Too many times, we preach to behaviors instead of addressing the root. Many of us are guilty of trying to project what we believe people expect of us instead of looking at who we are underneath the layers of influence and camouflage. When we fail to grant God access to our inner self, we limit what He will do in our lives. We hope this message blesses you as much as it did us!
Saturday, January 30, 2016
A lady at church Wednesday (Jennifer, she’s awesome) gave this great delivery of the word and I think it’s too good not to share. This take a little audience participation so you’ll have to work with me here. Imagine I give you a piece of paper or two to write down what is currently getting you down. What dwells in your mind or heart, what is bothering you, stressing you, depressing you? These things take up a lot of your time, you dwell on them every day. Take a minute and think about it.
Got one or two? Good. Now hand me your piece of paper. Now I have a stack of papers that people need help with. Can you give me your paper? No, you already gave it to me and you don’t have it anymore. Now you can still walk around with your fist clenched like you’re holding it, but you don’t have it any longer. This is what you do when you give your problems to the Lord. He can fix them, but you have to give them to Him. Once you give them to Him, you’re free. You don’t have to walk around with that burden, you don’t have to let it hinder your life any longer. Now a lot of people do, and they let it stop them from doing things that could potentially better their situation. All because they’re walking around thinking they’re carrying this burden that isn’t even there. The only way you have it to carry again is if you take it back from God.
Imagine I have a stack of problems and I’m going through and fixing them. If you come up and take yours out of the stack before I get to fixing it, then it’s yours to carry again and I can’t fix it because I don’t have it. Once you give your problems to the Lord, let him take care of it for you. Don’t take it back, you can’t handle it better than He can. If you could, it wouldn’t be a burden on you. He is faithful, give it to him and trust in him. Once you do this, and really give it to Him and stop being prideful and thinking you can handle it better or faster than He can, you’ll feel His peace because you no longer carry that burden. Let Him fight your battles for you, he is all powerful.
Once you let go of your burdens, you’re free to go out and be His hands and feet. You’ll be renewed and able to go out and spread the word of the kingdom. Nowhere in the bible does it say that God only gives you what you can handle. It does say that you can look to Him when you are in need. God isn’t the one giving your problems and burdens, that’s the work of the enemy trying to bring you down. If you give them to God, the enemy will never win with you. That fight has already been won.
I challenge you to do this exercise. Think about what is burdening you, give it to the Lord and pray.
Sunday, January 17, 2016
Today I want to talk to you about how some people live their lives. Our culture today is so tolerant of sin of any kind it’s sickening, yet most of us aren’t trying to fix the problem. We’re trying to save souls, we’re trying to bring people to Christ, but we aren’t confronting their demons. There are plenty of people that go to church every Sunday and put on a front that they’re Christian and everything is great, but they don’t live a Christian lifestyle. We need to practice what we preach. Everyone will stumble, but it’s how you react that makes the difference. Repenting for your sins doesn’t work if you continue to do the same sins. When you repent, you must change your thought process and change your behavior. Jesus died for our sins and wants us to be saved, but you have to want it. He’s already done everything he could, the rest is up to us.
Then there are people that are so accustomed to sin that they believe it’s part of who they are. They say they were born that way or they can’t change it. What if your brother was addicted to heroin? He was convinced that it is part of his life and he can’t live without it. Would you say that’s just who he is and leave him be? No, you would tell him that he isn’t well and do everything you could to save his life. Why won’t we do this for Christ? We need to show them that they need healed so we can save their life, so they can have eternal life. We need to treat this like their lives depend on it, because they do. Their lives literally depend on it.
Does this apply to you? Are you struggling with demons that have been around so long that you just accept them as part of life? God doesn’t want to watch you struggle, but you have to do something about it. Make the choice and make a change. You are worth it.
Wednesday, January 6, 2016
¨A cave-dwelling fish with no eyes and no scales has been discovered on a tiny island in Vietnam's scenic Ha Long Bay, according to conservation group Fauna & Flora International. Its lack of eyes and scales are actually common adaptations for animals that have evolved in the darkness of deep limestone caverns. Like other cave fish, D. narinosus is limited to a life in freshwater, which means it is likely confined to a system of subterranean caves on Van Gio Island, unable to swim out into the surrounding sea.¨ (www.livescience.com/25175-new-eyeless-scaleless-cave-fish-found.html)
I have heard many times people say that they used to be saved or used to go to church. In the majority of these cases, the so-called former-Christian has multiple reasons that he or she uses to explain or justify why his or her belief isn't the same. Although the reasons are often different and almost always circumstantial, it made me wonder, ¨What happens to a person after they have been out of fellowship with God for an extended period of time?¨ The answer may surprise you.
