Archive for the ‘TGIF Next Gen’ Category

Countering Excuses

Sunday, March 11th, 2018

“When the banquet was ready, he sent his servant to tell the guests, ‘Come, the banquet is ready.’ But they all began making excuses. One said, ‘I have just bought a field and must inspect it. Please excuse me.’ Another said, ‘I have just bought five pairs of oxen, and I want to try them out. Please excuse me.’ Another said, ‘I now have a wife, so I can’t come.’ ” -Luke 14:17-21

If God asked you to a party, would you come? I mean, really… would you? I’m sure you’re saying yes, because that would be the best party ever! But if God asked you to do something, would you do it? Sometimes we feel the gentle nudging of His hand, sometimes we feel the slight conviction as we know we’re called to more. But yet we just settle for mediocrity and explain ourselves with excuses.

But, you know what? God has not called us to live behind excuses. He has called us to be great men and women of God who accomplish great things. He does not call us to live in the molds of the past – He destines us for something new.

It has been the hardest thing for me to stay on a consistent workout schedule and loose my “freshman 20” I gained in Bible college. It has been a constant struggle that I never thought would be! I know what the right thing is; I just have a hard time focusing enough to get it to happen. The same is true of a mission with God. If the desire He’s placed in your heart is to earn money, to bless the kingdom and to bless others, then you must focus on it. If He’s placed it on your heart to be a musician, or earn a degree, then you need to focus on that. Focuses require consistency. And people who are consistent aren’t in the habit of making excuses.

Tell God today what you’re going to do. Write it down. Take a step of faith. You’ll see amazing things happen when you do.

Understanding Covenant

Sunday, March 26th, 2017

“David asked the men standing near him, ‘…Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?'” -1 Samuel 17:26

Most of us are probably familiar with the incredible story of David and Goliath. But, we might not be as familiar with why David could be so bold in his courage to defeat the giant Philistine Goliath.

David was the youngest of 8 sons, and he was probably around 17 years old during the time the Israelites were fighting the Philistines. From time to time he went back and forth to bring food to his brothers who were a part of the Israelite army. One particular time, David heard the giant Goliath from the Philistine camp shouting at the Israelites and challenging them. He had been doing this for 40 days. The Israelites were all afraid of him because he was so big. No one had yet had the courage to challenge him, and when the Israelites saw him, “They all fled in great fear.” (1 Samuel 17:24)

But David had a different perspective. Probably because he had run out of options by this time, King Saul gave David a chance at Goliath.

“David said to the Philistine, ‘You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel” (v.45-46). And so, David used a stone in a slingshot, and killed him.

Often the story of David and Goliath is taught with reference to having courage in God. But, it was because David understood God’s covenant with the Israelites that he knew he could defeat him. A covenant is a promise broken only by death. In David’s day, covenants were very serious matters. No one broke a covenant, even if the other party didn’t fulfill their end of the bargain. So David knew he could trust in His God to show up!

Have you recognized the power in God’s covenant with his sons and daughters? May it be a reminder and an encouragement that we can overcome anything that comes in our path, because we are sons and daughters of the living God.

God’s Refining Fire

Saturday, March 25th, 2017

“Then I will purify them and put them to the test, just as gold and silver are purified and tested. They will pray in my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘You are my people,’ and they will reply, ‘You, LORD, are our God!'” -Zechariah 13:9 

Did you know that God tests us? He doesn’t do it to be mean or to play a joke on us, but He does it to see where our heart is. He does this because this is the most important thing to him – our heart.

As children of His, he wants us to experience life as it was meant to be, full of purpose, meaning, and great relationships. In order for us to experience those things, he puts us through the “refining fire”. This is the place of testing, where the bad comes out, and the good stays intact, like gold in a kiln.

Everyday, we experience tests and trials, though we may not recognize them as such. When big ones happen, we question God. “Why did this happen? Why did they do that to me? It wasn’t right! It wasn’t fair! God, change them!” When really, it is us He is desiring to change.

