm yourself with just one Word from God the you will overcome him.

Beloved there is hope for you. The Bible calls God the God of hope.

Hope is the confident expectation of good. It is called a helmet in I thes 5:8

Don’t lose hope. You are not stuck. All you need is one word from God and then focus on Him. Even in your valley of trouble He can open a door of opportunity you don’t know yet. Focus!

The scriptures were written to give you hope. If you don’t know where to begin I’ve written some scriptures for you to read and meditate on this week. Counselors have them at the altar. Arm yourself with the Word. Use these words to help you get unstuck and focus.

 

Supernatural Guidance Part 2

Supernatural Guidance Part 2

Review:

Can you tell me what is God’s number one goal for our lives?

“Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness, and let them have dominion . . .”  Gen. 1:26

How will He accomplish this? He will create opportunities for us to relate to Him. We are to discern how He is trying to reveal Himself to us in these opportunities.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart”

 - He creates an opportunity for us to

in grow in trusting Him.

Our part – trusting Him.

“Lean not unto your own

understanding”

Our part – trusting Him and resisting

Our mind that is contrary to His.   

In all your ways acknowledge Him”

Our part – trust His Presence with us.

“And He will direct your path”

-         His part – direction and correction

We take care of the relationship.

God takes care of the direction.

-         WE want His rescue more than we want the relationship sometimes. “Just tell me what I should do. Just give me a rescue, get me out of this mess, just provide money, help, Just give me the answer, the solution.”

Often God is silent when we ask questions for directions – Why?

Many reasons:

1.    He knows you already know the answer deep down.

2.    HE wants you to have the confidence to start moving then trust that He will answer.

Your ears shall hear a word behind you saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” WHENEVER you turn to the right hand or the left.  Isa. 30:21

3.    He wants you to grow in trust and peace that He is with you.

One example is how God worked with a man named Gideon in Judges.

Background: The people of Israel were not being faithful to God. As a result God let the Midianite people oppress Israel. IT was so bad that every harvest time the Midianites would sweep through the land and steal everything that was not nailed down. Israel was losing their animals, their harvest (income), their supplies.

          God decided to change all that and He chose one man for the job. He wasn’t a John Wayne or Clint Eastwood type of man. In fact, when God appeared to him and called him to deliver Israel from the oppressive Midianites, He was hiding out in a wine press. He doesn’t look like a courageous leader!

HE would gather his harvest of wheat and then hide it in the wine press where he could separate wheat from chaff. One day he is there working all alone and the Lord appears and says to him,

“Hail, mighty man of God. The Lord is with you!”

The Lord, God Creator and ruler of the universe being with us makes us mighty. We don’t realize this! It is not what you know but Who you know that makes a difference!

-         God sees us in our calling and fulfilling His plan for us. “mighty man of God”

Gideon only sees in the natural. After the shock of this he replies. “If the Lord is with me and Israel is God’s people then WHY has all this trouble happened to us. And where are all the miracles our forefathers told us about. No, the Lord is not with us. The Lord has abandoned us!”

His disappointment is talking. His frustration is talking. His hurt is talking. His questions about his life are talking!

Here is the amazing thing about God. He ignores Gideon’s negativity!

“The Lord looked at him and said, “Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?”

What strength? The strength is the confidence God is with you and His promise you will deliver Israel from Midian. You are God’s choice.  God is revealing who He wants to be to Gideon.

Gideon replied, “O Lord, how shall I deliver Israel? My family is the least in Manasseh, and I am the youngest in my family?”

“ Excuses, excuses, you'll hear them every day.
And the Devil he'll supply them, if the Lord you stay away.
When people come to know the Lord, the Devil always loses
So to keep them folks away from God, he offers them excuses.”

Ill. When you get up in the morning before your feet hit the floor there is a demon waiting handing you a list of excuses why you should get back in bed and be depressed. Back hurts, knees hurt, feet hurt, it’s too cold, too hot, coffee is too strong, too weak, etc.

But the Lord said, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian as one man.”   Judges 6:11-16

The fact that, ‘I am’ - is with you” is all you need to know at the moment to make your next step forward!

 “Lord, what do You want to be to me in this situation?”

-         To discover God’s presence is the strength you need to fulfill the assignment He has for you. I want to be your peace and your confidence.

Note God did not give Gideon a detailed 5 year plan.

“Go in this your strength and deliver Israel from Midian, have I not sent you?”

His call from God was vague. Just start doing what you know needs to be done. I have sent you!

When God has called you to a place/position He has already given you the grace (ability) to do what He wants you to do.

-         The knowing of what to do is already planted in you in seed form. IT may not turn out like you first envision it.

 He is building our trust and confidence that HE is with us while we are in a trial or situation wondering while we are waiting for Him.

So much of our growth in God will come by waiting upon the Lord.

So many scriptures tells us to wait on the Lord. What does this mean?

I love psalm 37 highlights. Listen to this soothing word form God:

“Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and practice faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord and HE will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust also in Him, and He will bring it to pass . . .

Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; DO NOT FRET . . . let go of anger, and forsake wrath; DO NOT FRET – it surely leads to evil.” Psalm 37:3-8

“Rest”  #1826 – to be still, wait, to make silent, to destroy.

Ancient Hebrew = destroying the thing causing chaos.

R – resisting

E -  everything

S -  satan

T -  throws (fiery darts Eph. 6:16)

“Wait”  #2342 – to twist together, to dance, to bind together.

W – willingly

A –  abiding

I -    in

T –  Trust

You have to learn to do this by practice. Practice entering His rest. Practice His peace. How?

“I release my peace upon ­­­______.”

 

For me it is learning not to react to people’s negativity or situations. Instead push the pause button (self control) asking God,

“Who do You want to be to me in this situation?

A prayer of releasing your peace

Lord, You are teaching me to trust You. This is a big part of experiencing peace and overcoming fear. Most of the things I have worried about  never happen. I surrender and admit: I can't control people, plans, or even my circumstances, but I can trust You are with me and will help me. You're the only one that can help me end fretful behavior.  By trusting You I pour out my worries, anxieties and fears at Your feet. I claim Your Presence, Your peace and strength in me now whether I feel it or not.  By faith I release peace into my soul and over the concerns I have. Your quiet strength in me leads me to trust in You, WAIT upon You and REST in You. Thank You.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

Hope: Becoming Unstuck

Hope: (becoming unstuck)  

Intro:

Do you ever feel stuck in life? Stuck in a job you hate. Stuck in a situation that seems to have no solution. Stuck in an environment you can’t change?

Feeling like you are stuck in life is a symptom of an un-renewed mind. Feeling stuck is a symptom the enemy has been whispering to your mind his thoughts and you have been meditating on them.

“As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7

If you think your stuck, you are in your mind. Your mind needs to be re-set. Ill. Ever get a song in mind and it won’t stop playing = mind stuck.

You try to sleep, your body is tired but your mind is replaying a conversation = your mind is stuck and needs to be re-set.

          January is usually the highest month of suicides – people feel hopeless. A view that there is no hope for their life.

It is impossible for a child of God to be without hope in this life. But it is possible for a child of God to believe they are without hope in this world.

Ill. True story of Elijah the prophet and his servant. The King of Aram was frustrated because every time he planned a raid Israel was waiting for them. Who is leaking intel? His advisors told him that Elijah was a prophet who would hear the kings plans and would warn his king. The king said, “Let’s kill this man”. He ordered an army to go get Elijah. Early the next morning Elijah’s servant goes out side and sees the whole Aramean army surrounding Elijah’s house. He panics and tells Elijah.

Elijah is calm, peace, and rest (CPR) and says, “Don’t be afraid. There are more with us than with them.

-         2 guys same situation. One sees things from an elevated position with God and the other sees things in the natural.

Then Elijah prayed a prayer that is so important God recorded in the Bible for us. 8 words that we can pray:

“Lord, open his eyes that he may see.” 2 Kings 6:17

          God opened his eyes and saw a host of chariots fire and warrior angels surrounding Elijah and his servant.

Why did Elijah see what his servant did not see?           

          How can I learn see like this?  You have to intentionally change your view of your circumstances to think like God thinks. If you are not sure how He thinks about something – ask Him.

 God answered his prayer and let his servant see the same thing.

          His POV enabled him to have the same CPR Elijah had.

          He immediately changed from hopeless to confidence.  

When the Arameans attacked Elijah he prayed, “Lord, strike them blind.” They came to Elijah and did not recognize him! He told them they were in the wrong city and he would lead them. They followed him 40 miles to Samaria into the city where the king of Israel and his army surrounded them. Then he prayed, “Lord open their eyes.” The did and realized they were captured. King of Israel said to Elijah, “Shall I kill them?” No feed them and send them back to their king. He did and Aram never bothered Israel again.

It would be a good idea to ask God to open our eyes to see our circumstances from His POV.

Things are not as they appear.

We are not out numbered. We are not without hope, We are not under the circumstances. We are not failures, losers. We are not doomed, condemned, cursed. Things are not impossible. There is hope.

There is more for us than against us. We are already in victory, Jesus always leads us into triumph, we are already healed, we are already overcomers! We are already predestined to be comformed to the image of His Son. That is God’s predetermined plan for us. I agree with Paul who said, “I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angles, principalities or any other created thing is able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ.”

We know all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose. Do you believe everything I just said is true!

So, what’s the problem?

Maybe the real problem is, we need to pray that our eyes be opened to see our circumstances the way God sees them.

That is exactly what the Apostle Paul thought.

Paul prayed for Christians to have their eyes opened to 3 things:

“I pray that the eyes of your heart be enlightened (opened) that you may know the hope of His calling and what are the riches of His glory of His inheritance among the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power towards us who believe. . .”  Eph. 1:18

Break it down into 3 things we need to have our eyes opened to:

1. The hope of His calling for you.     HIS  PLANS

Wed night Bible teaching class here learned God’s #1 goal is to make us like the Father, Son, and HS. “Let us make man in our image. . .”

2. His inheritance for you now,       HIS PURPOSE

All fruit of Spirit is God’s nature and likeness manifesting in your life now. Satan wants to steal, kill and destroy your inheritance now.

3. The greatness of His power.           HIS POWER

 Satan wants you to doubt the greatness of God’s power and never encounter it or even be in a church that believes in it.

This will require a new mindset. This mindset God wants you to have starts from a place of victory in every situation. You never strive for victory you start there.

Hopelessness is a stronghold or mindset that is ungodly and can kill you it is certainly destroying God’s plans for you now. It can keep you from going forward in life.

Ill. Weights at gym. Trainer put on my weights on machine than I ever thought to try. I did not believe I could do it. My mind was set that I would fail. He coached me and I did better than I ever thought. This re-set my mind to a higher level.

How can you get your mind unstuck?

1.    Re-set your mind.

 “The mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.” Romans 8:6

How can you tell what your mind set is? Listen to your words.

Your words are activating life and peace or death.

Elijah had his mind set on the Spirit and was calm in adversity, peaceful and at rest = LIFE and PEACE is a sign of the mind set on the Spirit.

His servant had his mind set on things on the natural and was fearful, anxious, and restless = death

What has your mind been set on lately?

“Set your mind on things above, not on the things of the earth.” Col. 3:2

You control this! You set your mind anywhere you want to. Your mind is under your authority.

Thanksgiving and rejoicing are ways we are intentionally re-setting our minds to His higher level of thinking, to things above.

1.    If you do not intentionally daily give thanks and rejoice – your mind will default to be negative. Re-training and re-setting your mind will take effort and training on your part.

Ill. Take time for soaking saturated worship, giving thanks, praise and rejoice in God alone! Ill. When you were a child your imagination was highly creative. Every child is an artist, singer, actor, and creativity flows freely through children. Then your mind began to grow old and you stop using your imagination so much. God wants us to tap into this creativity part of us that has been lying dormant.

The Hebrew word for meditate is to imagine.

Joshua 1:8 and Psalm 1:2 calls us to use our imagination with God’s Word.

If you have been depressed, worried, dreading something in your future then you definitely know how to meditate and use your imagination for evil purposes – try using this same tool for your good.  

-         Ill. Imagine yourself doing what Psalm 100 tells us – to enter His gates with thanksgiving and enter into His courts with praise.

Concl:

What if your dream has been shattered? What if what you were hoping for never happened? Everyone has these type of things.

It is possible you had the wrong hope to begin with.  

Don’t worry if you think this is what you have done.

God is a genius at getting us unstuck and going the right direction.

          The place to begin is today – now. Begin with

Repentance = change your mind, thinking!

          We all need to repent of something today. If you been saying your stuck – repent of saying that and thinking that. You are not hopeless.

          I Thes 5:8 calls hope the helmet of salvation. Your mind was created to house God’s thoughts. But the fact that scripture tell us to put on the helmet of salvation is telling us our mind will be under attack and we must protect hope from being stolen from us.

Happy New Day

Happy New Day

Custom to say Happy New Year.

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; 

His mercies never come to an end;

They are new every morning,

Great is Thy faithfulness”   Lam. 3:22-23

We somehow relate to weekends better than thinking in terms of years. The idea of years somehow seems to put a longer sense of distance from death for us. But when I measure my life by weekends it shakes me enough to ask myself,

“What am I doing with my life?”

If you are age 20 and live to age 70 you have 2,500 weekends left.

If you are age 30 and live to age 70 you have 2,000 weekends left.

If you are age 40 and live to age 70 you have 1,500 weekends left.

If you are age 50 and live to age 70 you have 1,000 weekends left.

If you are age 60 and live to age 70 you have 500 weekends left.

Avg age of longevity in America is now 78 and increasing.

What if you are above the age of 80?

Start celebrating “Happy New Day” and don’t buy any green bananas!

New Years is a time for changes:

Resolutions, goals, diets.

Some churches join Jentzen Franklin for a 21 day fast at beginning of year. We have and it is a good idea. But don’t let it become a work where you think you are earning some favor form God if you do this. Be led by the Spirit. Jesus said, “When you fast”  – it should be a private matter between you and God. There are corporate fasts in the Bible and a time when God leads a leader to call it. I have done this and will as the Lord leads.

Some people bring a first fruits offering – above and beyond to the church during January. Again I think it is a good idea but don’t let it become a work you think you are earning favor from God if you do it.

Ask God if He wants you to do any of these things and wait for His answer.

People tell me all the time things we should do as a church – 21 day fast, or this or that. Sometimes they are right and I hear God through them. But somehow I am discerning something else needs to happen first before we do those good things. David must have struggled with this too.

“For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God Are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”  Psalm 51:17

A broken and contrite heart is one that has met with God and in the light of His Holiness sees their sin and abhors it.

Ill. This was written by David after his sin with Bathsheba and arranging the death of her husband so they could be married and look like a normal thing. God confronted David through Nathan the prophet and it cut David to the heart. As you read through Psalm 51 you see the deep on-going repentance of David from the heart.

          David realizes what we all must realize. God is after our heart first! Whatever this broken spirit before God is – is good.

Whatever a contrite heart is – is good.

Then a couple verses later he wrote,

THEN You will be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness,

With burnt offering and whole burnt offering;

THEN THEY WILL OFFER   - young bulls on Your altar.”  Verse 19

You can offer religious sacrifices to God without a broken and contrite heart. It is not until you first have this broken spirit and this contrite heart that God will be pleased with such sacrifices. Once your heart is open to God then you willingly offer sacrifices to Him freely.

Ill. A typical Pharisee fasted 2 times a week and brought sacrifices and tithes down to the penny. But one thing they lacked – a broken and contrite heart. If they would have had this, then their sacrifices would have been pleasing to God.

Ill. Rich young ruler came to Jesus, “What else must I do to inherit E.L?”

I’ve done this and that and all the things my church tells I must do.  Scripture says Jesus loved him. “Go sell all you have and give it to the poor and come and follow Me.”

          Jesus was saying in essence to him. I do not desire sacrifices from you but first I desire a broken and contrite heart.

          Scripture does not give us this man’s name. I think it is because we are to put our names in his place and see ourselves as this man before Jesus. “Lord, what do You want me to do with my life? What do You want from Me?”

          Jesus’ answer is ambiguous, unclear, not a clear outline with guarantees for security for his future. “Follow Me and I will make you a famous and successful. Give all your money a way and I will make you wealthier than you can imagine. Quit your job and follow me and I will give you a better job. Give this offering and I will give you greater riches. We have to be careful not to try and test the Lord.

-         We don’t do something in hopes of getting a greater return.

 The only promise is, do this and you will have treasure in heaven. I don’t know about you but that is not very motivational for me! “Lord, could you give me some more details of how this will turn out?”  No!

The Lord knows where we lack confidence in Him.