The snippet from the article (above) describes the adaptive condition of a fish that has lived in a light-less environment for such an extended period of time that its eyes have actually disappeared. Because there has been no use for vision due to the lack of light, its eyes had become obsolete. This is eerily similar to what happens to believers who don't fellowship with God. The discernment, guidance, and wisdom that can only be produced by the development of a believer through the Holy Spirit, by spending time God's presence becomes obsolete when a believer is out of fellowship with God.
Think of it this way; why would a computer need to use valuable RAM space for functions that it no longer utilizes? Computers automatically dump some files that take up space for other files that are deemed more important. However, in theory, if the files are system files, this could negatively affect the performance of the computer in some ways. By the same token, when we don't spend time with God, sin will inevitably creep in and, as a result, our understanding and ultimately our lifestyle will be affected.
Have you ever noticed that when you sin (trust me, you do), things tend to upset you quicker? Your husband's annoying habits become more annoying. Your best friend's personality becomes a lot more difficult to deal with. Your parents' nagging pushes you further than it used to. All these factors are impossible to deal with in a way that pleases God if you are lacking the tools that God has provided you with. What's more disturbing is that your entire view of God is shifted. You haven't been exercising faith, so faith seems to become less important. You haven't been faithful to God in serving Him, so serving Him makes less sense. You have been putting yourself first, so sacrifice becomes less logical.
A former believer that has fallen out of fellowship with God absolutely lacks the capacity to handle the load of a true believer. A person in this state tends to compromise for pleasure and make excuses for sin, instead of recognizing the trespasses, praying for grace, and seeking God for direction. When a person is found to be in this place, the only option is to stop and turn around.
I have been emphasizing the importance of spending time with God, but what does that really mean? The first thing that one must realize is that time spent with God is not something that happens by chance, but rather, it is the result of an intentional act by way of sincerity, discipline, and humility.
“We are too busy to pray, and so we are too busy to have power. We have a great deal of activity, but we accomplish little; many services but few conversions; much machinery but few results.” R.A. Torrey
Don't allow life's obstacles and distractions to divert your attention away from what matters the most. Our time spent with God prepares us for the journey, giving us awareness of what lies ahead in our path.
“If God doesn’t want something for me, I shouldn’t want it either. Spending time in meditative prayer, getting to know God, helps align my desires with God’s.” Phillips Brooks
Taking time to pray expresses your trust in God's plan for your life. This is enveloped within the understanding that God has an incredible purpose for placing you where you are at any given time. There is never a need to worry about your future to the point that you deviate from the course that God has designed. Instead, prayer will give you comfort that God has considered all things and is bringing all things into alignment in a way that only He can.
“Spending time with God puts everything else in perspective.”
When items toward the visual horizon are far, they seem small. When those same items are nearer, they seem larger. Although the items never change in size or volume, their position affects how we see them. Simply put, when we spend time with God and we position ourselves near to Him, everything else shrinks. When we neglect spending time with God, our perspective is altered and we don't see things the way that we should.
To close, I will pray this prayer: ¨I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people¨ - Ephesians 1:18
...while you pray this prayer: ¨Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.¨ Psalm 119:18
Monday, December 21, 2015
They say to write about what you know, but this is a topic that I'm not too thrilled to be familiar with.
Ugh. I mean even the word is ugly. We've all experienced it in our lives at one point or another. It comes with many different faces and in many different forms. Whether it be from a significant other, friend, family member, job, etc. Its painful, its scarring and its messy. If we're not careful we can allow it to turn us into a person that we are not.
In my own personal life I've experienced it more times than I can count. I've been rejected from jobs that I thought I was qualified for, family has left me, I've given my all to guys that just sent up the peace sign, and "best friends forever" have just turned into those Facebook friends that pop up every now and again. In the past I've allowed it to make me question if I'm good enough, pretty enough, funny enough, smart enough and made me examine every part of who I am and what I have to offer.
"Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the Lords purpose that prevails."
Have you ever heard that saying that says "Rejection is Gods protection"? It may sound cheesy and cliché, but, my friends, it is oh so true. Looking back on those situations in my life I'm so thankful that the Lords hand was on my heart and protected me from what I THOUGHT I wanted. His thoughts are not our thought and His ways are not our ways. (Isaiah 55:8) He sees things that we cannot see and experiencing some rejection right now is much easier than experiencing destruction later. Allow the Lord to calm your heart and lean on Him in those times all the more.
Who you are is not found in the job you have, the numbers you have in your contact list, who you have on your arm or how much money you have in your bank. You are the child of a King. Point blank period. His plans for you are far greater than you can fathom. So next time you experience a "no" just say "Thanks Jesus. I know that's you nudging me in another direction."
You are loved. You are cherished. You are valued. He wants the best for you.
Love you all.