Have you ever heard the quote, “He loves us too much to keep us where we are”? It may already be an old cliché to you, but I believe it to be true. Testing removes the impurities in our hearts, so we may be found spotless and holy, as a living sacrifice, just as Jesus was. (1 Peter 1:19)

Have you experienced God’s testing? If not, ask him to work his perfect miracle in you, to transform you into a person who reflects God’s glory. Let the gold that is in you be refined, so that the destiny God has for you can be revealed and lived out. Let him work his perfect miracle in you today.

Begin Again

Friday, March 24th, 2017

“But though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, but the wicked are brought down by calamity.” -Proverbs 24:16

Have people ever let you down? If you’re dealing with human beings, in ministry or in business, or anywhere for that matter, its likely they will!

But what do we do when people mess up? Do we tell them there’s no hope, that God is angry with them, or do we tell them that God is a God of second chances, waiting with open arms for us to run back to Him when we repent? The second picture is the more accurate one.

Peter was in the garden with Jesus. Jesus told him he would deny him three times before the rooster crowed. Peter didn’t believe he would do it. ‘i will never deny you,’ he said. And yet, when he was asked by Roman soldiers if he knew Jesus, he denied it three times.(John 18:27) But even after all of that Jesus still said to him, ‘You are Simon Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.” (Matthew 16:18)

As Christians, we need to realize that God is cheering us on. He loves it when we lead a life that’s pleasing to Him. And He knows it can be difficult sometimes. We need to believe in others like He believes in us. People WILL let us down, there is no doubt about it. But there is always hope in God, He is the hope of the world! We need to place our faith and trust for the outcome of their lives in His hands, and learn to see them as He sees them.

If you’re like a lot of people, YOU have let you down. But we need to learn to dust ourselves off and get back up, and try again. The Bible says the righteous fall 7 times, but they get back up. Are you getting up from whatever it is you’re encountering, or are you staying on the ground? We can’t let ourselves or others fall into the trap that there is no grace, no hope. As long as we’re alive we have the ability to turn things around.

Is there someone you need to forgive and believe in again? Do you need to forgive yourself? May we all receive the grace necessary for our journeys, and give it to others who need someone to believe in them. If the church doesn’t believe in people, who will?

Casting Out Fear

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

“Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear.” -1 John 4:18

Once at our Toastmaster’s meeting, there was a man who was the Toastmaster (or host for the meeting), who ended the meeting very unusually. He said, “Along with our theme of ‘out with the old, in with the new’, I want you to take out a piece of paper, and write your biggest fear on it.”

We did so, and awaited the next instruction. Next, he unveiled a box that had the word FEAR printed on it in big, bold letters.

“Now,” he said, “I have this box, and we’re going to collect everyone’s fears and put them here in the box.”  So, he went around the room collecting the papers that represented everyone’s fears.

“Now that everyone’s fears are in the box, we’re going to put this box right here in the middle of the room, so that every night we are here, we will be reminded of the fears we need to face.”

All of a sudden a large “NOO!!!” came from the back of the room from one of our fellow Toastmasters.  She ran to the front of the room and said, “NO! I can’t let you do that!  I am the power of LOVE, and I am going to take this box, and toss it away!” So she stole the box from our Toastmaster, and threw it in the trash.

Everyone cheered, and our Toastmaster ended with a short encouragement. “I want to end with a quote from the Good Book, “Love casts out every fear.”  So no matter what you fear, or what fears your want to conquer this year, I hope you’ll put it behind you, knowing that love is what makes fear have to flee.” What a great word!

Are there any fears you need to let Jesus chase away with His love?

The Kingdom of God

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

“Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, ‘The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, “Here it is,” or “There it is,” because the kingdom of God is within you.'” -Luke 17:20 & 21

Dr. Myles Munroe, senior pastor of Bahamas Faith Ministries International, wrote a book called “Kingdom Principles: Preparing for Kingdom Experience and Expansion.” In the book he describes the difference between religion (do’s and don’ts) and the Kingdom of God that Jesus taught in the Bible. He calls the Kingdom of God “the foundation of God’s plan for mankind.” (p. 81)

Jesus mentions the “kingdom of God” or “kingdom of heaven” about 85 times in the New Testament. In fact, if we read the entirety of Jesus’ teaching in the New Testament, we will find He spent nearly all of His time on earth talking about the Kingdom!