I guarantee you He is working on you in this particular area where you lack confidence in Him.

Ill. Like the man who crossed a part of Niagara Falls on a tightrope in 1800’s. People cheered. Then he did it blindfolded. Then he crossed carrying a sack of potatoes. Then with Wheel barrow. Each time he asked the cheering crowd if they thought he could do this. “Yes you are and greatest.” Do you believe I can cross pushing a wheel barrow with someone in it? “Yes we believe!”  then he said okay who wants to volunteer to be in the wheel barrow. No one obliged. I wouldn’t either.

But confidence in the Lord is a greater matter. The way we grow in confidence in God is knowing God. Paul said,

“For my determined purpose is that I may know Him; that I may become more progressively and deeply acquainted with Him . . .” Phil. 3:10 Ampl

A relationship involves 2 people with individual responsibilities.

Our part of our relationship with God is to seek more intimate relationship. God’s part of our relationship is guidance and direction to us. God wants us to say the same thing David said to God in Psalm 27.

“When You (God) said, ‘Seek My face’, my heart said to You, ‘Your face, Lord, I shall seek.”  Psalm 27:8

God’s will for your life is not a tightrope. You have been given a lot of freedom. There is a broad green pasture to explore. The pasture has some boundaries but you have tremendous freedom to choose so much. If we stay close in relationship with God we will know when God says, go, no, or slow.

Pastor is it God’s will for me to do this that? I don’t know unless there is a clear no from the Word. Am I to marry this person? You have freedom to explore with Him and to recognize the boundaries. The Apostle Paul knew the boundaries:

“All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify.”
I Cor. 10:23

Guidance is a by product that will come out of a right relationship with God.

1.    Child – needs an adult to hold their hand crossing the road.

2.    Teen – holding hand may seem overbearing. Let them decide.

3.    Adult – God’s will is a green light until is turns yellow or red. God does not want us to wait for a prophetic word to do things.

Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” WHENEVER you turn to the right hand or the left.”  ISA. 30:21

ILL. God is our Shepherd and we are the sheep. He knows how to communicate to us – if we will listen and not be stubborn and go our own way.

Not long ago I made a decision to do something and then I asked God that night if it was not His will that He would make it clear to me and give me a red light. Next morning a phone call from a friend made it clear not to proceed. If God does not like our choice He will make it clear!

God sees that your relationship with Him is all you need for success in life! We have a tendency to put more confidence in what we have rather than Who we have.

Ill. King David got in trouble with God for wanting to check the numbers of the men who could go to battle if needed. That doesn’t seem like a bad idea. God was deeply offended at David for this.

          God wanted David to know, It is not what you have that makes you strong, but Who you have. All God wanted from David was the confidence that God was with him. He wants us to grow in this confidence too.

David wrote a love song to God in Psalm 27. By now He had a lot of history with God. Many times he faced overwhelming odds and was outnumbered. Read from my Bible. But the phrase that stands out to me to give to you as a motto for this year, the last part of verse 3.

“In spite of this, I shall be confident.” Psalm 27:3d

God wants us to be confident in Him. He wants to rid us of fear and worry about the future. He wants us to look to Him and say, “He is all I need!” Hell is after your confidence.

Should we make plans for our life without knowing God’s plans first?

Yes – start moving. You have a green light until God makes it red. But you will only see a red light if you are alert to Him.

“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” Proverbs 16:9

Out of this close relationship - guidance for our lives will come.

Ill. In Acts 16 Paul and Barnabas on a mission trip. At one place Paul was so beaten with stones, some say he died and was resurrected. What would you do in a case like this.

-         Question was I in the will of God since bad things happened? They didn’t question it. They didn’t spend 40 days fasting about where they should go next. They just went to the next town knowing persecution would come, attacks from the devil will happen. But, “In spite of this I will be confident.”

-         At one point they were making plans to go into Asia but somehow “the Holy Spirit did not permit them.” Acts 16:7

How? We don’t know but we do know they had such a good relationship with God that they could recognize a red light when they saw one from God.

Paul took care of the relationship and God took care of the direction.

You take care of the relationship, God will take care of the direction.

          Ill. Have you ever ran a red light?  You only see a stop light if you are alert to it. Have you ever ran past God’s red light? Our first priority is to be alert to God and “in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.” Proverbs 3:7

Concl: Regarless of your past and how many of God’s red lights you have ran – good news from Him. Happy New Day. Let’s leave here alert to Him and paying attention when He is saying – go – slow – or no.

 “In spite of all this, I shall be confident.” Psalm 27:3d

Joy - Jesus Opens You  – Part 4

Joy - Jesus Opens You  – Part 4

           Jesus opened your heart the day you got saved. Somehow He revealed Himself to you and you believed Him. You tasted a sample His glorious love for you. It was a glorious moment but there is so much more.

Why did Jesus open your heart and come in to live? Not just to go to heaven and give people peace at your funeral. It was because He wants to reveal Himself to you now in this life that is often filled with all kinds of trouble and unexpected trials and hurts. He wants to reveal to you that He is greater than you know Him to be.

“What if everyday is cleverly designed by God to reveal another glimpse of God with us and His love for us?”

You must remain open to Him. Abiding and remaining aware of Him is what empowers us to see Him. If you don’t stay open to Him – you won’t see Him.

“I am the Vine, you are the branches. He who remains in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit. For without Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

You are to live in the constant awareness and dependence that He is living in you and you are living in Him. He lives His life flowing through your life in whatever circumstances you are in at the moment.

-         Remain in faith with me. Keep believing in Me. Trust Me and stay with Me. Let’s walk through this trial together. I have not stopped loving you! Sometimes it may feel like God does not love you. Come on and trust me and I will show you things you could never know!

Why does Jesus tell us to remain/abide in Him? A few verses later He explains why.

“I have spoken these things to you, THAT MY JOY MAY REMAIN IN YOU, AND THAT YOUR JOY MAY BE FULL.”  John 15:11

You were given His joy when He first opened your heart to Him. He intends for His joy to overflow your own joy. How?

          By you discovering the various ways He manifests Himself to you  will bring you great joy. Why? Because

You will make me to know the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy.” Psalm 16:11

He has a particular path for your life. You must not compare your path with other people’s path. Your path is different and you must trust Him and abide in the awareness of His Presence. His Presence manifested to you on your path of life will bring you joy.

 This joy keeps you open to experience more of Him as you go through this earth life. We should always have a sense of wonder about God.

“I wonder how He will manifest Himself to me today?”

Remember you are a branch attached to the Vine. His life flows through you. Your part is to remain OPEN to Him and let Him flow through you.

O the trouble outside is frightful,

But Your Presence in me is delightful,

As long as You love me so,

Let Your life flow, let it flow, let it flow.

Our brief time on earth is not enough for all the ways He wants to manifest Himself to us. This is why we have eternity!

A relationship is a two-way street. It requires both people to cooperate and walk towards the same goal.

If Jesus said we are to remain in Him and abide in Him – then there must be ways we can Not remain or abide or remain open to Him!

The Apostle Paul gave a warning to the church about this using 5 words.

“Do not quench the Spirit.” I Thes. 5:19

“Quench” = to stifle or put out the fire. It is possible for us to do this. How? Look a the context:

“Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Do not quench the Spirit. Despise not prophecies. Examine all things. Firmly hold to that which is good. Abstain from all appearances of evil.” I Thessalonians 5:16-22

1.    Rejoice always.  Opens you to God and keeps you open to Him.

Jesus said He gave you His joy – now your part is to re-joy.

Ill. If you don’t use it your re-joic-er may be broken and needs to be fixed. Joy is in you but you need to use it by rejoicing.

2.    Pray without ceasing – Opens you to God.

Prayer is both talking to God and listening to God. It is where you unburden your heart to Him by prayer.

3.    In everything give thanks – Opens you to God.

Not be thankful for everything but In every situation thank God He is with you and He will help you and show you the right path.

4.    Don’t quench the Spirit – Opens to God.

To put out the fire. Don’t stifle what the Spirit is doing. Don’t shut down and hinder the HS from flowing – in church services I can discern when the Spirit is being quenched. People are not cooperating with God and flowing with Him.

5.    Don’t despise prophecies – examine all things. Firmly hold onto what is good. Keep Open to supernatural ways of God!

-         Prophecies have both spirit and flesh in them. Eat the fish and spit out the bones. All the mysterious spiritual gifts like word of knowledge, word of wisdom, tongues and prophecies. Examine all and hold onto the good.

-         There have been excesses that have turned people off to spiritual gifts – there have been dry places too. God will help you sort out what is real and what is not.

6.    Abstain from all appearances of evil.

This should be obvious.

 

The question we should all be asking ourselves is this:

Am I in any way quenching the Spirit in my life, or in this church?

Am I contributing to the growth and spread of God’s church?

Am I hindering the growth and life of God in this church?

Concl: Joy is when Jesus Opens You to experience God.

Your part is to remain open and abide in Him not just at church but in everyday life.

This is how we abide in Him. Rejoice always, pray w/o ceasing, in everything give thanks, and don’t quench the Spirit! Abstain from the appearance of evil = Stay open.

Joy - Part 2

Joy - Part 2 Jesus Opens You

Intro: Jesus Opens You = Lyrics from the song we sang: “There’s beauty in my brokenness.”  I’ve got real love instead of pain. There’s freedom though You’ve captured me. I’ve got joy instead of mourning.”

The way to joy is brokenness; from doing you own will to do God’s will.  

           There is beauty in brokenness.

Last week a person told me joy is when you do something that you don’t want to do but you know God wants you to do = Brokenness.

          Brokenness is usually a process where we reach a point we surrender to the will of God. Sometimes our lives have to be broken before we recognize our need of God. Even Jesus experienced brokenness. He took bread and break it saying, “This is My body broken for you.”

          A week before he went to the cross. Mary the sister of Lazarus broke an heirloom alabaster box and anointed Jesus. Symbolic of 2 things: Jesus would soon be broken on the cross. And all who follow Jesus must be broken and poured out in surrender too to God.

          Ill. I can imagine what it was like for her to realize HS was impressing on her to take her greatest treasure and keepsake in life and open it for the first time and anoint Jesus with it. Maybe she struggled with taking this sacred thing give by her parents/grandparents? Maybe people tried to talk her out of it. Don’t waste it – sell it and get money for it! But at some point she realizes God is leading her to do this and she experiences the beauty of brokenness and surrenders to Him.

One gospel said the fragrance filled the whole house.

          This one little seemingly insignificant act was so beautiful God recorded it in the Bible. “There’s beauty in my brokenness.”

Joy is the result of brokenness to my will and obeying God’s will.

JOY is JESUS Opening You

          He doesn’t break you – you voluntarily break your will to His. IT may look like such a waste to others!

“The house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment.” Jn 12:3

When God comes into a place – He plans to fill it with Himself!

 At dedication Solomon’s temple – “priests could not continue to minister because the glory of the Lord filled the house.” I Kgs 8:11

  At Pentecost - “sound of wind from heaven filled the whole house.”  Acts 2:2

“and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues. . .” Acts 2:4

ill. When you get saved God comes into your life in part. Jesus is in you but not filling all of you. Like Jesus knocking on the door of your house and you invite Him into foyer, living room, kitchen but there are some places in your life you don’t want Him to be just yet. He wants to fill your house with His Presence – His fragrance gets on you in every area – not just part. He wants His Presence to fill your house so much that everyone knows you have been with Jesus.

          Ill. Peter and John and lame man healed in Jesus’ name. Confronted by religious officials which normally would have been intimidating. Yet Peter and John confident and boldly testified of Jesus to them. Scripture declares “They recognized they had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13

          Broken from trying to save their lives to surrendering their lives into God’s hands. In brokenness you are submitted, settled, at peace, more occupied with God that people or things, rested, content yet willing to take risks.

There are some areas of your life you are not open to Jesus yet!

He will encourage you to trust Him but He will never force His way in!

Ill. Jesus was resurrected on the feast of firstfruits. He is the firstfruits of a resurrected life. Then 40 days later He ascended into heaven. Just before this He said, “don’t depart Jerusalem until you receive the promise of the Father – HS.” We don’t know how many people were present when He ascended but I Corinthians says “over 500 people at one time saw Him in His resurrected body.” My guess is this was at His ascension into heaven. If that is correct, then over 500 people heard Him say stay in Jerusalem until the promise of the Father comes upon you. Even if 500 did not personally hear Him say this – others who did would have told the other disciples what He said about waiting. “What were His last words?” = last words are important words.

9 days later the feast of Pentecost and only 120 are together in the upper room when HS came and filled house and the people and they spoke in other tongues. Where were the others? I don’t know the answer but I want to suggest a thought.

          People’s zeal comes and goes like the wind. The joy of life with God can elude us if we don’t intentionally go deeper in relationship with Him. He wants to fill your whole house not part.

Is there some part of your life that you have not made available to God so that He is allowed to fill?

-         You have to give Him your time, your willingness, your effort to seek Him with all your heart. You can’t wait for inspiration to come.

Whenever God gives us a promise – He expects us to pursue Him with that promise and increase our awareness of His Presence.

          He told His disciples to “wait for the Promise of the Father”. How many held onto that promise until they experienced Pentecost?

They had no idea of what that promise would look like. They had to be open to God.

Maybe at first there were over 500 gathered together – we don’t know. But day by day maybe the number decreased to finally 380 were no longer waiting for the Promise of the Father to come.

          I can hear some of the people. “We don’t know when this promise will come. It could be a year or a thousand years from now! Others may have said, “I’ve got crops to harvest in the field. I can’t stay here and wait an y longer. Another says, “I’ve got a job to go to.” There will always seem to be a legitimate reason not to do what God tells you to do. “Surely God does not expect me to lose my job, my crops, my etc.”

           Only you can say what you believe the Lord is telling you to do.

 2 most important questions:

What is the Lord saying to you?

What has the Lord been saying to you?

-         It may take 9 days like it did them before you figure out what God has been saying to your life – but it would be worth it.

But we know there were 120 people nine days later intentionally still waiting for a promise from God. If you were to ask any one of them why there were meeting together like this – they would say, “I just believe God wants me here.” They were so open to God.

When you are open to God – His life flows through you. When you cooperate with God, even when you don’t understand what HE is doing

– the life of God flows through you!

Jesus said “I am the Vine, you are the branches. He that abides in Me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit. For apart from ME, you can do nothing.” John 15:5

Abide = remain = continue = wait = endure

2 kinds of fruit:

1.    Inward fruit – the fruit of the Spirit       (L,j,p…)

2.    Outward fruit – ministry fruit      (people)

 

How do we abide in Him?

1.    Connection – listen/talk to Him

2.    Continuance – obey what He tells you to do.

3.    Confidence – Trust/rely on Him instead of your feelings.

This confidence is how to stay open to God!  You have learned to obey what He tells you to do even when you don’t know how things are going to turn out.

-         You are pregnant with a promise from God. When you are pregnant you don’t know they exact time the baby will be born but you have a general idea.

Ill. When the angel of God visits Mary and tells her she will become pregnant with a promise from God. You will have a baby boy. How can this be – I am a virgin? The HS will come upon you. Then he leaves her with these immortal words ringing in her heart.

“For with God nothing will be impossible.” Luke 1:37

“nothing” – 3 Greek words together meaning = no utterance by the Living Voice.

“impossible” – without ability

Translated – No Word from God will come without it’s own ability to perform it.

If God gives you a promise – then hidden within that promise is the grace to enable you to do what He requires.

What does Mary do? “I am the handmaid of the Lord. Be it unto me according to Your Word.”   = Brokenness.

-         After this she visits her cousin Elisabeth who is pregnant with John the Baptist. Baby John leaps for joy in Elisabeths womb when Mary enters the house.

-         After this in your Bible is what is called the Magnificat of Mary or the song of Mary. She is pregnant with a promise and like any woman who is pregnant she is more alive than ever.

When you are pregnant with a promise from God you are alive with the life of God in you = joy. You are so open to God now!

This is a spontaneous love song Mary sung to God and God liked it so much He recorded it in our Bible. “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” and for nine more verses she sings to Him. We don’t have the music but I wonder what it sounded like.

What is she doing? She is doing what David wrote about in Psalm 37.

“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

“Delight” – to be happy over, to make merry, to make sport of, to laugh together with, to enjoy, to rejoice about.

Do you do this? Intentionally push aside everyone and everything and focus all your delight on Him. Get awed and stunned by His unconditional love for you.  

What does it look like for you to delight yourself in the Lord? How do you express delight in Him?