Monday, December 7, 2015
It has been said that one of the most damaging experiences for a person is loneliness. We can classify loneliness as an emotion, because it can be totally based on feelings. For example, a person can be surrounded by a group of people and still feel alone. Although the person is not physically alone, he or she may feel separated from those nearby. Imagine being in solitary confinement. You are completely isolated from the general population and have no contact with other people. Darkness is all around and no one is able to come to your aid. As if it was not enough to be imprisoned against your will, now you have been stripped of all things that you deem valuable, almost to the point of being malnourished and becoming deranged. This is depression. It cannot be categorized by any single feeling. It is not delegated to any particular type of person. It can only described as a feeling of extreme loneliness or even solitary confinement.
In the twelfth chapter of Book of Acts of the Apostles the Apostle Peter was imprisoned for being a witness for Christ. This happened right after James (brother of John) was killed for the same reason. There was no logical reason behind the actions of those who headed the campaign to attack the church, other than to ‘please the people’. The story goes that as Peter was imprisoned and as the church prayed with intensity and faith for his rescue from a certain death, the Lord sent an angel to free him from bondage and bring him home again. But what happened in between?
Consider Peter’s predicament. His good friend had just been murdered, shocking the church. He was then dragged to death row to await his execution. He was all alone. Look at your own life experiences; you either have been or are now at the same place that Peter was - a victim of circumstances, hurting, and feeling all alone. But as we recall the story, we remember that Peter was not really on his own. The Lord sent an angel to facilitate his rescue. Think about it. Peter did nothing to aid his own escape, except follow directions. This communicates to us that 1. We are not really all alone and 2. We must depend completely on the Lord.
In 2 Corinthians 1:9, Paul tells how his circumstances caused him to lean totally on God. He says that it had gotten so bad that he and those with him “...expected to die…” How bad can it be for a person to expect to die? Pretty bad, right? But God masterfully weaves His sovereignty in the situation by delivering His people when all is seemingly lost. This means that it was in His plans for it to happen the way it happened all along. The key for Paul was to recognize that the ability to save was not in him, but rather in Christ.
In either case, whether it be Paul, who expected to die or Peter, who was scheduled to die, the theme is set as completely surrendering and leaning on Christ. Sometimes the circumstances that make us feel alone or imprisoned can be things like addiction, anxiety, or stress. What if I told you that God purposely allowed you to come across these things in order to teach you to depend on Him? As 1 Peter 1:6-7 reminds us, we are tried and refined by fire. Your addiction is not present in your life to kill you, but instead, by leaning on God completely and following His directions, it will refine your faith in Christ. Nothing is more comforting than the fact that as we walk this journey with God, we are securely guided by His word and His life. He is an all-sufficient God and He loves us enough to bare with us in our disobedience and thick-headed
You may feel like you are in a place that is seemingly constructed of the bad decisions that you have made in life or you may feel like you are in a pit, dug by those who hope to kill you. God has something to say about your light and your life. He is ready and willing to rescue you from those things that seek your destruction. 1 John 5:14-15 guarantees that God hears our prayers and will respond by giving us the deliverance that we are looking for. Our only responsibility is to lean and depend completely on Jesus and follow His instruction. What is His instruction? “Take up your cross, follow Me, deny yourself…” (Matt 16:24, Mk 8:34, Luke 9:23)
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
Today I have some good news and some bad news for you:
Pain is real. Heartbreak is real. Sadness is real. Poverty is real. War is real. Backstabbing is real. Loneliness is real. Failure is real. Death is real.
BUT..... So is hope. Hope is real.
"What we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will reveal to us later."
I lost my 18 year old brother a little over 2 years ago in a way that no one should ever have to lose a family member. I can still remember the feeling I had when my dad called me after work and told me to pull my car over because he had something he needed to tell me. My whole world changed that day. October 24, 2013 is a day that is forever engrained in my head and in my heart. That is the day that I found out what real hope is.
In the days after, leading up to his funeral, I felt a pain that I have never felt in my life, but I also felt this weird sense of peace that I kept telling myself was delusion because "it hadn't set in yet". Today I know that's not what it was. People who saw me that week kept telling and asking me things like "You seem so at peace.", "How are you smiling right now?", "Why aren't you a total mess?"
I have two words for that: Jesus & Hope.
Jesus IS hope, my friends. He is the author and creator of hope and He longs to love on you and hold you through the battles of this life. You weren't put on this earth to fight alone. You have a Saviour that literally longs to fight FOR you. He wants you to rest in Him. To rest in His goodness and faithfulness.
Today, I have used the tragedy of losing my brother to minister to so many people that have gone through what I have or have gone through what he did in the years before he died. The Lord gives purpose for pain. He brings healing in times of not understanding why bad things happen. I challenge you to trust Him and have hope in Him. He has never failed me. Not once in my 23 years of living on this planet.
Trust him in pain. Trust him in the sadness, in your failed relationships, unemployment, in the strife of life, when friends betray you, when your heart is broken, when you're rejected...... Have hope in the unknown.
Jesus/Hope changes everything.
" We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure...."
Love you all.