Why then is the kingdom so misunderstood? What is the kingdom exactly?

According to Merriam-Webster online dictionary, a kingdom is: “a politically organized community or major territorial unit having a monarchical form of government headed by a king or queen.” In this case, the King is our Father God in heaven. From this we can gather that true Christianity has a lot more to do with a perfected and uncorrupted form of heavenly government then it does with religion.

Dr. Monroe goes on to say, “Life in the kingdom is really about returning to the governing authority of God in the earth and learning how to live and function in that authority.” (p. 158) Because of Jesus, we are now in the process of gaining back what was lost in the Garden of Eden. (Genesis 3)

Repentance and our acceptance of grace through Jesus Christ unlocks the door for us to enter God’s kingdom. But, it doesn’t stop there. Jesus teaches about many keys that, when activated, unlock the power of heaven in our own lives.

There is so much we can learn about God’s kingdom. Ask the Lord to show you His kingdom and the part He might have you play. He desires that we pray, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10) and that we seek first his kingdom and his righteousness (Matthew 6:33). He promises that all these things will be added to us when we do.

The Cost of the Call

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” -Philippians 2:3&4

When asked by a rich man how to enter the kingdom of heaven, Jesus replied, “You must sell all you own and come and follow Me.”  (Luke 19:21)

The rich man, in response, was visibly dejected.  He realized he did not want to let go of his wealth in order to follow Jesus.

Such is the case in pursuing our calling.  It’s often not what we think.

There will be things that we won’t want to give up, freedoms that we enjoy – but when God comes calling we have to put our selfishness aside in order to serve.  “With great power comes great responsibility.” -Voltaire  “But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant…” (Mark10:43)

Sometimes this is hard. Sometimes this is not what we want to do.

I’ve seen my dad go through much inconvenience and work many long hours in order to serve. But the cool thing is, our sacrifice leads to life in others because of God’s call. Will you allow God to use you today, even if it means inconvenience? Let us be aware of the cost of the call.

Weapons of Warfare

Monday, March 20th, 2017

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” -2 Corinthians 10:4

My dad turned to me one day and said something I had never really thought about before. “You know,” he said, “you have so much at your age that I never had. It’s like you have a tool belt full of weapons against the enemy.” He was referring to the preparation I had been undergoing through a series of trainings, and the healing work that God had been doing in my life.

“I guess you’re right!” I said. I knew he wasn’t necessarily saying it so I would feel proud of myself, (although I could tell he was proud.) He was saying it so that I would recognize the responsibility I had to be able to help others.

The Bible talks about weapons of warfare. It makes a clear distinction between the weapons of this world and weapons in the spiritual realm. The Message version states: “The tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity.”

What are our weapons of warfare? They include faith, prayer, grace, revelation, love, and God’s truth. Most of all, they are the things we have been through that God has healed and delivered us from. Once we have overcome and are healed, we have the ability to speak truth to that obstacle in someone else’s life with authority. (2 Corinthians 13:4)

When we align ourselves with God’s Word, we are taking a clear stand between us and the forces of darkness. However, when we speak of weapons, it’s not people we’re looking to use them on. It’s the darkness. So often we make the mistake of trying to shoot at the enemy, but we end up shooting the person he is holding hostage instead.

Do you know the weapons of warfare God has given to you? Let us use these weapons to remove obstacles to God, so that people can live free and unfettered in the saving grace and love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Embracing His Lordship

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

“Therefore, God elevated Him to the place of highest honor and gave Him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” -Philippians 2:9-12

Each of us comes from a different spiritual background, with perhaps a different idea of who Jesus is. Some of us have only known God as our all powerful God, a God to be reverently feared, while some say that through Jesus we can be friends of God. Both are true, however sometimes we fall into the trap of thinking that because we are God’s friend everything (including our sin), is accepted by Him. This is a dangerous assumption.