Mary sang a love song to God. So did David and others in the Bible.  Have you ever enjoyed God so much that you spontaneously sing love songs to Him? Have you ever taken a love song that was meant to be sung to another human but instead sing it to God? As I was thinking about this an old song love song came to my mind and I change it a little and sang it to God.

“I will spend my whole life through – loving You – loving You.

Winter, summer, springtime too – loving You – loving You.

Makes no difference where I go, or what I do.

I will spend my whole life here – loving You.

Your part:

“I will spend my whole life through – loving You – loving You.

Winter, summer, springtime too – loving You – loving You.

Makes no difference where I go, or what I do.

I will spend my whole life here – loving You.

(I may be a preacher – or a teacher

I may be a musician – or electrician,

Makes no difference where I go, or what I do.

I will spend my whole here, loving You.

 

The point is, delighting yourself in the Lord is intentional. You don’t wait until you feel delight before you delight. You just start delighting yourself in the Lord without any feeling or inspiration.

 

Ill. Cowboy western. Drunk cowboy in saloon tells piano man to dance. Man says I can’t dance without music. Drunk fires gun at man’s feet and he dances without any music.

-         This week Pam told me I need to speak kindly and show love towards someone.  I said to her, “I just can’t do that.” She said yes you can do that. She was right – I could but I was waiting until I felt like it before I did it.

When you say you can’t do something that God has told you to do – the HS will come to you in some way whispering to you, “Yes you can do this!”

Whenever God gives you a Word – He gives you the grace to obey or trust Him for what He promises.

Your part it to remain open to Him!

So when we get a command form God like,

“Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice.”

This means, hidden in this Word from God is also the grace or ability to be able to do it. Why would God tell us to do this?

-         Because there is hidden strength in this word you need to discover. Your joy is like a treasure hidden in a field. When you find it you you rejoice at finding it.

Law requires but grace enables. Law requires us to do the impossible for us. But by grace He enables me to do what He requires me to do.

When you say I can’t do this – HS whispers “Yes you can do this.”

Stay open to Him. Remember nothing is impossible with God. Be like Mary and Make the choice to rejoice.

Concl:

 

Wed night, Dec. 5, 2018

Wed night, Dec. 5, 2018

The Gift production could potentially bring 800 people per performance. Many of these are born again but some are not. At end of production in 5-8 minutes I will give an evangelistic invitation. Many have never heard a preacher give an invitation.

Invitations in preaching are not always common. Only about 150 or more years old. When preachers preached people would linger at end to speak to the preacher, or mourners bench, or a public repentance was given.

Before all that happens God is dealing with a person in mysterious ways.

You tube scene from Sergeant York “words to live by”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kkLmLWbh1eY

God is a work in everyone’s life before they get saved. He speaks to them through nature, through other people, through the Bible.

-        Many people cannot read the Bible – yet that does not hinder God from reaching them.

-        Can you remember ways God was getting your attention before you surrendered to Him as Lord?

Then there was that moment when you said yes to Jesus. It may not be like everyone else’s way but God and you both know that precious moment of spiritual birth. Take a look again at this old movie at this man’s moment of conversion.

Sergeant York’s conversion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ey5ANe6f2qY

Some people it is a quiet birth. Others it is loud and obvious.

How many of you would say your spiritual birth took place at a church?

Where were some of you born from above?

Me – a pic-nic table at Paris Island just inside the gate at MC recruit depot. It wasn’t loud, only one person present. It was not obvious to me until people started saying you are different- what happened to you?

Some of the ways I started noticing a difference was:

1.   I had a desire for spiritual things. – started going to churches. Reading the Bible – memorizing scripture – spending money at Xn bookstores!

2.   I had a joy I did not have before. I really loved God.

3.   IT grieved me to hear people using God’s name in vain.

4.   Started wondering about the people around me – were they saved or lost? I tried witnessing but did not know how.

How did you begin to notice the difference that you were saved?

At the end of each production I give an explanation of the gospel and then invite people to make a public stand before God and men about their faith in Christ.

-        Some respond for the first time.

-        Others respond in re-dedication.

-        Only God knows their heart about this.

I would like to have 6 people as altar counselors for each production.

These counselors would be people who would be friendly and stand up here with me at the end of the production ready to receive people who respond to the invitation given. In fact, the moment when I ask people to come forward I would like the altar counselors to begin moving to the front first and stand here ready to receive people. I will continue to encourage people to come and speak to you.

What do I do?

-        Smile and be welcoming.

-        Ask them why they came forward.

-        Ask them if they would like the pastor to call them. If so then get their name and information on a card and give it to pastor. If not then

-        Give them the materials we provide you.

-        Pray for them if they want you to.

Anything more than this I will be there to help you or better yet, the HS will help you.

I need 6 people (or couples as one) for each production night:

Friday, December 14th at 7 pm

Saturday, December 15th at 3:30 Matinee

Saturday, December 15th at 7 pm

Sunday, December 16th at 7pm

For some of you this would be a very scary thing to be an altar counselor. Actually you are the ones I and I believe God wants to do this. You will have to pray and depend upon HS to help you r

Ill. I was the youngest deacon (age 24?) in a Baptist church. The Pastor was going to be away on a Sunday night and asked any of us deacons in a deacons meeting if we would like to speak, teach, preach to the church. There would be two maybe 3 and each would have ten minutes. Pastor went around the circle of chairs asking if any of us deacons would like that opportunity. He went around the circle the first time and I said no, but in my heart I knew God was telling me to say yes. He had one but he needed at least one more. Again he went around the circle and when he got to me I still said no. I was so insecure. I knew if he asked me again that it would be God. He paused and asked me again, “Are you sure, Gary?” I hesitated but then said yes.

Little did I know that faint little yes was a start in moving in the direction God had for my life. I don’t even remember what I talked about for ten minutes that night at church but saying yes and overcoming my fear and insecurity that moment was huge in my own life. No one probably remembers that but me.  

          This brings me to a word I need to speak tonight.

In Zechariah (known as a minor prophet) in Bible.

Background: Jerusalem had been conquered and fallen to babyloniah Empire. Now Persian Empire conquered Babylonians and Jerusalem was destroyed and walls broken, the temple was destroyed.

          But now with Persian empire the Jews were allowed to rebuild Temple. Prophet Zechariah was a young man hearing the word of the Lord.

-        Man named Zerubbabel was reconstructing Temple.

-        Lot of opposition and people were getting discouraged.

Prophet Zechariah has a vision of golden oil and lampstand.

PIC of golden oil and lampstands:

Zechariah asked, “What does this vision mean, Lord?”

And He said to me: “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,” says the Lord of Hosts.  

“Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will be made level ground, and he will bring out the cap stone amidst shouting of ‘Grace! Grace to the stone!’’. . .

          “FOR WHO HAS DESPISED THE DAY OF SMALL BEGINNINGS?” Zech. 4:4-10

Nobody starts where they end. Between where you start and where you end – there is a lot of life journey to get you there.

I didn’t begin preaching that day. It was not even a thought to me but it was to God. I did not consider that day and those ten minutes of my first time even standing before a congregation as a beginning – but God said it was a start.

          You have to learn how to fit in before you can learn to stand out. Many people are wanting to stand out and be noticed before they learn to fit in and just be part of the body. 

Whenever God does something big in your life – it always is so small at first you probably didn’t even notice it.

God’s best work always starts small.

I encourage you to consider the small things God may be doing in your life that no one but you and He notices. It’s not for public display.

God has a way of moving you into your purpose: God uproots your plans and life – sometimes some pleasant things, sometimes some painful things. He knows how to get you to your place.

“Despise not small beginnings!”

Just to agree to be an altar counselor may be a beginning for you. You might not even have anyone come up to you and that is okay. As long as you say “Yes” to what God is telling you to do.

I don’t believe anyone (including me and Pam) can remember anything I said that Sunday night my first time speaking before a church for 10 minutes. But that is okay. All God wanted me to say was one thing.

“Yes Lord”.

-        He never expected me to preach with eloquence. He never expected me to be able to capture people’s attention. He never expected me to fall under an anointing and speak powerful words like Peter on Pentecost.

All He expected from me was to – Start. He may give you a vision of being up here preaching. But He seldom gives you a vision of the steps in between or how long it will take you.

-        I’ve learned not to expect success too fast. Ill. How many steps up to this pulpit? Big steps will hurt you.

-        “Despise not small beginnings.”

I’ve learned God works through a process.

David said, “It was good for me that I was afflicted.”

          Ill. I look back and now realize it was good for me to go through times we needed groceries. It was good for me to look for change to get enough gas to go to church. It was good for me to fail at some things I was not suppose to be doing with my life.

-        I’ve learned the journey is God getting you ready to handle what He wants you to have.

I am talking to someone here that God has been impressing on you that He has something He wants you to do. You are afraid. You don’t know how to even begin to do this. Here’s how. Say this to Him.

“Yes, Lord.”

Then no matter how small an act of obedience it is – just do it and remember.

“Despise not small beginnings.”

It may be so small no one even notices what you are doing. But you and God both know  - you started. You made a move in the right direction. At least you started.

Concl: Some people will respond during the Gift and all they are doing is making a move towards GOD. MAYBE THEY DID NOT GET SAVED EVEN THOUGH THEY SAID THE PRAYER. ONLY GOD KNOWS WHY THEY RESPOND TO MY INVITATION. BUT HE KNOWS.

          I may not get them to come back to church, be baptized, etc. But make no mistake God is doing something in every person who makes any kind of move towards Him.

Even those who don’t respond but at least come to the production. “Despise not small beginnings.”

Joy = Jesus Opening You - Part 1 "Go Deeper"

Series:  Joy = Jesus Opening You

    Part 1: “Go deeper”

Joy is not the same as happiness. Happiness is tied to our circumstances. You can have happy circumstances and still not have joy.

          When a person receives Jesus as Lord the first expression of His Presence is joy deep down in your soul. It may produce tears of joy, laughter, leaping, various expressions of Joy because the Presence of the Lord is now in you!

          Ill. When Mary pregnant with Jesus in her womb came into the house where her cousin Elisabeth, who was also pregnant with John the Baptist in her womb. The very presence of Jesus caused the baby in Elisabeth to leap for joy!

Joy goes deep inside the soul and becomes a supernatural source (called by Jesus as a spring or river) that will never runs dry. Joy comes from Jesus, deep down in your soul.

Joy is the life of God filling your soul with the awareness of God.

In Thy Presence is fullness of joy.” Psalm 16:11

“The joy of the Lord is your strength.” Neh. 8:10

Ill. I asked the Lord about joy. Lord I seem to be a little deficient on joy. I don’t see many people with joy, even at church. Why are we low on joy? He said it is a narrow path – small gate = few find it. You have to be intentional about finding it.

As I sat still and meditated on this He explained to my mind that He gives us joy, there is no lack in supply – there is the lack of receiving it.

          In my mind He took me to a warehouse. Over in the corner were boxes and boxes of joy piled up in the corner. Pic of unclaimed boxes in warehouse

          An angel said we get joy from heaven everyday by the truck loads but hardly anyone comes to pick it up. We wish people would come and pick it up because it’s not doing any good sitting over here.

 Joy has to be intentionally received by you.

          When you first got saved you experienced joy because of the presence of Jesus in you. After a while that joy may have diminished. Your passion dwindled. Jesus did not leave you but it may have felt like it. Don’t let your feelings fool you. Feelings come and go but truth remains the same. The devil will try to convince you on dark days that Jesus has left you.

 

Ain't no sunshine when He's gone
It's not warm when He's away
Ain't no sunshine when He's gone

This house is not a home – when He’s gone away.

But I know, I know, I know, I know.

Because I know, I know now, I know.

Yeah I know, I know, I know.

Now I know, I know, I know that I know.

Ain’t no sunshine – but He’s not gone! Hmmm.

It’s not warm – but He’s not away. Hmmm.

Ain’t no sunshine – but He’s not gone.  

I am not alone – He said He is here to stay.

(you gotta get to this place where you can say)

I know, I know that I know, I know, I know, I know.

Ain’t no sunshine – but - He’s not gone.  

It’s not warm – but - He’s not away.

Ain’t no sunshine – but - He’s not gone. 

I am not alone – He is here - to stay.

He said I will never leave nor forsake you. If we have His Presence then we have His joy all the time – down deep in out soul!

One of the most astounding claims Jesus makes is on the night before He died.

“I am the Vine, you are the branches. He who remains or abides in Me bears much fruit. For without Me you can do nothing. . . I have spoken these things to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” Jn 15:5, 11.

        What does it mean for me to abide and remain in Him?

Stay in faith – trust His Word not your feelings. Keep believing His Promise. Things may seem bad but He is with you.

ABIDE = Always believing in Divine Enablement

 I am connected to the Source of all life. I don’t quit until God tells to to stop. I believe in the God who can do anything! All things are possible to him who believes! My part is to abide – remain in faith.

This is His joy which is to be our joy. This is not something we manufacture. The very joy of the Son of God He gives to us. He says it twice! Jesus is praying to the Father in John 17.

“But now I am coming to You, Father God, and I say these things in the world, that they (us) may have My joy fulfilled in themselves.   Jn 17:13

The next verse tells us specifically how He will do this. In six words Jesus explains how it will happen.

I have given them Your Word.” Vs 14  

God’s Word has an assignment. It is to bring you into your inheritance Jesus died to give you. He died to give you His joy now in this life. You won’t need joy in heaven – you need it now and it is available to you now!

By believing His Word and receiving it into our lives we experience His joy now! Surprisingly we discover His joy in trials and during afflictions more than any other time.

Ill. My friend Quinton told me the Lord woke him up at 3 am this week to talk to him about joy. He said the Lord told him that “Joy is when the Lord leads you to do something that you don’t necessarily want to do, but you obey and do it anyway. This acto of obedience is joy.

        JOY = Jesus Opening You

When you remain open to God – His life can flow through you. We have to be open and remain open.

Pic of mason jars one close one open.

        Jesus first opens our hearts to receive Him = salvation.

“The Lord opened Lydia’s heart to receive what Paul preached and she and her household were saved and baptized.” Acts 16:14 paraphrase

-      Jesus with disciples on Emmaus “opened their minds to understand scriptures about Him.”  Hearts burned.

Ill. After you get saved things are wonderful in your life for a season. Then unexpected things happen in your life. Troubles and trials.

You begin to wonder, “If God is with me why am I having all this trouble!  This is where many people stop abiding – they stop staying open to God and His mysterious ways.

Here is where most close the lid on Jesus. They don’t remain open to Him.

-      He let my loved one die. He did not answer my prayer? He did not heal me? He did not …So they close themselves to God in some way. They may still go to church but they closed the lid to Him and now they lost their capacity to receive His surprising joy in their life.

 Pics of Jars here:

        I guess no one taught them that trials are part of your training here. No one taught them they have an enemy determined to steal the word – faith and their inheritance.

        Actually it is through your trials that you will discover a joy deep down in your soul!

-      People will know of our trials and say to us, “I don’t know how you made it through this?”

Paul said of the people of Thessalonia, “You received the Word in much affliction, with the joy of the HS.” I Thes. 1:6

Peter said the same to disciples in persecution: “You rejoice greatly even though you suffer various trials. . . You don’t see Him now, yet you believe and rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” I Peter 1:6-9

-         How could James write “Consider it all joy brethren when you encounter various trials…” He had to mean for us to go deeper!

-         Speaking of Xns in 1st century persecuted for the faith it says

they joyfully endured the confiscation of their property, knowing that in heaven they have a better and an enduring possession for themselves.” Heb. 10:34 – They had to go deeper than just surface living.

If you need joy flowing into you life then God is calling you to go deeper than just the surface of your life that may not be very pleasant. Go deep! Joy is not laying on the surface it is deep down in your soul.

We are told as Xns to “rejoice” always. We are told to count it all joy in trials. At the oddest of times we are told to do something that goes against our human nature – to rejoice in the Lord. This is weird! Because it is supernatural.

 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

-         Not all things that happen to us are good. But if we qualify: love God, called according to His purpose for my life = it will work together somehow by God for good, not necessarily the way I want it to.

Because You have a promised from God –  you can rejoice now by faith anticipating somehow God will work it together for good!

People will take notice if you rejoice when your life is in the dark moment when things look really bad.

“What are you rejoicing about?” I got a feeling, everything gonna be alright, I got a feeling….. It’s supernatural.

It’s more than a feeling. I got a promise from God. Your unwavering trust in God will be rewarded in this lifetime. Release you joy now for in it is your strength!

Joy is for now – in this lifetime. Jesus gave you His joy BUT YOU GOT TO STAY OPEN TO RECEIVE IT  as part of your inheritance.