If we were to think about a romantic relationship, the two parties of the romance must decide at some point, that if they are to go further in relationship, they will be choosing each other and not another people who could have held their interest before. Now their relationship is exclusive – with one choosing the other, and not someone else. It is much the same in our relationship with God.

Sometimes there will be things we’ll need to sacrifice in order to make Him Lord of our lives. The Bible says those who practice “sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these” (Galatians 5:19-21) will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Don’t let this be you!

“You say, ‘I am allowed to do anything’ – but not everything is good for you. And even though ‘I am allowed to do anything,’ I must not become a slave to anything.” -1 Corinthians 6:12

It all comes down to what we are following. Are we following our sinful desires or God’s Holy Spirit? As sons and daughters of God we are called to a higher standard. And although we need to live in “God consciousness” versus “sin consciousness”, we need to be sure that there isn’t any sin that is holding us back, or holding us hostage.

Have you embraced Jesus as the Lord of your life today?

Make It Right

Saturday, March 18th, 2017

“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” -Romans 3:23

Have you ever done something you’ve regretted? Have you ever said something, and wished you could have captured your words before they entered the atmosphere? We’ve all done things we’re not proud of. Regret is a part of being human.

When we do things we regret, what should we do? How do we make things right? We can apologize, we can be sorry, we can go above and beyond the call of duty to try and “pay-back” the people we’ve wronged. But in the end, what’s said has been said, what’s done has been done, and there is no way to erase the damage it may have caused.

When we do things we regret, there is no possible way to make it right. No way, that is, apart from God.

God can turn circumstances into good. He can erase them like they never happened.

I am continually amazed by the grace of God. He gives so much grace, it covers every sin, every bad thing said, and every regret we’ve ever had. Anything I try to do by myself is stifled by the message of trusting God for the outcome, no matter what my wrong has been. Sometimes our wrongs separate us from others. Sometimes they may have painful consequences. But we can trust our God to make whatever it is right and to make our hearts clean again.

What needs to be made right in your life? Are there circumstances, events, or situations you’ve regretted? Turn to God and ask Him for forgiveness. And then trust Him for the outcome. He is more than able to right any wrong.

Seeing What Others Can’t See

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

“And Elisha prayed, ‘O LORD, open his eyes so he may see.’ Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around.” -2 Kings 6:17

There are times we may look at someone and think they’re crazy, or see a situation and see no solution. We think to ourselves, “There is no possible way to make this happen,” or, “She is definitely a out of her mind!” This is human. But to look past the circumstance or reality and see God’s potential, this is supernatural.

It takes a lot to see potential sometimes. It definitely requires imagination. But when people’s lives are so messed up that they can’t see out of their situations, we need to be the ones who can see past their circumstances for them. But before we can do that for others, we need to be able to do it for ourselves.

God has a very different view of you than you have of yourself. He sees you in a way that no one else can see you. He sees you for who you are, unhidden, transparent, and with all the personality, gifts, and talents that he placed in you from birth. Many times the weight of the world puts layers on our soul. It takes awhile to peel back the layers of the onion, but when we finally do, we are able to see more of what God sees. When we do, we become freer in the realization that God is our source, and we can do anything with Him.

Who are you? What has God placed in you that you have yet to discover? Ask him today to show you your potential. And see what amazing things will happen when you do.

A Spirit-Fueled Life

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

“…and the Holy Spirit descended on Him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are My Son, whom I love; with You I am well pleased.'” -Luke 3:22

Pastor Dean Sweetman, senior pastor of Christian City Church Atlanta, wrote a book called “Direct Connect: Understanding and Getting to Know the Holy Spirit.” In this book he describes the “most misunderstood” person of the Trinity: The Holy Spirit.

He says of the Holy Spirit, “A vital relationship with the Holy Spirit is, without doubt, the most potent weapon any believer can have today.” (p. 7)

Many in the body of Christ believe that the infilling power of the Holy Spirit was just for New Testament times, for the purpose of birthing the church that exists today. Some people even believe He is New Age! However, this belief leaves Christians devoid of power. It renders us helpless to minister the very thing that can change people’s lives: The presence of the Holy Spirit.

How can we live a Spirit-fueled life? Here are a few ideas:

  • Hang out with others who have the Spirit working in their lives
  • Go to services that teach about the Holy Spirit
  • Spend alone time with God – worshipping & seeking Him

The Holy Spirit, God’s presence in our lives, is the oil that keeps us fueled. Before Jesus began His ministry, He was filled with the Holy Spirit. We cannot effectively minister to others without the Holy Spirit.

Are you a vessel that is filled with the Holy Spirit’s oil? Make sure you are filled with God’s presence, so that you can be a reflection of His glory in your life.

When Things Don’t Go As Planned

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

“In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path.” -Proverbs 3:6

Often when we find ourselves struggling in the area of vision, we find it hard to believe that God could do the extraordinary with our lives. We think things will turn out a certain way, and it turns out, they don’t. Was it our fault? What happened?

God has a vision for our lives, and so do we. Often, it takes the messing up of our own vision in order for us to truly see what God had in mind. Sometimes He won’t tell us. Sometimes He will. But in the end it is all for the structuring of our character, and for the shaping of our faith. It is also for the structuring and shaping of others.

The story of Job is recorded in the Bible. Job found himself in excruciating circumstances. His story goes something like this:

One day the angels presented themselves to the Lord and Satan came with them. God asked Satan where he had come from. Satan said, “From roaming through the earth.”

God said, “Have you seen my servant Job? He is a man of faith and character.”

Satan replied, “Well yeah duh, you have placed a hedge around him and everything he has, and have blessed him with abundance. But take it all away and he will curse you to your face!”

“Alright, do what you will. But on the man do not lay a finger.” (Job 1:6-19)

Job lost everything he had: his livestock, his servants, and his seven sons and three daughters. Now, I am sure that was not in Job’s plan! But after God had found Job’s heart to be pure, he gained back everything he had lost, times two!

When things don’t go as planned we can think, “God, why have you left me? Why have you let these circumstances come my way? I’m trying to do your will here!” But he is always testing our hearts. “The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the heart.” (Proverbs 17:3)

If it doesn’t work out, get up and try again. God wants to see our success. But sometimes when things don’t work out as planned He wants a different result – the purity of our hearts. That is what is most important to Him.

Glimpses of Heaven

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

“Each of these living beings had six wings, and their wings were covered all over with eyes, inside and out. Day after day and night after night they keep on saying, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty – the one who always was, who is, and who is still to come.'” -Revelation 4:8

Have you ever wondered what heaven is like? I definitely have. I’ve heard there are streets of gold, houses made of fine gemstones, and angels that are greater than twenty feet tall. Could you imagine creatures that were covered in eyes? That would be so intense!

“The wall was made of jasper, and the city was pure gold, as clear as glass. The wall of the city was built on foundation stones inlaid with twelve precious stones: the first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst.” -Revelation 21:18-20

The book of Revelation gives us several clues about what heaven, and heaven on earth is and will be like. God is so creative, and is not limited to our natural world – or our natural mind. Can you imagine what kinds of things we will see when we get to heaven? It is incredible to think about.

As we walk through our daily lives, we shouldn’t get too caught up in only the things we can see, the things that make sense to our natural minds. God desires that we have a greater vision. Hollywood often portrays the dark side of the supernatural, but I would love to see more movies portraying the reality of heaven!

Forgiveness

Monday, March 13th, 2017

“Forgive people when they do wrong things to you. If you forgive them, your Father in heaven will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive them, your Father will not forgive you.” -Matthew 6:14-15

Forgiveness can be so hard sometimes. Someone you think should know better, someone you thought you could trust, someone you depended on who let you down – abuse, mistreatment, betrayal – we will all experience hurts, disappointments, and frustrations in life.