“Though the fig tree does not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the yield of the olive fails, and the fields produce no food;

though the flocks are cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls – Yet, I will rejoice in the Lord, I will exult in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like hind’s feet, and He will make me walk on my high places.”

Hab. 3:17-19

          “though” – in spite of this event.  “Yet” – Because of Who God is.

Sometimes God withholds what we want, to teach us that life is more than receiving from God.

Every believer will have stretch marks. GOD STRETCHES OUR FAITH IN HIM. BECAUSE:  

Relationship with God is more important than the resolution of our problems!

The first sign of salvation is rejoicing!

Concl: Ill. Remember when first saved you had joy as a by-product of Jesus. IT was just present. Then over time the enemy was able to sneak in and steal and little here and there until one day you woke up exhausted and depressed. What happened? You’ve been robbed!

           Go get it back.

-         If not born again – pray this to God right now!

Inheritance

Inheritance

Inheritance is something owned by someone that upon their death they leave this thing to you. It is meant to be a blessing to help you.

          Ill. My mother’s grandfather was a farmer and owned a lot of land in Tennessee. But for some reason got offended at my mom’s dad – his daughters son in law (my grandfather) and when great grandfather died he left all this land to his other kids but none to his daughter all because he was angry with his son in law. My mom’s family was poor and they had 8 kids and if anyone needed an inheritance they did.

          That one offense costs my grandparents an inheritance, and then possibly my mom from inheriting some land and even me.

A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children, but the sinner's wealth is laid up for the righteous.  Prov. 13:22

-        Good to leave something for children and grand children. Money, land, house, something special to you.

My mom or dad never received an inheritance. My wife or I have never received one either. In some ways it feels like we should have had some of that land like others were given – like inheritance stolen.

In reality we all have been given a great inheritance – from Jesus. It is an inheritance we are to receive now and use it so that it makes our lives better here and now. Truth is I never realized this until just a few months ago while at the Fall retreat in Living Waters. Something Mike Atkins said that provoked my thinking about inheritance.

He said, “Satan is out to steal your inheritance.”

This got me thinking about, what is my inheritance? IT is not heaven because that is after I die, so what is my inheritance now. I know eternal life but beyond that I had to wonder is there more?

Just a few weeks ago it came to me in some reading about your “inheritance words”. “What are your inheritance words?” I had no clue. I read on and it described inheritance words like this.

“Inheritance words come when God opens up a scripture that He wants you to live in. It is like the scripture jumps off the page and wraps itself around you. Your spirit leaps your heart pounds, and you know God is speaking to you. He is saying to you, “Everything in this scripture belongs to you. You need to stay here until you find everything I want you to have in this scripture. Every promise, everything I say in this scripture, I will do for you. It is your inheritance word.”  

Ill. An inheritance word is like a buried treasure. The Bible is your treasure map

Pic of treasure map

and on that may you have some places where X marks a special spot where your inheritance word is buried. No one would think to follow a treasure map to where “X” marks and get there, but never dig to find the treasure.

Your treasure has to be mined by you with HS your Helper. He will point out to you, key words, connected scriptures, to be excavated for deeper truth.

-        I recommend reading different versions of the Bible then writing your own personalized version with your name in it as if God is speaking directly to you.

One of my inheritance words is Psalm 46 but particularly verse 10.

“Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the heathen. I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10

Key words = “still”  and the word “know” require digging deeper.

Ask Holy Spirit to teacher you what this means to you.

“Step out of traffic! Take a long and loving look at Me, above politics, above everything.”  Message Bible

Gary, would you just stop, be still a moment and know that I am God and you are not in control – I Am! I will be exalted in this world and in your life, so be still and know this!     Personalized.

 What inheritance Words do you have?

It is not about you trying to get something. It is about you being peaceful and receiving from Him. His inheritance Words are going to come to you. You can’t stop them. But you will have to protect them from being stolen from you.

Jesus said, “The thief does not come, except to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they might have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”  John 10:10

Satan, our adversary, is a thief to us. What is this thief wanting to steal from you? Your inheritance! His promise words to claim.

Jesus taught in Mark 4, “ A sower (preacher) went out to sow seed (preach the Word) into the ground (people’s lives). As he sowed, some seed fell beside the path, and the birds of the air came and devoured it.”  Mark 4:3

Later Jesus interpreted this for the disciples and us:

“These are those beside the path, where the word is sown. But when they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the Word which is sown in their hearts.”  Mark 4:15

Going to church is good but not good enough. The Word is sown but Satan, your adversary is coming to steal that word so that it does not produce anything good in your life.

-        I wonder how much we have had stolen from us?

Why does Satan come to steal the Word from you?

Because, “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” Romans 10:17

         

Satan wants to steal – kill and destroy.

1.   To steal the Word because it brings faith

2.   To kill your faith because it brings your inheritance

3.   To destroy your inheritance because this is what Jesus died for in order to give you now!

An inheritance is something given to you after someone dies.

Jesus died to give you His inheritance.

It’s time to claim your inheritance and manifest it in this life.

Ill. Years ago, there was a very wealthy man who, with his devoted young son, shared a passion for art collecting. Together they traveled around the world, adding only the finest art treasures to their collection. Priceless works by Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet and many others adorned the walls of the family estate. The widowed, elder man looked on with satisfaction as his only child became an experienced art collector. The son’s trained eye and sharp business mind caused his father to beam with pride as they dealt with art collectors around the world.

As winter approached, war engulfed the nation, and the young man left to serve his country. After only a few short weeks, his father received a telegram. His beloved son was missing in action. The art collector anxiously awaited more news, fearing he would never see his son again. Within days, his fears were confirmed. The young man had died while rushing a fellow soldier to a medic.

Distraught and lonely, the old man faced the upcoming Christmas holidays with anguish and sadness. The joy of the season, a season that he and his son had so looked forward to, would visit his house no longer. On Christmas morning, a knock on the door awakened the depressed old man. As he walked to the door, the masterpieces of art on the walls only reminded him that his son was not coming home.

As he opened the door, he was greeted by a soldier with a large package in his hand. He introduced himself to the man by saying, "I was a friend of your son. I was the one he was rescuing when he died. May I come in for a few moments? I have something to show you." As the two began to talk, the soldier told of how the man’s son had told everyone of his, not to mention his father’s, love of fine art. "I’m an artist," said the soldier, "and I want to give you this." As the old man unwrapped the package, the paper gave way to reveal a portrait of the son.

Though the world would never consider it the work of a genius, the painting featured the young man’s face in striking detail. Overcome with emotion, the man thanked the soldier, promising to hang the picture over the fireplace. A few hours later, after the soldier had departed, the old man set about his task.

True to his word, the painting went well above the fireplace, pushing aside thousands of dollars of paintings. And then the man sat in his chair and spent Christmas gazing at the gift he had been given. During the days and weeks that followed, the man realized that even though his son was no longer with him, the boy’s life would live on because of those he had touched. He would soon learn that his son had rescued dozens of wounded soldiers before a bullet stilled his caring heart.

As the stories of his son’s gallantry continued to reach him, fatherly pride and satisfaction began to ease the grief. The painting of his son soon became his most prized possession, far eclipsing any interest in the pieces for which museums around the world clamored. He told his neighbors it was the greatest gift he had ever received.

The following spring, the old man became ill and passed away. The art world was in anticipation!Unmindful of the story of the man’s only son, but in his honor, those paintings would be sold at an auction. According to the will of the old man, all of the art works would be auctioned on Christmas day, the day he had received his greatest gift. The day soon arrived and art collectors from around the world gathered to bid on some of the world’s most spectacular paintings. Dreams would be fulfilled this day; greatness would be achieved as many claim "I have the greatest collection." The auction began with a painting that was not on any museum’s list. It was the painting of the man’s son. The auctioneer asked for an opening bid. The room was silent.

"Who will open the bidding with $100?" he asked. Minutes passed. No one spoke. From the back of the room came, "Who cares about that painting? It’s just a picture of his son. Let’s forget it and go on to the good stuff."

More voices echoed in agreement. "No, we have to sell this one first," replied the auctioneer. "Now, who will take the son?" Finally, a friend of the old man spoke, "Will you take ten dollars for the painting? That’s all I have. I knew the boy, so I’d like to have it."

"I have ten dollars. Will anyone go higher?" called the auctioneer. After more silence, the auctioneer said, "Going once, going twice. Gone." The gavel fell, cheers filled the room and someone exclaimed, "Now we can get on with it and we can bid on these treasures!"

The auctioneer looked at the audience and announced the auction was over. Stunned disbelief quieted the room. Someone spoke up and asked, "What do you mean it’s over? We didn’t come here for a picture of some old guy’s son. What about all of these paintings? There are millions of dollars of art here! I demand that you explain what’s going on here!" The auctioneer replied, "It’s very simple. According to the will of the father, whoever takes the son…gets it all."

Puts things into perspective doesn’t it? Just as those art collectors discovered on that Christmas Day, the message is still the same: the love of a Father, a Father whose greatest joy came from His Son, who went away and gave His life rescuing others. And because of that Father’s love, whoever takes the Son, gets it all.

Pursuing Wisdom – Part 4

Pursuing Wisdom – Part 4

Review: 5 books of wisdom in Bible: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Eccl, SoS.

You won’t get wisdom by reading them – only by meditation.

          Like panning for gold, or digging deep. It takes time.

Solomon was the wisest man on earth and he got wisdom the same way we can. He asked God for it in faith. HE had a dream of God asking him to ask Him for anything he wanted – anything at all! He asked for wisdom. We are instructed to follow his example and ask:

“If any man lacks wisdom, let him ask of God who gives to all men generously and and without scolding you, and it will be given you.” James 1:5

This request for wisdom is a promise from God for us to cash in on. The only condition He attaches to this is “But let him ask in faith, without wavering . . .” Verse 6.

Faith is based on a promise from God. You have heard God’s Word that if you lack wisdom, you can ask God and it will be given you! Faith takes God’s Word to the bank and cashes it.

But you must also notice what is in front of this verse prior to the instruction to ask God for wisdom.

“My brothers, count it all joy when you encounter various trials, knowing that the trying of your faith develops patience. But let patience perfect its work, that you may be perfect (mature) and complete, lacking nothing.” Verse 2-4.

-         When you are in a trial/trouble don’t lose your joy. Ask God for wisdom He will give it, but you will need to have patience because wisdom is not usually downloaded from heaven in an instant. Wisdom comes out of a relationship of walking through all the uncertainty of life with God.

We are not to seek God for guidance – we are told to seek His face! Out of a relationship of abiding with God will come your guidance and wisdom and everything you will need.

-         You could sum that all of life is in reality, a discovery of God and what He is really like. 

God’s thoughts and ways are not our ways! Isa. 55:8-9

The Paradox of God

1. He never changes.

2. He is unpredictable. He is consistent because His nature never changes. But beyond that He is unpredictable!

Paradox = 2 seemingly conflicting ideas contained in the same truth. For example: God is just and righteous and demands the death penalty for sin. Yet He is a loving Father who paid that price Himself. Many things in the kingdom of God are a paradox: We find our life by losing it. We give in order to receive.

God loves doing things unpredictably. This is what keeps the joy in our journey. We can’t figure out how this movie will end.

Ill. Instead of sending a huge army to liberate Israel from Egyptian slavery – He sent an old man who stuttered with a stick in his hand! God is Unpredictable!

Joshua and walked city of Jericho. Walk around 7 days!

Gideon – eliminate 2/3rds of your army to win!

Jesus – Lazarus is dying! I know, let him die. “What kind of Savior are you?” Mysteriously Unpredictable!

Your present trial – how will it end?

Discovering wisdom is discovering God’s thoughts and ways. It is like panning for gold or digging for gold. It takes time and patience is needed to walk with God and trust Him. Wisdom is uncovered slowly over time. Guidance comes out of an intimate relationship with God!

          Ill. Many of you have heard me tell you a couple years ago I was going off by myself on a prayer time with God. While driving I was thinking about the upcoming message I would preach on Sunday. Suddenly HS clearly spoke to my mind, “Should preaching be your priority?”

          Obviously not. Out of relationship with God the preaching will come. Everything in our lives is to come out of an intimate relationship with God – every bit of guidance – every wisdom – every revelation – every solution to a problem.

“When You said, ‘Seek My face,’ my heart said to You, ‘Your face Lord, I shall seek.” Psalm 27:8  - The command is simple: Seek Me for who I am, not for what I can do for you. If you will take care of the relationship, God will take care of giving you direction!

I have not arrived but I am learning to make this happen in my life. Relationship with God first – everything else after that.

Ill. After a hard few weeks dealing with several issues I felt I needed a day alone with God and no distractions. Pam could tell I needed some time and so Monday I went to the beach alone with God. My whole purpose was to just enjoy God – not prepare for a message, pray about a problem – just a day with God alone all day.

          I love walking down by the water and taking a long walk just worshipping, singing, admiring the creation of God. I was walking along and suddenly a piece of a sand dollar caught my eye. Normally I could care less but this caught my eye. I walked over it and then stopped and back up to find it. It was just a small piece of a sand dollar.

Pic of plain sand dollar here:

So I picked it up and asked God was there something He wanted me to see in this? Then I turned it over and this is what I saw on the back side.

Pic of sand dollar with “Jesus” on it here:

Someone wrote on the back of this piece of sand dollar the name Jesus. What are the odds of a preacher talking to God and finding this particular piece? Only God.

For me a broken piece of sand dollar with Jesus written on it. The sand dollar has symbols of birth and death of Jesus.

1.    4 holes and 1 – Roman spear.

2.    One side Easter lily with star in middle – Wiseman

3.    Poinsettia on other side – Christmas time.

4.    Break open center and 5 white doves

Point: Jesus was broken to give you peace. Your brokenness to do God’s will brings you peace too.


Ill. It is like God told Jeremiah to go down to the Potters house. God could have told Jeremiah what He wanted him to know but instead God chose a visual aid to be Jeremiah’s wisdom teacher.

We have to grow in patience in our relationship with God:

1.    For small children we hold their hand.

2.    For teenagers, such attention would be overbearing. So we coach them.

3.    For adults we empower them. They have a green light to proceed until God turns it red.

-         Isaiah 30:21 “when”

Finding wisdom is not enough. You will have to know how to be patient and endure if you want to finish well! Last week we connected getting wisdom from God with having the fear of the Lord more than the fear of man. As long as you fear man and crave the approval of people more than God then any word you hear from God will be distorted and you are likely to misunderstand what God is saying or said.

Today I want to focus on the connection between getting wisdom from God and patience.

          Like I said about reading the wisdom books of the Bible. You don’t read Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes like you would the gospels. If you do, then it will not benefit you. You read them slowly, preferable one proverb or one sentence at a time and then take time to marinate in it to get all the wisdom hidden inside it. This requires patience – patience with God, with yourself and with others.

The enemy is a restless spirit and very anxious. You are most like him when you are being restless and anxiously hurried. He knows an obvious attack from him you might recognize and resist. So instead he tries more subtle ways to keep you from progressing in the Spirit.

 Two devices Satan uses are: Hurry and pressure.

          Satan will try and pressure you to make a decision or do something that God is not leading you to do. Or he will to get you in a hurry and rush; when most people make serious mistakes. Most car accidents are because someone was in a hurry.

          Jesus was busy, but never hurried. There were times He was so busy with people He did not even have time to eat (Woman at well), but He knew He could not go any faster than the Father leading Him.

          These days, people learn faster, read faster, talk faster, play faster. We have a generation of impatient people!

          Ill. Driving in Fruitland Park 35 mph. A car pulled right up behind me almost on my bumper. I could see he was a young guy. I did speed up to 40 thinking he may have an emergency but I could not pull off the road where I was. I turned into a turning lane so he could get by and he quickly sped past me and raised his hand outside his window giving me a signal that I was number 1 to him! He was hurried and angry!

          Ill. A few days earlier I was at the gas pump and a lady on the other side of the same pump as mine started cussing up a storm. She told me the attendant put the amount she just paid on my pump. We both went to the window at the gas pump at Walmart and I told the young guy what happened. Next thing you know there was a line of people piling up behind us. Apparently some computer glitch. The guy was on the phone to his manager and people waiting in line were furious. It took a few minutes to resolve. The poor guy was trying to do his best with an impatient lynch mob.

-         I’ve had my moments too.

Ill. I received a few speeding tickets. Most of the time I had no reason to speed. Hurry has become a habit. Being hurried is not just about speed. It can be a sign of a restless and driven heart. Hurry can be me trying to take back control of something I am suppose to yield to God.

Things beyond my control – things in my control. I wonder if all those things that I feel I must get done – really matter to God?

          But the impatience in the church doesn’t seem all that different from the world!  The first trait HS mentions when He describes love in the love chapter (I Cor. 13) is

“Love is patient.” Love cannot be rushed! Are we growing in love? If we truly are then the first trait of love will be manifested in us!

          Ill. When I was growing up I remember older people being called slow. It seems to me that older people back then were the most patient people. Craftsmen carpenters or women knitting and crocheting or quilting – almost a lost art.

What kids call boring today was the normal pace back then. We had TV with only 3 network channels. Cartoons were on Saturday mornings. They were not available 24/7.

More children are diagnosed with ADHD today than every before? Why? Many reasons. But maybe one is these kids don’t get to see many older adults who can show them what a patient person is like! I hear so many older adults say things like, “I just don’t have the patience to be around children. They drive me crazy!”

I want my grandkids to think papa is so patient, kind, and quiet.

Ill. A lady named Elisabeth Elliot use to have a radio broadcast. Hearing her voice captured my attention one day. She had something I wanted. It was a quiet heart that attracts the Spirit of God. If you want to grow in patience you have to be intentional about it. Some books that might help are:

Devotional book by Elisabeth Elliot, “Keep a Quiet Heart”.

An Unhurried Life by Alan Fadling

 Our hurried life wants an instant wisdom download from God. But wisdom does not normally come that way. One of the fruits of the Spirit required in order to find God’s wisdom is:

Patience – the fruit of the Spirit.

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into diverse trials, knowing that the trying of your faith develops patience. But let patience have her perfecting work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”  James 1:2-4

“Patience”  = hypomone = from the word cheerful. It is steadfast, enduring, hopeful, and waiting. Able to persevere, endure hardship by  cheerfully expecting the goodness of God.

I have preached 4 messages including today on pursuing wisdom. What have we learned so far?

1.    Wisdom should be our number one request. We must go to God first when we need wisdom.

2.    Wisdom is like hidden gold. You find it like you do searching. It is accumulated through a life of walking with God.

3.    The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom but the fear of man and needing approval is what will hinder you from hearing God’s wisdom for yourself.

4.    Today – we learn patience is vital to getting wisdom from God.

Getting wisdom is not enough. You will need patience to be able to finish well!

Ill. In 1849 Gold rush a man named Waterman Bodey came to California and searched ten years for gold and found none. Eventually he made his way to a remote area in the Sierras to explore where no one had explored before. He found a Mother lode of gold. It was the richest deposit ever in California.

The problem was where he found this gold, the climate was much more harsh than where he had been living. The temperatures would drop to 20 below zero for weeks. Bodey did not have enough supplies to be able to last through such a harsh winter. Had he been more prepared to endure the harsh winter he would been the richest man in the world by Spring time.

Without patience when the winters of adversity come we will quit too soon.

Could it be that the trial you are facing now is just training for the greater ones God knows are ahead?

If you will cooperate with God now and allow Him to go back into some areas of your life – those places where you are still impatient,  insecure, those places you still have the wrong view of God, and let Him fill up those place with life and adventure with Him – then you can find the mother lode of Gold with God.

We don’t know what lies ahead. We won’t be prepared for hard places if we don’t allow the fruit of patience to grow in us where we are today.

Part of wisdom is letting patience have her perfecting work in you.

Ask God for wisdom – trust He will lead you to find it.

Be patient in your trials with a cheerful expectancy of good from God eventually.

Pursuing Wisdom – Part 3

Pursuing Wisdom – Part 3

Review: Last week John 12:27-43 paraphrase.

Jesus said His soul troubled.

 “Shall I say, Lord deliver me from this hour? Instead it was for this reason that I came to this hour!” John 12:27

          Most of us ask God to deliver us from this trial I am in. But it may be that we are in this trial is sent by God for us to mine some treasure hidden that we have yet to find! Could it be that this trial you are trying to get out of is your greatest growth moment? That is why

“Consider it all joy my brethren when you encounter various trials. . .” James 1:2

          ill. Lord I am in a mess. He says I can see that. Will you help me out of this? Sure but first let’s look around and see what treasures we can find. No I’d rather just go – now. God says hold on let’s just shop. Lord, I hate shopping. I know, but let’s just look. What is He looking for?

          He is hoping we will have the joyful experience of discovering hidden wisdom in this trial that He could have stopped but He didn’t. He is hoping we don’t miss finding the treasure hidden in this trial.

          Ill. When we were first married my wife liked shopping – to me it was a complete waste of LIFE! After years of prayer and fasting she no longer likes to shop! I finally figured out a way to shorten my pain. When she tried on the first dress I looked so amazed and said, “Wow, that is stunning on you. I have never seen a more perfect dress. You’ve got to get this one. . . That worked only one time. Women are much more discerning than men!

          The point is God has hidden treasure for us to find even in our trials – we learn things about Him we did not know. Count it joy! This requires faith – trust – reliance upon the Lord’s promises.

          Back to John 12 where Jesus realizes this hour of His agony was the reason He came. “Shall I say, Lord deliver me from this hour? Instead it was for this reason that I came to this hour!” John 12:27

Then He prays, “Father glorify Your name.” God speaks in an audible voice, “I have glorified it and I will again!” Then Jesus said, “This voice came not for My sake but for your sakes. Now judgment is upon this world . . .” John 12:30-31

The greater the manifestation of God’s Presence – the greater the judgment. It is the mercy of God that He does not always give an unmistakable sign from heaven. The greater the sign the greater the judgment if you don’t follow the sign or obey God’s leading!

          3 groups of people heard 3 different things: God, it was just thunder, it was an angel. How could you miss the audible voice of God?

In John 12 scripture quotes Isaiah in referring to people seeing so many signs and obvious ways God is speaking yet not believing or trusting God. When you hear God and do not obey 2 things happen:

-        Blindness of spiritual eyes and hardening of hearts. But this is not what I want to talk to you about today. 

There was a group of people who did believe in Jesus yet they had a great hindrance in their life called the fear of man.

“For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” Vs 43

ill. Here is Jesus and here are our friends. But it is not that simple. Our enemy knows how much we humans crave approval. Preachers are the worst. God is detoxing me from seeking the praise of men as my food source for my soul and self esteem.

          Ill. Use to drive home with Pam after Sunday and hope she would say something like “Wow that was really a great message today.” The I would try and act like, “Well, praise God.” Sometimes driving home she would talk about other things and not even mention church. I subtly would ask, “What did you think about church today?” She would say, “the worship was good” and then not say anything else. I was left hanging. I so needed approval. I would ask, “So what did you think of the message?” “Oh it was good.” I needed more than that. “Did I come across clear? Did you think I went too long?” Then she might say, “You did repeat yourself a lot.”  Ouch a shot through my self esteem. Then I wondered what other people were saying since she said this?  

           God has been detoxing me of needing the approval of people and the fear of men and what they think of me. The fear of man and what you think people think about you will hinder you from hearing God clearly.

“The fear of man brings a snare, but whoso trust in the Lord is safe.” Proverbs 29:25

          We all have at one time or still do experience this fear no matter how much we don’t want to admit it.

-        F.o.m. can gag us into silence when we should speak up and witness. It can paralyze us when we should be taking action and yet we don’t do anything. We compromise where we shouldn’t.  

“snare” trap to catch an animal. Satan knows your craving to want everyone to like you. Teen agers are not the only ones facing peer pressure!

-        We need to question why do we fear man’s disapproval or crave approval from people? It could be trauma as a child, it could be fear of conflict, maybe you were abused, or just something you picked up along the way.

God will set you free from fear of man, but you will have to cooperate with Him.

          Ill. I was always a quiet and passive child. Mom said I never gave her any trouble. I thought being a good boy was not talking back, speaking up and people would run over me and bully me and I did not fight back. What a nice boy! Finally God set me up in situations where I had to speak up, stand up and even fight in school.

          Eventually became a Baptist Pastor thinking this is a stress free and conflict free job. After all everyone in church loves God and loves each other – no conflict – stress free! In every church – conflict.

I got stories I could tell you!

-        With every conflict in church I would get so upset it made me physically sick after a while. Don’t think there is not a lot of stress in being the pastor! I have 3 heart stents and most of that is because of me not handling stress right and because of the fear of man snared me.

-        God allowed and even planted me in the middle of conflict to personally teach me to overcome fear of man and being passive where I need to take action. These conflicts have been my teachers! I am still learning.

How do you overcome the fear of man?

1.   First you recognize you have it. Confess it to God. He already knows it and will be glad you are willing to face it.

2.   Why does this f.o.m have such power over us?

Because it reveals what your heart really craves. Could it be, You love the approval of men that you can see more than the praise of God you can’t see? We will always need affirmation from people but not at the expense God’s approval even when others are against you.

You obey the one whose approval you desire the most!

The one who you fear their disapproval the most, is your functional God!

This is why the Bible defines wisdom as:

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Proverbs 9:10

          Remember Jesus defined the fear of the Lord as worshipping God, or more aware of His Presence you can’t see than the presence of people you can see!

This is part of our wisdom training as we walk with God. He wants us to become fearless eventually. He knows this takes some time and some amazing experiences for us to get to the point where we trust Him more than we trust in man. He is a patient teacher!

Ill. I have always been inspired and can identify with the reluctant leader Gideon in the Bible. An angel of the Lord finds him secretly threshing his wheat in a hideout of an old abandoned winepress. The Midianites were enemies of Israel and at that time were the bullies on the block who would swoop down and steal your harvest after you collected it. This was your income and livelihood.

          God appears as an Angel and must have shocked Gideon who thought he was alone. “Hail, mighty man of God!” Hey be quiet or the Midianites will find me. “The Lord is with you mighty warrior!!”

-        The Lord sees things in us that we don’t see!

“Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?”   Judges 6:14

Gideon responds, “Me?” He goes on with excuses I am from the weakest clan in my tribe, I am the least experienced- blah, blah. 

-        God says, “Yeah, thanks for informing me.” God ignores all his excuses and simple says, “I’ll be with you.”

Can’t you see God smiling as He is thinking, “This is going to be so much fun.” And it was!

          It gives God great pleasure to see us finally trust Him and defeat our fears and overcome our obstacles to reach our inheritance.

You like me are going to have to go through a process to get there. We are going to have to change the way we think. We need to see trials as a joyful necessity to get us to this place where we become fearless.

Fear of man is a snare. Hebrews 12 tells us in order to run this marathon journey with God we have to “lay aside the weight and the sin that so easily entangles us.” Hebrews 12:1

To over come your fear of man you need to increase your fear of the Lord! Meaning your awareness of His Presence. This may require more time in worship – more time just soaking in His Presence. Whatever magnifies the Lord in your life. You can’t make God bigger but you can make your view of Him bigger!

Ill. My reading glasses do not make the print bigger. They make my view of the print bigger!

The 2 most important questions to ask yourself is:

1.   What has God been saying to me? (accumulative).

2.   What is God saying to me? (presently).

This will keep from the snare of the fear of man. If you have heard from God – then why care what man has to say?

“We must obey God rather than man.” Acts 5:29 This calls for courage on our part. Courage is not the absence of the emotion of fear. It is just not allowing fear to keep you from obeying and trusting God and doing what He is telling you to do.

One of my inheritance scriptures is Joshua 1:9. This verse was given to me multiple times when we first began GT. I guess God knew I would need it.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Concl: “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoso trustiest in the Lord is safe.”    Trusting God is safe though it may not appear to be safe. Trusting man is not safe.

God usually teaches us through the hard lesson of obeying Him in spite of being afraid. He does not remove the fear. It is your teacher!

When we finally learn to trust God rather than what we see or feel, then we can get to the point where we say what scripture says for us to say.

So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my Helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:6

Boldness and courage come so that we can speak this out loud because of the Promise God has given us in the verse prior to this one.

For He hath said, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

Do you believe this? If so then there should be some corresponding action in your life.

-        You live differently than others. Like Joshua and Caleb you have a “different spirit”. They were fearless while facing giants and the other 10 spies were afraid. The ten had the eyes on problems that they could see – Joshua and Caleb had their eyes on the God who you cannot see.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Proverbs 9:10

Wisdom

Wisdom Cont…

For the past two weeks been preaching about wisdom. Let’s review:

Who was the wisest man on earth?

How did he get wisdom? He asked God. It was his #1 request.

 Solomon’s requests for wisdom is more specific in Hebrew as hearing God. Why do we need to hear God? Because God says to us:

“For My thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”  Isa. 55:8-9

          God does not think like us. There is wisdom from the earth and man that is not in accordance with God’s wisdom.

“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there but water the earth and make it bring forth and bud that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall MY WORD THAT GOES FORTH FROM MY MOUTH; it shall not return to Me void but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”   Isa. 55:10-11

Wisdom is hearing the Word that comes from God’s mouth to you concerning your specific situation.

Very important to go to God first before you go to other people. You can get wisdom from other people but the danger is if you don’t go to God first then the wisdom others may share with you may sound good but it is still not what God has to say.

What has God said to me? What is God saying to me?

-        This is why you keep a note pad and you pick up bits and pieces along your journey.

Beware of letting people tell you what God is saying to you! Prophecies that try to tell you what to do. NT prophecy is not telling someone who to marry or what job to take. NT prophecy should be a confirmation of what God has already been speaking into your heart. If a prophecy given you does not sound like anything you have been hearing from God then put it on the shelf.

The leaders God used in the Bible were for the most part reluctant leaders. Solomon never sought to be king. Moses was reluctant.

David did not seek to be king. Gideon .

-        The leaders God chose did not seek power but were chosen by God to exercise power.

Ill. King Solomon had the 2 women claiming the same baby. “Bring me a sword” he says. I am sure his attendants wondered, “What is this guy doing??? When he threatened to divide the baby and give half to each the real mom said don’t – let her have the baby. The other lady said, no just divide it. He wisely discovered the real mom and gave the baby to her.

Was everybody happy? No. The other lady and her friends probably not. But the wisdom of God was clear in this case.

Other times God’s wisdom is not so obvious at first.

          Ill. Time there was an issues between Sarah and Hagar. Both wife  belong to the same man. Abraham had Ishmael. Sarah has Isaac 13 years later. Sarah sees Ishmael mocking Isaac and tells Abram to get Hagar and Ishmael away. We can’t live in the same place anymore.

          Abraham is distraught but God speaks and says do what she says and send them away. He does the hard thing and sends them away not understanding God’s ways.

-        But it was this incident that brought Hagar to her own personal revelation of God. She discovered for her self God is El- Roi – the God who sees me. You see the hidden hurting places in me. When hope runs empty take heart – God knows where we are and what we are going through – He sees everything while we only see in part.

God’s wisdom is not always obvious to us nor does it make sense.

Remember Arthur Blessit’s words from Sunday. God told him to take the cross from off the outside of the church and start walking. He planned on doing this then suddenly had to be hospitalized for sickness and then was told he had a brain tumor and would die if he left the hospital. He had to do what we must do!

What has God said to me? What is God saying to me?

Doctors are telling me what I should do. My family is telling me what I should do. But what has God told me and is He telling me to do?

He left the hospital speaking these words:

“I’d rather obey God and die and trying to do what He told me to do, than to lay here and die in this hospital bed.”  Arthur Blessit

I lost track of him since he moved from Florida but I did contact him by e-mail the other day. HE said to me, “I am 78 years old and still carrying the cross!”

He obeyed God rather than what man was telling him to do and has not looked back.

Concl: Pursuing wisdom is pursuing what God has been saying to you and what He is saying to you.

Pursuing Wisdom – Part 2

Pursuing Wisdom – Part 2

God gave King Solomon wisdom and made him the wisest man that every lived because he asked God for wisdom above anything he could ask God for, above riches, long life.

Hebrew word for what Solomon asked for is related to “Shema” – a hearing heart.  

King David was not a good parent, but his son Solomon did learn one thing from him – to have a heart after God and like God.

-         Keep in mind Solomon or David were not born again. They did not have HS living inside them as Xns do today.

To find the will of God about a matter people would go to the priest with an ephod (breast coat). PIC of Ephod

 High Priest coat with the stones for Israel on outside but a pouch behind containing two stones called urim and thummim behind it, over the heart. These two stones mysteriously were used to determine the will of God like a yes or no -  “do we go up to battle?”

-         Today wisdom is Spirit-led living.

Wisdom needs to be our #1 request. Why? Let me answer with some history?

 Ill. In 1849 gold was being discovered in great amounts in California. People rushed from all over the world to get there. Rumors were flying that gold just laying on the ground – come get rich! If they had discovered granite instead of gold people would not come there!Why – because gold has value! These people were labeled 49ers because 1849 was the year they had the courage to make life changing decision to journey across the country into what was then dangerous uncharted territory. San Francisco football 49ers name – courage.