Although we may know better, sometimes it feels better in the moment to hold on. Parents, teachers, peers, friends, neighbors, bosses, companies, churches, government officials, ourselves, God – the list could go on and on. “It serves them right,” we say. The immediate gratification of making our feelings known or acting upon them seems like the right thing to do… in the moment.

However, in that split second, we forget how detrimental unforgiveness can be. Harboring unforgiveness can result in diseases in our bodies, fear, anxiety, anger, and troubled or estranged relationships. When we feel we cannot forgive, the person it hurts the most is us. This is where we need God’s intervention and healing. We need to make forgiveness a priority and realize that it is ALWAYS better to forgive – to let God take it, and let God be God. Forgiveness frees our minds, gives us peace, and brings us closer to God’s purposes for our lives.

I went to a training one time that taught the participants to practice “pre-forgiveness,” the act of forgiving someone before they do anything – deciding that no matter what they have done in the past, could do now, or will do in the future, we have chosen to forgive.

“Then Peter came to Jesus. ‘Lord, if my brother keeps on hurting me, how many times should I forgive him?’ he asked. ‘Should I forgive him seven times?’ ‘No, not just seven times, but forgive him seventy times seven times’, Jesus said.” -Matthew 18:21&22

Is there anyone you need to forgive today? Is there an issue in your heart that feels unresolved? Resolve yourself to forgiveness. Let us be pure in mind and in spirit so that God will “find nothing in us” (2 Peter 2:2) that the enemy could use to deter us from God’s purpose for us.

Unconditional

Sunday, March 12th, 2017

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” -John 13:34

What does it mean to have unconditional love and acceptance for others? The world seems to do a good job. The song “Born This Way”, a statement of unconditional acceptance by Lady GaGa has been on the Billboard Music Chart’s #1 spot for several weeks. But as Christians, even though it’s our command to love others, we seem to have failed miserably. This is evident in the world’s view of us as hypocritical and judgmental, nothing more than a political action group trying to push our agenda.

But Jesus is no respecter of persons, and He is no respecter of sins. He modeled unconditional love in the story of the woman who had committed adultery and was brought to Jesus in the temple courts. The Pharisees said, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” Jesus had been kneeling on the ground writing in the sand. He said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” He then said to her, “I do not condemn you, go and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:1-11)

We need to love others, and also realize that their behavior is caused by a root of something else that happened long ago. Issues like addiction, pornography, homosexuality, and overeating have to do with lack of love in a person’s life or traumatic experiences that happened at a very young age. If we are really going to be Jesus to people, we need to show the type of love that Jesus modeled. That may include dealing with our own issues so we don’t come off as hypocrites along the way. We need to model what we say.

Jesus loves us before we change. Jesus loves us if we never change. He invites us to experience the fullness of His love by giving up our sinful desires, but His love remains the same.

Is there someone you could love unconditionally today?

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” -John 13:35

Everyday Miracles

Friday, March 10th, 2017

“You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.” -Psalm 77:14

Have you ever had something miraculous happen to you? We tend to think of miracles as big things such as winning a million dollars or getting healed from cancer. When these types of big things happen, they are incredible! And we should give God the glory. But too often we forget to remember the everyday miracles that God puts right in front of us.

We miss getting in a car accident by just inches, or, we gain the courage to try something new. We find the perfect dress for the perfect occasion (for girls), or a butterfly flutters across our path – these are small miracles that we tend to take for granted.

The Bible says that not one sparrow falls without God knowing about it. “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.” -Matthew 10:29

Things that may seem small really are miraculous. The presence of God’s love in our lives is a miracle in itself! When I think about specific times when God did small miracles, it helps me recognize His presence and activity in my everyday life.

Can you think of a time when God performed a miracle in your life, small or big? Reminisce on that today, and thank Him for it. If you can’t think of a time, ask God to reveal himself to you in this way. We never know what can happen when we have faith in our unfailing God.

What’s In a Name?

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

“But now, this is what the LORD says – He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are Mine.'” -Isaiah 43:1

What’s in a name? In ancient Hebrew culture, what you were named as a baby would reveal your purpose in life.