Yet, look at what God says is more valuable than gold.

“How much better to get wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is better than silver.” Proverbs 16:16

-         That is what the parable of the pearl of great price is all about. Once you learn something of great value can be found you commit your life to the search for it.

“Wisdom is principal; therefore, get wisdom. And with all your getting, get understanding.”  Proverbs 4:7

“The beginning of wisdom is this: get wisdom. Though it cost you all you have, get understanding.” NIV

“Getting wisdom is the most important thing you can do. Whatever else you get, get insight.”  GNT

ill. We tell young people the most important thing is to get an education? That is not what God says!

Bec. God does not think like us – Isa. 55:8

The wisdom of God described in I Cor. 2:1-16

1.    Hidden until God reveals it.

2.    For our glory. (Proverbs 25:2).

3.    Revealed by the Spirit.

4.    The deep things of God.

5.    Discerned only by those with the Spirit.

Wisdom comes with a cost – the cost is time with God.

-         Prayer talks and a trust walk.

To think and walk with God you will have to go His pace.

Pursuing wisdom automatically means you are going to slow down in order to ponder, think over and over things to discover to gold God has for you to discover.

Most of the people who left home for California gold did not get rich quick like they expected.

Ill. Rumors flying about “gold salve”. A unique product that would find gold if smeared on clothes then roll on ground and stand up covered in gold – instant riches. But like gold salve – wisdom is not and instant discover either.

3 primary ways gold and wisdom are discovered:

1.    Panning  - is like meditation.

2.    Pickaxe – is like digging deeper into the scriptures.

3.    Dynamite – is like a sudden rhema (life changing).

God is Spirit and He wants you to develop and mature in Sspirit and is wisdom and understanding of God and His ways.  

He wants you to discern and perceive by your spirit. Practice, practice.

-Discerning is not 100% accurate. Good and evil/life and death.  Some have suspicion not the gift.  

-Perceiving  –  Acts 14:9 – Paul looking outwardly at body language, attitudes.

          There is a learning curve for all of us – we have to grow spiritually.

One my life verses is Isaiah 30:15

“Thus says the Holy One of Israel, ‘In returning and rest you shall be saved, in quietness and confidence is your strength.” Isa. 30:15

-         This does not come natural for me. But it is natural for God. And I know this is what He has called me to become.

ill. A pastor needs to be in peace, calm, and joy to hear and walk closely with God. The devil sends troubles as mainly distractions.  “Obey your leaders and submit to them for they watch over your souls and must give account to God. Let them do this with joy, and not complaining,(evidently pastors complain???)  for that would not be profitable to you! – then he says “Pray for us!” Heb. 13:17-18.

-         Ill. Just as surgeon needs to be at peace and calm before he operates on you. Pam’s botched back surgery. We heard surgeon angry and upset at someone – we should said not today. But God healed that anyway!

 Just as quietness and peace increases our ability to perceive God, fear and panic reduce our ability to discern the real purpose of God. When you are irritated or angry is not a good time to make a decision!

Ill. Jesus’s disciples are an encouragement to me to know God gives us a learning curve in this journey. In Mark 4 Jesus uses a storm as training and practice. He and disciples piled into boat to go to the other side. Jesus makes bee-line to a pillow on the back side of the boat and went to sleep. This says so much about the rest of God. The storm kicks up and the disciples get anxious. Half of them grew up on this lake as pro fisherman. By night they had determined they were sinking and Jesus was sleeping on the job and did not care. Why was Jesus sleeping and not helping?

Because it was their turn for practice! This was Life with God:101 class.

          They just witnessed feeding 5000. He gave them an opportunity there too but they passed. Here was another opportunity.

They would face greater storms than this one day. They had to learn not to depend upon His physical visible Presence – one day soon He would not by physically with them. They had to learn experience and release God’s peace into their circumstances out of their own relationship with the Father, not His.

          Ill. What if things would have turned out differently. What if the boys would have said, “Hey we just saw an amazing miracle. God is with us. Jesus told us to go to the other side – so we know we are going there. Let’s tell this storm to get out of our way!” But we will never know what could have happened, because that night they missed their opportunity. They never got to see the look that would have been on Jesus’ face if they would have tried. Maybe He would have winked and said, “Good job boys. You’re getting it.”

          Instead He spoke to the storm and stilled it, then spoke to them. “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?”

But God is so patient with us. He wants us to find His wisdom.

You may have seen something 100 times but the 101first time you see something you did not see before.

Ill. Stereogram – a picture hidden within a picture. A 3D object is hidden in a 2D picture. But the brain can only create the illusion of depth when you learn how to view the stereogram correctly.

Pic of stereogram

A different way of looking at something. Looking through it until the 3D image appears in your peripheral vision.

Pursuing wisdom means you are yoked with Jesus to learn to see like He sees and learning His timing and rhythm. So much of wisdom is learning to think differently and to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.”

 Getting guidance from God is process coming out of a right relationship with Him and learning how to abide with Him throughout every day. He is interested in everything you do! Sometimes God speaks in ways that we may not recognize at first. It may not be till later that we recognize God was trying to show us something.

          Ill. Remember those connect the dot to dot pictures you did as a child? PIC

You couldn’t tell what the picture was until you followed the numbers and connected the dots. Little by little the image emerged.

          This is why I carry a notepad with me – a journal just to write down things I think God may be saying/showing. This collection of stuff at times does not always seem to mean anything. Other times I am able to see through things that has been happening in my life and connecting the dots to see what HS is showing me. The messages I preach now come this way. I review each day the previous things I have been getting in my quiet times, etc.

          I want to challenge you to begin to keep a 50 cent note pad with you and begin to collect thoughts, words that capture your attention, scriptures, phrases that may be things God could be showing you. Go back later and ponder and ask HS about them. You might be surprised at the wisdom God gives you because you are paying attention and writing some things down.

          Why write things down? Let me answer that by asking you a question. How many of you have ever heard of Zebulon Pike? He was sent by Thomas Jefferson to explore the unknown western lands of the US. Pike’s peak is named after him. However few people know anything about who he was or what he explored and found.

          How many of you know the names of Lewis and Clarke? Most of you. They also were sent by Thomas Jefferson to do the same thing. Why is it we know the names and advertures of Lewis and Clark but not Zebulon Pike very well? The difference is this.

          Lewis and Clarke and their team kept detailed records of what they saw and discovered on their journey. Pike and his men kept no records just in their minds. One kept a pen and pad of paper with them all the time.

          Concl:

          Most treasures won’t come to us. We will have to be like the 49ers and be willing to take risks with our lives instead of having the goal to trying to be comfortable.

          Ill. Many of the 49ers kept journals we still have today that tell their stories. Some met with tragedy, heartbreak and disappointment. When asked about their experiences their replies were similar. It was the adventure of a lifetime. The wonders they saw, the adversities they had to overcome, the friends they made along the way had become the true treasure of their lives.

          This week on TV heard Arthur Blessit (carried cross) say these words that I knew God highlighted for me to remember to share with you. Pic Arthur Blessit

Ill. He was a Baptist pastor of small church in California. HS spoke to him one day to leave the church, make a cross and start traveling with it until God says stop. Just before the day he was about to begin he got very sick and had to be hospitalized. Told he had a brain tumor and needed surgery or he may die. He had to make a decision. He said these words, “I would rather obey God and die try to do what He told me to do, than to lay here and die in this hospital bed.”

          He left the hospital and threw away the drugs and started carrying the cross around the world and never looked back. He has traveled to every country in the world carrying the cross and has had the adventure of a lifetime.

-         This adventure is for you too – right where God planted you. Pursuing wisdom is pursuing God.

Pursuing God’s Wisdom

 

Pursuing God’s Wisdom

Books of wisdom in the Bible: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Eccles, Song of S.

You won’t benefit by just reading them. They are meant to be savored, meditated upon, pondered over and over to get the nutrients.

Wisdom like a well prepared meal was meant to be savored, and enjoyed slowly.

Ill. Consider how many occasions in scripture involved meals: Passover and the feasts of Israel. Jesus’s first miracle wedding feast- water – wine. Last Supper. Psa 23 “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies”. Even when you face an enemy God has a feast of wisdom for you to feed from. Every situation is like a parable of wisdom for to glean from. Slow down and relate to God in every situation. “The Lord of Hosts is with us!”  

We just concluded a series of messages on Psalm 46 emphasizing our growing in the awareness of the Presence of the Lord, whether hidden or manifested, is to give our lives fearless confidence.  Now in the first book of wisdom – Job we read:

“Look, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom.” Job 28:28

 Ill. Jesus was tempted by devil to worship him to get the world back from Satan. Jesus quotes Deut. 10:20 “Get away from here, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.” Mtt. 4:10   “fear the Lord” = worship the Lord

Jesus changed the word fear in OT to worship.

          To worship God is wisdom and this wisdom is manifested in this – honor, worship, surrender to God and His mysterious ways. Donald Rumsfeld, former Secretary of Defense said

“There are known knowns – things we know we know. Then there are known unknowns – things we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the one’s we don’t know, we don’t know.” Donald Rumsfeld

Do people w/o God have wisdom? Yes – God gives good gifts to everyone. Ill. “KOH like a treasure hidden in a field which a man suddenly found. He wasn’t looking for it.

Judges in court – Inventions = Jewish people many wise inventions and yet they are a minority race. (Kindle- blue jeans, lipstick, instant coffee, remote control, kidney dialysis, chemo therapy, vaccinations, walkie talkie, adding machines, more, thank a Jew! Jewish people receive more Nobel prizes than any other nation of people.

“Why is it that man, with drastically limited wisdom, insists on making all the decisions in his life while a good portion of the time he is wrong?”  A. W. Tozer

Wisdom begins and ends with God. We must go to God in order to get wisdom.

“If any man lacks wisdom, let him ask of God who gives to all men liberally and without criticism, and it will be given him.” James 1:5

ill. Don’t think of this is ask and God is going to download instant wisdom to solve some solution. We are wanting a quick fix.

Everything God does is relational. It begins with and ends discovering deeper things about our relationship with Jesus.

Ill. One time I was complaining to God about not understanding something and out of the blue HS spoke to me these words, “that’s because you don’t know Me very well.” – That stung but what can you say when Someone 100% perfect tells you this? “Lord, You are right. I don’t know You very well. Will You teach me and take me deeper?”

-        Every problem in your life today must not be you wanting a quick fix !

The answer is first relational. Lord, what are You revealing to me through this? What are You wanting to be to me through this trial?

Go to God first!  Wisdom needs to be our number one requests.

After you ask God for wisdom then expect your life to be a process of parables to find it. Ill. College – So many friends dropped out for various reasons. A friend said, “What if God’s reason for us being here is not to get a diploma but for the experience itself?” That changed the way I looked at it. Maybe some people were to only be there a short time to get some revelation of God that could only come this way.

-     School was not about a diploma but the journey itself.

-    Sometimes you have to fail in order to find out that was not what God has planned for me.

Job’s life was a text book of discovering God’s wisdom.

“Where does wisdom come from? Where is the place of understanding? It is hidden from the eyes of all the living and concealed from the birds of the sky.” Job 28:20-21

Wisdom is hidden from us, but it is also hidden for us.

ill. Go to nature. How do wild birds in the north find their way to the south? How do honey bees find their way across a meadow to their hive? In one place scripture God is saying, “the birds know their place and yet you are dumber than an ox, because he knows his master and yet My people do not know their God” para Is. 1:3

God wants us to go deeper in our relationship with Him. He knows a quick fix to our problems will not do that. There may be a larger objective than the preservation of our own life.

The purpose of our life is the glory of God – making Him seen.

After you ask God for wisdom – now your job is to go find it, and go deeper with God.

Ill. He is intent on having a better relationship with you. If this means He has to withhold some things or keep you from some things in order for you to grow in depth in your relationship with Him, so be it. He values a deeper relationship with you more than fixing your problems so you can be on your way.

I guarantee you that if you would slow down and take time to think deeply about some current problem and seek wisdom, you will eventually come up with a new parable about it.

Parable is an earthly story with hidden wisdom.

Your life is filled with parables of wisdom waiting to be discovered. But you will have to go further than just the surface to find this wisdom.

-        Maybe today the parable God is wanting to write with you is the parable of how to get more money – out of debt.

-        Or Parable of the struggling marriage, etc.

“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field which a man found . . . Again the kingdom of heaven is like merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all he had and bought it.”  Mtt. 13:45

First parable a man stumbles across and finds a hidden treasure that he was not looking for. The second parable has a man who knows what he is looking for.

-        Some wisdom we stumble across and find. Other wisdom requires us to search it out and find it.

The merchant is looking for the pearl is searching for that thing that grows out of irritation.

He has to pursue it in order to find it. God is not going to drop it in his lap.

Col. 3:3 says our old life is dead and our new life is hidden in Christ to those born of God. We will have to go to God in relate to Him to discover what and how this life with X hidden in us is to operate.

-        The Xn life is not a program. It is not an assignment to complete. It is not a job to be accomplished. IT is a relationship to be carried out moment by moment that will require a lifetime.

-        Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn of Me.”

This yoke is a partnership relationship with Him. Ill. A young ox is yoked with a mature ox so it can learn it’s role in life. We have to learn to be led by the Spirit – it is not automatic and you can’t be in a hurry with relationship – it takes time, long walks, deep talks, stillness.

Ill. One time in church it seemed like everything was going wrong in Sunday service. Sound – lights – ppt – people distracting – and I was getting irritated. “Lord, here I am trying to worship you and honestly I am very irritated right now. Why am I letting this bother me so much? “Because you want control.” But Lord, this is not the way things are supposed to be – people can’t focus like this! “So what are you going to do about it – get angry or let go and just do your part?”

King Solomon, son of David appointed king.

“The king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for there was a great high place, and he offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. While he was at Gibeon the Lord app eared to him in a dream and said, “Ask what you want from Me.”   I Kings 3:4-5

Burnt offerings were for consecrating yourself to God. 1 was all needed but he gave 1000.

Paraphrase the rest of the story here. Dream of God saying ask.

          “An understanding heart = a heart focused on You.”

“Solomon awoke from the dream and found it was a dream. Then he came to Jerusalem and stood before the ark of the covenant of the Lord and offered up burnt offerings and peace offerings.” I Kgs 3:15

Why did he come to Jerusalem? Because the Ark was there. Remember no Temple yet and David brought Ark to Jerusalem to be the center piece of Israel. This is why David was a man after God’s own heart.

PIC Ark Covenant

Picture of our Lord JC. Wood – humanity covered with gold divinity.

Solomon made a trip to Jerusalem because he was going after the Presence of the Lord. He was not just waiting for God to drop wisdom on him – he pursued God.

“God gave Solomon wisdom and great depth of understanding as well as compassion, as vast as the sand on the seashore.” I Kings 4:31

-        He discovered God and His wisdom in nature, trees, plants, animals, insects. Most of all He had wisdom to lead Israel God’s way with his ears and eyes on God and not man’s opinions.

Solomon never sought nor asked to become king. The leaders God appointed all had reluctance to be the leader God called them to be.

-        Moses was reluctant. Gideon very reluctant. David and others.

The leaders God chose did not seek power but were chosen by God to exercise power. Ill. In church many willing to serve but few are willing to take the responsibility to be the leader of something.

          Leaders appointed by God have to make decisions not based on popularity or to please everyone. Sometimes it is hard but necessary.

Ill. Two women came before Solomon as king to make a decision. Both women lived in the same house. Both had babies about same age. One woman’s baby died and in the middle of the night she stole the other woman’s baby and said it was her baby. The real mom screaming this is my baby and the other lady said no. So the king said, “Bring me a sword – divide the child – give half to each. Then the real mother said no don’t kill the child – give her the child. The other said no divide it. The king said don’t kill it – give it to the real mom. She is the mother.

-        I am sure the friends of the lying mother sided with her. Felt bad for her and took offense for her. Others sided with the king.

But when a leader makes a decision it cannot be based upon what will people think of me! Sometimes hard decisions and necessary ones. Is everyone going to be happy? No – unity and oneness does not mean agreement.

“All Israel heard . . . and saw the wisdom of God was in him, to execute sound judgment.”        I Kings 3:28

Concl: Pursuing Wisdom summarized is going after the presence of God first. It is standing in awareness of God’s Presence. When you say I need wisdom you are saying, “Lord, I need You – You to be my shepherd and guide me.” You don’t need an answer – you need Him. In Him is the answer.

If you need guidance – You first need a relationship with the Lord. If you already have one and need guidance it means you need to know Him better and get closer.

          He will give you an answer and guidance but it will come through you getting closer to Him. Out of that your answer will be clear. 

Disillusionment – Part 2

Disillusionment – Part 2

Dictionary: To disappoint or embitter because things did not turn out like you imagined. When our personal illusions collide with reality.

We can get disillusioned with God, with ourselves, with others.

Choosing to follow Jesus does not mean we will never be disillusioned. When we start walking with Jesus we start walking in the light.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

-        My nick name for God is Jehovah Surprise!

-        The disciples must have been disillusioned seeing Jesus hung on a cross. Not what they expected.

-        Job in all his suffering was disillusioned with God.

-        Elijah in depressed in the cave, after national revival!  

-        Israel grumbling in the wilderness – this life is not what we expected.

1.   Have you ever been disillusioned with God?

God is not nervous about our disillusionment with Him, and He is not disillusioned with us being disillusioned with Him!

          Ill. Some of my greatest disillusionments about God is that He did not stop some things from happening, or do what I asked for.

-        FBC church split.

-        My son going to prison.

-        Tried to raise Rick Montgomery from the dead.

2. Have you ever been disillusioned with yourself?

-        We discover our humanity and weakness.

-        We overestimated our ability to do something and now can’t deliver.

Good news is that God is still not disillusioned with us.

“He that began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.” Phil. 1:6

Spiritual growth is a slow process. “First the blade, then the stalk, then the full ear of corn.” Mark 4:28

Failure is sometimes part of our spiritual growth. Failure in a Xn is still progress.

Thomas Edison “I didn’t fail a 1000 times. It just took a 1000 steps to invent the light bulb.” Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper because “He lacked imagination.” Albert Einstein’s parents thought he was mentally retarded because he did not talk till he was 4 years old.

Lucille Ball was told when she was studying to be an actress that she should try some other profession. Babe Ruth struck out over 1,300 times and said ever strike brought him closer to the next home run.

Christians must re-frame failure as spiritual growth.

Ill. Draw a spring on dry erase board. It may look you are going down but you are going up.

“Failure is one of the greatest art in the world. One fails towards success.” Charles Kettering

“Failure provides the opportunity to begin again, more intelligently.” Henry Ford

The Christian faith walk is pilgrimage not a performance.

3.   Have you ever been disillusioned with God’s people (church)?

Relationships go through cycles:

1.   Infatuation

2.   Disillusionment (reality)

3.   Bail or commit?
Seen in people going form job to job, relationship to relationship, church to church. Commitment is lacking!

Disagreements are bound to happen in church! Why? People have differences in spiritual experiences and backgrounds, political differences, cultures, generations, opinions on how things should be done.

Ill. Jesus own disciples had disunity among them. Jesus came upon them one day arguing with one another. “What are you guys talking about?” They were arguing over who was the greatest among them!

-        Ill. Paul and Barnabas had sharp disagreement. AS far as we know these were unresolvable. Sometimes can’t work together! Who was right and who was wrong? Apparently God went with Paul and He went with Barnabas too. God walking with you does not depend upon you being the one right or not. The same God was on both sides!

-        Women at Philippian church Paul addressed to try and get along. We don’t know the outcome.

-        Truth is the people of God are lousy at resolving conflicts between us. Look through the scriptures where you see success at this! Not many!

Some points that might help us get along with each other in church.

Ill. Hold up card with large number 6 on it towards congregation. Ask what number this is? Then flip it backwards towards me and it looks like a 9. Point: both see it accurately but differently.

1.   Remember a 6 could be a nine from the other side of the table.

2.   Don’t think insight gives you an invitation. Ill. When we see faults in others our first response should be pray for them. It does not mean we are to tell them their faults.

God sees more things in us than He reveals to us – we call this mercy!

We who have received such mercy with God must be reminded to have mercy with one another.

How in the world can the church have unity? God places us all together with different backgrounds, cultures, political opinions, personalities?

“May they all be one in Us, that the world may believe that You have sent Me. I have given them the glory that you gave Me, that they may be one even as We are one.” John 17:21-22

What this unity cannot mean:

It cannot mean we are the same strength, same gifts.

It cannot mean we have the same identical ideas.

It cannot mean the absence of diversity of cultures, likes, opinions.

It cannot mean the absence of conflict!

What does Jesus mean by unity or being “one” in His church?

          Ill. Where else does God use the term “oneness”? In marriage between husband and wife. When does a husband and wife become one? Is it at the ceremony? Is it after 30 years?

-        It happens as both die to self and live for a greater purpose than themselves as individuals.

How does that happen? They make and keep making a commitment to each other, not for the sake of each other, not for the sake of commitment, but for the sake that Jesus is committed us to one another. It is His doing to make us one.

Great Defender

Great Defender

Psalm 46:8-11

Intro:  Most people know “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). But did you know that it’s context in Psalm 46 is war and devastation? A song by the sons of Korah to be sung as worship in a time of trouble.  Martin Luther use to say when trouble was becoming overwhelming “Come let’s sing the 46th psalm.”

It was written at a time Israel was being invaded by 3 foreign armies much larger and stronger than they. The Psalm is divided in 3 parts with the word Selah, as if to take a breath and think about what you just said.

Part 1: Focus on God’s Person: Vs 1-3 God is our refuge a S, a VPH I T o T. Though the worst happen we will not fear.

Part 2: Focus on God’s Presence: Vs 4-7 There is a river – hidden supernatural Presence – God is in the river and the river streams through us. The Lord of Hosts is with us.  He is the answer to our warfare we face.

Part 3: Focus on God’s Plan: Vs 8-11

“Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations He hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the ends of the earth; He breaketh the bow and cutteth the spear asunder; He burneth the chariot in the fire. Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord of Hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.”  Psalm 46:8-11

The Almighty has a plan, a work, a vision He is fulfilling even as we speak. There is something big going on in the earth. But to see it we must get beyond our lives, our situations, beyond our church program, beyond our country, to embrace God’s vision for the world. As loved and cherished by God as we are, we are not the big picture. God is the big picture and it is important that people see and come to know Him personally. God’s passion is for all to know Him. All of life, the painful as well as the pleasant is for us to know Him. May we as Your church live for what Jesus died for. To know who “I AM” is and to make Him known.

 God is behind some the scenes causing some events, or allowing some so that people will see God in it, or because of it. In this event God was the One causing Israel’s enemies to rise up against them.

In the end Israel had a supernatural victory – God fought for them – “all I did was worship. All I did was praise. All I did was bow down. All I did was be still!” You can read about it in 2 Chronicles 20:20. 20/20 vision to see how God works and trust Him.

Ill. Read from my Bible 2 Chron. 20 highlights. Can you imagine Jehoshaphat and men walked out on the battlefield after this in awe and said these words:

 “Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations He hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the ends of the earth; He breaketh the bow and cutteth the spear asunder; He burneth the chariot in the fire.”

“Come behold the works of the Lord. . .”          

  “Behold” = Here I am.   See Me in this situation.

“All we did was worship. All we did was praise. All we did was bow down. All we did was stay still!”

There are three calls of God to us in this text:

1.   The call to BEHOLD. Behold God’s works in a world of darkness and death and wickedness. We can claim the victory of Jesus in advance of seeing any victory!  

This is not the first time God told His people to do some strange things instead of the natural thing. Sing, march, shout, wait. “You don’t have to fight”, He whispered, “because this is not about you, it’s about Me. I am not asking you to strive, to pull down things, I am asking you to make room for ME to act – be still.”

What if every day, every circumstance was cleverly designed to show us another glimpse of the glory of God? Every situation has God hidden inside it waiting for you to discover Him. In His wisdom, He allowed what He could have easily prevented. This is why abiding is so important.

Ill. Jesus said with a wink in His eye, “Go, I am sending you out as lambs among wolves,” (Lk 10:3). Fortunately for us our Lord is a Lion, He fights for us. WE are not trying to believe for God’s Presence – we are believing IN God’s Presence during trials and “going out with joy and being led forth with peace”.

When troubles come our question should never be, “Why God?” But Lord, what do You want to be to me in this situation?

Every situation in life is a call to behold the Lord - where God teaches us more about Himself. But this is also

2.   The call to BELIEVE.

“Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord of Hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.” Psalm 46:10-11

The God who helped Jacob when he deserved nothing. The God who met Jacob in his backslidings and in his deceitfulness. The God of Jacob is our refuge. If the enemy armies of Israel had known this, they would not have attacked Israel.

God moves in 2 ways: Hiddenness and manifestation.

When Israel was about to be attacked God was hidden. When God is hidden He is just as present as when He is manifested. He told them in their panic to be still. Spiritual warriors don’t react but go into their place of refuge to discover God and so they may exit from the confidence of His Presence to combat the enemy.

Ill. Jehoshaphat and Israel came to God in prayer and laid everything out that was happening to Him. “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You.”   2 Chronicles 20:12

They waited and God spoke and told them don’t be afraid because this battle was not theirs but God’s. You won’t have to fight, just stand and watch God fight for you. They sent out the praise team and choir ahead of those dressed in battle uniforms. Verse 22 says,

When they BEGAN singing and praising, the Lord set ambushes against their enemies.”  Vs 22

God told them to:

 “Be still” – be calm in the face of fury.

Psalm 46:10 is vital to our spiritual development and learning warfare. Without stillness you will not hear or see God.

“Be still and know that I am God.”

Ill. Elijah in the cave but heard the still small voice of God after everything got still. Hebrew word “still” is derived from a word meaning “astonished or stunned” at God’s Presence.  He’s here!

-        Woman jewelry is okay to look attractive but better is  “ornament of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.” = resulting from knowing God is with you (I Pt. 3:4).

“In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.” Isa. 30:15

How? You know God’s hidden Presence with you.

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 God is constantly with us whether we realize it or not. Yet most Xns not aware of it. Ill. One time my phone rang. I answered but no answered back. I started to hang up and heard two guys talking. I listened and they were talking about God and their beliefs about Him. I prayed for them. Lord, help them to talk to know You are right there with them now – to believe and to behold you in awe and wonder.

Ill. God is teaching us to walk by faith and not by what we feel. Sometimes He withdraws from our emotions, He hides from our feelings and we have to trust He is with us. Other times we feel Him and He manifests to us in some incredible way and these become the stories we talk about the rest of our life.

Manifestation is a time of blessing. Hiddenness is a time of building.

 Can we be still in the midst of distress and pain and uncertainty? Hiddenness is God taking you deeper. Twice in these eleven verses:

“The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.”

At the time this was being spoken it did not look like God was with them.  Instead it looked like we (Israel) was about to get slaughtered. The Presence of God, hidden or manifested is suppose to make a difference in this life. We need to question:

Do I believe what I say I know?

Our lives are to showcase that God is with us.

We sometimes act as though God is not with us. We have sudden trouble and panic. Did God leave the room? Ill. Movies show someone in serious trouble but they never show anyone praying to God? It is as if this is life without God! No thanks.

In all situations of life, God is teaching us to live with Him by rejoicing and giving thanks in all things. We trust Him by not being worried, anxious or fearful. It is time for the people of God to banish fear forever and learn to live in the love of God.

When situations overwhelm us it means we need to upgrade our view of God. If we see God as He is then we will be overwhelmed and in awe of Him.

We have to learn the lessons of abiding: Be still, remain faithful, live consciously aware of God’s Presence with you. Turn to Him first for wisdom. Remain content, peaceful, restful and joyful and thankful. Seeing all of life through the lens that “the Lord of Hosts is with us.”

This will require our thinking to change. When you come to Christ this is the first thing He says you must change in order to walk with Him. We frame life situations according to our frame of reference – the way we are accustomed to see things. Ill. Joseph Silva – glass eye.

Problem framing = seeing only the negative. Seeing problem you have always seen them.  Victim mindset.

Now those born of God have to:

REFRAME – look at life with Jesus with us = WISDOM

Prophetic framing = Seeing God with me. Seeing a new way. Victor mindset.   “God, how do You want to be exalted in this situation?” 

1.   Call to BEHOLD. 

2.   Call to BELIEVE.

3.   Call to BECOME.

Concl: This takes time and being intentional about walking with God. You wont get this by reading a devotional every day. You get this by acknowledging the Lord’s Presence with You and taking time to be still in His Presence. Bringing situations in prayer to Him and waiting upon Him.

One of Satan’s traps is to get us so involved in activities – even good ones that we have no time to be still in the Presence of God. The world seems to run off adrenaline. After a while you will crash and burn. Some depression is because people run on adrenaline until they run out.

The American church does not know how to handle quietness and stillness. We must learn to meditate, set time aside to think deeply about God. It doesn’t have to be long; just start with 15 minutes. The more you do this the more time you will want to give Him.

Sometimes God may have to force you to be still. Psalm 23 “He maketh me to lie down.” God is talking to us today. Can you hear His whisper to you?

His call to you today is a call to behold His works in the earth and in your life. Second, His call for you is to believe – He is present. He wants to come into your life and lead you to handle things His way – which is so different form the way you have always handled things. If you do then one day you will sing,

Hallelujah, Great Defender

So much better this way.

Hallelujah, You have saved me,

So much better Your way.

1.   The call to behold. 2. The Call to believe. 3. The call to become.

“Behold I stand at the door and knock. If any man will hear My voice and open the door I will come in.”  Rev. 3:20

Disillusionment

Disillusionment

Dictionary: To disappoint or embitter by leaving without illusion.

We can get disillusioned with God, with ourselves, with others and this can cause grief.

When you get disillusioned you are unable to celebrate or enjoy what God is doing in your life because all you can see is what is not happening!

In relationships we go through cycles:

1.   Infatuation

2.   Disillusionment

3.   Bail or commitment

Job after job

Relationship after relationship

Religion after religion

Church after church

A faith definition for disillusionment is “the gaining of reality!”

Depression and self pity are the result of not seeing God’s bigger picture of reality.

Ill. The child thinks life is all about me, my success, my comfort. Then reality hits and the child realizes life is not all about me and my comfort. Yet many adults and even Xn adults have not learned this reality yet. Xns should know that life here is about knowing God and making Him known to people around us.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

The disciples had disillusionment with Jesus’ timing, His words, His ways:

Ill. Luke 7 Jesus walking by funeral procession and stops to raise an unknown widows son from the dead. No explanation.

Then in John 11 when Jesus was told Lazarus was sick He stayed 2 more days until after he died before He showed up. Mary and Martha the sisters were disillusioned with Jesus’ timing, words and ways.

-        Mtt 8 Jesus asleep in boat while disciples struggling to stay alive in a storm at sea. “Lord, don’t You care we are perishing?”

Have you ever been disillusioned with God’s timing, His words or ways?

If so then you are in good company: Disciples. Elijah in a cave. Job in suffering.

There will be many times in your life where you can become disillusioned with God. Maybe you are there now. If so, be assured that your disillusionment with God is a wake up call into reality and to shake you from living in an illusion that is not true.

Ill. Remember the cards I gave you a few weeks ago that are an optical illusion. Things are not as they appear. Some things look bigger than they really are!

That is not to diminish the fact that you have real pain, real disappointment in life. Life has not turned out like you planned.

Ill. This past week I talked to some young people (high school and college age) about their plans for the future. I listen then encourage them to put their life in God’s hands because He may have other plans, greater plans than yours.

-        How many of you would say your life turned out to be different than you planned when you were 18?

Have you ever been disillusioned with yourself?

Ill. The disciples were disillusioned with their selves. They overestimated their ability. Mtt. 17 “Lord, why couldn’t we cast out the demon?”

Ill. 1985 called to be on staff as youth minister at FBC Leesburg the top ½ of % of Baptist churches in baptisms and evangelism. Later made associate pastor and preached on TV when pastor away and early morning service. People would tell me “You are really going somewhere big in life.” I started believing my own press releases that surely God was preparing me to lead a big Baptist church. I candidate for a big church in Oviedo but the people said I was too young 32. Finally realized God was not calling me up but down. FBC Astor with 75 people maybe on a good Sunday out in the sticks! What is God thinking by putting me way out here in the middle of no where?

I was disillusioned with God and with myself.

God evaluates things differently than we do. His path for you does not look like anyone else’s path. Comparison and competition cause a lot of misery.

If you judge your life by expecting to see what you expect – you will become miserable. Give God the pen and let Him write His story with your life.

You will stop being miserable about your life when all you want is what God wants – even when you don’t know what that is!

How would you define spiritual growth?

On dry erase board draw a line going upward zig zag.

Or, Draw a spiral like an old fashioned bed spring.

Ill. Sometimes in spiral it looks like we are going around the same mountain with the same issue. It may be the same issue but you can be sure God is taking you to a deeper level each time.