For instance, the prophet Elijah’s name meant, “My God is the Lord”. So, literally, if Elijah’s parents called him in from playing outside as a young boy, they would say, “My God is the Lord, time for dinner!”

It sounds funny, doesn’t it? But in the Hebrew culture, you knew who you were and what you had – from birth. In our culture today, we’re privileged if we ever figure out our purpose – it’s now considered normal to have a mid-life crisis at age 40 because we do not know.

But even though we do not live in Biblical times, our names still have significance today.

Sindy was a porn star who went into the porn industry at a young age. She describes her journey falling into porn and how the enemy had tricked her into believing she was named Sindy because “she was meant for sinful things.”

However, once she realized she had been lied to, she cried out to God to give her a new name. “God, Give me a new name – I don’t want to be called SIN anymore!” she said.

“And GOD answered gently to me: ‘You never have been, Sindy! SINDY contains two letters more: DY-DIE – SIN HAS TO DIE!!! Sindy, you are called FREEDOM!'”

What does your name mean? What does it reveal about God’s plan for your life? God has called us out by name, so that His purposes can be revealed through our lives.

Caught vs. Taught

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

“Come and follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” -Matthew 4:19

When I first started going to a certain church, I was struck by their emphasis on relationship.  Being a super melancholy (personality type) only child, I couldn’t wrap my head around all this relationship stuff. We were there for God, right?

But this emphasis on relationship was because they knew the Christian life was better caught than taught- meaning: you can’t really know how to do something you read out of a book. You have to be shown. Then you have to do it. Then you’ll know.

There’s nothing wrong with reading books. And there is certainly nothing wrong with reading the Bible. In fact it would be wrong not to. But the cool thing was the things the people were doing were lining up with the books I was reading about God (including the Bible). I now get my coolest revelations by hanging out with people, either by something I am saying to them that I hadn’t thought about before, or something they say to me, that may not necessarily be meant toward me.

Jesus said “Come and follow Me”. The disciples walked with Jesus, talked with Jesus, ate with Jesus – they did everything with Jesus. They did life together. In this process, the disciples were able to ‘catch’ what it was Jesus was showing them. This is why it’s soooo important that our actions match our words as Christians. Verbal communication encompasses just 10% of communication. The majority of our communication lives within our actions.

There is a transfer that occurs in relationship with others who love God that shapes the course of our destiny for good.

No one should be an island. Is there someone you can think of who could help you further in your faith, or who excels at something you want in your life? Try to get around that person. Life is better caught than taught.

POWs

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners” -Isaiah 61:1

We have many prisoners of war in the body of Christ today. People are plagued by deception, unforgiveness, bitterness, and small thinking. They feel unable to step into a better future, the “spacious place” the Psalmist talks about in Psalm 18:19. “He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me.”

There is no doubt that there is a war going on – between the forces of the kingdom of darkness and God’s kingdom. This battle is for souls, for relationships, and for destinies. The enemy of our soul has no greater purpose than to see you and I destroyed, never able to be the people God intended us to be.

The enemy wants us, first and foremost to believe the lie that God doesn’t love us, that He isn’t good, and He doesn’t have our best in mind. He wants us next to be isolated, so we are unable to believe the truth. And, he wants us to continue believing lies about ourselves and about others so that God’s purposes cannot be revealed in our lives, and we cannot in turn set others free.

There was a Hollywood executive who produced a well-known movie that my dad and his friend went to visit. My dad’s friend had a word of knowledge about this executive that he was struggling with committing suicide. The man became visibly shaken. It was true! How could this successful executive be struggling with suicide? He was a Prisoner of War – in his mind, due to some situations that had happened in his life.

Is there any area of your life where you’ve been believing a lie about yourself, about others, or about God’s good nature? Pray today and confess that lie to Him. He never wants us to feel alone in our journeys – talk to or pray with someone you trust that can help you believe the truth. It may be that you are the key to unlock the truth in someone else’s heart. God’s desire (and complete plan) is that we are victorious!

“For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves” -Colossians 1:13