Ill. Skin cancers burned off this past week. My mom has had some but require more than burn off but to go deeper and cut out. Sometimes you have to keep going back until they remove deeper layers until the cancer is gone.

God is committed to removing spiritual cancers from us.

How would you define failure?

Sometimes failure is part of our growth process.

Do you think all failure is sin?

Ill. My first church was little country church of 45 people. I went to a conference and was excited to learn about singing simple choruses. I was determined to bring this back to our church and liven things up with hand clapping and and sing along choruses. The people did not receive my enthusiasm and would not join in with me in worship.

Was this a failure? YES.

But was it sin? No. Not all failure is sin – some is.

God can use failure as part of our growth process.

How do you respond to your failures?

Don’t think about it. Beat yourself up. Try to make up for it?

Become depressed. Refuse to forgive yourself. Sin more. Go to God?

Both Judas and Peter failed Jesus and themselves. Both were disillusioned. In that dark place of disillusionment

-        One died in self pity

-        One buried himself in grace.

Song Defender

Concl: Looking back over my life I am so glad God saved me from getting my way. Life is so much better His way.

Disillusionment = the gaining of reality. But also that God has some other plans and you and I need to trust Him and worship – bow down, praise Him and be still.

 

Hope Dealers

Hope Dealers

Sunday night EXIT movie – depression and suicide affect everyone the rich and famous. Someone pointed out a good point that the makers of the movie almost made it seem like getting saved would end depressions and suicide. We know that is not true. I wanted to show you the movie to make you aware of people around you.

I wrote a blog a few weeks ago about loneliness I wish you would read.

Go to either our church website: www.gracetab.org and click on the pastor’s blog OR go to “Reflections by Gary Washburn”. Be sure to leave a comment and post it on your face book to circulate it. 

Loneliness, depression and suicide can be triplets connected together. Not that if you have one you are suicidal but they can easily get connected to one another. Getting saved does not stop loneliness, depression or suicide.

There is another triplet the Bible reveals that work together but also reveals the key missing ingredient in someone serious enough to want to commit suicide. See if you can pick out the One of these three.

“Now abide faith, hope and love, these three.” I Cor. 13:13

We know faith comes by hearing God. Romans 10:17

We know love comes from God who is love. He loves us then commands us to love one another with the love He gives us.

Where does hope come from?

Pic faith, hope love

Hope is the key connection between faith and love.

What people who are lonely, depressed, or suicidal need is hope.

(Hand out witnessing cards here and demonstrate – things are not as they appear right now. It may look hopeless but it is not.)

Without hope even a Xn will not be able to operate with the God kind of faith or love that was born in your spirit. Without hope faith has no direction because hope is like the blueprint for faith to go by.

Without love faith won’t work according to Gal. 5:6. Hope is what connects faith to love so without hope they are disconnected.

FAITH + HOPE + LOVE

FAITH -              - LOVE = disconnect

Bible hope is confident expectation in God.

Speaking of Abraham

“Who against hope, believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So, shall thy seed be.”  Romans 4:18

Against all natural hope a ninety year old woman and 100 year old man had a child. When you believe God’s Word about your situation against natural hope, then this hope becomes like an anchor in your soul (Hebrews 6:19).

PIC - ANCHOR

We need hope as an anchor because life can suddenly go from good to bad in a moment – look at Job. Life here is very unstable!

The wind and waves of circumstance tell you that you are going to sink and there is no hope.

          You pass your anchor from the realm of the seen into the murky water of the unseen. It travels into the unseen until it hits bedrock.

For us this bedrock is the promise of God’s Word – though unseen it holds us through stormy times.

But if you believe what God says about your situation – against natural hope then His Word becomes your anchor in your soul.

Hope will paint a picture for faith to believe to receive.

Hope will connect faith with God’s love to supply the answer.

Hope looks forward to a promise of God.

Faith reaches out to receive it.

Love rejoices in God who supplies the answer.

Patience stabilizes faith until the answer is manifested.

Faith and patience are twins!  

“Through faith and patience we inherit the promises.” Hebrews 6:12

“So after Abraham had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.” Hebrews 6:15

How did he endure one disappointment after another? Will it be this year, then the next and next until it looked as though it would never happen. Did I misunderstand God? Did I even hear Him or am I crazy?

One thing kept him alive and moving forward. HOPE

Ill. This week you need to be a hope dealer to someone who has or is about to give up hope. We must remind ourselves that hope is not always the resolving of our problems like we hope for. Sometimes God has another ending in mind that we may not even know about.

Years ago Quinton gave me a decoration for my office with the acrostic about hope.

PIC - HOPE

Give someone the gift of hope this week. If they see hopelessness you show these cards. Tell them this is a life lesson. Things are not always as they appear.

Tell them to give God the pen and trust Him to write how this problem in their life will end and that it is not their job to do that. God is real good at writing surprising last chapters – if you let Him.

Lost people are without hope according to Ephesians 2:12. In fact it says they are without Christ, without God, and without hope in world.

“But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation.”    I Thes. 5:8

-        Every believer must be an optimist. For a believer to be a pessimist he would have to deny the faith.

“To put on the helmet of hope is an intentional thing. If mind plagued with hopelessness you may need to cover your mind with speaking scriptures about hope out loud and post them on cards all over your house. Your mind has got to have hope – something to look forward to from God. Keep feeding your mind and speaking the Word of God promises about hope. Be intentional and aggressive and watch your hope rise up. Start to dream again about your future and new things God may want to do in your life.

Confession:

I am a serious minded hope dealer. When I find someone without hope I will attempt to give them mine. I have faith as a breastplate to protect me. I wear the helmet of hope on my mind to always encourage me. I have the love of God to empower me. The only way I can fail, is if I give up my hope and begin to doubt God. It is too late for that! God has been so good and faithful to me. He has already pulled me out of more hopeless situations than I can remember. Because of this, I have become His hope dealer. Look out devil, here I come to mess up your plans!

PRAYER:

          Jesus I am Yours. Use me this week to give someone hope in You. I trust You to do this, in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

STOP TRYING – START TRUSTING

STOP TRYING – START TRUSTING
Psalm 46:5

If you have not experienced supernatural trouble, trouble that is caused by demons, evil beyond just human evil, then you must not be living the Xn life, meaning you and the devil are going the same direction.

-        When you get born from above you get a target place on you by the enemy. Stop him, discourage hi, slow him down, distract him!

“There is no such thing as unopposed spiritual progress.”

-        Some of you here today need to pay close attention because the trouble you are experiencing right now is supernatural and you don’t fight with natural help but with supernatural help.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Therefore, will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the Holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High.   Psalm 46:1-4

God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.   Psalm 46:5

Last week we identified the river is the Life of God, the HS and the streams are our individual lives reaching out to the end of the earth bringing the life of God wherever we go.

-        Wherever God plants you there is your kingdom assignment and ministry to let the life of God pour out through you. Your neighborhood to your neighbors, your work, your school, etc.

God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved:

Her/She = those born of God – the church. People born of God have God in the midst of them = supernatural power to meet with supernatural trouble.

          God is already committed to meeting our needs: He already declared He would be our defender, protector, healer, provider, as long as we turn these over to Him and trust Him.

Ill. If we say we are turning a matter over to God and trusting Him then we are ate up with worry then we are not really trusting Him.

Friday morning as soon as I walked out on back porch to have my quiet time with God I was already praying and saying kind of like a ritual with me, “Lord, I rededicate my body to you today. . .” As soon as I said those words it was like the Lord interrupted me cause He didn’t want to hear this again. Instead He said,

“Stop trying and start trusting.”

          As soon as I sat down I looked up the definitions of TRYING and TRUSTING in the dictionary.

Try – to attempt or effort to accomplish.

Trust – assured, reliance on the character, ability, strength or truth of someone.   

Okay Lord, You are taking me somewhere and showing me something I thought I knew but I guess I don’t. Can I give you a statement to start using that will help you relax instead of being so rigid about things.

“I think I am right, but I may be wrong.”

We all have strengths and weaknesses but if we are trying to live the Xn life in our own strength then we are bound to frustration and discouragement.

The Xn life is not you believing in Jesus and then trying to change your life – that is business of religion which is nothing more than sin management and behavior modification.

Here are some questions to see where you are in life:

Are you living for Jesus, or living because of Jesus?

Are you in church today for Jesus, or because of Jesus?

Do you read the Bible for Jesus, or because of Jesus?

God Himself lives inside us who are born of His Spirit.

God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.   Psalm 46:5

The church is to be a supernatural organization. Looking at Psalm 46:5 we should be asking questions to ourselves: “God is in the midst of her” – the river – the church of the Anointing. Is God in our midst as a church?

“God shall help her.” – Is God helping us?

Our lives as Xns are to be supernatural all the time, and will be if we move from trying to trusting.

“Your life should demand an explanation!”  

“We have this treasure in earthen vessels, the excellency of the power being from God and not from ourselves.”  MEV

“We are like common clay jars carrying this glorious treasure within, so that the extraordinary overflow of power will be seen as God’s, not ours.”   2 Cor. 4:7 Passion Transl.

 We have got to discover this power of God to live the supernatural life now and not try to live the Xn life on our own.

Ill. When I watch people’s lives I can see the difference between the Anointing and talent or skill. The Anointing is the river of God flowing through someone as they do the works of God.

-Wed night little child waving flag was anointed. I don’t know why other than I know the anointing when I see it.

- Met a volunteer at hospital and watched her as she waited on people and I recognized the anointing on her.

- Greeters at church should be some of most anointed people so people come into contact with the Anointing of God not just nice people.

- The preaching I am doing this moment – is it from the Anointing or from me? YES- both. Co-labor with God – Jesus “take My yoke upon you”.

Ill. You can tell when it is just me or when it’s me with the Anointing.

How do we operate in the Supernatural Anointing/Help of God now?

Then they asked Jesus, “What are we to do, that we may work the works of God?” Jesus replied, “This is the work that God asks of you: that you believe in the One Whom He has sent [that you trust, rely on, and have faith in Him.]”      John 6:28-29 Amp/MEV

1.   BELIEVE GOD:  be born of God – Romans 10:9-10 – We must welcome KOG like a little child trusts or we won’t get it. A child does not have to figure out everything – they just believe.

2.   TRUST GOD:  HE will do through you what needs to be done if you stop trying to do it yourself. Believing is the first step to experiencing change in your life.

“May the God of Hope fill you with all Joy and Peace IN BELIEVING, SO THAT YOU MAY ABOUND IN HOPE, THROUGH THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.”  Romans 15:13

Joy and peace are not based on TRYING, but in TRUSTING.

How can you tell if you are believing God?

“For we who have believed (trust in and rely on God) do enter His rest.” Hebrews 4:3

God’s rest is an internal rest that says I am not worried, or frustrated, or upset because I trust God to take care of this matter.

God’s rest is not a rest from work, but a supernatural rest we have in work.

3.   OBEY GOD: Do what God is leading you to do. Do your part.

Ill. If HS prompts you to go apologize for hurting someone then do it. If they don’t forgive don’t worry about it. Just do your part and let God do His. You obey the leading of the HS in your life. How the other person responds is between them and God. Do your part and leave the results with Him.

If you don’t hear or recognize God leading you to do anything at the moment then WAIT upon the Lord.

Ill. Was meditating about waiting on the Lord and what does that mean. While fueling car I hoping to hear something from God about this and just looked down at gas pump and noticed “Marathon”. I can’t tell you how I know but I just knew god was showing me the kind of waiting upon the Lord refuels your life so you can finish the marathon of life and not faint or quit too soon.

          I kept on asking God about the specifics of what it means to wait upon the Lord. Hebrew word “wait” means to twist together or bind together. When you don’t know what to do or you are waiting for the Lord to give you an answer or direction – always spend time in worshipping Him. After a while every anxious thought begins to settle then be still and listen for what He may say.

W – worship

A -   abiding

I  -   in

T -   trust

          Even when we have to wait upon God for direction – it is teaching us to TRUST God and make our flesh be still!

Concl: It is so amazing to me that God wants to help us. All we have to do is ask Him for His help and then exchange our trying and start trusting and let Him lead.  

3 THINGS TO GET GOD’S HELP IN YOUR LIFE:

1.   BELIEVE GOD

2.   TRUST GOD

3.   OBEY GOD

Which one of these steps are you at today. What is the next step you need in order to experience the supernatural help of God in your life?

The Controversial Gospel of the Grace of God

The Controversial Gospel of the Grace of God

A survey of 3,500 Christian ministers (by Bobby Clinton) revealed only 1/3 finished well. Many have a moral failure, many burn out and have emotional failure. Out of 49 leaders in the Bible only 13 of them finished well! Any idea why?

          Alice shared Acts 20 Sunday morning during offering about one man who finished well; Listen to Apostle Paul’s own words:

Now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what shall befall me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. Acts 20:-23

What would compel a man to proceed on such a journey knowing by HS that ahead of him lie afflictions and prison?

But none of these things deter me. Nor do I count my life to value myself, so that I may joyfully finish my course and the ministry which I have received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the GOSPEL OF THE GRACE OF GOD.     Acts 20:24

What got Paul in so much trouble especially with the religious leaders in every city he went to?

The gospel of the GRACE of God.

If he testified about the Law of God he would not have had all the trouble. The devil is not opposed to religion and legalism. He uses them to hurt innocent people and keep them away from God. But it was the GRACE of God that was the trouble maker among the religious leaders and Paul.

What is the gospel of the grace of God?

The good news that God wants to treat you as though you never sinned!

Remember Paul was a highly trained man in the Law of God. He was a Pharisee and a Rabbi. When he first heard about the gospel of grace he concluded it was heresy and blasphemy! He set out on a mission to be the high sheriff and arrest all these people who were preaching/teaching or even believing such things.

You might be a Pharisee if you like to point out people’s sins to others and condemn them and put them down rather than lift them up.

Ill. I love how Jesus treated the woman caught in adultery. She was guilty and knew it. People with a sordid past, already struggle with condemnation, guilt, and rejection from churches usually. Unfortunately, this can be one of the reasons they stay in the cycle of addiction. Pharisees will put you down but grace will lift you up. Scripture reveals they were not really after this woman. They were trying to get dirt on Jesus to accuse Him. “What do You say?”

          He w/o sin cast first stone.

 “Woman where are your accusers? Does not one condemn you?”

She said, “No one, Lord.” Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”     John 8:10-11

Every time, I read this I realize I still have a long way to go in understanding the grace of God. The grace of God is the most mysterious and yet the greatest doctrine of the Bible.

Jesus did not condemn this woman in her sin because John 3:17 “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:17

Condemnation should have no place in our lives, whether toward ourselves or others.

What did Jesus give this woman? He was giving her the gospel of the grace of God. He was fulfilling His kingdom assignment.

“For the law was given through Moses; but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”  John 1:17

Religion says, “Go and sin no more and we won’t condemn you.”

Jesus says, “I don’t condemn you, go and sin no more.”

(He knew only the power of love can transform a human heart.)

“When you preach grace, unless your conscience accuses you of license you haven’t preached grace.” Martin Lloyd Jones  

Our mission purpose statement: Presenting Jesus, the revelation of grace and truth that transforms lives.

Ill. WE don’t know for sure what happened to this unnamed woman caught in adultery. Some theologians believe she is the same woman with the alabaster box who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears. If so then would you say Jesus method of confronting sin with love worked well? This woman followed Jesus faithfully the rest of her life.

Listen to preachers on TV and at churches. Either they are preaching grace or sin management through behavior modification.

We have to decide what we believe about grace. Either Jesus paid it that we might be made the righteousness of God, or He did most of it and now we have to do our part?

My Bible tells me that righteousness with God is a gift not based on my performance.

God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.  2 Cor. 5:21

For by one man’s sin death reigned through him, then how much more will those who receive abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness reign in life through the ONE, Jesus Christ.  Rom. 5:17

 

How many of your sins did Jesus die for before you were born?

How many of your sins did Jesus pay for at the cross?

How many of them was He referring to when He said, “IT IS FINISHED”?

At the time you were saved, how many of your sins did He forgive?

The answer to of these questions is, ALL OF THEM.

There are only 2 kinds of righteousness:

1.   Righteousness of man – self righteous

2.   Righteousness of God – a gift from God through Jesus paying for all your sin and God crediting your account righteous.

Ill. Part of the Armor of God we are told to wear is the Breastplate of Righteousness. So the devil cannot get condemnation into our hearts.

You may ask then what is the motivation to stop going back into sin?

The only proper motivation – love for God and what He has done for me. That is why we sing – amazing grace.